My Secret Garden

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you; Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.   

Thought for the Day: Through Jesus Christ, we are alive  

I had my first “nothing day” planned as I awoke this morning, earlier than planned but probably the time I needed to arise.  I looked at my husband sleeping peacefully in the bed, I looked at my eldest son who came home after marching at a ballgame sleeping soundly with promise of sleeping until noon, and my youngest who was awake but very satisfied lying on the couch.  So, I got dressed to take a morning walk for the first time in a long time.

Arriving at the park I found a coolness in the air and I caught myself feeling very excited.  Walking around the lake as the fog was lifting from the cool nighttime brought such peace.  Every corner brought beauty and more peace.  Then my decision time came as I came upon the fork in the path where I had to choose the normal path or a dirt equestrian trail.  As I looked toward the entrance I simply said, “My Secret Garden” as the sun shown so beautifully through the trees in the entrance.  As I walked the equestrian trail I found a peace in my heart that I have not felt in a while, then I began praying.  I found myself praying out loud as I walked.  I prayed about my job and for friends who seem to be having struggles, I prayed for my family – speaking specific prayers for each person, and I prayed for continued peace after the walk ended.  Such peace has been missing from my everyday life for so long that all I want is the peace of the walk to continue.

So, what did I learn along the way today?  Peace is available to us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And He wants that peace for each of us.  That peace I felt entering the park and seeing all the beauty in my path brought me peace for a few minutes.  The peace I felt when I entered “My Secret Garden” because God shown his light through those trees to the entrance put me on a spiritual high.  The peace I felt as I prayed out loud to God about my loved ones and circumstances was so powerful.  Visiting with and then walking with a precious friend sharing in conversation brought such peace to me – my prayers are now shared directly for her as she shared with me about her personal illness.

Leaving the park is normally peaceful but today brought even more peace, as it feels coming home from a “Mountaintop” spiritual retreat, it takes a while to feel back to normal.  Today, I am still on that retreat so many hours later.  Thank you, God for taking me on my personal spiritual retreat.

Prayer:  Father God, you are awesome and you are good!  Thank you for taking us on peaceful spiritual retreats.  Thank you for listening to our prayers when we take the time of silence to share them with you.  Please be with us as we find peace in a somewhat unpeaceful world.  We can find that peace only in you.

Prayer Focus:  Needing to feel God’s peace

Taking the Light of Christ Out Into the World

Matthew 5:14-16

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” 

Thought for the Day:  Where can we shine the Light of Christ today?

During our children’s choir rehearsal tonight, we had one of those blessed opportunities to share about taking Christ’s light out into the world.  Working on a musical about going on a mission trip opened a great discussion about the things the children do or can do to share the love of Christ with others.  We talked about helping at a soup kitchen or sharing time at our church pantry.  We shared about going to visit in a nursing home, sharing hymns of faith with those older friends.  We talked about going overseas to other countries to share the gospel.  Then we brought it even closer to home by talking about how we can share Christ with children or teachers at school. Sharing a smile with someone who looks sad or tired can go a long way in bringing a little happiness to their heart.  It can bring the light of Christ to those who might feel they are in a dark place.

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hid.  Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  We teach our children to bring the light of Christ to those around them.  How can we bring the light of Christ to others today?

Prayer:  Father God, we praise You today!  Be with us today and every day as we go out into the world to shine Your light to others who might be living in the dark.  Be with us today.  Amen.

 Prayer Focus:  Sharing the Light of Christ.

The Light in the Night Sky

Luke 2:1-2

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?  For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” 

Thought for the Day:  Let the light in the night sky lead your heart to Jesus.

Over the past couple of months, news about the “Super Moon” had friends and photographers grabbing their cameras to take many awesome photographs we saw on Facebook and on the news channels.  I was one of those as well, although my images did not turn out as vibrant as the others.  As that night progressed, I took my camera out every few minutes to see if I could get a good view of that wonderful moon.  It was built up for several weeks before the night came and the night came and went.  We had great photographs to look at but it didn’t really change anything.  But one night over two thousand years ago, another bright light lit up the night sky.  That star appeared leading the wise men to the place where Baby Jesus laid.  They followed the star to Bethlehem where they brought Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  That star, that bright and glorious star, led the wise men to Jesus and it did indeed change everything.  There were no pictures of the star, there were no newscasts telling of its coming, but it changed everything.  There were no pictures of the Baby Jesus, there were no newscasts telling of the birth, but it changed everything.

