Psalm 23

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd,(A) I lack nothing.(B)


2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,(C)


3 he refreshes my soul.(D)


He guides me(E) along the right paths(F)
for his name’s sake.(G)


4 Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a](H)


I will fear no evil,(I)
for you are with me;(J)
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table(K) before me
in the presence of my enemies.


You anoint my head with oil;(L)
my cup(M) overflows.


6 Surely your goodness and love(N) will follow me
all the days of my life,


and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Prayers Rising like Incense


“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141 : 2 NIV

I’m taking liberties with my metaphor. This is obviously steam and not incense. But I’ve been thinking about the prayers of the saints lately.

Are our prayers rising?

In this time of chaos, I can wring my hands. I can be afraid of what’s coming, or what might (or might not ) happen.

Or I can choose hope. Or I can bend the knee to Christ. I can pray with Habakkuk.

2 “Lord, I have heard(B) of your fame;
I stand in awe(C) of your deeds, Lord.(D)
Repeat(E) them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.”

(NIV)

If I’m honest, I’ve had seasons where I feel as if instead of rising and ascending to heaven, instead my prayers are hitting the ceiling.

I’ve cried out day after day, with no answer on the horizon.

Or at least not an answer that I could easily perceive. At times I am guilty of not giving God the time and space to work. I want healing, rescue , a miracle… and like the girl from Willie Wonka, “I want it now.”

Sometimes, it seems like nothing is happening. Like we keep hoping, keep praying, and nothing changes. It’s easy to give up hope.

I’ve been in the process of looking back over the past few years, realizing that many of the prayers I prayed in that desperate season are being answered now.

I couldn’t see the answered prayers as they were happening. I could only see them months down the road. Once healing had already been steadily underway.

Even though I thought my prayers weren’t going anywhere, God was listening. He was receiving those prayers, as they ascended to Him. My help and deliverance was on the way , even when I couldn’t see because my vision was blurred by tears.

I hope that wherever you find yourself today, you hold on to hope. That you choose joy, like Habakkuk. That you keep your prayers rising .

Chasing the Light

I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.

-Trent Parke, The Seventh Wave

Pensive Puppy

Isn’t she the sweetest? I love how she is griping onto Zach’s hand in these photos.

We are in a very specific season of puppy care right now. Our washer hums all day, and there are quite a few “accidents”, as well as opportunities for us all to practice patience.

I’ve been singing that song from the Veggie Tales version of Esther for weeks …

“ Puppies are cuddly, puppies are cute. They’re never nasty or mean. I’d give a home to all the lost puppies, if ever one day I were Queeeeeeeeen.”

Because, yes, of course Puppies are cuddly and cute. We are halfway through our puppy journey, and frankly I am ready for them to go to their new homes. I have a feeling that some people would be baffled by this. Who could not love adorable little balls of fluff?

Well, I do enjoy them. They’re fun. But they are smelling up my house, making endless messes, and crying at 3 am every morning.

It’s like having a group of babies. But penultimate babies, because puppies are definitely a step down from ultimate.

While they are snuggly and soft and sweet… they aren’t babies.

I’m not a dog person, I’m a baby person. I like actual children over “fur babies” ( and that term annoys me to no end) all day, everyday.

I have been contemplating this recently. How our culture has witnessed a rise in people choosing to not have children, but who lavish love and attention on their pets.

For millennia, children were considered to be blessings- the ultimate goal, the thing needed to make your life complete.

In our current culture, every year or so the news media estimates the staggering cost of raising children.

As if you could some how do a cost versus benefit on something so intangible.

How much does unconditional love cost? What is the worth of being witness to someone’s first word, first step? How do we asses value to another eternal soul?

We can’t , and we shouldn’t.

These puppies are fun. I will look back fondly on this season, as I’m sure my children will.

But the relationships we have with these puppies will not define my life. They could never come close to replacing the love I have for my husband and children. There’s simply no comparison between a dog who won’t remember me in April, and the children that grew from a single cell in my body.

Winter Sunsets and Dependable Kindness

I have a very kind husband.

The kind of husband who has forever changed my view of men.

You see, I grew up with men who equated machoism and control for manliness. Men who were selfish, unreliable. Men who valued status and power and wealth. Men who thought using women was acceptable. Men who were unreliable. Men who never had the courage or guys to dig in, do the hard work, stick around.

Enter Zach.

He’s proven that he will do whatever it takes to make our marriage work, and I’m so grateful. He is raising our boys to be godly men, and I couldn’t be more encouraged. He genuinely adores our daughter, and I’m so grateful.

He’s gentle, but he’s a far cry from being a pushover.

My husband is strong, tough, manly.

But he is also tender, thoughtful, kind, and perceptive.

Day in, day out.

Dependably.

I have a photo session coming up that I’m a little nervous about. It’s a larger group than what I normally shoot. There are some unfamiliar elements in regards to time, place, etc.

Before I could say any of this , he had a plan. He took me location scouting, after putting in a 14 hour work day.

He got out of the truck and tromped around in the snow because I needed a subject to practice my lighting on.

That’s the everyday kind of love that really matters to me, to the marrow of my bones.

He’s on my side. He cares about the things I care about. He is kind.

If I try to thank him, he’ll shrug it off. Say it’s no big deal.

But dependable kindness is the biggest of all deals.

Valentines Day will soon be upon us. This is a good time to remind our children that Hollywood romance has nothing on the Daily Dependable kind of love.

Of Winter and Rest

Wayne Muller says: ‘Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that would show us where to go, we bypass the nourishment that would give us succor. We miss the quiet that would give us wisdom. We miss the joy and love born of effortless delight.”

Winter is an invitation to rest.

I have been known to resist the colder temperatures and shorter day light hours. I’ve struggled in the past over long stretches of cold weather.

But I’m older. Hopefully a little wiser. And I know now that winter is an invitation to slow down.

Labors don’t cease because the days are cold and short. But instead of balking , fidgeting against the cold and the dark, I can tie the opportunity to slow down. To end my work day a little earlier. To linger around the table a bit longer.

To light the candles. To embrace the quiet. To appreciate the opportunity given to me.

What does rest look like for you? Reading a good book, curled up next to the fire? A guilt-free nap? Resting is more than merely ceasing our labors. Resting is to recognize the fact that the world is not dependent on us. We don’t have to carry its Weight on our shoulders. We can rest because we can trust. The two concepts are indivisible.

We trust that God is good.

We trust that we have enough time.

We trust that all is working together for Good.

We know that our value is not dependent on how much work we can cram into our days.

And so , we can embrace the invitation to rest.

The Sun as a Reminder

“Praised be you, O God with all your creatures; and especially our brother the sun, who is the day, and the light; fair is he, and shining with a very great splendour: O God, he signifies you to us!”

God isn’t in the sun, and he isn’t the sun, but the sun can remind us of Him.

And on mornings like this, it does.

Psalm 19:1, ESV The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The sun reminds me of an Intelligent Creator.

It reminds me that He is vast , and I am small.

It reminds me that today is a new day, and that I get to live again.

What is the Sun reminding you of today?