Wonders of Creation

“Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand:”

Majestic Swans in Sync

Majestic Swans in Sync

Recently I sat beside the bay at Manchester-by-the-Sea. Well, honestly, I did not sit much because I had my camera. This pair of swans entertained me for a very long time, giving me the impression they enjoyed posing for me as I snapped away.

The proverb reads in full:

Three things are too wonderful for me;
    four I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
    the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
    and the way of a man with a virgin.

I agree with those choices, but I have to add a pair of swans to the list as well as many other wonders of creation!

They swam around each other as if performing an ageless, perfectly choreographed ritual.

They swam around each other as if performing an ageless, perfectly choreographed ritual.

I was drawn into their calm as I watched them move, interacting effortlessly. They were separate, but not. They flowed….

They even drank in synchronization.

They even drank in synchronization.

They even drank in synchronization. After they sipped, they stretched their necks high to let gravity do the rest. Sometimes they drank simultaneously, sometimes consecutively, always with calm, dignity and beauty.

How do they do it? I figure it must be a God thing. I do not understand it, but I can still marvel and enjoy! And, I am thankful I was able to see this wonder.

I could have sat there all day. They, however, decided I had seen enough and swam off.

Please take a moment to reflect. What wonders have you seen this summer? Please share!

Multifaceted

Definition 3 of multifaceted. Biology One of the lens-like visual units of a compound eye, as of an insect.

Definition 3. Biology One of the lens-like visual units of a compound eye, as of an insect.

This guy landed on me while I was reading and praying on my deck. Almost like he wanted me to capture his best side. =}

I have been thinking lately about how AMAZING our Creator is.

I need a God who is HUGE.

In this season of life I feel like a juggler with so many things in the air that something has to drop or it will all come crashing in. I turn & look at the riots in Ferguson, MO., the wars in the middle east… and life does not look good.

Then I pause and I think about God in relation to these situations and to me.

I was sitting on my deck and this dragon fly came and went repeatedly. He landed on me several times as he posed for me. I feel God was reminding me of one of the definitions of multifaceted. The compound eye, like on this dragon fly. These creatures really see all around themselves. That makes it hard to sneak up on them. I had the sense that one of God’s multifaceted eyes is fixed on me….all the time. Just like he has numbered every one of the hairs on my head.

I find it comforting, that even though I can’t see all the options or consequences, God does! He has enough eyes to see everything, everywhere…each of us completely. And He does it so much better than any dragon fly.

As Creator of all things and sustainer of all life, I can rest in the goodness of this one who made me, He knows every one of my days even before there was one of them (PS 139:14)

God sees everything. Even better, He is loving, kind and has all the power needed to make all things, whether good or ill from our perspective, to turn out well for us in the long run.  I know this because I have experienced it over and over. It may be a mess now, but I know I have and will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Can you remember when you faced challenges or felt it was hopeless but some how, you made it through? Was it perseverance? Serendipity? Or was it a miracle?

Please take a moment to reflect back, asking God to show you where He was in that event or season.

Join me in learning to take God’s promises to heart…

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a

 

In HIS Grip!

John 10:27-30, In HIS grip!

John 10:27-30, In HIS grip!

It has come to my attention that my letter sign off, “In HIS grip,” comes across to some as, well, possibly masochistic.

Hmmm. That is not how I see it.

I guess I have some explaining to do=}!

First of all, it is not original to me. I “stole” it from my friend Audrey who taught me SO much about faith in College. Over the years I have seen others who use too. They all thought of it or found it some other way.

I have lots of reasons why I like it. Let me pull it apart and explain what it means to me…from the middle:

HIS: I belong to the creator who made me. Is God Male or Female? Yes!

– In many ways I am traditional. When I invited a professor to my sorority for our annual Professors dinner in about 1978, He asked my why we had “Chairmen” of committees in our house of women. I replied something to the effect: “We know who we are! We don’t feel the need to change a word in the dictionary.”

– Though the Trinity is not a word in the Bible, I believe in God as the Three in one. Usually thought of as the Father, Son (Jesus) and Holy Spirit. God the Creator, created humans in His image, and He made humans male and female. Male and female are the image of God. Not just male or the female, but both. Personally, I am OK with the male aspect of God the father.

I am abundantly aware that many people who read what I write have not had loving male role models. That is also why I often refer to God as Creator. I hope you can connect to the Creator, regardless of gender.

– The true attributes of God are consistently good and loving, strong to protect, always with my best interests in mind.

– I like to capitalize His or HIS because it reminds me I am not God. I am a creature, that the Kind and loving God made. This God transcends everything I can imagine, so I capitalize for respect.

So, when I write “His” to me it is not a fearful thing, but a safe thing.

Grip: Websters says it means to “seize or hold tightly.”

– When I imagine myself in the hand of God, I feel really safe. In John 10, Jesus talks about how He is the good shepherd. He loves his sheep tremendously (me & you.) He willingly dies so they can live. THAT is a lot of love!

He continues: “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Years ago someone used these verses to illustrate to me how Jesus holds my hand. Imagine shaking his hand. He has a firm grip & does not let go. Then in verse 29 the father holds and never let’s go. Imagine a left hand holding the wrist just above the hand that is shaking the hand of Jesus. (See the photo) Then he says “I and the father are one.” That’s when you realize that one person, the loving Creator as both Father and Son, has a firm grip on your hand and wrist and promises to NEVER let go!

