From A Listening Heart: Sharing some of my thoughts and "God moments" as God grows me in my faith and speaks to my heart, while I seek His face and to know Him.

My friend, something I have learned is that: Your past does NOT define you... It is through the eyes of grace, and how GOD sees you, and what you let Him do IN YOU and THROUGH you (because of your past), that defines who you are, and shapes who you become!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Finding My Tree

My Tree
On Sunday, March 15th 2009 I decided to go for a drive. For some odd reason, known only to God at the time, I pulled over onto a dirt road and saw a beautiful Cotton Wood tree, and parked my car under it.  Suddenly, like a dam bursting, I started crying tears of hurt and grief that had been bottled up for quite some time.

I poured my heart out to God about things that had happened over the past two years and events I truly felt had been answered from Him--but showed no signs of ever coming to pass. I remember looking up at the sky which could barely be seen from where I was sitting, and asking God “Is there something that is hindering You from fulfilling Your promises to me?” I sobbed, “If I am to believe You, then…” Over and over again I sobbed this until there were no more tears--just silence between me and God.

I finally started the car back up and drove home, thankful that my kids were with their dad that night. I went to bed with a horrible headache and exhausted; but much to my surprise, I woke up every hour on the hour to the thought, “Without faith.” I got up the next morning feeling horrible, but got ready for work, and before I left, I wrote in my journal, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” At work I found my had crashed, and we had to have someone come in and work on it most of the day; so I was not able to check my email until much later. I had a few devotionals that had been sent o me, but due to the time, I almost didn’t read them. However at the last minute,I  decided to. As I skimmed through the third and last devotional, I was tired and emotionally (and Spiritual) drained, so I almost deleted it, but then something caught my attention, and I slowed down to really read it-- and there at the bottom-- on the last line was: “Without faith you cannot please God” (Heb. 11:6). Needless to say, I was quite surprised!

For the entire rest of the week, Hebrews. 11:6 came up from six different sources! And on Saturday night, (actually right before I went to bed), it was texted to me from a friend who was watching a sermon online, and the verse  had just been quoted to them! She had texted me to say, “Guess what I just heard…”  She had no idea of the confirmation this gave me, or how it completed the week’s events and what it would mean to me. (Who says God will not use a cell phone?)

     On Sunday I went back to that spot under the tree that I had found a week before , to simply ask God. “What do you want from me?” Afterwards I went to the bookstore to browse around, and I came across a book my friend (who had texted me) had mentioned a few days earlier, that somehow I had never heard of. And on March 22nd, I started my reading my first in-depth Bible study called, “Believing God” by Beth Moore.

     The reason this was so profound to me, is that I had poured my heart out to God and had written in my journal everyday that week, “God in Heaven, I believe in you, I know that You are real, I know that You exist…” And here I was holding a book that was quoting Isa. 43:10 saying God wanted us to BELIEVE HIM.

     That spot at the tree has now become a very special place to me, it is where I continue to go when I need to find peace and have fellowship with God. He taught me something very important that day! Before a person can believe God, you have to KNOW GOD! And He set about introducing Himself to me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Barrier or Obstacles

From my heart:
Two weeks ago Thursday, I was coming back into town to pick up my friend's sons and drive them to a church event since she couldn't get there in time, and I was praying about a situation that I am facing. As I was praying I found myself praying that the barriers would be broken down. What surprised me was the word barrier, as that is NOT a word I ever use. Typically I pray about the obstacles in my way, but that evening as I said it, the word barrier just resounded in my spirit and felt so STRONG that I knew that God's Spirit was in my prayer, and the more I prayed about it; the more it felt like a right and powerful prayer.

The next morning as I was waking up I heard in my spirit singing, "You tore the veil, you made a way when you said it was done." Now this verse went over and over in my heart-- not just a song stuck in my head-- but from my heart, inside of me. So again I knew it was of God. I couldn't remember any of the rest of the song-- just that part.

I finally got up and was starting my Bible study and decided to check on a pastor's site I had not been on in quite some time, and to my complete surprise was an entire devotional about barriers keeping us from growing into all that we are to be! I was so surprised but also so overwhelmed because I knew this was of God. It was a very good devotional, and one I printed out, the only problem was that the pastor's advice was to figure out what the barriers were and get rid of them-- the barriers in my way, only God is going to be able to bring down. But still-- an entire devotional about barriers?? Come on that was GOD!

