The Sanctuaries of Man and of God

Recently I was blessed to experience two kinds of beauty; two kinds of creation of sorts.  I have always been fascinated with comparing creations of man to true creation, the world around us that God created.  I had the unique experience of one day being in and surrounded by a stellar example of man’s creation and then a day or so later being out in a place so undeniably beautiful there was no comparison.

My husband and I had been trying for years to have a get away weekend around our birthdays because they are exactly a week apart. This past year we finally succeeded and Hearst Castle was our destination.  We chose an evening tour and sat in a bus winding our way toward the castle surrounded by heavy fog.  It was really neat but there was definitely no opportunity to take in the landscape surrounding the Castle or “Ranch” as Mr. Hearst like to call it.  As you walk in and out of the different areas of the castle there are objects of beauty one on top of another. They were all created at different times and in different places. While I admire it and it was quite fascinating to see it all, a few thoughts came to mind. The ostentatious display of wealth was unavoidable and overpowering. Mr. Hearst clearly needed to display his wealth and power through his possessions.There were so many religious pieces I wondered if he was trying to prove his devotion to God by the unending artifacts. He displayed them despite the fact he lived here with his mistress for more years than he did his wife. As you walked through on the tour it all becomes heavy instead of beautiful.  I was also struck by the fact that this was created and filled in one of this countries deepest times of deprivation The Great Depression. I did find Hearst Castle incredible and beautiful on it’s own merits but it cannot in my opinion compare with what you find when you step into a castle created by God that anyone can enter and enjoy at any moment no matter their current circumstances.

hearst-castle-for-blog

Just hours away from this man made sanctuary is a true sanctuary of beauty. Incomprehensible beauty you could see again and again. You would never be able to get enough and you would never be burdened or bored.  Yosemite is an amazing place!  It brings peace and release to the soul. You can go from corridor to corridor and never get bored of the story God is telling. You could see scenes again and again and never feel weighed down by what surrounds you.  You never find yourself going ugh more of this.

As I reflect on all of this I am struck by what fascinates me.It is not as if I am not intrigued by what man has made, I am.  I always find myself intrigued and wondering what did they build and why did they build it.  But when I get there I am always left empty especially when the purpose was to glorify themselves. Hearst claimed or wanted “The Ranch” to be a retreat so ostensibly to benefit others but that is not what comes across. On the tour you learn he was constantly building even when he was going bankrupt .  He was clearly seeking something and never finding it when all he had to do was step outside and find peace for his soul in the castle of God created all around him.
More and more we are being enticed to stay indoors, slowly, in a fashion we don’t readily recognize.  There is peace outside our doors and off of our screens.  It is amazing how much we, as people seek what is right outside their door. “Of books (blog posts and social media sites) there is no end”. Even I who love and deeply feel peace and strength when I engage in the castle and creation of God get caught and become enslaved.  I run in and out of the house, to and fro never noticing or really taking in the peace that surrounds me, the freedom He created for us! We can try to create our own peace but it is never the same and it never satisfies. So step outside today and just be, soak in what He freely gives that you don’t have to create. It is there even in the city.

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God does not leave things a mystery when we are constantly petitioning Him about our children I have learned this again and again

Recently we dropped our son off at the airport, he was heading to England.  He started on a journey a year and half ago that culminated in him flying to another continent and country.  There are so many thoughts and feelings that go with this adventure as his parent.  Parenting adults as you will hear me say often is so full of ups and downs.2017-01-16-15-44-45  Sometimes God is using them in such amazing ways and doing such amazing things. They are making choices that make you stand back and say oh wow that is my child. Then there are other times when you are asking yourself “Wait what? Where is that coming from?” In this case six months ago we learned that our son had a relationship with a girl he had met online.  Now let me be clear there are many types of online relationships and I will speak to others in a later post but for now this was a regular girl he had met while in a book discussion forum on a website.

God does not leave things a mystery when we are constantly petitioning Him about our children I have learned this again and again.  This was made clear again in this situation as well. God allowed us to be in the dark about our son as long as He wanted and then He brought it to light.  Our son left up a Skype ID we were unfamiliar with and the story unfolded.  There are so many clues the Spirit gives about  where a heart is at if you are seeking Him. I think often times  in these situations where a hidden aspect of our child comes to light, we can be either hurt or use something like this to bring some legal point home that has nothing to do with the path God has for that particular child.  I found both of these to be true with my first child, poor girl.  We can get so caught up in what we think is the overall right choice in a decision our child makes. Our son’s demeanor was not angry or defensive about our finding out about the girl, he was just not sure how we would feel. Essentially he had not told us because he thought we would not approve of the online aspect of their relationship.

I don’t think before this I could have articulated how I felt about this as I had nothing to go on prior to this occurring, but on discussing this with him I really had a peace about it. I felt like the Spirit was telling me to be open.  We spoke to her that first night and she was so sweet.  We have spoken to her several times over the last 6 months and she is a sweet girl.  I let him know he had a responsibility to go and meet her in person so he booked the tickets he just used.  This has been such an unexpected turn of events and I as always love watching God at work.

