Renew and Refresh Your Soul

Take the time, be still or dormant for a season, then the refreshing will come.

Many of us would not consider the winter season to be refreshing, as said in Proverbs 25:13.  Living in the north country of New York, I had to learn to deal with winter.  Winter is the longest season up here.  It can be extremely cold, very snowy and yes quite long to endure.  Since most of the time is spent indoors, using it wisely for a season of refreshing, or better said as renewing, is helpful.  Actually, this is a scriptural principle.

Ephesians 4:23(NKJV) tells us, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”   

There are the seasons of busyness in our lives, all throughout our years.  Taking a “time out”, being dormant or still is needed to grow and gain renewed strength.  Let us learn from nature around us.

John 12:24(NKJV) “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”

The pictures of the grass, wheat, and plant appear to be dead or barren.  The river is frozen; it’s very still.  They all seem to be in a state of uselessness, when really, they are resting and refueling for the next season of fruitfulness.  Whether a beautiful flower to behold or a delicious fruit to eat, they are busy preparing to emerge again. It is hard work, and the dormant season is necessary. They are being still, resting so they can be revived once again.

Do we take time to be still?  God tells us in His word,

“Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10 (NKJV).

I look at winter as a “time out”; a time to reflect, prepare and refuel.  We also can be ready for the busier seasons ahead. A day of lightly glittering, quietly falling snow can be peaceful and cleansing.   It is a beautiful sight to behold.  Being still and enjoying the wonderful beauty winter has to offer can help bring renewal and refreshment to your soul.

Thoughts, Resolutions, Pondering and Contemplation…As we consider a New Year Ahead.

Consider all that may be ahead. A vast amount of opportunity lies before us.

Looking out from Whiteface Mountain, we see hills, valleys, waterways; what an endless display of natural beauty. It can bring peacefulness to us, as we behold such grandeur. We clearly can see all the landscape in front of us. Thinking forward, at this point, consider that we cannot see into our future and know all that will befall us; as we travel on our life journey.  However, we can carefully consider and contemplate the paths and choices that are ahead.  Thoughtfully pondering the situations before us, can help us to choose wisely our direction.

Yes, a “New Year” is once again upon us; actually, it is in full swing. Sometimes we think about it as a time for a new beginning, a fresh start, or a change of some kind. We might reflect on the past and ponder as we consider our future. Thoughts about what was helpful in the last year may go through our minds. We also, might question ourselves about what wasn’t so useful. We can contemplate about both aspects; learn from them and make any changes that can be a benefit to us. We may even make a “New Year Resolution,” that many times we do not keep. Maybe, it has already been broken! 

There are many paths, roads, situations, challenges and choices that lie ahead for us this year. Let’s look at what some of these paths might be like.  Use these photos, below, to visualize some situations we may encounter. 

Some paths are leisurely and pleasant.

 Some paths or circumstances are challenging.

Other paths may be choppy or unsure.

There are ups and downs, highs and lows, along with twists and turns.

Some paths are clearly marked, others are not. Some are long, some lonely and dark. Other ways are busy and crowded and some definitely connect one place to another.

Paths have a destination, some lead us to safety, others don’t. Some are lighted along the way, others are not. There can be hope at the end of certain roads, if we choose wisely the road to take.

As we can see many things await us each year. Some will be very welcome; others may not. There will be countless choices and decisions for us to consider. It can be difficult or complicated as we navigate our way through the trials of life. We all will need great wisdom to help and guide us along. I go to God’s word, The Bible, and see what the scriptures say. There is a verse for every situation. My thoughts and reasons for this blog is to help us to thoughtfully consider and ponder what lies ahead and prayerfully contemplate wise choices. May God Bless you all this year ahead. Have a wonderful journey.

