Category Archives: Joy

Moments of Joy

“Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.” – Psalm 21:6

 

I used to go for short walks every morning and evening. My dog demanded it. (Nature calls, you know.)

But those daily walks stopped abruptly when my walking buddy died this summer. I took one last slow walk that morning after—leash and collar in hand—just to say goodbye. And crossing over that well-worn path we took each day, I remembered our times together—thanking God for bringing him into our family.

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A Reminder of Precious Times

Recently I came across a note I wrote after one of those morning jaunts around our neighborhood. It said…

“I’m amazed at how God always speaks to me when I’m walking the dog. Dog walkingGod talking.”

As I read that note from months before, I realized how much I miss those times. I miss my sweet canine friend. Twelve long years of walking together has left a hole in his absence—one that hasn’t filled in yet.

But this note reminded me of something else. Those walks held more than just companionship with my pet. They were also quiet moments with the Lord, for God was walking with us. As we followed our usual trail, I would pray…and God would always respond. His Spirit would speak to my heart—often His voice so clear I couldn’t wait to get inside to write down what He said.

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Needing to Walk

I miss those precious times. My four-legged buddy is no longer here. I have no responsibility to take him out anymore. No need to go out the door and down the path.

But my Lord is still here. The path is still here. And so are mornings and evenings.

And that note has stirred in my heart a longing to recapture those quiet strolls among the trees talking with my God and hearing Him reply.

Maybe I do need to go out the door and down the path each day again after all. This time, though, for me and for my Lord. Not nature calling…but God calling.

Sharing Joy

The words to my grandmother’s favorite hymn are rolling in my mind…

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Joy. Yes, that’s it. Pure joy.

God's sweet presence
Only God can fill the holes in our hearts with joy.

We need Him desperately, don’t we?

Let’s take time today to walk with our Lord and listen as He whispers what we need to hear. And let us also speak to His heart words of love and adoration as we share that sweet time together.

Precious joy.

If you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go for a walk…

Have a wonderful day!
Sabra

 

O Lord, thank You for walking with us each day and speaking to our hearts. May we be faithful to take the time to stay right beside You, to tell You how much we love You, and to listen to Your sweet voice. Thank You for the precious joy that comes from being in Your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Question:
Where is your special place with the Lord? We’d love to know. Please share with us by leaving a comment.

 

Linking up with my friends today on these wonderful blogs…
www.MeredithBernard.com – {Woman2Woman}
www.JenniferDukesLee.com – #TellHisStory
www.HolleyGerth.com – Coffee for Your Heart
 
Scripture from the Holy Bible, New International Version, 1984.
Hymn quoted is “In the Garden” by Charles A. Miles, 1913.
Images by Sabra Penley

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Filed under God's Presence, Joy, Prayer, Thankfulness

Do You Have a Blessing Room?

“Above all, love each other deeply…. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:8-10
 

Have you ever had your heart set on something and faced giving it up for the sake of someone else? It’s not easy, that’s for sure. Even if you choose to show love to another person by sacrificing what you desire, you can still struggle with self-pity and grumble in your heart. You might feel pulled in different directions—joy in giving and sadness in giving up—a feeling hard to shake.

Hard to Give It Up

I dealt with this feeling recently. Our son was leaving home for graduate school and his bedroom would soon be empty. What would we do with it? Without giving it much thought, I just named it and claimed it—it was going to be MY writing space. My refuge—my quiet place to read, study, and write.

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But I forgot God often has other plans. And so He did with this room.

Our sweet daughter asked if she could move back home until her wedding in May.  And, of course, we said yes. Just as we have enjoyed our son being home for a year after college, we will enjoy our daughter being with us these last months before she marries and settles in a home with her new husband.

And while excited to spend more time with her, my heart struggled to let go of MY writing space. Lord, this was supposed to be my quiet place, I whined. But God didn’t let me get away with grumbling and self-pity.

He showed me His plan. He gently whispered, “This isn’t meant to be YOUR room. This is meant to be a blessing room. Right now and always.”

A Blessing Room!

I never saw it that way before. And no wonder! My heart was so filled with a room for myself I couldn’t see a room for blessing anyone else.

When our hearts see only from the desire of our eyes, we cannot see God’s perspective and are blind to His blessings.

The Blessing Room

Asking the Lord’s forgiveness, I started to see this room with His eyes, and the excitement inside me grew. As I recognized the beauty of its purpose, all those negative feelings melted away and turned to pure joy.