About 5'oclock that same evening I was going to run up to my office for a bit, but my middle son stopped me by asking if he and his younger brother could go out to a friend's house and spend the night. I wound up staying in his room making plans until almost 5:30! I still decided I had time to run up to my office real quick, and as I got in the car and turned the corner, I turned on the radio and there is was! The ending of the song and the verse I had been singing that morning: "You tore the veil, you made a way when you said it was done."  I found out what song it was and  later was able to look it up on utube and come to find out, God put me in the car at just the right time, because that part of the song is only towards the end where it is reaped several times! I was so overjoyed if I had left to go to the office when I first thought, I would have completely missed it! This was all God's timing!

That night after spending quite some time on the phone with a friend from my women's group, I decided to look something up on a church website that I like to listen to. I stumbled across a sermon I had not heard that sounded interesting, so I downloaded it. I listened, and it was really good, and very enlightening. At the end a woman's voice came on and made mention of a  sermon that would be broadcasted the following weekend and there is was-- the word barriers! I found the mentioned sermon, and though it was good, though it didn't really speak about barriers in our lives (and it never used the word). However God had my attention!

The following morning which would be Saturday, I kept thinking about "Don't throw away your confidence." I knew what verse this was coming from, however I kept being reminded of a study I had listened too way back from Beth Moore on this. So I decided to google it to see if I could find it, which I did, and listened to it, but it was not what I felt God impressing on me. However, as I was googling for Beth Moore's study I saw a link to a blog I have never visited that caught my attention. So I went to it; it was short, very nice and at the end of the post the writer commented on barriers in our way, and not to back down and lose our confidence over these obstacles!

The next day (Sunday) while I was reading a new magazine, I went to an article that looked interesting and in it, the writer commented on "Bible barriers." So NOW I am so totally knowing that God is speaking to me-- or at least showing me He heard my prayers on Thursday, and it gave me hope and the encouragement to continue to pray about these barriers.

Later that afternoon, I went and sat at my tree with just my Bible and prayed. I asked God why barriers? And what was the difference between praying that these barriers would be broken down verses obstacles? After all weren't they the same thing? And the more I prayed over it-- the more important it seemed that I needed to know and understand what God was showing me, and why I needed to change my prayers over this situation.

I came home and visited with my youngest son for a bit (who also helped me to move my desk to another corner of the room), and then I went to the closet to get the dictionary. As I turned around I hit my little toe on a brick by the mantle that has been there for years! I have walked by that thing a hundred times, I have gone to that closet weekly to get things out or put things back, and have never touched that brick-- but on this day, I broke my toe!

After much crying (I am such a girl) and my sons coming out to check on me; I was finally able to look the words up. By definition in the elementary school dictionary we have for the boys; obstacles are things that are in the way that causes a hindrance, and can be overcome and even avoided.  A barrier is something that halts all progress and keeps things separated and apart from being with something else! So there I had it-- there IS a difference, and now I understood what God was showing me and why I needed to change my prayers. There are not simply obstacles in my way hindering me-- there are barriers keeping me separated from what God has promised me. And I was beginning to understand why I had to break my toe on a brick to learn this lesson!

By the following Tuesday I had seriously been praying about these barriers being broken down-- completely, and ALL the barriers that are holding me back as I know there are a few. About lunchtime, I went out to my tree with my Bible, and was meditating on God's Word and decided that I wanted to look up a verse that had been brought to my attention early that morning from two different studies I had read. However, I couldn't remember the exact verse, only that it came for Eph. 2, so I opened my Bible up to Eph 2 and skimmed down looking for what I thought it might be when my eyes landed on verse 14! I was so floored! I read; "He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall" (NASB).

I read this over and over again wondering why I had never really seen this verse before, and so praying about what it meant to me. Now as a Bible teacher, I understand the overall historical teaching of this verse, and what Paul was talking about-- but personally I was so taken by it being lit up in me. When I got home I did a word search to see how often the word barrier was in the Bible, and after pulling up five different translations (and you figure 5 times over 33,000 verses...) the word barrier only came up THREE times!! Two of the times it referred to God putting up a barrier that was not to be moved, and one time about being a barrier broken down! (Which was the verse I had read.)

