Category Archives: Who is Jesus

Moving from God’s spectacular to reassurance

Photo by L. Bravo

Just a mile from home is the entrance to a hiking trail. Its access is hidden, just off the edge of a busy road. You would never guess such beauty was so close unless you knew the path was there.

The pathway follows the bank of the Deschutes River, winding through a canopy of trees, up a gentle incline, and across a wooden bridge.

Each step revealing nature’s best.

A pair of swans nesting near the willows. Geese leading their gaggle from shoreline to water, all the time watching carefully for those lagging behind. Deer drinking from the bank and a red tail hawk flying low overhead. Her talons clasped tightly on what would be her meal for the day. Wildflower buds cresting the soil, and songbirds filling the silence.

God’s creation showing off her beauty.

You can get lost in thought meandering down the path but today…

Today, I wanted to be fully present, experiencing all that nature had to share, discovering the hidden treasures sprinkled along the way.

All photos by A. McCormick

Continuing down the trail, an object captured my attention. It was a rock painted turquoise precariously nestled in the fork of the tree. The words “be kind” painted in black. Someone had taken great effort to place the rock just-out-of-reach of passersby but close enough to communicate its message.

Be kind.

I tucked that encouragement in my heart and continued my walk.

About a mile down the path, another turquoise object caught my eye. This time the painted rock was balanced on a boulder. The words, “Hug your dog” scribbled on the surface, two paw prints bracketing the instruction.

Take the time to slow down, spend time acknowledging those who care about you, and show them you care – hug your dog.

My walk went undisturbed for a few miles, until a rainbow appeared, nested on the trunk of a fallen tree. Another stone creatively adorned with the colors of refracted light. No words this time, just a reminder that even in the fiercest storm, hope arrives.

Making my way up the final hill leading back to the street, I found my last treasure, joy.

Cradled by a large moss-covered boulder, joy was scribbled in white on a black rock.

Be kind.

Spend your time caring and loving.

And when life gets tough…

Look for hope.

Receive joy.

My river walk shifted from a delight in nature’s spectacular to reassurance. Small messages scattered along the trail to remind me that,

… the God of hope fills me with all joy and peace as I trust in him, so that I may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 New International Version (NIV)

(verse modified to personalize)

BeLOVED, I pray you find Him amid your everyday ordinary lives, in the beauty of nature, and in those minutes, you think you can’t carry–on.

Keep your eyes focused on His truth and remember God provides hope, fills us with joy, and brings peace.

Be Blessed,

The Journey

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Photo by P. De Grandi

She stood motionless, clinging to a branch jutting from the edge of the mountain.

She had rounded the corner and all that provided security was gone.

She was trapped.

Both feet firmly planted on the 3-foot ledge. One side – sheer cliff face the other a drop to the bottom of the canyon.

No room for error.

No margin for miscalculation.

No railing, nothing to stop the drop but canyon-floor.

Fear would not allow her to move forward and pride kept her from turning around.

Her husband kept encouraging her,

You can do this! Just look forward – you will be fine.

But all she could do was run through the scenarios in her mind – falling, tumbling, pain.

Finally, fear gave way to pride.

One-step at a time, she turned around and made her way back to safe ground. A lookout point enclosed by a guardrail.

She leaned against the mountainside, tears formed in the corners of her eyes and then spilled down her cheeks onto the dusty earth below. The pounding in her chest was slowing, the spinning calmed, her breathing returned to a steady rhythm.

Through her tears, she looked out over the canyon floor. It was so beautiful but she knew she would not complete the journey today.

Pride had blocked her and the fear of failure consumed her.

I think we often find ourselves standing at a precipice in our lives. Toes inched right to the edge of the cliff, clinging to the handrail we peer over the side. We can see exactly where we want to go. Yet, there is hesitation. The path is partially visible as it winds down the hillside. Yet, we can’t see every step. The route is not exactly the path we had in mind. The mountain is so steep. The twists and turns are unknown. So…

We stand.

Too fearful to move forward. Incapable of asking for help. Paralyzed by the tape that plays relentlessly in our minds – you can’t do this, not today, not ever.

So, we stop.

But we have an amazing God that offers a solution to our condition. He offers His peace in place of our anxiety and fear and He will guide our journey if only we would ask.