As I think about that event that changed everything, I reflect about how it has affected me.  That baby, that sweet Baby Jesus, changed me.  I would have been a totally different person if Jesus had not been in my life.  I have always known about Baby Jesus and Christmas, and that knowledge has formed my life.   God sent His Son in the form of a baby to live on earth and to die to save us from our sins.  I have seen the bright light, not in the sky, but in my faith and love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Prayer:  Father, our Father!  Thank you for bringing Your bright and glorious “star” in our night sky to bring our hearts to Jesus.  We may not have seen that light as the wise men saw that night long ago, but we have seen that bright light in our hearts.  Thank you for Jesus.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those needing to see the star

Have Joy, Share Joy

Luke 2:10-14

 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you; you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.’” 

Thought for the DayRemember to find joy and to share joy throughout this Advent Season.

We are entering that wonderful time of year when, if we look for it, we find Jesus being welcomed into this world.  What joy comes when we remember that the Season of Christmas with all its beauty and festivities is all about that tiny Baby born in a manger so many years ago.  During the sermon by Pastor Mark Westmoreland that spoke on joy, we were challenged to have joy and to bring joy to others.  That joy can come by simply greeting someone with a “Merry Christmas” or, oh my, a “Happy Holidays”.  As he stated, when someone says, “Happy Holidays” don’t make a big deal out of the wording as they are stating a joyous greeting.  Respond with joy.  That joy can come by hugging someone or spending time with someone who is lonely.  That hug, that touch, might be the only human touch they have felt in a while and could bring joy to their heart in a way that might change them in a spectacular way.  This time of year brings many opportunities to Worship.  Churches open their doors in a welcoming way to present Worship Services and special programs surrounding the birth of Christ.  Joy can come in the times of Worship.  One of the challenges given by our pastor was simply, “Go to Church” during this time of Advent.  It is during this busy time of year when people are so busy shopping for gifts and they are so busy cooking and preparing meals that they forget to set aside time for Worship.  Worship has a way of centering us.  Worship brings joy to our hearts that can make everything else more make more sense, bringing more joy to us…bringing more joy to the shopping for gifts and to the preparation of those wonderful Christmas dishes.

As we go through Advent in preparation for Jesus’ birthday, let’s take in joy and let’s bring joy to others.  Let God enter and let Him lead. “And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” Joy, the birth of Jesus brings joy to all people….let’s have joy and let’s share that joy with others.

Prayer:  God, we are in the wonderful Advent Season and we are excited with much joy with the coming of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help us keep Jesus’ birth in the forefront of our minds as we go through this Season and help us have joy in our hearts and share that joy with others.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those needing to feel joy

In the Wait

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Thought for the DayGod is with us in our times of waiting.

Sometimes God sends little messages through the written word.  As I was deciding whether to walk or not to walk yesterday, I picked up a devotional book, God Calling, and turned to a page and began reading.  The words, I know, were put there for me to read at that moment.  I then read the words to my husband who immediately said, “You need to frame that one”, as if to say that is where you are right now.  I quickly got dressed and said, “I have to walk today!”  My husband said, “Yes you do!”  The reason for the quickness in reply was that he knows there is a place on my walk where I slow down and talk to God.  He knew I needed that time after reading the devotion.

From God Calling

       “Leave me out of nothing.  Love all My ways with you.  Know indeed that ‘All is well.’  Delay is but the wonderful and all-loving restraint of your Father-not reluctance, not desire to deny-but the Divine control of a Father who can scarcely brook the delay.

         Delay has to be-sometimes.  Your lives are so linked up with those of others, so bound by circumstances that to let your desire have instant fulfillment might in many cases cause another, as earnest prayer, to go unanswered.

         But think for a moment of the Love and thoughtful care that seeks to harmonize and reconcile all your desires and longings and prayers.

         Delay is not denial-not even withholding.  It is the opportunity for God to work out your problems and accomplish your desires in the most wonderful way possible for you.

         Oh! Children, trust Me.  Remember that your Maker is also your Servant, quick to fulfil, quick to achieve, faithful in accomplishment.  Yes.  All is Well.”