I was so taken by God bringing this verse to my attention-- here I had been praying about barriers and the verse I read is about the barriers being broken down-- not the ones that were set into place to stay! I cried, and prayed some more and thanked God. I wrote the verse down in my journal and prayed over it all day-- everything else I had read seemed to melt away. I meditated on this verse all day!

The next morning (Wednesday almost a full week to the beginning of my prayer) I got up and was checking my email and in a very short devotional I received that day, that was written ages ago-- but still something I enjoy reading in a daily basis; was a brief devotional with Eph. 2:14 as the verse for the day! It was written from the KJV so the working was slightly different, but of course the meaning was the same: For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Eph 2:14 KJV); I was so stunned and so excited and so very thankful that God would go to such extremes to show me He was with me and speaking to me!

So I am standing on this verse as a promise from God and praying that every barrier be broken down according to His Word that keeps me separated from what He has promised and keeping us (and Cypress Ministries) from growing into all that He has determined and shown me. The exciting thing is that as of today which is now two weeks from the first day I started praying about barriers, this word is everywhere I turn around! I have gone from never seeing it-- to seeing it all the time, which helps me to know that God is indeed listening to me and that this is a Word from Him.

My toe is healing and yesterday I did a faith walk from where I park my car under my tree to the spot at the river that is very special to me and back SEVEN times! It would be about 4 miles total. And during this walk, I praised God, called for the barriers to be broken down, and enjoyed fellowship with Him who I know is faithful.

I have true hope of seeing walls come crumbling down! I know that it was not normal for me to use the word barrier that Thursday-- and then seeing the word come up so many times just made it that much stronger, but seeing it in GOD's WORD!! That sealed it for me, and I have confidence that what I am praying for is indeed part of God's Will, because the verse that was brought to me was the verse with the barriers being broken and the two groups coming together-- and NOT either of the other two verses where the barriers were set to stay. It just seems to me, if the barriers I am praying for be broken down, was not pleasing to God or according to His Will, then God would have led me to the verses showing that they were meant to stay!

In case you are wondering what the other verses were, here they are:

  • Jeremiah 5:22
  • English Standard Version
  • Do you not fear me? declares the LORD. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
  • New International Version
  • Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.
  • Ezekiel 40:12
  • English Standard Version
  • There was a barrier before the side rooms, one cubit on either side. And the side rooms were six cubits on either side
  • New American Standard Bible
  • There was a barrier wall one cubit wide in front of the guardrooms on each side; and the guardrooms were six cubits square on each side

SO-- I am thanking God for showing me there is a difference and that all this time I have been praying that obstacles be removed, was not near powerful for what really needs to be prayed down. I am so hoping you will stand with me in these prayers that we shall see God's Word fulfilled and that the barriers that have been stopping me for so long will be broken down and that I will see new life begin to grow!

Praying in Faith:
"Father God, I come before You it totally thanks giving. Lord, thank You for hearing my prayers the other night, thank You for being with me, and helping me to pray according to Your will. Thank You for changing and directing my prayer and showing me the difference. Lord, thank You for moving in such amazing ways to show me that this was and is of You. Lord, BREAKTHROUGH!! Lord, may You breakthrough these barriers like a mighty flood water so that I may grow and come into all that You would have for me, my family and this ministry. Lord, every barrier, for I know there are many. Lord, let it be according to Your Word. Lord, thank You for being my peace. Lord, thank You that You are bringing us together and that the dividing walls will be broken down. Yes Lord! Thank You Lord, I stand to watch how You will bring this about, I stand to watch Your faithfulness and to be amazed. Lord, I wait to see how You will bring this to pass, and if there is anything I need to do-- Lord, if there is something that I need to do as my part, show me what it is and help me to be obedient. Lord these barriers I see, can only be moved and brought down by YOU-- Lord, I can't. Lord these barriers that have been obstacles in front of me for so long, can only be broken down by You. Lord, please let me see You do this-- Lord, please let me see You move on my behalf. Lord, every one of these barriers that have kept us separated and from growing, Lord I ask You to break them DOWN-- and I am standing in faith that I will see this done.
In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Have a wonderful and blessed day,

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Time of Reflection

~ From my heart
As I get closer to the 3rd anniversary of Cypress Ministries (July 10th) I find myself in something I have not felt before; a SQUEEZING of some sort! Almost like life is being squeezed out of me, and I find it very hard to breath. I also have found myself very irritable. Not in a bad mood, and I am not mad at anyone-- just very edgy and almost like I am to my last nerve. And everything seems to be aggravating me! I really feel like I am being squeezed and about to come out of my skin! Part of my prayer today has been, "Lord, please don't let me damage or hurt anyone around me as I 'explode.'" The breathing has been kind of labored but not like one of a panic attack, but more as if trying to breath while one of my sons give me a bear hug-- pretty hard.