Psalm 91: 9-16 reminds us,

(9) If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, (10) no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. (11) For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; (12) they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (13) You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

(14) “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. (15) He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. (16) With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

New International Version (NIV)

BeLOVED, when you find yourself facing the edge of a cliff, the anxiety of the unknown, or the paralyzing fear of failure, remember the Lord IS your refuge.

Please don’t allow your fears to cause you to stay in a perpetual state of looking over your shoulder and retracing your steps back to a safe perch. Trust the God of the universe to lead you, direct your steps, according to His plans to a place of refuge.

Be Blessed,

Signature - Allison


Have you considered?
• You do not have to do life alone. God waits for your invitation to join your journey.
• Because God loves you, He rescues, protects, brings satisfaction, and eternal salvation.

 

God’s Choreography

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Photo by J. Gerber

It is interesting how God orchestrates our lives.

Those times He delays an arrival, gives us a nudge to change a reservation, or perhaps encourages us to make the call.

Since the day of our birth, God has worked within the things we consider small or mundane.

For God, details matter.

It’s during these small mundane events that God invites us to open our eyes and look around. And when we are obedient, these events can unfold and become sweet insights into the character of our Father. They teach us that He is interested in the intimate details of our lives and the lives around us.

God’s choreography was apparent in the lives of my friend Beth and her husband, Daniel.

It had been a day of volunteering, followed by running a few errands, and a stop at the drive-thru. Daniel wanted to make a quick stop at the grocery store. But darkness had come, and Beth wanted to call it a day. Yet Daniel seemed certain they needed to stop. So, a short detour, a brisk walk through the store, and they were headed back to the car.

As they were unlocking the trunk, they saw a figure out of the corner of their eyes. It was an older woman, purse slung over her shoulder. She was bent slightly at the waist, struggling under the weight of her grocery bags. She made her way slowly into the crosswalk, adjusted her load, and continued to the parking lot.

Beth and Daniel watched the struggling woman as they began to drive in her direction. As their car came close, Beth motioned for Daniel to stop – she jumped out. Approaching the woman, she asked, “Do you need some help?” The woman looked up, shuffled her bags from hand to hand, and responded, “Yes, thank you.”

Beth took the grocery bags, the woman directed her to her car.

Once the packages were settled in the back seat, Beth asked, “Are you OK?” With tears forming in her eyes, the woman looked at Beth. No words were needed, it was clear the woman struggled with more than the weight of her groceries. Her face wore the sadness resulting from years of disappointments. Her eyes reluctantly made contact then quickly looked to the ground – reflecting the brokenness that controlled her life.

Beth reached out a hand touching the woman on the shoulder and then a second. She gently hugged her.

Tears now streamed down the woman’s face. She held onto Beth and whispered, “I’m fine now. You’ve made my day!”

Beth patted the woman on the back and then released her. The woman straightened her sweater and turned, moving towards her car. Beth walked back to her vehicle and watched as the woman disappeared through the driver’s door. Before the woman drove away she looked out the window and said, “God bless you!”

Beth wanted nothing more than to go home. Daniel obeyed a nudge to detour to the grocery store. God orchestrated an encounter that gave hope to a woman struggling and broken.

And by God’s grace, He has done the same for us. He choreographed His plan of salvation by sending His Son into this dark world to give hope and forgiveness to a people who are struggling and broken by the heavy weight of sin. With perfect timing, He coordinated every detail to make us His very own.

God is interested in every aspect of our lives in ways we could never anticipate. He coordinates the subtle nuisances of our days, weaving them into His perfect plan.

Romans 8:27-28 assures us that,

He (God) knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

The Message (MSG)

I encourage you to look around. Listen to those little promptings. God may nudge you to participate in a well-orchestrated plan that brings relief to a person in need, a miracle in your life. And by your faithful participation, the love of Jesus can be openly shared.

You can trust His timing, His plan, His choreography.

He loves you.

You are His BeLOVED.

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

Jim, thank you for your amazing contribution to this post!

Satisfied

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Photo by J. Hoehne

Yesterday, I walked our dog, Titus, through the neighborhood golf course. A hilly course allowing him some needed running space and me a cardio challenge.