As I found my way to my special place in the park to pray, I felt myself walking quickly where I could talk to God.  I pulled out the devotion and my camera, then wrote notes about what I experienced.  My thoughts came as I reread the devotion:

“Leave me out of nothing.” – Reflecting on our last couple of years, my first thought was that we have leaned on God and talked to God through everything:  My husband’s and my relationship with God and each other has strengthened so much as we both have seen God’s hand at work through a great transition.

“Know indeed that ‘All is well.’”

dsc_4516-2As I read these words, I began hearing scampering of many squirrels through the leaves.  I watched as at least 10 squirrels chased after each other without a care in the world at that moment.  Chattering and making much noise, they knew “all is well”.  In my life, much time has passed since I began my prayer time about where God is leading me.  I haven’t been given the answer to our financial need for me to have a job, but I do know God has given me much peace in my heart as He has led me each day.

“Delay is but the wonderful and all-loving restraint of Your Father-not reluctance, not desire to deny.”

dsc_4538Reading these words, I looked up and in front of me was that path I have loved for this time since I began walking.  God has given me through my walk this beautiful place to pray.  If it had not been for this time, I would have never found the peace that I have found in that place.  The “delay” in answering my prayers has given me a true gift of “Holy Ground” where I can go and “BE” with God.

“Delay has to be sometimes.   Your lives are so linked up with those of others, so bound by circumstances that to let your instant fulfilment might in many cases cause another, as earnest prayer, to go unanswered.” – 

dsc_4541-2Looking up, I saw leaves of different colors and from different tree species all mingled together.  God created all of those to mix together in pure beauty.  As I realize how much I have desired a job, God gave me the word that someone else might have needed the position more than I and my getting a position might have caused someone else hardship.

“But think for a moment of the Love and thoughtful care that seeks to harmonize and reconcile all our desires and longings and prayers.” –

dsc_4530-2Walking down the path as I read this, my heart melted as I looked back to where I had been.  I looked down to see an etching of a leaf that had fallen to the sidewalk, laid there for a while making its mark, and then was blown away. How many thousands of places has God put me in my life, some easy and some difficult, where He placed a special etching on my heart.  This time He has given me has allowed me to find more experiences with Him that will forever give me more etchings.  I have heard His voice and I have responded.

“Delay is not denial-not even withholding.  It is the opportunity for God to work out your problems and accomplish your desires in the most wonderful way possible for you.” –

dsc_4547-2 A moment after I read this, something extraordinary happened.  I left that “Holy Ground” in the park and walked back to the main path.  As I did, my eyes caught some of the most beautiful colors in the trees across the lake.  The colors in my “Holy Ground” faded weeks ago so to see these colors as I left that place was unexpected.  My heart leapt as I realized that what God has planned for me might actually be more spectacular than the plans I have had for myself.  The beauty is coming.

“Oh! Children, trust Me.  Remember that your Maker is also your Servant, quick to fulfill, quick to achieve, faithful in accomplishment.”  Yes! All is Well!”

Finishing my walk, I realized that I had been gone for a very long time.  God and I shared a lot of time together and I felt His presence in a mighty way.  I do trust God, so I now sit back continuing to pray, write, walk, and take pictures.  God has led me to this place, a place in the “meanwhile”, to be my “special place” while He works out the details.

Prayer:  Father, we love You!  Thank you for reminding us through devotions and life experiences that You know the plan You have for us and that sometimes it takes time for You to fulfil that plan.  Help us live each day in the way You would have us live.  Help us to see where You are leading us each day. Amen.

Prayer Focus:  God is with us in the Wait

Beauty After the Colors Fade

Psalms 43:3-4

Oh send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, let them bring me to thy holy hill and to thy dwelling.  Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise thee with the lyre, O God, my God. 


Thought for the DayWhere will you find God’s beauty today?