Even if you try to wrestle out of it, you can’t, I can’t. Trust me, I have tried too many times in years past. I have learned though, that He does not let go and He does love me. He has pulled me back from several literal and proverbial dangerous places in my life. And I am grateful.

I have also learned it is much easier to choose to hide in His grip than to fight to get out. Out of His grip, out of His protection, is not a safe place. I really do not want to be there.

Does he smother me with His grip? No! Most of the time he holds me on His  open palm. Isaiah even writes how God has carved me into the palm of His hand. He loves me and you that much.

And He holds on to me better than I do to Him. Even when I think I am clinging for my life, God is the one who really exerts the effort, not me.

In: “used to indicate location or position within something.”

As a follower of Jesus, I am “in” Christ. Christ is also in me, my hope of glory. In His presences is fullness of joy. In Christ I am a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come. I am not what I was. God sees me as he created me to be… who I am becoming, not how I see myself.

So, by hiding myself in His promises, I am safe. With 40 years of walking in the faith I have experienced the joy of letting God lead and protect. I have not arrived, but I am reminded of my safe place in Him when I sign:

In His Grip,

Andrea

PS How about you? How do you feel safe with God? If you don’t, why not?

The Thing About a Name – Reputation

2013-10-29 15.09.35

In Ann Arbor last fall, outside the store my family owned

I learned a very valuable lesson when I was young. I was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. That is the home of the University of Michigan. Both my brothers, both my parents and both my dad’s parents all graduated from the University of Michigan. To go with that, my last name was prominently posted in large letters on a store front across the street from the main U of M campus.  VAN BOVEN Inc was founded in 1921. A purveyor of fine mens clothing. (Think Brooks Brothers, only independent.) My father was a haberdasher =}!

My dad was my boss starting at age 8. That is when he hired me for 25 cents and hour to watch for “five-finger discounts” during the semi-annual sale. My instructions were to “be a body” up by the door. I was even granted the exceptional privilege by my grandpa to sit on a stool! (“employees never sit, it looks lazy and sloppy”)

I was told, if I saw anyone looking like they might want to put any merchandise in their coat or purse on their way out the door, I was to ask politely, “May I help you?” In all my 16 or so years working seasonally for Van Boven’s I only had to ask for those reasons a hand full of times, but I am sure my simple presence was the money saver dad wanted.

So, I went through my early life being a kid and learning the family virtues of honesty and hard work. To be sure I flirted with a few other characteristics that were not exactly virtuous, but in all, I learned that good behavior generally wins the day.

I also began to notice that my name, my Van Boven name, carried weight. I did not fully understand it. It was mostly good, but it also felt as though it haunted me, especially when I was less than virtuous.

One year, long before I was born, a Van Boven customer was offended because he did not receive a Christmas card from the store while others had. That over sight of the card lead to the decision that Christmas cards were no longer sent by any Van Boven, store or family.

We also were not allowed to put any kind of bumper stickers on any vehicle we drove for fear of being identified and possibly offending a customer or potential customer to avoid losing business.

During the depression in the 1930’s, when someone was out of work but landed an interview, many knew they could go see my grandpa, Pete Van Boven, and he would quietly “see to it” that they had a clean shirt and tie, at the very least, to not only use for the interview, but to have to start work.

I have many more stories of the reputation and the accompaning responsibility of my family name, but the point is: the name Van Boven is a respected name in Ann Arbor and beyond.

I liked that, but at 18 years old I had questions. I won a city-wide award in High School. That and a few other achievements made me ask if I was noticed because of my name, or if I truly earned that and other awards on my own.

“Did people like me for me, or did people like me because of my name?”

To resolve that nagging question in my mind and heart, I determined to not attend the University of Michigan as my family had for generations. I chose to go to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana!

At IU, I became the starting field hockey goalie as a freshman. I joined a sorority and I eventually became a leader there and in the campus ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. (now CRU) After the initial culture shock of moving to southern Indiana, adjustments to my new realities, hard work and no small amount of fun, the answer to my question of why people like me crystallized.

Yes, people like me for me, however, it takes a long time to build a good reputation!

By going away to school, I learned what a blessing a good reputation is and how hard it is to establish. I guess it gave me an idea of what I was aiming for.

I also began to appreciate how important the good foundation my parents had instilled in me was. The biblical principles and virtues that are part of the Van Boven family culture and name. That foundation is what allows me to go where ever God takes me and do it again, whether or not everybody knows my name. =}

How do you want to be known? Besides running away and starting over, =} how can you work to strengthen your reputation?

God, Grant us wisdom and abundant grace to know how we may best represent Your name and reputation, not as a burden, but full of Your joy. Amen

Looking for God’s Glory

Part of writing multifacetedblog.net is to stimulate us all (I am VERY much included) to know God a little better and to look at life a little more from God’s perspective every day.

Salt March in Essex, MA at high tide.

Salt March in Essex, MA at high tide.

Part of that is looking at what He has created. The saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words. These are a few photographs I took. Please click on them if they do not open automatically.

I am adding very few words this week in hopes that God will speak to you “directly” through these photos of His creation.

Clouds Over Essex Town Hall

Clouds Over Essex Town Hall

Please take your time looking at these photos. Look for God. Not the form of Jesus in the clouds. This is not the hidden things in the picture from “Highlights” magazine. =} (as much as I like those….) Ask God what he wants you to see. What is Abba saying to you as you look?

The Aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. North Palm Beach, FL

The Aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. North Palm Beach, FL

Do you have a favorite? If so why? Did anything touch your heart?

I would love feedback.

Thank you for coming this far!

In HIS grip,

Andrea