I have been watching this open my son back up, he had been hurt by another girl a few years back. It also is getting him to travel and step out in a way I don’t know that he would have prior to this.  I have seen nothing but growth in good ways in him.  So I am excited to see what God has planned for this journey he has embarked on!  The key in these kinds of things especially with our kids, but in everything really is staying open to what God wants to show you not being stuck on what you think should happen.  We all or at least I do, have a tendency to predetermine what we would like to happen, see, or learn in the situations He puts in our life.  I have found that when I define things myself I have a hard time seeing what He is actually doing.

As different family members have approached me it has been from the perspective that I am worried but I cannot go there in my mind.  I cannot let my mind wander down these paths and give power to fear and doubt.  So instead I have just been praying for growth and wisdom.  I have been encouraging my son to look at God and move forward.  It has been so different from how I handled my first just one more reason to have more than one child if you can.

So there you have it my son went off to England to see a girl he has been communicating with for lengthy amounts of time daily for over a year. He was so joyful while he was there, his best self really. This relationship is bringing out his strengths. So while it is unorthodox and we are in unknown territory I am excited to watch God work in this area as well.  Stay tuned and I will keep you posted as to where God leads all of us on this new path.  Stay open and be amazed as God works in your children’s lives and the way He gets their attention.

NF lessons in honesty and expression

I was listening to music the other day with my daughters and they introduced me to a new artist. This has been the way it has been since my kids have grown into teens and adults, I get to hear and experience new music through them which I love.  On this particular day it was a hip hop artist who goes my the name NF.  Now hip hop  is not my first pick but I am not adverse to it if it strikes a cord. It has to be danceable or more importantly the lyrics hit home.  Both were the case with NF, the music was good and the lyrics really hit home.  He is honest and says what he is feeling.  While listening in the car it is easy to pick up and enjoy what he is saying but as I listen around the house and can’t specifically hear the words a tone of anger can come across.  This rubs me wrong as I try to go about my daily tasks and I don’t enjoy it as much.

My daughters have a big joke now about how I don’t like NF because I shy away from it in our day to day when I can’t really tune in with the lyrics as well.  I keep telling them that is not the case at all I love NF and what he is saying. I also love his musical style.  It was funny to me as I sat and talked to one of my daughters who is a big fan and it was somewhat surprising to hear her point of view, although not totally, as I had come to suspect what the Spirit showed me in part that day.  You see this daughter is bright and shiny ,positive, fun loving , and for the most part peacemaking.  She likes to have fun and put a smile on people’s faces.  I couldn’t reconcile how she was connecting with NF.  I on the other hand totally relate to what NF talks about in his songs.  I should in my opinion love his music and want to listen to it all the time yet I struggled.

Then as always when the Spirit is at work a light went on and I began to understand things in a new way.  One of my weaknesses that God has been working on is to look toward what He is doing for good.  I tend to see the bad and the negative outcome in most situations.  For me I am attracted to happy books and happy music, things that highlight the brighter side as I try to look to Him for my sustenance and view point.  Whereas my happy daughter really enjoys the honesty and straightforward way that NF talks about things that are happening while still giving credit, adoration and service to God.  She is not connecting with her own negative experiences and giving them voice and strength she is seeing another side.

I am struck by this as I have taken up blogging or as I have dealt with people throughout my life.  I have so much on my mind I don’t want to drag people down.  The Holy Spirit has been trying to get across to me that He created us each differently with a purpose and this was one of the confirmations He used.  My daughter and people like her enjoy NF and his honesty as do I when I sit and just listen specifically to the lyrics.  I can relate to what he is saying.  I am reminded as I meander through these things the Holy Spirit is putting in front of me that He has specific people He wants to touch by the way I express myself.  Yes He has been transforming me and showing the beauty and freedom of living in His will.  He is showing me to move beyond the gray cloudy world that is my mind at times, but I will never be a sunshine and roses kind of girl and that is okay.

Here you will find me speaking to the freedom I have found in Jesus. Freedom from the gray clouds.  I am not NF and it is not therapy to talk about the clouds and confusion (he is not confused btw).  I am learning as I walk to rejoice in being freed from those thoughts.  As I am writing this blog I am learning to live in love and rejoice in the freedoms each situation brings me, but as I learn that lesson I want to be free from the fear of being myself.  I have tended to try to be too bright and shiny at times.  As this blog has been from God it has not worked to well since that is what He has called me too but this lesson he gave me through NF and my daughter was such a good one to keep me on track with being who I am.  Sharing my journey with parenthood, marriage and life won’t always be sunshine and roses but it will be full of freedom and praise to the one who turns the dark and cloudy to light.

Check him out below he will get you thinking:

Therapy Session by NF