Friday, October 8, 2021

The Massive Spider Web


 

Plans fall apart without proper advice; but with the right guidance, they come together nicely. Proverbs 15:22 (The Voice)

 

Sunlight struck my face as the sun rose above the trees. As I squinted and looked toward the lake, I noticed a glistening masterpiece suspended from my oak tree. For several minutes I stared at it. 

 

            With my binoculars, the intricacies of the spider web came into focus. A silver thread attached the top of the web to a high branch about twenty feet from the ground. Five or six strands hung from the bottom but the ends eluded me. 

 

            The giant web contained thick fibers radiating from the center to the outside like spokes on a wheel. More threads wove round and round between them in a beautiful, lacy design. 

 

            The captivating creation brought so many questions. How could a little spider construct a web so high? After working so diligently to develop it, what happened to the spider? Did the web catch any prey? What caused the large holes? 

 

            Because of the pandemic and being isolated, I have spent more time in my garden retreat enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. For months, many spider webs glistened in the grass, on small bushes and a few in trees. However, none had been as massive or as high as the recent one. 

 

            The little critter had to drop ten or fifteen feet from the top of the tree as it formed the first strand of the web. It dangled far above the ground to work on the web. Round and round it went to fashion the immense design. Diligently, it went further down to attach the web at the bottom. Up and down to hold it firmly with five or six threads. 

 

            After all of that work, something hit or flew through the web and made a couple of large holes. Did the spider receive any food from the web? Was it eaten by whatever made the hole? I will never get answers to my questions but the web made me think.

 

            Just as the spider accomplished its tedious, demanding work so do we. Our lives are formed with complex designs. We work and work forming what we think is best. Then losses, disappointments… cause holes to form in our plan. Sometimes they can be repaired easily and other times not. But if we have a firm anchor in Jesus, He will hold us securely even when the plan seems to be falling apart. 

 

Loving Father, what an amazing creation you have made. Thank you for everything from spider webs to our intricate lives. Amen

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Blessing in Community


 

 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls, and doesn’t have another to lift him up. 11 Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one keep warm alone? 12 If a man prevails against one who is alone, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (WEB)

 

Like beacons of light my blooming orchids burst forth with color. They hung on a wooden tower and all pointed outward with clusters of blooms on long stems. 

 

            Each plant produced a unique color and design: large white with yellow centers, rich velvet like mauve, medium sized beige striped with violet, and tiny purple touched by white.  

 

            Up close, I examined and was amazed at the intricate design of every variety. The flowers on each stem were exactly the same but different from the other plants even though they were all the same species.  

 

            Once a week, I water them and occasionally add fertilizer. From their stand on the porch, they receive morning sunshine and shade from intense afternoon light. Even though I provide favorable growing conditions, nothing I do can make them grow. Only God does that. He created every one and determines its growth.  

 

            The gorgeous flowers bloom once a year but they last for two to three months. Although every one is lovely alone, the collection of flowers produced a splendid arrangement. 

 

            In community, we also flourish and produce more than we can as individuals. During isolation, we learned how important family members, Bible study groups, neighbors, friends, work colleagues and others contribute to our wellbeing.

            In community we form bonds which help us grow, flourish and serve. Together we form a beautiful collage.

 

Father, what a blessing we have when we join together. Thank you for the special gifts of community. Amen

Thursday, September 9, 2021

God's Provision


 

“Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first God’s Kingdom and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don’t be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day’s own evil is sufficient. Matthew 6:31-34 (WEB)

 

 

Rumbles of thunder shattered the morning silence. Clouds darkened and blocked the blue sky. Hidden crows screeched at the interruption. Songbirds remained silent. 

Bumblebees visited orange flowers but no other wildlife appeared. 

 

            Rumbling grew to more frequent loud thunder. Wind rustled trees across the lake and then swept closer and closer. Rain followed the gales. Sheets of water streaked across the lake to my yard. 

 

            Cypress trees shook limbs heavy with moisture. My oak tree’s branches quivered in the storm. Flowers jiggled with raindrops. 

 

            Like a giant watering can, refreshing water poured onto grass, flowers, and trees. The lake level rose to normal. 

 

            With wonder I watched the effects of the storm on creation around me and marveled at God’s provision. 

 

            Media reports beg us to become embroiled in dissention with one catastrophe after another which causes anxiety, fear, anger and depression. 

 

            However, when I embrace the beauty of nature in my time with God each morning, I can forget covid, bombings, wars, protests, and natural disasters for a while. His provision for creation reminds me that He also cares for His people. That assurance helps me face daily trials.

 

Loving Father, when I see your provision for birds, bees, trees and flowers, I remember that you care for us even more. Thank you. Amen

 

            

Friday, August 27, 2021

Cloaked with Peace


 

You will keep whoever’s mind is steadfast in perfect peace, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3 (WEB)

 

Rumbles of thunder broke the morning’s silence. Clouds darkened the sky and blocked the sun. Hidden crows screeched. Songbirds remained silent. Bees visited flowers but no other wildlife appeared. 

            

            Thunder grew louder and more frequent. Wind rustled trees on the far shore and then swept closer. Sheets of rain followed close behind. First it raced over the lake and then hit the shore and my yard. 

 

            Tall cypress trees shook heavy limbs as though trying to remove the blasts of water.  The smaller oak tree quivered when washed by the rain. Flower leaves jiggled with each drop. 

 

            Droplets coated my screen. Mist and cooler air caressed my arms. 