The snow was melting, the rain dissolving all the wonderful white stuff. But as we reached the backside of the course, some snow lingered in the shadows of the large pine trees and in the shaded areas where the sun had not reached.

We made our way up the last rise and to our delight found a beautiful blanket of snow covering the backside of the slope.

Titus loves snow!

So as we crested the top of the hill he saw the snow, ran directly towards the frozen sheet, and dove in.

The recent rain caused a thin film of ice to collect on the surface. Making it a slick crunchy combination. Yet, he wiggled and rolled, jumping to his feet and then diving again.

It was pure joy spilled over snow, grass, and icy glaze.

Standing at the edge of the slope, he took a plunge but this time he caught the edge of a patch of ice and slid down slowly to the bottom. Jumping up, with large brown eyes staring at me, he stood motionless for a few seconds. You could tell he was thinking and then almost like a light being flipped on; he ran to the top of the slop and tried it again.

Pure joy had shifted to exhilaration!

I spent several more minutes standing at the top of the hill. Watching the scene unfold – run to the top of the ridge, lay on your side, back leg gives a push and a slow slide to the bottom.

On the walk home, his stride had a little prance. He would look back at me occasionally, tongue hanging from his mouth and the faintest twinkle in his eyes.

He was satisfied, joyously filled.

Our culture would like to keep us distracted, longing for more, perhaps even envious of others’ lives. We don’t necessarily want to admit that we have fallen prey to this trap but the feelings are there lingering just at the edge of our consciousness.

But what if there was a way to be deeply satisfied, joyously filled every day?

And I’m not talking about being filled only in the good times. The times when life is easy, working out just the way we planned.

No, I’m talking about being filled with joy in the midst of the devastation that occasionally rocks our lives.

Isaiah 26:3-4 tells us,

(3) You (Lord) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (4) Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.

New International Version (NIV)

The Lord offers a solution, perfect peace, deep satisfaction, and indescribable joy. All the results of our willingness to be obedient to His will and to trust Him. This will require us to evade the distractions the world places in front of us and to forego our personal agendas.

We will be challenged to find the courage to surrender our wills to His authority, allowing our hearts and lives to be transformed into His image.

And when we have taken the steps to let go we will wake one morning and find in the place of our longing, deep satisfaction. In the place of our heartache, joy, unexplainable, perfect joy.

It won’t happen all at once, refinement takes time.

But as we grow closer, peace will fall over our lives, a steadiness that brings confidence – regardless of our circumstances, regardless of our brokenness, God is near.

BeLOVED, you can have a life of satisfaction, filled to the brim and overflowing.

Surrender.

Trust Him.

Lean into Him.

He is near.

Be Blessed,

Signature - Allison

Jesus Restores

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Photo by A. McCormick

Dominique stepped onto the expressway. The sun was starting to crest over the rim of the horizon. The dusty dawn casting shadows on the roadway. Headlights, shadows – so difficult to see.

He had crossed this section of the road hundreds of times. Moving from his homeless camp to the local convenience store, bus stop, and gas station bathroom just a hundred yards away.

But today…

Today would be different.

Dominique stepped onto the roadway, never seen by the oncoming vehicle. He was struck in the northbound lane, thrown into the oncoming traffic and hit a second time.

Dominique died at the scene, leaving behind the mother of his children, a little boy, and a baby girl.

The morning he was killed, the drivers were blinded by the morning’s darkness.

“I didn’t see him!”

A dark coat. Dusty dawn.

“I couldn’t avoid him!”

They didn’t see him – a blurry image in the roadway.

But that morning Dominique was also blind. Physically sightless due to the roadway conditions and the eyes of his heart blinded by the brokenness of his life, the emptiness that plagued him, and an ever-present sense of frustration and fear. A visual impairment that although sighted, prevented him from fully navigating life.

If we are honest, we also suffer from visual impairments. Impairments that force us to keep areas of our life hidden, out of sight from those closes to us – protecting our image, manipulating others’ perceptions of who we are.

We suffer from a type of blindness that in the quietness of our minds, enslaves us in destructive behaviors, blocks our intimacy with God, and isolates us from those that would support us and hold us accountable.