“I will just go up here a ways to take pictures then I will turn around”, “I will just go a little further since the colors will not be around for much longer”, “Oh, man, I’ve already walked farther then I intended, I’ll just walk the rest of the trail.”  As I began walking yesterday, it was going to be a quick walk where I could get back home to do some errands.  The off-path trail grabbed my attention and I couldn’t help but go into the path of colors made beautiful by the sun.  As I walked, I indeed experienced some of the most magnificent images made beautiful by the sun shining perfectly through the trees.  When I noticed the colors beginning to fade several days prior to that walk, I thought the beauty was fading as well.  But, God gave me a gift made perfect by the light shining through the tree trunks and branches casting shadows of remarkable beauty.  Several times, I heard an overwhelming breeze making me look up to see hundreds of leaves dancing through the air until they met the ground.  I made it back to the normal path to walk back to the park entrance with my heart taking in all the beauty around me, not just in the beautiful changing leaves.

For the last several days I have walked and felt each time that the beauty in my walk was nearing the end.  The beautiful colors have faded and the leaves are now mostly brown as they find their place on the ground.  But God has used His light to show me the shapes in the trees and I have begun to see more of the lake through the almost leafless trees.  The light being cast from the lake has made more of God’s creation beautiful.  I will miss the leaves but I will cherish the gifts in nature that God is so wanting me to receive.  Making it through the trail and to my normal path was my goal, but seeing the beauty of the light was God’s goal for me.

Prayer:  Thank you Lord Jesus.  Thank you for making beauty around us when we think the beauty is fading.  Help us each day to remember that when we wake up with You in our hearts and thoughts that You will make each day beautiful.  Be with us today.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Finding beauty around us


God’s Beauty


Isaiah 49:13

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing!  For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compass49:1ion on his afflicted

Thought for the DaySee God’s Beauty in the nature around you. 

There are days when experiences happen that can only come from God.  As I headed out for my walk on a cloudy morning, I decided not to take my camera with me.  I knew the sun would not be shining to bring the light for beautiful colors.  I walked out the door of our house without the camera and then stopped, turned around, and went back in to get it.  I decided I would put it around my neck just in case.  When I arrived at the park and walked the distance to the trail, all I was thinking was that I needed to walk quickly where I could get back and do the things I needed to do during the day.  I entered from a different entrance so it took extra time to get to the trail.  Then it happened.  I turned the corner to see the lake and on the other side of the lake the trees had the most beautiful colors, colors that almost looked like one of those paintings that you ooh and aah over as you take in the beauty.  On that cloudy morning as I walked there was a peace and serenity that I had not felt before as I had walked the park.  The abundance of clouds with just enough light to bring out the colors was the gift God gave me to see the colors in a different way.  The walk was beautiful and lovely in a way that touched me deeply.

Spending that time in the midst of those colors brought God’s peace to me for a few minutes.  As I walked, I looked up, down, across, and inward to see the next gift of beauty from God.  Then I watched the other people as they ran pushing their babies in running strollers, as they walked as fast as they could to see how many miles they could walk, and I saw those who passed me a couple of times making it two times around the trail before I made one.  I wanted to call out, “Don’t you see how beautiful God’s creation is?”, and “Why don’t you slow down and see God the way I am seeing Him right now?”  I’m sure as those same people saw me they were thinking, “Man, is that woman slow.”, or “I’ve passed her already two times.”  I also witness those people who walk for their health but they walk to spend time with their spouse and those who are alone in life and take time at the park because it is the “highlight of their day.”  I choose to take time observing God’s gift of beauty for me and as I feel the excitement in me when I turn to see another beautiful scene, I will be thankful and will cherish my time with Him.

Prayer:  Father, You are beautiful and you bring beauty to our lives if we will only open our eyes to see.  You have created all of this for us and we are thankful.  Help us today to take “You” in as we see all of the beauty around us.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those Taking in God and His Beauty 

Walking in God’s Presence

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Job 12:7-10

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you.  Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”

Thought for the DayWhere will we find private time with God today?

Walking my normal path searching for images to take pictures of seemed to be, well, normal.  So, when I saw the other path, the Equestrian path, I decided to take it.  Knowing the path would eventually meet the paved path I had walked before, I was able to enjoy a part of nature that was unknown to me.  As I walked, I saw dry creek beds, beautiful pink and red leaves scattering the landscape, and the sun shining through the trees inviting my eyes to look up.  I heard sounds of rustling leaves as the squirrels ran through and heard them scamper up trees.  I heard the wind blow and as it did I looked up to see the leaves falling around me.  I spun around at one point to see many beautiful leaves of different colors falling all at once.  The beauty, oh the beauty of God’s creation, filled my heart to the point of overflowing.

