Posted in Life, Prayer, Uncategorized, Writing

Love is Patient

 

Love is patient.  1 Corin. 1:4 (NIV)

 Love never gives up. (MSG)

 

“Meanwhile,” said Mr. Tumnus, “it is winter in Narnia,

and has been for ever so long . . .”

~ C. S. Lewis– The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

__________________________________________________

 

Patience seeks us out in the winter.

 

In the heaviness of snow-laden icy branches and soundless gray landscapes of Alaska, when the days were dark and the nights were long, I yearned for any hint of warmth and light and color.

 

There are seasons in my life like this, too.

 

Seasons of abiding under.

 

Seasons of enduring through.

 

Seasons of patience.

 

Patient love is deeply rooted in faith. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.(Heb. 11:1)Patient love refuses to give up when things seem stagnant and stuck. It endures in the winters of life, steadfastly believing in the inevitability of spring.

 

Helen Keller said:

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.

 

Love challenges us: Be patient. Don’t give up or you might stay in endless winter.

 

Patient love waits . . . when it seems like distant feelings will never be resolved.

 

Patient love stands alongside . . . when the hurt is almost too much to bear.

 

Patient love forgives the harsh words . . . welcomes back the lost . . . holds the hand of the dying.

 

Patient love does hard things.

 

Let our patient love be the kind that holds fast in the difficult. That stays the course. That believes nothing is too hard to patiently, faithfully withstand in hope.

 

Patient love propels us to spring.

 

Patient love never gives up.



______________________________________________________________

 “And yet you go away with nothing, whilst all the time God has stood with outstretched hands not only to take you, but for you to take Him. Think of the invincible, unconquerable, unwearying patience of Jesus.”

~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

______________________________________________________________


Whoever is patient has great understanding.

~Proverbs 14:29a

______________________________________________________________

Patient love endures through the winter, knowing that the spring eventually arrives. Don’t give up! God sees what you’re abiding under and what you’re hoping for.

 

Today is a GOOD day!

Natalie

 

Posted in Life, Prayer, Uncategorized

The Gift of Reflection

No need to search for it at Macy’s or Best Buy or Target. It can’t be purchased at the tree lot along with a Frazier fir and pine garland. And it won’t greet you at the office Christmas party or your city’s holiday parade.

No, it’s up to us to receive it, to make time for it this season. An open invitation to quietly reflect on the wonderful meaning of God’s Christmas narrative is His gift to us each day of Advent, but it could be lost among the bells and bows and holly.

Mary reflected; she pondered. I wonder what she thought about in the quiet moments of her unexpected pregnancy: an angel visit, a soon-to-be husband’s guiding dream. Surely, she must have contemplated all that had happened to her. And then she must have imagined what her life would be like when the time came for the baby to be born. Did she ever picture shepherds and angels and kings sharing in the story…

Like us, Mary knew of God’s mercy and deliverance in her people’s past. And based on this, she wisely, humbly chose to believe His plan for her in the present. We are told in Luke 2 (actually twice) that Mary “treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean” (Luke 2:19).

We, too, can ponder. We can believe and be part of God’s plan when we reflect on His faithfulness in the past, and rely on His good purpose in our present circumstances.

He is faithful. ~ 1 Thess. 5:24

He is loving. ~Psalm 25:10

He has good plans for us. ~ Jer. 29:11

Where have you seen God’s faithfulness in the past?

How is God demonstrating His faithfulness, love and purpose in your current circumstances?


Advent Reflection:

Read Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-55 NIV) and the reflection questions following.

And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,

    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”

Reflect: 
What phrases speak to your life right now? Treasure these words. Write them down, carry them with you, and ponder them over the next few days. May God’s Word speak to you during times of reflection this season.


The time for reflection is here… 

Today is a GOOD day!

~ Natalie
Posted in Life, Prayer, Uncategorized, Writing

A Simple Note

Thank you so much for visiting my site!