But just as the sunrise offers light, Jesus offers restoration.

The book of Mark shares a story about Jesus’ interaction with a blind man,

(46) Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. (47) When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

(48) Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

(49) Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” (50) Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

(51) “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

(52) “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Mark 10:46-52 New International Version (NIV)

The blind man was desperate to be healed. And hearing Jesus was near, he called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then he did something interesting, he stood up and went to Jesus. No hesitation and although blind, he found his way to the only One that could address his deepest longing, his greatest need – restored sight. During his encounter, he did not shy away from communicating his needs, “I want to see.” And Jesus healed him, immediately!

I wonder how many times we fail to call out to our Father? How many times do we avoid running to Him? How often do we fail to communicate our needs, our hearts, to the One who has the answers we are desperate to receive?

We reluctantly accept our sightless condition because we don’t want to surrender our wills, our desires, our plans. We want to maintain control.

But Jesus consistently restores. He offers sight for our blindness. Light for the dark places of our souls.

BeLOVED be assured that your Heavenly Father waits to meet you. He waits, at the edge of your heart, to bring light, meet your deepest needs, to illuminate His love for you.

You can confidently approach Him.

You can voice your needs and share the pain.

He waits to restore your sight.

(11) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (12) Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. (13) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (14a) I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 NIV

Blessings,

Signature - Allison

Unexpected

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Photo by A. Romansa

The text message came across my phone, baby Jana had arrived. She came one day late and it took 13 hours for her to make her journey from the safety of her mother’s womb to the world.

I texted mom and grandma and was off to the hospital to meet this precious little one.

They say all babies are beautiful but Jana is B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. She has the perfect shaped head, rosy red cheeks, and this amazing mohawk – curled just right at the top. Her hands are bigger than you would expect. Mom says they are a feature Jana shares with grandma. She will need to grow into those hands.

I held Jana as she napped, sucked her fist, and cooed. The moment couldn’t be any better, a precious blessing nestled in my arms.

After about an hour, I handed Jana back to her mom, hugged them both, and walked out the door. Such a sweet visit, a tiny glimpse of heaven. The peaceful presence of God wrapped in a blanket.

I unlocked the car and sat down – a single tear ran down my cheek, then another, and then more. Such a surprise, my heart ached and sadness filled the interior of the car. I thought I was way beyond the emotional impact my infertility had on my life. No babies from my womb but I know God had a plan.

It was OK because God had a plan.

I am OK because God had a plan.

But the tears continued and the sadness spilled over – creeping outside the boundaries of the car, following me into the house and relentlessly chasing me for days. I prayed, I shared the experience with my husband and close friend. I walked, listened to my favorite worship music, and held back the tears. Even as I write this, I hold back the tears.

It is an interesting dilemma. I know God really does have a purpose for my childlessness. I have seen Him use the sadness and pain to minister to others. I have witnessed His amazing restoration and deliverance in the midst of the circumstance. I know He heals, I’ve lived it. And way down, in the depths of my heart – that place where my brain, heart, and spirit connect to Him, I am at peace. So, why the tears? Why the sadness?

I am human, and my humanness desires my will, my way, my timing, my plan. This is a battle for my faithfulness.

In God’s paradigm, our hearts, our connectedness with Him is more important than our comfort or fulfilling our desires. In His economy – we triumph over evil, live with Him for eternity, and He will use everything, all our things, those things that break us to align us with Him.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV)

Jana, that beautiful little girl, was such an amazing reminder that God remains in control. He is still on His throne and He loves me more than I can ever understand.

Steffany Gretzinger and Brandon Lake sing a song titled Communion. It is one of the songs I played and repeated so many times after my visit. It reminded me of God’s goodness. The chorus says,

You are closer, closer than my skin. You are in the air I’m breathing in.

Here’s where the dead things come back to living. I feel my heart beating again. It feels so good to know you are my friend.

Tears offer cleansing and once you are washed clean – hope, perspective, courage return.

Dear Sisters, it is ok to cry, to let your fears, frustrations, and pain flow out. It is cleansing. And God waits, to bring life to all that is dead in your life. He gives you another chance, a new chance.

He loves you.

Trust Him.

You are His BeLOVED.

Blessings,

Signature - Allison