But through it all there has also been a peace and an inner strength that I cannot quite explain. And most of all a "thanks giving" for all God has brought me through and done for me. These past few weeks have been a time of reflection-- I am reminded of the Israelites as they stood and listened to Mose recall all that God had done for them right before crossing the Jordan. And it has me thinking-- is this where I am at? As I look towards the future and July 10th, I do so with an awe of all that God has done these past 3 years. The changes He has made in me, the things He has taught me... It has been a time of worship-- even through the hurt and discomfort.

I eagerly look towards the breaking of a new day, but I also find myself wanting to spend as much time as I can hide under my Father's wing... so excited to venture out, but not quite wanting to leave the safety and comfort of where He has had me hidden for so long.

I found a journal I had forgotten about that I had written in 3 years ago. It made me smile as I read some of the verses that had spoken to me back then, and it made me grin even more as I read my thoughts and prayers-- because I can see where I am not the same anymore. I can see for myself where I have grown. I can see my "baby steps" at stumbling attempts at taking a step of faith, not quite sure that it was what God was calling me to do, but now so certain that there is no hesitation in stepping out.

In the journal I also found a few golden nuggets as I read some of my "God moments" I had forgotten about....

I don't know what is on the other side of next Tuesday, but I am fixing to find out. I don't know what awaits me, I only know I hear "it's coming" I feel like Elijah sending the servant out seven times to look for the evidence of rain clouds that he was certain he heard. I don't know how life will be next week or what will change (if anything to the human eye), I only know that God is faithful. And He has changed me, and I am very thankful.

"Lord, thank You for this time of reflection. Lord, thank You for this time to sit in worship and silence as I recall this walk You have led me on. Thank You that as I look back at my time in the wilderness-- there are two sets of footprints. Thank You that though You brought me out here, You did not send me out alone, You have been here every step of the way. Thank You for seeing me through. Thank You Lord, for all that You have done for me and my family these past 3 years. Lord, I do not know what awaits me next week, but I know I do not face it alone. Thank You that You are with me in this today, and that You will be with me in there later too. Lord, I praise You for Your faithfulness. I praise You for being mighty, thank You for Your comfort, and for all the times You have picked me back up, and the times You have set my feet on solid ground. Thank You for Your support, and Your provisions. Thank You for Your protection, and thank You for growing me in Your grace as I have had shelter under Your wing.
In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Even In This; Finding Joy & Peace

~ From my heart,
just something to think about today:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.
Do you believe this?”

She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ,
the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
(John 11:25-27 NKJV)

My friend I don't know what your "this" is... but I know I am going through one. The thing is, I just keep calling it "this" because I don't know what it is or how to even describe it. I don't know if it is my faith being tested, if I am "birthing something new" or maybe it is just simply God trying to bring me through something. All I do know is that "this" hurts, and it is a struggle, and it is difficult... And it seems as if God keeps leaning down to ask me, "will I love Him even in this?"

Even in this where I can't see my way clear, there seems to be no answers, no understanding; just an expectation that there is so supposed to be so much more, but it is just out of grasp... and the question is, "Will I trust Him even in this?"

And each time I find myself taking a breath with a strange sort of "weight" inside of me and saying, "Yes." I still believe that God is God. I still believe that God is good. I still believe that God is faithful. "Even in this" I believe.... it is really weird because I keep looking at my hands to see the rope burns, because part of me feels like I am hanging on by shreds, but at the exact same time, there is a calmness inside of me. And when I am very still I can feel -- that it is NOT me. Or better yet; it is NOT coming from me.

This is what Jesus wanted to know from Martha in the face of the death of their brother; did she believe? And Martha said "Yes Lord, even now I believe...." And I truly believe that God still comes to us in times such as that to see if, "Even in this, are we still His?" Can we (do we) still love and worship Him when times are hard, or when hurt and sorrow have come?