Would you like to receive a short weekly e-letter of encouragement?

Sign up here . . . 

Currently, I am sending out a personal letter each week A Simple Note –  to those who’d like to receive it.

 This short, weekly letter includes:

  • a brief and sincere reflection – a thought for the day
  • a prayer focus to think and pray about
  • and sometimes a small tidbit that’s of interest

It’s short and sweet, a bit of encouragement for the day.

If you’re interested, you can subscribe here: 

 

 

 

Thanks again for visiting – it means so much!  And, as always, I welcome your questions and comments!

~ Natalie

Today is a GOOD day!

 

Posted in Creativity, Life, Uncategorized

I See You…

 

When I look to the mountains,

I see You . . .

I’m awed by Your breathtaking majesty and unparalleled might.

 

When I look to the valleys,

I see You . . .

I find shelter in Your overshadowing protection and Your gentle guidance.

 

When I look to the rivers,

I see You . . .

I am witness to Your unrestrained, dynamic power.

 

When I look to the oceans,

I see You . . .

I try insufficiently to capture Your vast, fathomless, uncontainable love.

 

When I look to the seasons,

I see You . . .

My eyes plainly see Your orderly, unforced rhythm of creation.

 

When I look to the sky,

I see You . . .

And all at once I shrink at

Your ENORMOUSNESS. . .

and my smallness.

 

When I look to those around me,

I see You . . .

I am grateful for Your compassion, for Your grace, for Your mercy.

 

When I look for You

I will find You . . .

You, walking beside me,

Your guiding hand securely holding mine.

 

Your love is never far from me.

 

For everywhere I look,

I see You . . .

Natalie Hall 2018

 


 

Today is a GOOD day!!!!

~Natalie

 

Sign up to receive A Simple Note in your inbox each Wednesday:

A Simple Note

 

 

Posted in Life, Prayer, Uncategorized

Of parking spaces and perspectives

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority
 it is time to pause and reflect.”
~ Mark Twain


 

It happened in the Costco parking lot.

An open parking space. The driver of the first car missed seeing it by inches and began backing up to park there. The driver behind her laid on his horn and rushed to maneuver his car tightly inside and past hers, into the space. And though he’d won the battle for the space, he still got out of his car visibly fuming, saying what I believe were not-so-nice things under his breath.

All over a parking space.

This is what we call a perspective problem. Someone’s morning is ruined because he almost didn’t steal the parking space closest to the door.

There is a daily battle being waged between the world’s perspective and the eternal perspective.

The world’s perspective cries out, “Here I am! Me first! Look out for number one!”

The eternal perspective rallies under, “There you are! You first! How can I serve you?”

Living under the world’s perspective is a heavy burden.

Social media vies for our attention, baiting us to join the contest of comparison. Advertising reminds us that unless we have more, we can never be more. Our credentials and vehicles, our toys and houses label our “worth” according to the world. And we are comparing and consuming and dissecting and spinning these expectations, all the while trying to swipe the best spot in the Costco parking lot.

But we don’t have to live this way. 

We don’t have to choose self over all else. Self-centered sin doesn’t have to burden us. There is an eternal perspective that allows us to run our race, the one He has chosen for us, with peace, perseverance and an eternal outlook.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.~ Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

Jesus says we can get rid of the heaviness of sin, our self-fulfilling mindset, and trade our burdens for His.

“My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” ~ Matt. 11:30 (AMP)

The yoke of this world is anything but light and easy to bear.

With an eternal perspective, my thinking radically shifts. Now I am concerned about what God thinks. Now I try to see situations as He does. Now I want to care about the things He cares about.

My perspective has changed.

And suddenly that Costco parking spot doesn’t matter at all . . .


“O Lord my God . . . May I strive to please no one or fear to displease anyone except Yourself.”

Elizabeth Elliot, Keep a Quiet Heart

 


So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.  