Below are a few verses to help. Go search for yourself, there is an endless supply of wisdom available to you. Seek the words of the Lord. Happy travels.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills-From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1 NKJV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“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 NIV

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NKJV

“Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” Proverbs 4:26-27 NKJV

© Denise L. Calandra

The Greatest Gift Of All

God Sent His Son This Is True Love

The glowing warmth and radiance of God reaches down to us.  This is a marvel to behold!  Let us consider how glorious heaven must be.  In the picture, we capture a burst of God, just a glimpse of His grandeur, which He allows us to see.  The glory of God is glowing brightly for us to grasp.  God is yearning for us to turn our hearts toward Him.  We, as humans, have fallen from grace. We need a Savior! Although we may feel the need to hide ourselves from God, He still reaches out to us.  The rays radiating toward us symbolize God extending His love and forgiveness.  How does He do this?  He does this by sending His son to earth.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16(NKJV)

Let us take a moment and turn this verse over in our thoughts.  We are in great need and God, in His love for us, sent the greatest gift of all, His only Son.  He gave Himself fully to take the punishment we deserve.  This is Christmas, Christ with us.  As we give our loved one’s gifts, let us also lift our eyes and hearts to Him. God gave His Son as the greatest gift to us.  Therefore, we can give Him our hearts, as our finest gift to Him.  This is the true gift exchange.  

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”    John 1:14

To God Be The Glory

In Everything Give Thanks

Looking Into The Heart Of God

While taking this photo, through the trees, I was trying to capture a feeling of depth and continuance. The opening in the trees forms a heart shape. It draws you into a continuity that stretches quite far. There is a ceaseless depth to God, which stretches into eternity.  Looking through these trees, is like looking into the heart of God.

Thankfulness came upon me as I pondered the awe of God and His unending love for us. This led me to consider the thoughts of being appreciative and giving thanks. What is being thankful? I think it is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for someone or something.  Being thankful should not be just a one-day event. Thankfulness really is a state of mind. Perhaps, looking deeper, we can even say it is our very being.   In the Bible, God tells us to be thankful.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18(NKJV)

It very explicitly says, “In everything give thanks!” This doesn’t mean, in some things, but EVERYTHING or better yet, IN ALL THINGS! Let us truly give thanks to God for all He has done and is doing for us; let it not last only for “Thanksgiving Day” but be continuous without ceasing.  Enjoy and God Bless you and your families as we reflect on our blessings this Thanksgiving Day.

© Denise Calandra

God Continually Renews And Refreshes

You Shall Be Like A Watered Garden

Be renewed and be refreshed; God is always there.  He is continually flowing in us, taking care of our being.  This photo is of a peaceful river with lovely green foliage thriving all around.  Along the riverside are purple flowering plants in bloom.  Looking at the setting in this picture brings about a relaxing sensation, a feeling that all is well and taken care of.  

“The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11 (NKJV)

The river is a ceaseless source of flowing water, which shows the perpetual love and out pouring from God to us.  Both are the seedbed for our refreshment and nourishment.  The richness of the river and its surroundings, reflect this.  Our lives, as well, are deeply enriched by His constant renewing and refreshing, which He desires for us.

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”   Ephesians 4:23-24 (NKJV)

Our Heavenly Father is the living God, our everlasting refreshment and flowing spiritual guide. He is the director of our life.  Read, reflect, meditate on His word; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.  Let Him, ever be your nourishment. To God be the glory!                             

Physical Reflections and Spiritual Reflections

Reflections

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror, for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”  James 1: 22-24 (NKJV)

There are physical reflections and there are spiritual reflections, for us to see.  Let’s look at the physical aspect of reflections.  We use mirrors to capture the physical aspect. Mirrors are used to reflect an image. When we look in a mirror, we might not always like the image that is staring back at us. We physically can see this. There might be some things that we can do to change our picture.  Perhaps, we need to smile.  A good brushing of the teeth could help. You might consider grooming your hair nicer.  Let us not forget a little make-up to the rescue! All of these affect our outside appearance. Although this isn’t the most important factor about us, it can help us to be more confident.  It is our storefront!

Now we want to focus on the spiritual reflection, which is the more important part of us; the actual product of the storefront. The Bible speaks to us about the inner self, the person we truly are. This is harder to be seen.  It can encompass what we believe, our thoughts, our desires, our reactions, our nature itself, for good or bad.  Although I say it is harder to be seen, believe me, what is on the inside, is reflected outward for others to see. What are you showing?

God’s mirror reflects the spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects of our life.  We use a glass mirror to show us our outside appearance.  What can we use to show us the spiritual reflection?  We need to use God’s Word, The Bible, as our inner mirror.  Think about this, God’s word is a guide for us to live by.  Are we learning and living what God teaches us in His word?  As it says in James 1: 22-24, we cannot just read the word; we must also do or live what it says, as well.  