I think this is where true faith is revealed. I think that when we get to a point where we have nothing left, where we are simply just wrung out and hung up to dry; that we see what our faith is really made of. But even more importantly-- SO DOES EVERYONE ELSE. Anyone we have come in contact with during our walk where we say, "Oh sure, I believe God is God..." is there to see when it comes right down to it-- what is inside.

My friend, how are you wearing your faith? Are you grumbling? Or are you still maintaining stride even in "this?" Any one can shout from the mountain tops, but how are you standing on your faith in the valley? Because this is where true witnessing comes from. This is where you put your faith where your mouth is. And it is at times like this that our faith has a chance to grow and be strengthened-- and when we reach the other side we can look back and be amazed at seeing the hand of God that has brought us through.

I say that because Jesus told His disciples "go to the other side" He did not tell them to go half way across and come dead in the water. I know He doesn't expect us to either. So I know that some way or some how, I have to be able to come to the other side of my "this." I will-- and you will too.

I may have to make a circle in the desert a few times-- OK I HAVE circled the desert a few times, but I know that there will also come a time that God will bring me to the edge of the river and say, "Now go up and take the ground I am giving you." And when this time comes for me (and for you) let it NOT be unbelief that keeps us out.

And do you know that for all the "hardship" I can honestly say there HAS been joy and peace inside. That even in this, when I take the time to just stop and listen, when I come to a place where I just "wait" I can feel strength rising in the very depths of my heart that can ONLY come from God. And then I can feel a peace budding in me, and that brings joy because though on the outside nothing has changed, I know that God is still there, He is still by my side, and THAT brings a smile to my face. And I think that is what we need to do-- to seek out and find the joy that is there that comes with the peace in knowing, even in "this." I believe that is where we will truly find God. That it is in the "loving Him even in this" where we will experience His mightiness, and willingness to work on our behalf. I believe that when we lean into Him in times of "things we just can't explain;" that is where we will see that He really is there walking with us, and will bring about things for us to smile about.

My friend I want to encourage you today. God is still the same God as before. The same God who parted the Red Sea, is the same God now. Times have changed. People have changed, the way we eat, dress, and play have changed... BUT GOD has not changed. My prayer recently has been "Show that God to me. Come in and be THAT God for me, and in my life. Please step in and make Your presence known. Knock me off my feet with the unimaginative. Show my children, show my family, show those around me that YOU ARE GOD."

My friend, will you join me?

I wish you well, and may God shine upon you in all of your endeavors today.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Waters Are Receeding

Hi, yesterday marked the one year date that I called my friend Wendy to tell her about my "tide is turning" and the wedding vision God had given to me. So I decided to go see what my spot at the river looked like, and maybe go sit where I sat last year. Typically this time of year my spot is completely under water and you cannot reach it-- or get anywhere close to it. But yesterday, though it was muddy, I stood there and watched two white ducks swim in the water close by. I took several photos that I will share later; but first I want to share something from my heart.


From my heart:

Yesterday I drove down to my tree and parked the car and walked down to my spot at the river. I really had no hope of being able to get to it, at this time of year it is completely underwater. However-- this year it was different. Not only could I make it to the little fork in the brush off the main trail to get to my spot-- I was able to sit there for about two and half hours and praise and worship God. I first bent over and made it through the brush and got to my spot at the water, and yes, my spot was clear. It was muddy, but I was able to stand there just the same. In front of me were two white ducks-- just two and no more-- swimming around and fishing. I watched for a really long time as neither left the other's side and would put their heads down in the water to fish around.

I can not tell you how much peace and assurance this gave me, and the HOPE that good things and blessed promises are sure to come. After watching the ducks for awhile, I backed up and went and sat in the "opening of the brush" you have to climb through in order to get to the water. It was so incredibly peaceful and so very beautiful! I took my shoes off and walked around in it barefooted and took some pictures, and then sat down with my Bible and prayed. I sang a little and mostly just worshipped God. I had to laugh because I decided that when God's promise if fulfilled, and He brings me "my man" this is where I want our engagement pictures taken. I sat there and grinned while thinking about a friend of mine-- who I would ask to photograph us. I am glad she is adventurous, because the picnic and just us sitting together under the canopy of trees, is going to be a little bit different than your typical engagement photos you see.