2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

 


Cling to the eternal perspective –
today is a GOOD day!
~ Natalie

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

In Awesome Wonder

 

Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.

~ Psalm 98:8-9


 

In an imaginary dream life, I might have been a naturalist.

 

My love of all things nature often baffles those closest to me, including my husband, who now only shakes his head when I’m frantically rescuing a lizard from the flood, mourning over a dove snatched from our yard by the neighborhood hawk, or asking him to build a warm goat barn for my two little Alaskan goats (true story).

 

Spending the last 13 years in Alaska, we were greeted each day by a certain kind of unparalleled beauty. First and second and third time visitors were always in awe. One of our visitors broke into strains of “How Great Thou Art” as he gazed upon Bridal Falls on the road to Valdez.

 

How fitting.

 

Oh Lord my God
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds
Thy hands have made.
I see the stars
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout
The universe displayed.

Then sings my soul
My Savior, God, to Thee,
How great thou art!
How great thou art!*

 

It was Alaska that confirmed my insignificance in relation to the cosmos. Dwarfed on all sides by her ice-capped peaks, waking each morning in the shadow of Mount Drum (12,000 ft), we lived at the actual top of the world.

 

In midwinter’s 40-below nights, we looked out at a billion crystal stars, the Northern lights dancing overhead.

 

I felt so small.

 

Every day God reveals His awe-inspiring power in those stars that He simply spoke into existence, in the mountains and valleys and streams He declares good. I am allowed to see Him as the master Designer in His creation – in its microscopic perfection, its uncontainable power, its symbiotic nature and its fluid rhythm.

 

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  ~ Psalm 19:1

 

This week, take a few moments to notice His creation. The unblemished perfection of His flowers. The complex life of His pollinating bees. The unstoppable rushing of His rivers. The invisible potential of His wind.

 

We are so small, a part of something so big; and, yet, He cares for and loves each and every one of us individually.

 

Thank you, Lord.

 

How great Thou art!

 


 

Isaiah 44:23

Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.

 

Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 


 

Today He declares throughout creation: it is a GOOD day!

Natalie

* “How Great Thou Art” – Carl G. Boberg (1859-1940)

 

 

Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Everyday Beautiful

“’Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.’”

~ A. Milne


 

Our holiday this year was great . . . amazing actually. Many of you know what it’s like to have your children away at college and then, suddenly, at Christmas the whole gang is together again. Quite frankly, it’s magical.

 

For me, the pain of separation feels especially sharp because our family situation – living in rural Alaska and homeschooling for so many years –  knit our family closely together. So when I knew our middle son was finishing that last day of school, our youngest was closing his books, and our daughter was on her way shortly on a flight from Virginia . . . well, I could hardly sleep.

 

We had such a great Christmas Eve and Day, filled with the traditions we embraced those many years in Alaska. But as the boys now start school again and our daughter flies back to her college life, I realize the memories I’ll treasure most from this Christmas aren’t the perfectly planned meals, the opening of thoughtfully chosen gifts or the addition of our decorations to a new-to-us house.

 

I’ll treasure the everyday times.

 

Watching “The Polar Express” in our PJs, eating homemade pizza. Picnic-ing after a trip to the zoo. Watching nonstop football together on New Year’s Day, everyone cheering for their favorite team. Playing switched-up teams of Taboo around the kitchen table.

 

Talking and talking . . . and talking.

 

I think Jesus and His disciples must have felt this way. While we read about Jesus’ divine miracles and the profound truths He taught, I have to believe that, in His fully-human state, He did lots of everyday things, too.  Did He experience joy as He sat down for a very everyday dinner with His disciples? Did He look around the table and think, “Ahhh. . .this is happiness.”? Did He feel sadness when one of the disciples was missing for a meal or was absent from a discussion?

 

We are told that He knows our joys – our everyday being with the people we love. And He knows our sorrows – when the everyday changes and we don’t want it to. He understands.

