Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Archive for the tag “nature”

1600 Miles of Lessons

A couple of weeks ago I drove over 1600 miles in 8 days…from the shores of Lake Erie, Ohio to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I meandered through the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains and throughout the state of Virginia. I spent some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway and drove under the bridge in Chesapeake. The mountains were in peak season. The vibrant reds and yellows were absolutely breath-taking.The sunrises and sunsets I witnessed in Duck, NC were equally awe-inspiring.

I am a nature girl. I feel closest to God in nature. Listening to the wind blow in the tops of trees or sitting on the beach, listening to waves crash fills me with such wonder. Give me a blanket on a beach staring up at the stars over any other type of entertainment and I’m a happy girl.

The Bible teaches in the book of Romans: 

Ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

You can say creation was God’s first missionary.

“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 knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

Sunrise in Duck, North Carolina. So incredibly beautiful!

Sunrise in Duck, North Carolina. So incredibly beautiful!

Sunrise at the Outer Banks, Duck, North Carolina

Sunrise at the Outer Banks, Duck, North Carolina

This is the deer noticing me at the beach in the Outer Banks...He was not timid

This is the deer noticing me at the beach in the Outer Banks…He was not timid

This is him peering at me...the next picture was him coming towards me to check me out. Freaked me out so I took off.

This is him peering at me…the next picture was him coming towards me to check me out. Freaked me out so I took off.

Sunset in the Sound. We serve such an amazing, creative God!

Sunset in the Sound. We serve such an amazing, creative God!

Sunset in the Sound at the Outer Banks.

Sunset in the Sound at the Outer Banks.

Somewhere in VA at an overlook. Notice the river running through it. Beautiful

Somewhere in VA at an overlook. Notice the river running through it. Beautiful

Blue Ridge Parkway. Taken at Raven's Roost.

Blue Ridge Parkway. Taken at Raven’s Roost.

The leaves changing colors.

The leaves changing colors.

One of my most favorite spots.

One of my most favorite spots.

But as amazing as the beach and the mountains were during the trip, there was another aspect of His creation I enjoyed even more…His people.

These past nine months, I have helped lead a WIML Cohort. (WIML = Women in Ministry Leadership). There were 12 ladies in the cohort from all around the nation. We would have monthly 2 hour conference calls centered around enhancing our personal growth  and leadership skills. We read several books together. The ladies were also professionally coached during these nine months. The cohort culminated in a Summit at a beach house in Duck, North Carolina.

All together, there were 21 ladies staying at the beach house. The theme was “Worth it”. Some of the sessions were risk is worth, leadership is worth it, healthy rhythms of life are worth it, Holy Spirit empowered ministry is worth it, and going for it is worth it.

The times of worship were precious. It was amazing to see 21 women get to know one another. Hearing the laughter  around the dinner table and each lady sharing their story made my heart so incredibly happy. We were meant to live life together. We live in an age where we think deep, lasting relationships can be cultivated over social media. It is not enough. Social media can help but it does not replace the dynamic of being together, face to face; laughing together, crying together, encouraging one another. We must be living in community together. We need each other.

Ministry can be hard. Life can be hard. We need each other to celebrate the triumphs and to mourn the losses; to cheer each other on when we feel like giving up, to remind us that this crazy adventure God has us on is most definitely worth the sacrifice and the pain. And joy really does come in the morning.

There is nothing more beautiful than community. No mountain or sunrise or sunset and anything else in creation can compare to the beauty of God’s people.  The diversity and creativity displayed in each and every one of us is mind-boggling. And my time away at the beach house with 20 amazing ladies reminded me of this truth.

Some of the best youth in all of the land. On my way to NC, I had to take some of our youth to a college preview in VA. They are more beautiful than the mountains behind them.

Some of the best youth in all of the land. On my way to NC, I had to take some of our youth to a college preview in VA. They are more beautiful than the mountains behind them.

At the college preview, I got to spend time with the 3 of these amazing young adults. I have known them since they were kids and have watched them grow up. I am so proud of their walk with Jesus and where they are in ministry.

At the college preview, I got to spend time with the 3 of these amazing young adults. I have known them since they were kids and have watched them grow up. I am so proud of their walk with Jesus and where they are in ministry.

All 21 of us at the Summit. Amazing group of ladies. What an incredible time of laughter, worship and getting to know one another.

All 21 of us at the Summit. Amazing group of ladies. What an incredible time of laughter, worship and getting to know one another.

The 3 of us who lead the cohort. Love these ladies. We are so different but complement each other very well!

The 3 of us who lead the cohort. Love these ladies. We are so different but complement each other very well!

The ladies in the cohort. Amazing ladies in this group. World changers.

The ladies in the cohort. Amazing ladies in this group. World changers.

Got to spend time with my best friend in the whole wide world.

Got to spend time with my best friend in the whole wide world.

The 3 of us with our friend and mentor. She has so spoken into each of our lives.

The 3 of us with our friend and mentor. She has so spoken into each of our lives.

The ladies who cooked for us. Cheri says "food is the currency of relationships". The currency was amazing!

The ladies who cooked for us. Cheri says “food is the currency of relationships”. The currency was amazing!