While I was sitting there-- the peace that filled me was so overwhelming. And the "HOPE" was almost more than I wanted to let my heart have. But as I sat there looking at the grass that should have been underwater, I started thinking-- just maybe-- the waters are starting to recede in my life. Maybe the very symbolic sign of what should have been underwater but instead was fresh and green and full of life-- was me and my life. That maybe in my life (too) the waters are starting to recede; so that I can cross the Jordan into all that God has promised me.

Last year when I called Wendy to tell her bout the whole "Tide is Turning" thing, I remember telling her how DRY I felt, even my mouth felt parched. I couldn't seem to get enough water to drink to quench my body and hydrate it. Everything in me just felt so incredibly dry! But we had had a lot of rain in the winter and spring of that last year so the water was way high! (You can see photos of this in the last post) So you see-- it was just ME. I remember Wendy laughing saying maybe I should be praying for a refreshing of "His Living Water" and though that may have sounded good-- and typically been very good advice-- it wasn't that kind of dry I felt. I didn't feel spiritually dry-- just parched. I remember thinking later, "Well duh, the Israelites walked across the Jordan River on DRY ground" And the river I was looking at was anything but dry land! So what in the world did all of that mean?

But as I sat there yesterday, I realized the ground was dry! We haven't had ANY rain in months, so maybe this was what God showed me last year; that I needed to wait for the right season-- and that it was coming. That God knew when the rains would fall, and when they wouldn't. The waters are slowing receding! And it reminded me of Noah, after the rains, he still had to wait till the following year to finally see dry land and the earth showing new life before getting off the boat. So again it gives me hope.

And what is kind of humorous is that as I write this I noticed that the winds have started picking up today. This morning it was wonderful, but this afternoon it is pretty windy. But I won't complain-- Noah had to endure some hard winds too, as God sent them to dry up the water.

So I am going to look up-- I am going to worship and thank God because I know He is faithful and I too will see the day, and hear God finally say, "Now go out. Go up and take the land I have promised you."

My friend, have a wonderful day!


These first 3 pictures are of the main path and the break in the brush for me to go through to get down to the water.

You can see my spot from the river--
so excited that the water is low enough for me to get to it!

I was so excited to be able to get to my spot-- look at the two ducks!
The discoloration of these next two photos is from the sunlight.

Here are the two ducks that were swimming around at my spot.

Looking back up at the bridge I was just standing on.

These next 3 photos are of the place I have to go through from the main path to the spot at the river I talk about.

Here is "my river spot"

This is what I have to climb through in order to get to my spot at the river.

 This spot where I was sitting with my Bible, was completely under water this time last year. In fact the water came all the way up to the break in the trees you see.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

God Keeps Me

Hi, welcome back.
I would like to share with you a devotional I wrote several months ago, that talks about the same day as my last post, BUT it picks up where Wendy and I got off the phone-- and before I found out a few days later that God had confirmed our conversation with her. WHICH-- BY THE WAY-- IS EXACTLY 1 YEAR AGO TODAY,  JUNE 16TH!


Devotional: God Keeps Me
March 14th

(Psalms 91:4 NKJV)
He shall cover you with His feathers,And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

As we seek His face, His will, and His Ways; God has a way of covering us and sheltering us in the shadow of His hand and under His wing, as we grow in His Grace until He is ready to do an unveiling for the world to see. He protects our baby steps as we venture out to walk in faith, until our steps are sure footed and He knows we are ready to be put to the test, and to see us stand in victory.

One day last summer I decided to go out to this spot I love at the river. Now I knew it would be underwater because the river was really high at this point. However, I just had an overwhelming urge to go stand at the edge and declare my faith and step in, so I did. I got to my favorite tree and parked my car, and took a walk. I got to the place my spot should have been and sure enough, it would have been at least waist deep if I could get there. But not to be deterred, I walked a little further down and found a part in the trees and went to the water's edge.