 

So enjoy the quiet dinner with your spouse. The walk with your grandchild. The call from your mother. These are the everyday moments.

 

And I’ll store up my Christmas moments, treasuring them as my everyday changes yet again. And then I’ll treasure the new everyday moments too.

 

Because it’s all everyday beautiful.

 

 

Posted in Prayer, Uncategorized

Precious Jesus

Lift my eyes to You, precious Jesus.

 

When the demands of my crowded calendar overtake the cry of my weary soul . . .

Lift my eyes to You, precious Jesus.

 

 

When the days to come look more like fear and less like joy . . .

Lift my eyes to You, precious Jesus.

 

 
When my heart is heavy and my head is bowed in sorrow and tearful remembrance . . .

Lift my eyes to You, precious Jesus. 

 

 
When silence is the sound that envelops me . . .

Lift my eyes to You, precious Jesus.

 

 
When You calm me and I recognize the hollow longing I carry day in, day out . . .

Lift my eyes to You, precious Jesus.

 

 
When I finally stop.
And gaze upon the manger and catch a glimpse of wonder . . .

Lift my eyes to You, precious Jesus.

 

 
When the night is Silent and Holy, when I know what Child this is, when I fall on my knees and I hear the angels . . .

 

Not in that poor lowly stable,
With the oxen standing by,
We shall see Him, but in heaven,
Set at God’s right hand on high;
When like stars His children crowned
All in white shall wait around.*

 

 
You, Precious Jesus.


 

Because of Him, today is a GOOD day,
~ Natalie

*Hymn: “Once in Royal David’s City” (1848) by Cecil Frances Alexander
Posted in Life, Prayer, Uncategorized

Harvey Imprints

Images imprinted on my mind forever:

Volunteers bringing their boats to help with rescues – asked to write name, social security number and next of kin on their arms in case they are lost in their rescue attempts;

A nursing home living area full of residents – one sitting in a recliner, submerged in water to her waist, awaiting rescue;

Signs posted on every bridge and flashed across TV, social media, and on radio announcements throughout the storm:
TURN AROUND. DON’T DROWN.

A middle-aged lady in a just-reopened Kroger saying she waited until the end of the day to come for her few necessities, “Mamas with their babies should be in line first.”

A rescuer coming in on his boat carrying a small fawn – It had gotten on a roof and I couldn’t just leave it there.

A mandatory curfew imposed on the city – no tolerance for looters – a handwritten neighborhood sign: You loot. We shoot.
 

IMG_0155

 
These images on television, my own rising water out the back door. Even as the water began to recede in my backyard, it only rose in others. We went to a sweet friend’s house to help pull soaked mattresses and soggy clothes and waterlogged toys of out of her home – 3 1/2 feet of water, possessions already molding – they lost everything except each other. Their street was piled with the accumulated belongings of every house . . . heaped mountains of personal effects.

I said to Steven on our ride back from her house (12 miles that took 2 hours because of road closures and flooded streets), “Will life ever feel normal again?” At Home Depot we were buying masks and coveralls and bleach when we should have been buying rakes and autumn yard flags. The huge display of fall mums looked out of place – who could buy flowers when your neighbor didn’t have a place to live?

When the emergency alarms went off post-hurricane on Thursday, my heart stopped and I burst into tears…it was only a test of the system. I’d heard those alarms simultaneously on the TV and every device we have, every few hours for four days: hurricane warnings, flash flooding, tornadoes.

I do believe that life will one day return to some kind of normalcy, but it may be a while and it may look different. God will heal the fear, the hurt, the loss because He cares. He will allow us to again see the beauty of fall mums and gentle rains and neighbors helping neighbors. He is teaching us what we value most: how quickly we can let go of things and hold tightly to people. He sees and is working in each and every circumstance.

And so He calls us to trust Him in the recovery . . .

He is God – in and out – of the storm.

Stand firm.
Today is a GOOD day!
~ Natalie