Category Archives: Inspiration

Knee Stain

file0001533199433

Drops swell at branch tip
to catch bubble light and, glass like,
wink to the waiting grass.

Even with scrubbing
the new dirt of the strawberry hill
paves the crease in my finger skin.

Between pig pen, and prodigal proof,
I garden with the angel of Eden,
hoping to keep a foot in the gate.

Put down roots, pull up weeds
hoping for another hand
on the wheelbarrow.

Father and Son team,
such a threat to the devil,
such a joy in the spring wet mud.

What God Might Know

list on a paper

What do you know that God doesn’t know?

This may seem like a rhetorical question, but go ahead and answer it anyway. Grab a paper and pen and write at the top, “Things I know that God does not.”

If you’re like me, you’ll come up with a very short list. In fact, my page is blank.

I could try this exercise with any other person, and I could compile a list. Pitch me against the smartest person on the planet and I could find a small fact that I could win. Pitch me against my most intimate friends, and I could list items they don’t know about me.

Not so with God.

Everything I know, God already knows. Everything I think, or feel, or do, God already knows. Psalm 139 begins, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” The Bible tells us God knows when we sit and when we rise (Psalm 139:2). God knows completely what we will say even before we say it (Psalm 139:4). God knows our follies (Psalm 69:5) and our human plans (Psalm 94:11). God wrote in His book the details of all our days (Psalm 139:16).

There is nothing I know that God does not know. Which then begs the question, what does God know that I don’t?

Job 8:9 declares, “we were born only yesterday and know nothing.” And in the midst of Job’s trials, God pointed out just how much more God knows than us. “Where were you when I laid the earths’ foundation?” God asked. And in a series of rhetorical questions, we sense how great is God’s knowledge compared to ours (Job 38-39):

clouds parting

Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place? (Photo by Janet Beagle)

  • Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?
  • What is the way to the abode of light?
  • Where does darkness reside?
  • Do you know the laws of the heavens?
  • Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water?
  • Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God?
  • Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?

Isaiah (40:14) also challenges us: Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?

The answer, of course, is no one. God himself is all-knowing. And as we begin to grasp this truth, we can cry out like Paul, “Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33)

We can barely grasp the fringes of God’s omniscience. Not one sparrow falls to the ground without God knowing, Jesus told His disciples. And even the hairs on your head are all numbered (Matthew 10:29-30).

If this is the level of knowledge of our God – if He knows everything about us, and then some – then that means He knows everything about us right now. He knows the situations we’re in and the struggles we face. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to think that we are the only ones who really “get it.” And when the going gets tough, it’s easy for us to get ahead of God on the solution. We may think we know how to fix something, and we may find ourselves repeatedly frustrated as our efforts seem to hit dead ends.

If so, we need to pause and ask ourselves, what might God know that we don’t?

hands holding butterfly

Even amidst our struggles and frustration, we may be in the exact position necessary for God’s plan. (Photo by J. Canino.)

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah:55:9).

Even amidst our struggles and frustration, we may be in the exact position necessary for God’s plan. God’s paths are beyond tracing out. Rather than trying to find a way out, perhaps we should be asking God what He would like us to do right here, right now. Perhaps we should recognize that maybe we lack knowledge of the full picture after all. And perhaps we should follow James’ advice, who suggests that, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5).

After all, it just might be possible that God knows something I don’t.

 

Janet Beagle

Janet Beagle, Ph.D.

Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate admissions for Purdue University and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org, and follow her @minimustard.

Song Bark

apple tree Morguefile

Wintered leaves rattle
at apple branch end,
the lone music makers
in the life of the tree.

Delayed rendevous
gives me glimpse
of a natural chorus
ignored.

Jesus said, “The very stones
will cry out…”

Bus stop arbor
doing its best.

Stop Comparing

bing images

I have a problem and I don’t believe I’m the only one who has struggled with it. The problem is comparing myself to others and feeling like I don’t measure up. It’s easy to do, but I don’t believe it is an emotionally healthy thing to do.

Each of us has been made by a God who loves to be creative. He doesn’t punch us out of a plastic mold. We are uniquely and wonderfully made. We have different abilities. Different strengths. Different weaknesses. Different purposes for being.

It’s taken me a very long time to understand this truth. I’ve suffered through many years of comparing myself to others and coming up short in my mind more times than not.

bing imagesFor example, there was my friend, Cindy. A married banking professional who had no children.

How insignificant I felt when I compared myself to her. I did not rule the board room like she did. I was just a stay-at-home-mom who spent her days baking cupcakes for my son’s classroom, and corralling his Cub Scout den at our house every Wednesday afternoon.