Building community

Building community

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McPherson Rain

I have spent the past 2 out of 3 weeks at youth and kid’s camp. Both weeks were incredible. The first week was youth camp. It was raining one night during service and I began to write a poem. I was home for a week in between camps. Pastor Jim spoke on the Sunday in between camps on storms that come up in our lives and how they can draw us closer to Jesus, if we let them. When I got to Kid’s Camp there was rain again. I finished it up while at camp. This is my only second attempt at poetry.   🙂 I absolutely love how God speaks through His creation. 

Camp McPherson Rain

The rain is gently falling down
Washing away the dirt, dust and grime of life;
Cleansing the deepest, darkest part of me;
Cleansing and setting me free.

The rain is steadily falling down,
Saturating the ground.
Bringing to life areas
Dried and shriveled up;
Places where fruit no longer abounds.
In the same way
May Your Spirit fall on me
Saturating every single part of me,
Allowing me to grow so Your love and goodness
All may know.

There is a mist clinging to the hillside,
A tangible sign of God’s presence.
Truly He is always near,
Hovering over me.
Guiding, protecting, nudging me along the way;
Watering my sin weary, parched soul.

The storm is passing
The sun is peeking through the clouds.
What will the Son find in the storm’s wake?
Debris of bitterness, doubt, anger, and despair?
Or a faith renewed and cleansed?
A faith so strong, no storm could ever take.

Camp McPherson

Camp McPherson

Mist in the trees after the rain. Sun was trying to come out.

Mist in the trees after the rain. Sun was trying to come out.

Rain storm at camp

Rain storm at camp

Lessons learned while Kayaking: #1 Do not panic!

Sunday, I took my kayak out on the lake for the first time this year. I was so excited!!! Kayaking on the lake is much more fun and peaceful than the river.  I  got to Main Street Beach and launched out. I had my life jacket on, phone (for pictures of course) and other necessary items secured in my waterproof bag…all systems go.

My kayak!

My kayak!

I was paddling along for about ten to 15 minutes…enjoying the sunshine and the waves and the quiet. I decided to coast for a little bit to soak it all in and relax. That morning we had a powerful healing service in church…and I got to enjoy God’s presence with His people — and now a few hours later I was enjoying His presence in another part of His creation…Lake Erie and sunshine! I love being outside!

Lake Erie in my kayak

Lake Erie in my kayak

As I was coasting and soaking it all in…half way to my destination, I heard a sound…a gurgling sound…I turned around to look at the back of my kayak and that’s when I noticed the one thing I didn’t check before I launched…the stopper. If I had checked, I would have known that it was gone. Vanished. Not there.

Where the stopper should be.

Where the stopper should be.

 

They put holes on one of end of kayaks so that you can drain the water out when you are finished. It is on the top of the kayak and on a river really wouldn’t be a problem but on the lake where it is wavy and boats create a lot of wake, it could be a problem. I decided it wasn’t that big of a deal and started rowing again. I figured I could drain it at my destination before I turned back for the return trip. I went another 10 or 15 minutes. That is when I saw the water by my feet. I decided it was time to turn around. For a brief moment, I felt a little panicked. After taking a deep breath, I knew I was fine…I had my life jacket, everything valuable was secured and I was prepared. Even if I capsized or sank, I wouldn’t die. I would just have to swim to shore. I continued paddling back to the beach, enjoying the journey (and taking a few pictures along the way).

It made me think that life is a lot like kayaking. We prepare as much as possible for problems we think we will encounter on the way but something always comes up that we weren’t anticipating or simply overlooked. We can look at the circumstances and begin to panic which only makes matters worse or we can look around, assess the situation, and decide even in this I will relax and enjoy the journey. And take some pictures along the way!

The Leaf

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As I was leaving my house yesterday to go to a Christmas dinner, I noticed this leaf. It had somehow gotten wedged in a crack in my sidewalk. It struck me. I hurriedly put my dish for the dinner in my car and went and grabbed a camera and took a few photos. I went to my party and came back home and it was still there. Standing straight. Proud. Resilient. This evening as I type and the rain falls down, the leaf is still wedged in the crack. I wonder how long it will stay there. Will it be there when I wake up in the morning. And why am I so fascinated by this leaf?

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Maybe its the fragility and strength that the leaf represents. Or that it is standing when it really should not be. And it is perfectly shaped and beautiful.

I am a lot like that leaf (not the perfectly shaped part 😉 ) I know how fragile and weak that I am. But even in my fragility and weakness I know that I am strong. I have been able to stand even when difficult challenges  have come my way. The Apostle Paul writes in his 2nd letter to the Corinthians “And  He (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities,  so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) No matter what has come my way…God has helped me stand strong like that crack in the sidewalk is helping the leaf to stand. But unlike the leaf, I know that God will not let me go.

When the wind and rain of life buffet me, I may bend and feel like breaking but I won’t. His strength is enough. It shines through my weakness. His power rests on me.  And I guess that is why I am so enamored by the leaf. God’s power and strength shines through that leaf standing in the sidewalk. The leaf represents HOPE and assurance that God has not and will not ever let me go.

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