Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What do your leaves look like?

I don't know about you, but August and September were BEAUTIFUL months full of sun here in Oregon. The Pichura Family LOVES the sun...and we were very happy campers!:)

But about the second week of October, the rain started. It rained a lot. Then it rained a little. There were days of rest and days of relentless. Moments of hard rain, light mist, and everything in between. Even when the rain had stopped, the clouds seemed to linger.

And as the clouds have lingered, my awe has grown.


It's fall....and God's artistry, in the changing colors of the leaves, is AMAZING! Yet, I can say with all honesty, that the days I have noticed them the most are cloudy days. Days when the background is dark the leaves pop out. They look translucent. They look bright. They are colors that no crayon could duplicate. On cloudy days, right now, I wish our commute to school was 40 minutes instead of 20. More time to take in the grandeur and beauty of my precious Creator and Savior!

I got to thinking that the parallels between us and the rain, clouds, and leaves are worth pondering.

God allows situations in our lives that can be much like the rain we have seen around here the last couple of weeks ( I dare say, some of those trails can feel a bit more like Hurricane Sandy). The love of our life dies. We become sick or injured. We lose a job. A child walks away from the truths of God's Word...and walks into drugs, adulteress relationships, or even homosexuality. Heavy, heavy rain.

There is a season for everything, God says in Ecclesiastes. Praise the Lord that He promises His grace is sufficient for each season, for every plan He has for us. There is no hope outside of His promises.

But maybe we can't fully understand what those heavy rains must feel like. We have never dealt with them. All of us, though, have dealt with clouds. Some may be darker than others...but the daily trials of life are inevitable...and they can be quite painful.

They can also be revealing.

You see....as believers, we should be like the trees around Hood River this fall. The darker the sky, the brighter the color. The darker the trial, the more that Christ can be seen in our lives. Because, if He IS our life, whatever is stripped away from us just ends up revealing more of Him.

Pastor Scotty Smith said it this way in a prayer:

"Indeed, there is no greater state of blessedness than to be in Christ; and in those moments (and longer seasons) of temporary insanity when I’m tempted to think otherwise, bring me back to gospel sanity. Forgive me when I want more, think I need more, or, even worse, demand more. Free me when I think life is about Jesus plus something else. All I will ever need is Jesus plus what you choose to graciously provide. I believe, help my unbelief."

So, whatever the trial may be...because we are all facing trials of one kind or another...the question is still the same: What do your leaves look like?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Prayer A Day

A precious friend of mine sent me a prayer today that she is praying for me and my family. It was a prayer she got from Scotty Smith at Gospel Coalition. 

Just the fact that she is praying for us warms my heart and encourages my spirit immensely....but knowing WHAT she is praying made it all the more beautiful.

I went to go and find the prayer for myself...and I found even more!!!! It's a gold mine of prayers!!! I am not sure how Pastor Smith has escaped my notice till now....but boy, does this pastor have a way with words. And having those words in the form of prayers just makes them all the more precious!

His prayers, to me, are like a modern day "Valley of Vision" (prayers by Puritans)...and, not only can you get them sent to your email every day...but you can buy one of his three books, too!

Can you tell I am excited?!

Truth is, sometimes I am not sure what to pray when I am praying for others.  I feel like I just ate a bunch of peanut butter and then tried to talk. I feel stuck. I know the Holy Spirit intercedes for me...but I also want to grow in thinking deep and praying deep.

God just gave me some help....maybe it will help and encourage you, too!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Adoption....it's a beautiful thing!!!

I saw this video at chapel on Friday. Whether you have been adopted by your earthly parents or by your Heavenly Father....we have so much to be thankful for!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Life is a vapor. 

Our days are numbered before one of them came to be. 

To live is Christ, to die is gain.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

A time to be born and a time to die.

Life is a sweet gift from God. It is also not a guarantee that we will awake tomorrow. Our days were sealed in God's master plan before one of them came to be...and God's plan is often different and earlier than we would plan.

We have had  two deaths in our small church family in the past couple of weeks. One dear saint in his late 60's and, just this past week, a husband and father (in his early 50's) passed away, leaving behind his precious wife and 3 kiddos.

Their deaths have brought a soberness to our church family and to our home. We do not know how God will see best to glorify Himself in our lives and in our family. Paul said it may be by life or it may be by death. It's an overwhelming thought to my finite mind. Of course, as Elizabeth Elliot once said, "God's grace does not go where our thoughts often take us". His grace is sufficient for the tasks He has called us to, though they are vastly different from one person to the next.

"Christians claim to believe that heaven - being present with God - is so wonderful, and yet act as if going there were the greatest tragedy.....Death, for the believer, is no tragedy. And for the believer to die well -to live and die aiming to glorify God- confident that God will make good on all of His promises - this is a thing of great beauty."      Joseph Bayly/Nancy Guthrie

I am so thankful for the precious words and testimonies of those that have gone before us...their thoughts on life and death, according to the Word of God, have encouraged my heart and challenged the fear that can creep up when I think of the death of a loved one. I can't tell you how thankful I am for the timing of a book that I read as part of a book club last month. I would not have picked the book on my own, and yet, the blessing it was (and is) to my own heart makes me want to buy everyone a copy and tell them to start reading right away!

"O Love That Will Not Let Me Go: Facing Death with Courageous Confidence in God" is a  compilation of writings by Nancy Guthrie of various Puritans as well as contemporary teachers and preachers. Through these writings, we see the reality of death, the hope in death, the promise of our future, and the encouragement to persevere in the here and now. So rich!

RC Sproul Jr. lost his wife last December to cancer (and, I just found out, his daughter died this past week). He is well acquainted with grief and death yet his testimony exalts the greatness of God and the overflowing mercy and grace He gives in the face of some of life's greatest pain and heartache.  His blog posts from last December and January were precious. Here are a couple:

What Now?
My better half

"A broken heart leads to the true contentment of asking less of this life because more is coming in the next...suffering hurries the heart homeward."  Joni Eareckson Tada

I know that many of our hearts are breaking over the news of the past few weeks....but I pray that it leads us all homeward. As Thomas Boston said:

"Death will take you to your best Friend, the Lord Christ....it puts out your candle, (and) it will carry you where there is no night, where there is eternal day."

Come, Lord Jesus, come!