I didn’t attend exclusive weekend getaways like Cindy did. My Saturdays were spent finding containers to accommodate the various critters Ryan inevitably found which needed a home. Or nursing one more sick hamster back to health. Or trying to convince my son the snake he had backed into the corner of the fence was a water moccasin, not one he should keep as a pet.

I didn’t dress in the latest fashions like Cindy did. More times than not, I was in shorts and bing imagesa tee shirt shooting hoops or tossing a football in the back yard with Ryan, cheering on his sports efforts from the stands, or riding bikes with him through the park.

When conversations with Cindy turned to the world of finance, I felt totally undereducated. Now, if we’d only had a conversation centered around the plastic G.I. Joe figures Duke, Snake Eyes or Scarlet…

I’m a slow learner. That’s a true fact. I take my time cogitating. One thing I’m discovering is we all need to embrace where God has put us at each particular moment in time. We need to stop yearning to be someone or something we aren’t. Stop comparing ourselves to others.

God put the things in us he wants in, and he left the things out he wants out. We should follow where he leads us, however that manifests itself. Boardroom or backyard.

When we feel we don’t measure up, Jesus says we matter to him. A lot. Enough to die for us. When deceiving voices condemn, criticize, say we aren’t enough — whatever enough means — we need to shut them out, and listen to Jesus’ voice of truth. His truth says there is no condemnation to those who love and trust in him. We are precious to him. He calls us his beloved.

Perhaps it’s time we understand we were created by God for a purpose. We are called to do our best to accomplish that purpose. Our purpose. Not someone else’s purpose.

God’s plans and purposes do not call us to compare ourselves with others. His plans and purposes call us to compare our lives with his standard as our measuring rod.

Moccasin Man

Moccasin

Mowed the lawn in moccasins
to make a point about January
being different in the great
and generous Northwest.

My Daddy, frostbit, from chopping ice
off the walk a few decades
and states east of here, would marvel
at anything so green close to his birthday.

Late in life, we might just miss
the things our children notice,
like an upstart of daffodils closer
to the curb than the wild.

Over at the cemetery
the sun shines equal
when it does come out.
Night rain on the graveyard don’t
bother residents, however temporary
the stones.

The shut down engine and smell of simple labor
whispers what God thought
when He said, “Well that’s enough mountains
for now.”

One long string of soft steps,
makes everything we climb, puny.

Quotes for the New Year

Outstretched Hand
Hand

We do not enter the new year alone. (Image by Janet Beagle)

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know Who holds tomorrow.”

Even when we have no idea what’s going on, there is Someone else who does. The start of a new year always brings the promise of new beginnings, but it also brings the promise of new challenges. This makes the above quote from a recent sermon particularly apropos for this time of year.

While I have been thinking about the uncertainty brought on by the start of a new year, I have also been thinking about the timing of the recent Christmas holiday. Consider the fact that we celebrate the birth of our Savior at the end of one year and the beginning of another. This should be a reminder to us: we do not enter the new year alone. We are accompanied by the greatest gift ever given to mankind. Immanuel. God-with-us.

No matter what tomorrow holds, we never face it alone. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Girl with lightbulb
I am not as smart as God. And that is ok!(Image by Janet Beagle)

“I am not as smart as God.”

Sometimes it’s good to be reminded of this, because the way my brain gets to churning some days I could accidentally conclude that I was single-handedly solving the entire universe of problems. (Anyone else sometimes find themselves in this situation?) There are days I have a lot of questions for God. Why is a big one. So is how. It is a comfort, at the end of the day, to know that even when I cannot reason something through to my own satisfaction, there is Someone else who can. There are some things I will never understand. And that is okay. We have a God who knows all things, and is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.

Whatever the New Year may bring, we can rest in the assurance that we are infinitely cared for. The days of our lives are held – perfectly, protectively – in the very palm of His hand.

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13).

Janet Beagle

Janet Beagle, Ph.D.

Janet Beagle, Ph.D. serves as director of graduate admissions for Purdue University and is a writer, a Bible study teacher, and a student of God’s word. In her spare time, she likes to eat other people’s cooking and hike with her dog, Marly. Read more of Janet’s Christian reflections at www.mustardpatch.org, and follow her @minimustard.

Changes

Courtesy Bing Images

January 6, 2015. A new week. A new month. A new year. The old calendar has been placed in the recycle bin. The new one sits on my desk waiting to be covered in ink and pencil.

Change. Out with the old, in with the new.

One of my favorite songs in the early 1970s was David Bowie’s, “Changes”. Ch-ch-ch-ch-

Courtesy Bing Images

Courtesy Bing Images

changes. The song talked about turning and facing the strange changes we go through. While I’ve certainly been through an abundance of changes in my life, not all were strange. Some were of the everyday normal variety, like transitioning from elementary school to junior high, junior high to high, and finally college.