A blessing room is a place of love, generosity, and hospitality. A place to bless all who enter.

This room will be a blessing…

                …for our daughter to live in until she marries.

                …for us to spend more time with her now.

                …as a guest room for visitors later on.

                …as a quiet place for study and writing when empty.

Who knows all the ways God will use it in the future.

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But here is the key. It is God’s room. It is to be used for His purposes. And He desires to bless everyone through it.

It’s the same with our hearts. They belong to God and He has created us to bless others with all the blessings He has given us.

When you make room in your heart for others, your heart itself becomes a blessing room. Always open, always giving, always full of love and grace.

And that’s the heart of God, isn’t it?

Bless All Who Enter

How to Let Go and Fully Give

So when we’re faced with those unwanted feelings that wreak of self, let’s take them captive and confess them before the Lord. He will whisper just what we need to hear to see our situation from His perspective and guide us to a new understanding. And as we surrender, our hearts will be filled with joy and peace and open to pour out God’s abundant blessings.

Do you have a blessing room?

Dearest Father, how we need to see Your perspective on every part of our lives. Reveal to us where our hearts are closed to loving others. Help us to open our hearts to You fully so we may shower Your love and grace on all those around us and be the blessing You created us to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Blessings to you,
Sabra
 
 
All Scripture from New International Version, 1984.
Images by Sabra Penley.
 
Linking up with my friends today on these wonderful blogs…
 
 

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Filed under Attitude, Blessing, Change, Deny Self, Doing Good, Giving, God's Purpose, Grace, Joy, Love, Sacrifice, Self

The Wonders of God – A Seaside View

“Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods…. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.” — Psalm 95:1-5
 

There’s something so appealing about the sea. I always get excited to see the beach and the waves and the line where the vast blue water meets the sunlit sky. And here I find myself–at the water’s edge. I breathe in the salty air and watch as the pelicans swoop across the water’s surface and hear the cries of the gulls as they pass overhead. The sand feels cool and comforting between my toes as the waves gently wash over my feet. As I look out to sea, I breathe deep and take it all in. And in that moment, I sense His presence.

Our GREAT and MIGHTY GOD.

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“Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and glory are in His sanctuary.” — Psalm 96:6

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“Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” — Psalm 98:7

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“How many are Your works, O LORD! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number–living things both large and small.” — Psalm 104:24-25

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“And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.’ So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” — Genesis 1:20-21

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“The LORD reigns, He is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; You are from all eternity. The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea–the LORD on high is mighty.” — Psalm 93:1-4

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“Praise the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps Himself in light as with a garment; He stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of His upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” — Psalm 104:1-3

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“I will praise You, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is Your love, higher than the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let Your glory be over all the earth.” — Psalm 108:4-5

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As I watch the setting sun, I feel the warmth of His love and this Scripture touches my heart…

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set Your glory above the heavens… When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him?” — Psalm 8:1, 3-4

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“Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” — Psalm 113:1-3

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“Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are His deeds, and His righteousness endures forever.” — Psalm 111:2-3

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“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display their knowledge. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” — Psalm 19:1-4

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The next morning, looking out toward the sea, I suddenly notice the three trees. And my heart remembers Calvary and God’s amazing love!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” — John 3:16

The glorious wonders of God are all around us. So often I miss them in the sights I see every day. But getting away to the seaside–miles away from home–I remember to notice. To see God’s majesty in His creation. To read about them in His Word. And once back home, to be more aware of the beauty that surrounds my every moment and brings praise to the Lord.

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What beauty surrounds you? What amazing wonders are evident in the place you live? Do you have a special place that draws you deeper to sing of God’s glory and majesty through His creation?

O precious Lord, how great You are! Your creations shouts Your praise and declares Your majesty. Thank You, Father, for the blessing the world with such beauty. Thank You for revealing Your glory in Your creation. May we always sing Your praises and worship You, for You are the LORD God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. You are our salvation–our very life. We offer to You our grateful hearts. In Jesus’ most precious name, Amen.

Grace and peace,
Sabra

 
All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Images by Philip Penley and Sabra Penley.

14 Comments

Filed under Creation, Enjoy Life, Glory, God's Presence, God's Works, Joy, Light, Love, Thankfulness

Simply. Fun. – Road Trip!

This post is about enjoying life. That's what Simply. Fun. posts
are all about. No careful writing. No great biblical insight. Just 
sharing the fun things in life.