 What are some of the reflections we should be able to see?  Let us look at Galatians 5: 22-25(NKJV): 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

How is your spiritual mirror?  Are you reflecting what is in God’s word?  We need to read, study and learn God’s ways.  Let the fruit of His Spirit flow in and out of you.  His light will beam forth; and reflect from you to others.   

He Will Not Leave You Nor Forsake You

Be Strong And Of Good Courage

Do you ever feel alone, afraid, helpless, hopeless, sad, stressed, discouraged or like giving up?  Sadly, this list could go on and on and on.  At times in life, we all can feel these emotions.  This isn’t necessarily bad; we are human.  However, when these feelings don’t go away quickly, and they seem to be overtaking us, is when they can become a problem or stronghold in our life.

In this photo, the tree is standing strong.  The branch is outstretched with the leaves hanging on.  The leaves don’t appear to be struggling, they appear to be relaxed and calm, we might say, trusting.  The branch reaches out, knowing it is being held up by the strength of the tree.  Again, we can use this as an example to show the trusting relationship needed for this to take place.  Now think about us and how this is a representation of us and our relationship to God. 

God is our strength. Do we allow Him to be it?  How are you doing?  Are you letting God be your strength?  Are you calmly resting and trusting Him in your life situation right now?  OR ARE YOU A STRESSED WRECK?                                                 

God tells us in Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV): 

“You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.”

In the background of this photo, the lighthouse stands with the light on.  This stands for God and His ever-loving steadfastness in our life.  The water is calmed for us by our God.                                                                                                             

 He tells us in Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV):

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the one who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

He tells us to be strong and courageous, to not be afraid.  God is always there watching over us.  Through everything, we can trust Him to light our way. We might feel like we are alone, but we are not, so don’t try to do it by yourself.  God did not at any time, intend for us to be on our own.  We read this fact all throughout scripture.  We are His creation, and He cares for us.  Let Him take the proper place in your life.  Together, you can withstand all the storms of life.  Remember, “He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

God Is Graceful And Glorious

The Lord God Is A Sun And Shield

While driving home, one autumn day, there was an especially beautiful display of color and light.  God’s glory was shining forth. The sun was radiant, as it was nearing time to set for the day.  The color of the leaves lit up, glowing brightly from the sun shining on them. It was an awesome show from God.

I was getting near this special spot, known as the point, on The Saint Lawrence River, where the sunsets are just amazing to behold.  That day’s sunset was extremely effulgent. Of course, I pulled over and just had to try to capture its glowing beauty. 

This sunset trumpets God’s glory and grace.  Every day the sun rises and the sun sets.  Faithfully, this occurs day after day, as designed by God.  Each day is gracefully given to us from God, Himself! What a wonderful gift.  We give Him all the glory.

The bible verse from Psalm 84:11 (NKJV) tells us:

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

God speaks to us through His word and creation.  We see this is true by looking at the picture of the sunset; He created.  Then we read about it in God’s word, both working together for His grace and glory. Surely, we can take comfort in believing Him when He says, “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  Walk in His ways and He will be with you. 

Delight In The Lord

A Wonderfully Colorful Pathway

God is a colorful designer. This painted scene, is from a crisp autumn day, near The Saint Lawrence River. We delight in the wonder of the Lord, as His word tells us to in Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

This verse tells us to delight in the Lord. We can take joy, pleasure, contentment, happiness and so much more in our Lord.  Yes, we have every reason to delight in God. He is ever caring, in every area of our life. What a peaceful time it is to walk along this splendid pathway of color, reflecting on the fact that God created it for us to enjoy.  We see a glimpse of His unending creative beauty.  

Have you ever considered that God is delighting in you as well? Further along in Psalm 37, verse 23 we read just that.

“The steps of man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.”     Psalm 37:23 (NKJV)

When we let God guide our way, then He delights in us!  What a comfort to know He truly is concerned about us.  He cares for us!  Let Him direct your steps, so He may be delighted with you.  Take time to notice the beauty along your path in life. You only go through once.  Delight in the Lord!