Some changes I saw coming and prepared for. Others hit without warning and left me scrambling to regain my equilibrium. Some changes were more than welcome. Some were dreaded. I would have been fine if they’d never occurred. Thank you very much.

Merriam Webster online dictionary defines change as to become different, to make (someone or something) different, to become something else. Change alters. It transforms. Replaces. Switches and shifts. Change exchanges one thing for another. It is transition. Modification. People change when they pass from one phase to another. Change also occurs when something passes from the possession of one owner to another.

Courtesy Bing Images

Courtesy Bing Images

One thing about changes…you have to walk away from something before you can walk toward something else. You can’t say whether what you are walking toward will be better or worse than where you’ve been, all you can say is it will be different.

In the movie, “Paint Your Wagon”, a Mormon is spurred on by one of his wives to auction off his other wife to the highest bidder. They could use the extra money, after all. The wife to be sold was all for it. Believing it incredulous his wife could be all right with the idea, the husband said something like, “But you don’t know what you’ll get.” To which she replied, “But I know what I’ve had.”

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

We may not know what we’ll get, but we know the One who does, and we can be confident He is in control. God will never leave or forsake us, no matter what change we end up with.

Amen?

Like me, have you seen God’s hand at work in the middle of your changes after the fact, and said, “Of course!”? Does it make it easier to step toward and walk away, knowing He is in control?

Hanging the Light of the World on a String

XmasLI

The wren wonders at outdoor
Christmas lights,
not much there for nesting,
the wires make poor worms,
the bulbs, sharp white on green leaves,
confuse with slight shadows
and heat.

To a bird’s eye, this
seven dollar string of electric
adornment, is supernatural, and to us,
on this holiday of heaven come to earth,
the Light of the World hanging from eaves
and roof gutters, sparkles in the eyes
of the children His birth makes us all.

Angels and doves top
the indoor trees, visitors
and families, all wise,
bask in glowing hearts, the Gift
of never ending love swaddle wrapped,
waiting,
like Santa’s cookies on a plate, to be shared.

Blessed Among Women

Courtesy Bing Images

Mary. The mother of Jesus. Blessed among women. Chosen by God.

Many a time I’ve tried. I really have. But I just cannot imagine what it was like to be a teenage virgin engaged to be married, and be told you would soon become pregnant. But your intended would not be the father of your child.

To be told by an angel, of all things. That right there would be scary enough.

Nonetheless, Mary had found favor. She was the one chosen to give birth to the long awaited, much prayed for Messiah. Savior. Deliver. She was blessed above all others.

Mary. A peasant girl from the village of Nazareth. A descendent of the House of David. She was honored above all women who ever were, and who ever would be. Her son’s kingdom would never end.

How can you be the mother of the child of God? It’s difficult enough being the mother of a regular, everyday, garden variety child. But to raise the son of the One True Creator God? Like I said, I just cannot imagine it.

Jesus on the cross

Courtesy Bing Images

I can’t truly understand the flood of emotions that must have coursed through Mary’s every waking, and probably sleeping, moment.

Me? The vessel chosen to deliver the Messiah to the world? I believe that in God’s omnipotent, omniscient love and grace, he shielded Mary from the shadow of the cross for as long as he could.

Don’t you?

Beyond the awesomeness of being chosen to carry Immanuel in her womb, must have been the pain of telling Joseph she was expecting. Would he believe her? Would he really believe her?

Fortunately, God took care of that when he sent an angel to inform Joseph of his part in God’s redemptive plan.

Then, of course, there were the neighbors. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. Did the gossip sting Mary’s heart?

God took care of that problem, too. When Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin, heard Mary’s voice, her unborn baby leaped inside her womb. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth told Mary God had blessed Mary more than any other woman because she believed what the Lord said to her would really happen. That declaration reaffirmed who Mary was despite what the local gossips thought.

There were the angels. The shepherds. The wise men. Anna and Simeon in the temple.

Courtesy Bing Images

Courtesy Bing Images

Each one a witness to the great thing the LORD God Almighty had done, and would do, through his Son.

God continues to use his people to accomplish his plans today.

We won’t give birth to the Messiah, but like Mary, we carry Christ inside us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Once we claim Jesus as our Lord and Savior it becomes our responsibility to praise God for the great things he has done for us through his love, mercy, and grace. It becomes our responsibility to share that wonder with those we encounter each and every day.

So my question to each of us is this. How are we doing in that area?

Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.” Luke 1:46-50 (TLB)

Sandy Quandt

Pilgrim

thanksgiving

What we learned
can be forgot,
what we know
dismissed.

Who we are
is debatable,
why we’re here
the cosmic question.

Whom we love,
and who loves us, is
the suring thing,
the truth we bring to
table.

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