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany him in his work all the days of the life God has given him under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 8:15

 

It’s been a whole year since we left town to go anywhere overnight. As we used to travel several times a year, my hubby was ready to go…anywhere! Our destination this time: San Antonio, to meet some sweet friends.

Road trips have always been enjoyable for us. We have special things we like to do along the way: listening to the radio, looking for photo ops and snapping a pic or two, planning ahead for the best place to eat, searching for some fudge, and timing our stops to include points of interest. And we’re always on the lookout for a Dairy Queen (as Blizzards are, regrettably, a favorite).

100_5731We love taking the back roads and seeing the sights, keeping an eye out for wildflowers and wildlife (which is pretty important or wildlife can turn into road kill pretty fast). And as I love taking photos, taking the road less traveled allows me to pull over, snap a few, and then quickly jump back in the car. That just can’t be done well on the interstate. So back roads were the way to go for this trip.

Transfer from 2007 Laptop 153Always in the past, David has been our driver and I’ve been the navigator. But now, because of my husband’s disability, he can’t drive. That leaves me to sit in the driver’s seat. I’ve driven plenty, but it isn’t my preferred spot in the car. I like riding shotgun. Being the sidekick. Taking a nap. I can’t take a nap when I drive, so now I drink lots of coffee. And then I have to stop more often. (Sorry…TMI.)

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Picture-taking is always on my mind when we travel. It isn’t as easy watching for the perfect shot when I’m watching the road. But, I did manage to find a few.

100_5748Why is it that when a there is a beautiful landscape just waiting to be photographed, there is absolutely no place along the highway to safely pull over and take a photo? I long for a stunning vista, the sunlight and shadow to fall just so, the animals to be near the fence or wildflowers that take your breath away. And then I see it—the perfect picture. Unfortunately, I’m doing 75 in a 75 and the shoulder is only 3 feet wide. Not one single drive or turn-off in sight. A then it’s gone. Like the proverbial big fish that got away.

100_5945And then there’s country music. Now, we may live in Texas, but we don’t usually listen to country music on the radio. We stay on the Christian music station most of the time. But when we’re out on the open road, we take whatever we can get. And in Texas, that’s country. Since we don’t listen to these songs much, it’s always interesting to listen to the lyrics. You can learn a lot from country songs. Like guys best not mess with country girls. They don’t take kindly to bein’ cheated on. Country boys apparently only drink two things: sweet tea and beer. And if they drink enough of the latter, all their troubles seem to disappear.

100_5955I have to say we were glad we made it to church Sunday morning to be fed some true theology. Otherwise, all we would have been fed was: “God is great. Beer is good. And people are crazy.”*

If we’re gone from home on Sunday we always make it a point to visit a church. This time we were blessed to hear Max Lucado speak in his home church during a wonderful worship service where they baptized…I don’t know…maybe 30-40 people? What a special day to visit!

Transfer from 2007 Laptop 145We stopped in Fredericksburg, a sweet little German heritage town, and walked around historic Main Street. Eclectic shops. Mild temperature. Sunshine. Soft breeze. Prime parking spot. Fudge. What’s not to love?

100_5944Dinner was a stop at a Dairy Queen for a delicious (if not so nutritious) Blizzard while sitting by the creek.

100_5951Two days of traveling the open road. And another item on the bucket list was checked off for the year.

100_5959Road trip.

A blessed weekend. Full of treasures. Full of friends. Full of joy. Full of love.

A precious gift indeed!

Have you been on a road trip lately? If not, do you have a bucket list for this year? Why don’t you tell us about it in the comments below?

Blessings to you,
Sabra

 

* Lyrics from "People Are Crazy" by Billy Currington.

Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
All photos by Sabra Penley.

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Filed under Bucket List, Enjoy Life, Family Time, Fun, Joy

Sweet Encouragement

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

This weekend was a getaway of sorts. A getaway from the everyday.  A time to enjoy the fellowship of sweet friends, to encourage and be encouraged, to enjoy a little travel along the countryside, to snap some photos, and spend more sweet time with my sweetheart.

Our friends from Pennsylvania were visiting family a few hours away and generously invited us to come down and spend some time with them. These aren’t just any friends, these are friends that write the blog Daily Encouragement Net. And right now in our lives, encouragement from these two in person sounded like just what the Doctor ordered.

And encourage they did! As I’ve written before, life is changing for us. As we seek God’s direction for our future in light of my husband’s disability, it is good to hear the thoughts, suggestions, and encouragement of others. Our sweet friends were the perfect ones to share this with, as they are chaplains, have worked in ministry for decades, and have so much wisdom to share.