The river was running in a strong current and I had a vivid reminder of Joshua 3:15 "the water overflows it's banks...." I wondered if the swelling waters I was seeing was anything like the high waters the Israelites faced when stepping into the Jordan River on their way to the promised land. It crossed my mind something someone had just said to me, "You must either have great faith, or you've lost your mind." As I stood there at the edge ready to step in, I have to admit; I was beginning to wonder which one it was... But stepped in I did, and as I stood there with the water around my thighs, I sang songs from memory and worshiped God. The waters didn't part that day for me, nor did I see them recede, but I was strengthened in my heart, and that was ok and enough for me.
After awhile, I walked a little further down and found a hidden little cove and sat down in the grass under some trees. As I sat there and looked around at my new little hide away, I noticed I was completely covered. Though I could see the walking trail behind me, I realized no one could see me. I had a view of the river and the water that came up to this little area was only about ankle deep and slow moving. It was beautiful, and after a bit, I realized I was not alone. There was this duck standing guard just off to my left. I was surprised that it had not moved when I came up and sat down. I was equally surprised that it was standing there not moving but just looking out at the water. I watched it for a moment and then started looking about some more, and to my surprise, I saw nestled up under the brush another duck, sitting there just as pretty as can be. Now I understood what the first duck was doing! It was standing guard-- it was there protecting this other one.  The thing was the second duck was completely hidden and sitting in the most beautiful place. The quietness and peacefulness was breath taking. I sat there for the longest time, and after a while I notice a pure white feather in the grass next to me. I picked it up and played with it. This little feather was solid white, no dirt, and so very soft. I tucked it into my Bible and crawled out of my spot to go back to my car.
I stopped at the bridge that overlooks my spot that I first went to and smiled, you couldn't see the little cove-a-sac at all. I opened my Bible and looked at the feather again, and prayed, "God, You know why I am here. You know what I hold in my heart, You know what I am believing You for, and I believe You are a good and faithful God."  I looked out over the water again and mentally thought about seeing a white feather floating in the air like a falling leaf, and wondered how long it would be before I would see some devotional mentioning a feather. I was excited thinking about it, because I knew that if (and when) I did, it would be confirmation that God had been with me, and knew what I had done-- and why. I smiled because I knew that it would show me, "Yes child, I heard your prayer, and I know why you were there at the water."
I finally made it back to my car, and decided to go by my office. When I got there, I went through the mail and picked up a few things, and then decided to go home. But, before I did, I went into what I call the family room to make sure the lights weren't on and things where picked up. I noticed that the verse of the day calendar was not correct-- no one had flipped it over, so I did. Do you know what I read? He shall cover you with His feathers,  and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
I didn't have to wait for a devotional! It was already there waiting for me! AND it was in God's OWN WORDS, not something someone else had thoughtfully written. I sat down and opened my Bible and looked up Ps. 91 and then decided to do a deeper study of this passage. Now I have always loved Ps. 91 for many reasons. But that day it took on a whole new meaning for me. (I sincerely hope that you will take some time to slowly read this passage sometime soon and let God's Holy Spirit speak to you.)
I still have the little white feather, and over the past 3 months I have gone back to it many times. When the "Northeaster Storm" hit me back in December (that I wrote about the other day), it has been a great comfort to me. And I was reminded of that day last summer when I sat there by the water, that God had already known what I was going to be doing, and where I would be. And just like the duck I saw standing there guarding the other-- God was guarding me through the midst of a "raging sea." These past few months while it has seemed as if I was struggling to stand, God has been watching over me. I think about the other duck that was hidden way that no one could have seen--- I don't know why it was there, maybe it too was nursing a heartache, or maybe healing from something... maybe it was just simply resting from swimming in the strong currents of the water earlier. But whatever the reason, it had found a safe haven and there was another standing watch. And I realize that is what God has done for me.
My friend, God knows when we need shelter from the storms. He knows how much we can really take. He will stand guard and let us find rest when we really can't go anymore. But He also knows when it is time to stretch our faith and grow. There are times when we need to face the overflowing banks and stand in the water, and let the currents swirl around us. It teaches us that we too can stand. And if the waters aren't parted, then we can trust God to strengthen our hearts in Him as we simply just worship.
I would like to leave you with one more passage to meditate on today: I will lift up my eyes to the hills--from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore. (Psalms 121:1-8 NKJV)

Have a wonderful and blessed day,

The following are a few photos from the day I am talking about in this devotional. I am adding them so you can see the "rushing river" that I dared to step into! The spot that I call "my spot" I couldn't even get to. In fact, the picture of legs is where I should have been able to step through some of the brush to walk down to my spot.

Also included are a few photos of the secluded little spot I went and sat down at just a little ways down from where I would have been, where I found the ducks.