 

            Wind ceased and a soft rain replaced the torrents. Gentle, long waves traveled from shore to shore. 

 

            Like a giant watering can, rain refreshed grass, flowers and trees. The lake level rose. Much needed moisture brought renewal. 

 

            God knows His creation requires sunshine and rain to flourish. In wonder, I watched the shower and marveled at His provision. 

 

            A barrage of news reports begs us to become embroiled in one catastrophe after another which causes fear, anxiety and depression. 

 

            When I spend time with God each morning on my patio, I can forget the pandemic, protests, unrest, bombings and natural disasters for a while. Watching nature intently reminds me that God provides for His creation from tiny bees to me. 

 

            Just as the rain showers and refreshes creation, God’s love and comfort cloaks us with His peace. 

 

Jehovah-Shalom, the provision you give to Your creation includes us. Thank you for the comfort, love and peace we are given. Amen

            

Monday, August 23, 2021

A Stubborn Attitude


 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (WEB)

 

The two-year-old toddler asked for a banana. After a couple of bites, she noticed fresh from the oven cookies. Suddenly, her fruit lost appeal and she asked for a cookie. 

 

            My granddaughter, Ashlyn, who was babysitting for the tyke said, “You can have a cookie when you finish your banana.”

 

            With a quick trip across the kitchen, she threw her banana into the trash can. 

 

            She looked at Ashlyn and said, “Cookie?”

 

            In her mind, the unacceptable situation had been taken care of. Get rid of the banana and get the cookie. 

 

            “She can’t get away with that,” I said. “You have to be firm.” 

 

            Ashlyn agreed as she pulled the fruit from the garbage. It had not touched anything unpleasant because of the peel so we decided it would be safe to eat. 

 

            Even with the banana nearby, the determined tyke continued asking for a cookie. 

 

            Ashlyn repeated, “You can have a cookie when you finish your banana.” 

 

            Back and forth went the same conversation. Finally, we decided on a compromise. If she ate two bites of the remaining banana, she would get her cookie. She did and enjoyed the homemade cookie. 

 

            As we laughed about her stubbornness, I thought about how I have done the same thing when God leads me on a certain path. I want to ignore His instructions and get my own way. I tell Him what I want. He tells me what I must do first. Back and forth we go. Sometimes I continue to plead my case and decide I know best which often brings painful consequences. Other times, I listen and follow His plan with better results. 

 

            Hopefully, I am learning to listen when God leads me and not argue. 

 

            Have you ever had a similar experience?

 

Jehovah Nissi, You can see what lies ahead and where the victory will be. Help me learn to listen and follow your plan and not mine. Amen 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

A Still Voice in the Tumult


For God alone, O my soul wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:5-8 (ESV)

With eyes closed tightly, I prayed for our country as we ended a year of turmoil and faced a new year with more unknown situations. But a constant roar of traffic on the interstate broke into my prayer. Humming from small planes joined the din of traffic. The racket distracted me. 

            Then my focus changed when I noticed more pleasing sounds near me. A chorus of songbirds formed a symphony of charming tunes. Their entertaining melodies pushed the clamor into the background. My mood instantly improved and thankfulness removed distress.            

            At first I only heard the loudest, annoying noises. But when I concentrated, the softer, more pleasant ones soothed me. 

            Month after month, the pandemic brought frightful news. Groups protested. Riots overtook cities. They all wanted to be heard and blared their agendas around the United States and the world. Turmoil overtook normal conversations and the media. 

             One catastrophe hit after another. Outbursts overshadowed reason. Confusion and mayhem became common. 

            Nevertheless, in the midst of chaos, there were acts of kindness. Families discovered more ways to connect. Loved ones grew more precious. 

            We can choose to listen to the destructive voices or search for God’s peace and tranquility in the midst of pandemonium. 

            When I listen, the still, small voice of God rises above the tumult. He offers hope and encouragement in the pandemic and whatever lies ahead. 

Loving Father, speak to us in our distress and confusion. Amen


I wrote this a few months ago but just posted it. 

       

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

 Shattered Pieces

Rebecca Carpenter

August 11, 2021

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

 

Crash! From my office, I hurried to the kitchen to see what caused the sound of breaking glass. Nothing was out of place. 

 

       Then I walked into the living room. A large African basket had fallen from its spot at the top of the entertainment center. It certainly couldn’t make the loud racket. 

 

       As I moved closer to the basket, my foot discovered small, sharp slivers. I noticed white fragments strewn across the wood floor and rug.

 

       The basket hit a decoration that stood on a lower shelf before it plummeted to the floor. A corner of it broke off into pieces too small to repair. While I gathered the ceramic like shards, I realized what had caused the mishap. 

 

       The lady who cleaned my home earlier that day had evidently moved it when she dusted. The circular basket stood upright at the back of the top shelf but must have slowly slipped and then dropped which hit the decoration. 

 

       The broken piece wasn’t as expensive as other favorite items on my shelves. However, it was meaningful to me because of the Scripture on it. 

 

       For a second, I thought of throwing it away as rubbish. Then I realized God gave me a story.

 

       The verse from Philippians 4 gave me comfort when I was stressed. “Be anxious for nothing… 

 

       We can easily slide into situations, relationships, or habits that cause us to fall. Lives can be broken but not beyond repair. Prayer changes things.

 

       Jesus can take pieces of our shattered lives and make something beautiful. 

 

Father, thank you for taking shattered lives and turning them into something magnificent. Amen