Our Friends - Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Our Friends – Stephen and Brooksyne Webber

We haven’t known each other long. In fact, this is only the second time we’ve been with them. My husband started reading their blog a few years back and connected with them online. When we traveled to Pennsylvania for David to preach a revival, we connected and met them there for the first time. Even then they graciously opened their home and welcomed us with loving arms.

As a new blogger, I was especially interested to hear about how they got started with their online ministry and share some ideas we have for possible projects in our future. They listened and asked questions. They took a look at this blog and offered suggestions. We laughed, we shared, we listened, we worshipped, we prayed. And we came away from our weekend refreshed.

Refreshed. Restored. Ready for more…of whatever God has for us.

That’s what encouragement does. It lifts up those who are weary and worn and gives them a boost. It is like fresh air being blown into a room that’s stale and still and stuck. It breathes new life into it.

We needed this encouragement from our friends. God knew that. And God sent them our way and gave them such generous hearts to reach out to us and offer their gift of love.

Encouragement

We all need friends. Friends can come from many different places and circumstances. But brothers and sisters in Christ are special friends. We just connect. We’re family.

 Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

God brings us together at specific times for specific purposes. Sometimes God gives us close-by friends. These friends are around us a lot and know us well. Other times, God sends us special friends right when we need them—at a certain time in a certain place.

I want to be both. I want to be the kind of friend that is always near, standing ready to share and uplift, give a hug or be a shoulder to cry on. And I want to be that certain kind of friend that God places in others’ lives for a special purpose, encouraging them as they go through those weary and worn spots in life. Generous and gracious and loving.

Like our friends, Stephen and Brooksyne.

Thank You, Father, for the blessing of friends. Thank You for the encouragement that flows from You into our lives through the love of another. May we be an encouragement to everyone you place in our lives, to lift up the weary and worn, to refresh and revive those weighed down by troubles, and to point them always back to You. Help us to be instruments of Your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Stephen and Brooksyne's ministry at www.dailyencouragement.net has been 
such a blessing to us. Please click on the link and check it out. I 
know you will be blessed, too.
All Scripture is from the New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Images: Sabra Penley

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Filed under Encouragement, Friendship, Joy, Love

Ready for Spring?

See! The winter is past, the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come…

Has springtime blossomed in your neck of the woods yet?

I’m happy to report that deep in the heart of Texas spring is in full swing. The daffodils put on their showy display a few weeks back, always the first to burst into bloom and give us hope that warmer days are just around the corner.

Well, warmer weather is here. We’ve already broken out the shorts and flip-flops, and spring cleaning is on the schedule. The buzzing sounds of lawnmowers and weed-wackers greet the early weekend morning and the smell of fresh-cut grass permeates the air. The earth is a sea of green everywhere we look, in every hue imaginable.

And then there’s the wildflowers. God’s great celebration of the new beginning, like crowning jewels on the landscape. And Texas has a beautiful array.

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I love the verse above from Song of Songs 2:11-12: “The winter is past…flowers appear…the season of singing has come….”

Indeed, it is time to celebrate. And all of God’s creation seems to be singing His praise!

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Back in January, in the dead of winter, my sweet husband and I wrote out a bucket list of sorts–things we wanted to do for fun this year. Money is tight, so we chose things that cost little or nothing. And one of the first things my husband mentioned was driving around to see the wildflowers when spring rolled around.

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Yesterday we had the pleasure of hopping in the car, driving out west of town, and hunting for these little beauties. And what a colorful bounty of blooms we found!

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Many flowers come and go so fast we can miss their beauty. Like a celebration of God’s goodness, we must plan and schedule and make time to enjoy them.

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These glorious treasures remind me that the same is true of the people in our lives. Often opportunities to spend time and celebrate life with them come and go so quickly we can miss them. How often are we so busy and distracted and our schedules so loaded that we miss the precious moments God is providing? Moments that may never come our way again. Moments like spending a Saturday afternoon with my wonderful husband rejoicing in God’s blessings.

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I look at my grown children and wonder how their childhood was over so quickly. I feel my dad’s absence and miss the days of his smiles and silly jokes. I visit my mom, who is having more difficulty these days, and realize the days are growing shorter that I will get to share laughs and hugs with her. And my own sweet husband–my miracle man. I remember just how close to death he came and how each day is a precious gift with him. I don’t want to miss any of it.

