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This is what my neighborhood looks like right now! Blooms everywhere! I loooove spring!
But if you look closely, you see these beauties are beginning to fade.
These fading tulips inspired me to appreciate the remaining blooms that much more. To take more time walking around my neighborhood enjoying every single flower.
Inspired me to be grateful for my sight.
Inspired me to thank the One who created this buffet for the eyes. The smorgasbord of colors and textures. The sheer variety of spring blooms.
If spring in Virginia can look like a fairyland….what does spring in His Kingdom look like?
Point to ponder while you wander….
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8 ESV
Little Irritations? Or Reasons to Rejoice?
Picture it. Saturday. A lovely rainy Saturday. Perfect excuse to stay in my apartment and read (or binge watch a show). But there was a break in the weather so I hopped on the bus and went to the grocery store. So adult-like and responsible of me, don’t you think?
I get my groceries, and get in line. I put all the cold stuff together so it would be easier for the cashier to pack. Then I hand the cashier my reusable bags and my cooler bag for the cold and frozen items. She threw most everything in the freezer bag except the cold stuff. I could have been annoyed. But I just shook my head, told her to have a good day, exited the store, and repacked my bags.
Then I walk the block to the bus stop. The sky goes dark, and as I am talking to the nice man next to me an accident happens right in front of us. No one was hurt thankfully, but the one driver is irate! So I start to call the police to let them know there’s an accident, since the people involved are just screaming at each other, and blocking traffic.
As I am dialing…the wind kicks up and the sky opens, drenching me and my groceries instantly. I’m now soaked to the skin talking to a police dispatcher who wants me to give her licence plates that I cannot really see from my vantage point, but I do my best to answer her questions, and get off the phone.
Then I just started laughing at the ridiculousness of my day right at that moment. I ended up getting the two other soaked people at the bus stop to laugh too. What else are you gonna do? Be mad at the rain? That’s pretty much a waste of time.
It’s gonna rain, friends. Fact of life.
About 5 minutes later the bus arrives. So I board the bus, and it dawns on me that I forgot to buy a lime. Crap! I’m making cilantro lime rice and a mexican type chicken in the crock pot. I need a lime.
Lesson: Look at your list BEFORE leaving the store. Reason to be thankful: I can feel the rain. I am physically able to carry my groceries. My eggs didn’t break. I got $10 in free groceries.
So I go home. Dry off. Change. Put the groceries away. And start preparing to make the chicken and rice. Promptly spill diced tomatoes on the rug I just washed last week. Awesome. Throw that back in the washer.
Then I walk to the closest grocery store on the next rain break, to buy a lime. Get on the bus to go home because the sky looked a tad menacing yet again. But because of a 5K on my street, down from my apartment, the bus has been diverted. So I walk nearly as far as I would have from the grocery store. But it didn’t rain on me! So I’ll take it as a win.
When I cut the lime in half, I found another reason to be thankful! A very juicy lime!! I got so much juice from this one little lime that I had enough for both the rice and the chicken. 😀
So I make the rice. And promptly spill some on the floor.
Lesson: Sweeping fresh rice is not easy. Had to wash the floor. Reasons to be thankful: I only lost a handful of rice in the spill. My floor is now clean, as is my rug. I can see the rice to be able to clean it up. I have an apartment with a nice kitchen, and pots, pans, and utensils to cook with. I have a washer in my apartment to wash the rug. I am physically able to walk home, and to clean my floor. I have food to cook. It started pouring again shortly after I entered my apartment, so I am also grateful I made it home dry!
Point to ponder while you wander…
Looking around my apartment this morning all I can see is blessing. Furniture and other items inherited, gifted to me, and items I purchased with money I received from a job I like going to every day.
And I am grateful.
Beneath a Large Tree
Beneath a large tree in Arlington National Cemetery, I found this group of Unknowns. Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, but are known only to God. Honoring men like these is what Memorial Day is about.
I walked a bit further and found more Unknowns. It just stunned me I guess. So many men that didn’t go home to their families. So many families who never knew what happened to their sons, brothers, and husbands. It’s truly heartwrenching.
Then in pouring rain…I mean so hard that there were rivers in the streets…I see some wonderful people stopping to read every name and then placing a rose on every grave. They were in many sections as I walked through the cemetery.
It just touched my heart to know that every sacrifice would be acknowledged and grave a rose.
I also watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown. The honor. The respect. These days, it’s rare to see. Moving beyond words to see it given to those who died anonymously in service to their nation. Our nation.
Point to ponder while you wander…Memorial Day is about honoring those who gave their lives in service to our nation. Veteran’s Day is about honring and respecting those living who have served.
Birds at the Bus Stop
Saw this little bird at the bus stop this morning, and my first thought was gratitude. God is my provision. Not my paycheck. Not my intelligence or talent. God Himself.
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!” Luke 12:24
Point to ponder while you wander…Nature is created. It isn’t to be worshipped. But should invite you to worship The Creator. Like today with that little bird at the bus stop.
Gifted and Talented
Music. I love it. It is one of the greatest gifts God gave us. And the people who make the music, they are gifts too.