Walking the different path brought an upward incline that made me breathe a little harder, work a little more, and wonder what I had gotten myself into.  As I walked, and breathed hard, I saw some of the most natural beauty that was there “just for me” as I was the only one on that part of the trail.  Relief came as my feet met the paved path and began walking the easy trail back down, and I continued seeing beautiful colors.  It was on that path that I met several people and shared thoughts of the beauty around us, and I volunteered to take a group picture for some walkers along the way.  God was there and present with me on my walk.  He shared His beauty and He shared Himself with me.  God was and is present for each person, and only wants that private time to talk.

Prayer:  Precious Father, thank you for inviting us to spend time with You walking in Your presence.  The earth around us is so beautiful if we will only take the time to truly see it.  You are an awesome God and You have created moments in time where we can be only with You.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those looking for the presence of God. 

Reflection in the Water

dsc_2280Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.

Thought for the Day:   How will we be a reflection of God’s love today?

I love taking pictures, and recently I have enjoyed taking pictures of nature where water has been present.  As I thought about the pictures, I realized that in every one of the pictures involving water, there was a reflection of something else in the water.  Some of the pictures reflected trees from across a lake, some reflected the sunrise on the water, and one of my favorite images is when there is a lighted cross that shines its light into the reflection.  Walking near Lakeshore Camp this weekend, I took a lot of pictures of birds, water, trees, and other natural things.  I wasn’t looking for the reflections that were present until later when I viewed the images.  What beauty shone through in those simple reflections in the water.

Today I read about the feelings that are shared in our world today about how bad things are in the world.  The writer wrote about the light that shines through the bad to show that there is still so much good in the world.  As I thought about that and then I thought about the reflections of beauty in the water, I was touched.  The things that are reflected in the water are not really physically in the water, but they are there in our sight to add beauty and good to our view.  Isn’t this how God is.  God stands tall and is with us all the time, but we cannot see His image. But can we?  He is in those trees on the other side of the water and He is in the sunset we see.  But, He is also in the reflection that comes into the water in the form of His children who reflect His love and mercy into the world.  When someone reaches out and helps someone in need, the reflection of God is there.  When someone goes into a dangerous place to save a stranger from harm, the reflection of God is there.  When someone shares a hug with a hurting or grieving friend, the reflection of God is there.  The reflections of God through His children are more beautiful than any photograph of water reflection anyone could ever take.  How will we show God’s reflection in how we live and what we do?

Prayer:   Father, thank you for the beauty You give us every day in the gift of nature.  Thank you for creating the reflection of Your love through your children who show Your love in the world each day.  Help us be a reflection of You to someone today.  Amen

Prayer Focus:  Showing God to those around us.

Light Comes into Darkness

John 1:5

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Thought for the Day:   Light streams into the darkness – pray

“Light streamed into the darkness, but darkness did not stream into the light.”  These were the words that were emphasized in The Upper Room Devotion today.  What a wonderful thought as we enter into a new day!  What a wonderful thought in the midst of everything that seems negative and dark in today’s world!  To think that God’s lightness can bring light into the dark.  It does seem sometimes that the darkness can come into our lives and into our hearts, but that is when we put our faith totally in God.  In putting our love and faith in God, the darkness cannot come in.  Yesterday, one of my friends shared a video of Beth Moore speaking on praying out loud to God.  She said there are times when we need to read scriptures about God’s love and light out loud and we need to pray out loud.  So, I did, after a time of turmoil in life recently, I “preached”.  Of course, I preached in my house behind closed doors.  I read a chapter in Romans, out loud, and then I prayed my concerns and needs out loud.  When I finished, I felt refreshed and full of hope.

Darkness cannot come into our lives when we are fully spending our time and energy on God.  But, when we find ourselves in a tough and hard time in our lives, we can look toward light and pray.  When we look toward God, the light bursts forth and lights a path before us.  “Light streamed into the darkness, but darkness did not stream into the light.”

Prayer:  Father, thank you for bringing the light into our darkness.  Help us each day to remember that when we look to You, darkness cannot come into our lives in a way that brings us down.  You are our light. You are our hope.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those feeling darkness