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Like flowers that burst into bloom and quickly fade, so are opportunities to celebrate life with those we love.

We don’t know if the opportunity before us will ever come again. But the Lord has given it to us now. Let us take hold of it and not let go!

The season for singing has come! Let’s celebrate!

Dearest Father, thank You for the beauty of spring! Thank You that new life springs forth from the earth and Your glory is seen across the landscape. Let us not miss any of it, Lord. Help us to celebrate this life You have given us with those you have placed in our lives. Let us lift up songs of praise to You and rejoice in Your glory!…In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

All Scripture from New International Version of the Bible, 1984.
Photos by Sabra Penley.

This post has been added to a link-up with Inspire Me Monday at http://www.angieryg.com. To read other inspirational messages, just click on the link below…

Angie Ryg

 

 

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Filed under Celebrate, Glory, Joy, Love, New Beginning, Thankfulness

When God Says “No”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

What do you do when God says “no”?

What do you do when those prayers you’ve been lifting up finally receive an answer, and it isn’t what you had hoped? When the “no” comes at the end of heart-felt prayer about the very thing that makes your heart sing? Your work? Your health? Your relationships? Your passion? Your dream? What do you do when you hear “no”?

 

Three days ago, we received a “no” from God. In that moment, a prayer that has been ongoing for fourteen months came to an end. And I can’t help feeling a dream has died.

You see, my husband is a minister. For ten years he served as a pastor and has been a seminary professor for the last sixteen. Last year, a severe illness left him with a disability of several things needed for this calling. We long ago realized preaching was probably not going to be in David’s future. But the dream of teaching once again in a seminary classroom stayed strong in our hearts. We thought, “Just maybe….” While we knew it was possible that might never happen, we held out hope and lifted up prayers.

Receiving this sad news has, for a moment, taken the wind out of our sails. But just for a moment. For in the quiet stillness of a life slowed, we cry out to God all the more. Through our tears…through our fears.

What does a preacher/professor do with impaired speech, troublesome motor skills, and weakened memory? We don’t know. But of one thing we are sure–God knows. He knows it all. And as the quote above from Jeremiah 29:11 states, this is all a part of His plan. He isn’t surprised by any of it. And it is all in His control. What great peace this knowledge brings!

no wind, no sails

 

My husband’s new weaknesses have halted this part of our journey–that of actively teaching at the seminary, but these same weaknesses are preparing him for another part–one not yet known to us. God is transforming my husband–indeed, both of us–for our next assignment. And in His time, God will breathe new wind into our sails to move us in a new direction. He will place in our hearts a new dream. The dream that is necessary to compel us onward toward God’s new work…a work in keeping with this season in our life.

We may seem to be drifting at this point, but we are in fact still serving, still moving forward with God’s ultimate purpose–for us to bring Him glory in all we do.

sailing forth

 

Our inability to see where this is leading is okay, because God is always with us as our constant companion and guide. As long as we keep our focus on Him and follow where He leads us each day, we will be moving in the right direction.

And one morning, when the time Is right, God will open our eyes to see where He is leading us. We’ll see a new dream on the horizon.

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For now, our mission is the same as that of every believer–to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our minds…and to love our neighbors with the love the Lord has shown to us. That is true no matter the calling, no matter the gifting, no matter the location or health or life situation. This is the Lord’s will for us–to bring Him glory in everything.

So when God says “no” in answer to a specific prayer request, I will give Him praise. For He has heard my prayer and answered. And He is leading us on to something else–another part of this great adventure.

When God says “no,” it can feel like the death of a dream. But in reality, it is simply the birth of something new.

I love these words from Isaiah 43:18-19: 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

And so we work in the waiting. Waiting in expectation for this something new.

Trusting God…rejoicing always…praying continually…and being ever thankful.

For when God says “no,” He isn’t leaving you without. He is simply saying “I’ve got something else for you.”

In Christ’s love,
Sabra
 
 
All Scripture from NI84.

Images:
"Ships that pass by..." by Gopal Vijayaraghavan via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
"Tucker Thompson sailing ship" by Jakob Steinschaden via flickr
     (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
"View from the bowsprit" by savagecat via flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Morning Horizon by Sabra Penley

33 Comments

Filed under Change, Expectation, Faith, God's Purpose, God's Timing, God's Works, Hope, Joy, New Beginning, Peace, Prayer, Thankfulness, Transforming, Trust, Waiting