I’ve always desired to be musical. I joined band in elementary school. Probably the worst flutist ever to pick up the flute. I begged for a keyboard and piano lessons. I got the keyboard, but that whole two hands doing two separate things at the same time thing. Yeah. I cannot do that. I was in elementary school choir. I was in junior high choir too. In eighth grade, I was directed to sing so softly that I couldn’t be heard at a concert.
I realized then that maybe music wasn’t in the cards for me. Didn’t stop me from singing, I sing all the time. I also dance (AKA flailing) and paint (AKA creative therapy). But those are stories for another day.
What’s the my point? There is only one Kim Walker Smith. There is only one Martina McBride. There’s only one Natalie Grant. There’s only one Loretta Lynn. There’s only one Aretha Franklin. There is only one Doris Day. And there’s only one Jill Nicholson.
Jill Nicholson? Who’s that?
That’s me. I am Jill. I have gifts and talents chosen by God and entrusted to me to cultivate and grow. But for years I felt that because I couldn’t sing like I wanted, that I wasn’t talented at all. That is a lie straight from the enemy. Unfortunately, I believed it for too long and wasted years I could have been tending to the natural abilities I WAS entrusted with.
I believed the lie. So I took my ball and went home.
The parable of the talents comes to mind here because I did bury what I had inside and hide the talents I did have. I didn’t take photography classes because I was afraid I’d be told I wasn’t good at it. Then I couldn’t take photos anymore. I didn’t want a repeat of the choir concert incident. I only wrote for class assignments. Research papers and essays essentially. When I did write other things, I didn’t let anyone read them. I still struggle with letting people read my creative stuff.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:24-25 MSG
I know the context of this verse is Jesus speaking about His upcoming death, burial, and resurrection. But this is what Jesus woke me up at 3:30 am to show me…If we take the gifts and talents that we have been entrusted with by God, both spiritual and natural, and we keep them to ourselves they are wasted. But if we take the time to develop them, and sow them into His kingdom, those gifts are multiplied beyond what we could ever imagine.
Nothing given to Jesus is ever wasted. It’s always multiplied in some way. I’m still chewing on this, because I know there’s more here, but this is initial revelation.
Point to ponder while you wander…Appreciate the gifts and talents in those around you, not be envious or jealous of them. Be grateful for the abilities YOU WERE given and be good stewards of them.
PS: Parable of the Talents is found in Matthew 25.
God of Restoration
Today I am thankful that God is a God of restoration.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 ESV
Normally I’d dissect this verse and display all the treasure found in those 4 amazical things our God of all Grace will do for us. But today I’m focusing my gratitude on restoration. Today, for me, restoration looks like this…
For those of you who don’t know the story, here is my tale of woe: About 4 years ago, my Canon Rebel jumped out of my camera bag, rolled down the stairs, and crashed spectacularly at the bottom. I took it to get it repaired, and the guy told me that the good news is the lens is undamaged. The bad news is that mechanism inside the camera that actually captures the image is broken. It would be cheaper to buy a new camera. Yeah. Worst news ever for a photographer.
To say that I was devastated doesn’t begin to cover it. I had just paid that camera off, and a photographer without a camera is like a person missing an appendage. Sound tragic? It should! It was a tragedy to me! I grieved that loss deeply.
Don’t tell me it’s just a camera. Just a possession, a thing…I know that. But many of my dreams include photography, so no camera…no dreams coming true.
Fast forward 4 years to my women’s group having a discussion about dreams. I have a lot of dreams, BIG ONES. But I felt like I needed to talk about photography, the dream I felt had been shelved. I had forgotten how much photography meant to me, until I started telling them about my passion project with God. The one that stirs my heart and moves me to tears. The one that requires a whole lot of money and other people to pull off. The one that I don’t tell people about. Then this beautiful, amazing, generous friend looks at me and says, “I have a camera for you.”
And I cried.
I am still moved by the gravity and meaning of those 6 words. The extravagant seed she sowed into my dreams. It’s at times like this that I’m also grateful God is a rewarder. I cannot wait to see what she reaps for sowing into my dreams.
Something to ponder while you wander…God is the one who restores, but He usually chooses to work through people. Are you willing to let Him work through you? Are you willing to believe in and encourage others. Are you open to investing in others with your time, talent, and finances. You may be the one to change their life.
God believes people are worth investing in, shouldn’t we?
“We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.” John 1:16-18 MSG
Thank You, Jesus.
It is because of You we are reconnected and reconciled to The Father. You made a way. (John 14:6, 2 Corinthians 5:18 & Romans 5:11)
It is because of You we are all healed and made whole. (Luke 4:17-21, 6:19, 4:40 & 8:47, Acts 5:16, and Matthew 8:16 & 12:15)
It is because of You we are made free to choose abundant life. (John 10:10)
It is because of You that we have authority. (Luke 10:19)
It is because of You we have the peace that passes all understanding. (John 14:27)
It is because of You we know what real love looks like. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
Thank You, Jesus, it is because of You that we can do all things. (Philippians 4:19)
Colorful & Fruity Gratitude
Having one of those nights where my brain just will not shut off, so I got out of bed and turned some worship music on & started making the fruit salad I need to make for a family event today.
As I was making my favorite kind of salad, I was thanking God for all the brightly colored, interesting textured, flavorful fruit. What a blessing it is to have access to so many kinds of fruit!