see, marvel, observe

Acts 7:30-31 caught my attention in church last week. Just a small blurb about Moses that Stephen was using as an example while admonishing the council that had him on trial.

It says, “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him…”

DSC_6766We’ve heard this many times, yes? What I love about God’s word is that it’s living and active and this week God spoke through these verses to me. Forty years had passed. Forty! Moses was doing his thing, living his life, getting married, having children and must have been so busy making a life for himself in the land that he had run to while running from his past. It’s tiresome to run from your past. It takes work. There are many voices in your head and often times, when we are running from something we cannot hear God so easily. The cacophony of fear is too much. But for some reason, after 40 years of not hearing God’s voice, and running from God, Moses first SAW the fire. Most of us see things all the time. But do we really see them? Or are we just noticing them while a million other things are ping ponging in our heads about every aspect of our lives?

DSC_6772Not only did he SEE the flame, it says that he MARVELED at it. Marvel means to be filled with wonder or astonishment. Be honest with yourself. When was the last time you actually marveled at something? Do you do it daily? Or is it more of a “when I go to the beach I marvel at his majesty” because it’s so huge I can’t miss that fact. Marveling takes time, takes being still.

DSC_7009After he marveled at it, he didn’t just Instagram it and move on with his walk that he was on. Nope. It says that he “drew near to OBSERVE it”. Drawing near to something and observing it once again requires getting out of your own thoughts and into God’s thoughts. What does God want to show me here? What is it about this very thing that I’m observing that has the fingerprints of God if I look closely enough? The meaning of observe actually means to notice or perceive something and register it as being significant. When Moses saw the burning bush, marveled at it and then observed it, he was understanding that it was significant and he better take off his sandals because suddenly he was on holy ground. DSC_6788You could argue that of course he noticed and marveled….a bush was on fire! But really…how many times have we had burning bushes in our lives that we didn’t give a second thought to? How often has God tried to show us something that required observation and how often have we taken the time to really sit on it for a while; camp out, if you will, at the place He’s speaking to us?

DSC_6758I want to be better at hearing God’s voice. Not his audible voice, but that still, small voice that He speaks in to His children. He doesn’t yell at us. He won’t text us with extra excited emoticons to get our attention. But He might use the beauty of a clover field, or the majesty of the ocean waves coming and going, the grandeur of being on a mountain top to speak. Just the same, He may use a small, but intricately beautiful flower blooming in your yard, a single bird perched on your fence or just sitting back and watching your children play without a care in the world. God can use anything to speak to us. Anything. And don’t get me wrong here – clearly the easiest, most important way for Him to speak to us is through His Word. He has given it to us as a gift and we need to daily unwrap it to learn and grow in Him.

DSC_6774I’m learning to do this little by little and God has given me special friends who are better at this than I as an encouragement to me in this area…and I’m thankful for that gift.

DSC_6755Here’s to seeing, marveling and observing. May we do it often. May we clear the clutter in our heads so we have room to invite God into our thoughts and may he guide our every day.

Book Review: Notes from a Blue Bike

IMG_1514Over the last 2 weeks I’ve had the pleasure of reading Notes From a Blue Bike; The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World, by Tsh Oxenreider, while sitting on the couch feeding the baby. It’s the one time I feel no guilt reading in the middle of the day (OK, let’s face it, I don’t really feel guilt reading during the day when the babies are napping); holding my baby, making sure his bottle stays in his mouth (which is hard to do when you’re engrossed in a good book) and picking up my latest read.

This book was so refreshing. It was an easy read, with SUPER short chapters that made you feel like you actually read something, even though you may have only had 10 minutes to sneak in. Tsh has such a fabulous, cultural background that influences her thinking and her desire to live slower and more intentionally as a family, amidst the crazy American-Dream lifestyle that the majority of Americans live. I found myself nodding and agreeing out loud with MUCH of what she said.

This book is perfect for anyone wanting to think deeper about the way their family is living, what their goals are and how to go about slowing life down just a little. It’s a lot about swimming upstream in our culture, which isn’t a bad thing, by the way, and creating dead space to veg out and let our minds wander; it’s about what’s best for YOUR family and living out who YOU are, not some formulaic way of life that “everyone” lives.

And of course, it’s always fun when you read a local author. Tsh is currently living in Bend, Oregon, but I’m guessing she’ll get a hankering to get out of dodge and travel world-wide sooner than later. So go on! Go request it at the library or download it to your kindle – it’s a great summer read!

Book Review: Take the Risk

In the winter months I tend to consume books like they were Costco ice cream bars rolled in almonds (which are not available anymore, MUCH to my dismay), eating quickly to avoid melting ice cream and chocolate falling in my lap. I have always had a passion for reading, learning, growing and I do believe you are the same person you were last year except for the people you meet and the books you read. Stagnation is my arch nemesis.

After watching The Gifted Hands: the story of Ben Carson, I was both challenged and convicted. Both personally and in my role as a parent. Seeing and learning how Ben Carson overcame all the obstacles, that today would be considered by many as no possible, was inspiring to say the least. Not only was it inspiring to me, but to Kayla, as well. The next night she showed us a speech that Ben Carson had given at the 2013 Presidential Prayer Breakfast and told us how amazed she was by it. These are the kinds of people who I want to learn from. Inspiring by the way they live their lives and walk the talk that is coming from their lips.

Off to the library I went. The first book I devoured was called Take the Risk. I mentioned it my friend, to which she exclaimed, “What in the world are YOU reading that kind of book for???!!!”

“What do you mean?”, I questioned.

“I mean, YOU have no problem taking risks. Why do you need to read about it? You live that.”

OK. She does have a point. But then I thought….and realized, “Yes, I do have an easier time taking (educated) risks compared to most people.” BUT…I still need to be inspired, to be encouraged and to be learning and growing in this area.

Back to the book review. I HIGHLY recommend reading this book. Carson uses many of his personal life experiences, dissecting them for all to see how risk played a part of shaping who he is today. He is a neuro brain surgeon, a scientist, a husband, a father and a son. He knows what he’s talking about and ever so calmly explains how to identify, choose and live with acceptable risk. As Tony Dungy says in his review of the book, “Reading this book will cause you to examine your approach to living and challenge you to use the gifts God has given you to help others.”

I will definitely be using Ben Carson’s wisdom as I make future choices, both personally and as a parent. In fact, his four questions he asks himself before taking a risk (that he expounds upon in his book) will now be an integral part of decision making for the Raichart Family.

I hope this review causes you to go to the computer and reserve this book online.