The Wind in the Trees

Trees

It is March and it’s really windy lately. That’s normal. The last few days have reminded me how much I love hearing the wind in the trees. One day, that sound and sight sparked a memory. I’m never surprised at the kindness of the Lord. But I am always overwhelmed with gratitude by it. The following is a retelling of one of those days. I pray this blesses you.

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I was looking out a window the other day and something about the shape of the trees, the green grass, the sound of the wind, and the blue sky reminded me of my childhood. The view pulled me into a memory that I couldn’t hold on to.

It was like trying to grab a mist or a puff of smoke. Before it surfaced in my mind, it was gone. But the feeling remained. It was a good memory, whatever it was.

Mingled in with it was the bliss of being a daydreaming child. Carefree, loved, taken care of.

I think that moment was a kindness from my Heavenly Father. I was so tired from many compounded adversities of life – worries over loved ones, busy schedule, the weight of sharing the gospel. (I say weight because I do not take it lightly. I love doing it and I respect the importance of it).

Even so, I was weary. More weary than I can describe. I felt battered and bruised in my soul. That’s when I glanced out the window and saw green trees and blue skies, and I felt the breath of the Holy Spirit as He whispered to me, “Remember…”

But I couldn’t remember. I didn’t know what the memory was. I only knew that I had seen something like that view before, and had felt a peace and excitement all mingled together – and I had been happy.

I know now that the memory was not the thing. What the Lord was showing me is that I am a beloved child of the Most High, and He still loves me. I am still a daydreaming child, carefree, loved, and taken care of. I am His child.

Even in the midst of the stuff we deal with in life, I can remember my Lord’s love for me. I can remember that I can always be at rest IN Him. I am IN Christ. Hidden in Christ where I am safe, loved, and at peace.

Our Heavenly Father speaks in soft, gentle ways, and each time we choose to dwell on Him, He opens up more understanding in us so we can receive love from Him. That is what replaces the cares and weariness with a light heart and a rested soul.

I’m so grateful that He cares for me!

Beloved friend, please believe me when I tell you that the Lord loves you the same way. He longs to show you how much. Let Him shower you with that beautiful love – the love that came in the person of Jesus and has already paid for your freedom.

Let Him show you that you too are IN Christ – greatly loved, and completely surrounded with His kindness.

Phyllis Keels

The Sweet Waters

 

I had an insight into myself recently. I always thought I was a pretty positive person – you know? That good, uplifting things are coming out of my mouth? Well…

It happened when I overheard the interaction of a group of people. One person in the group kept saying things like, “No, I hate that. I can’t stand it when that happens. Oh, that kind of thing is just stupid,” and on and on.

It was like looking in a mirror. I realized that I say stuff like that a lot. When I heard how I have sounded, I was ashamed of myself.

Up until that point, I had thought I was simply sharing preferences about general things. I hadn’t mean to sound negative or to be negative, but I had been very negative.

As I sat there, a little in shock and a lot in humiliation, another feeling crept in. Gratitude. I was (and still am) so grateful to the lovely Holy Spirit for showing me that there is a way for sweet water to flow out of my mouth.

He reminded me that when I’m sharing with someone how kind the Lord has been to me, about the wonderful things He reveals to me about Jesus, the words that come forth are sweet and full of hope, life, and peace.

When I’m talking about myself, the waters are often bitter. That tells me that I still have a lot of grief in my heart. I knew that, of course, but I wasn’t aware it could be seen and heard.

The only way to make bitter waters sweet is to put the “tree” in. Just like when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and they came to Marah (Exodus 15). They could not drink the water there because it was bitter.

The Lord told Moses to throw in a certain tree. When he did, the waters became sweet.

My friend, I understand the pain we try to hide (sometimes with good motives because we don’t want to hurt others). I understand the sorrow we wish would go away. As hard as we try to help ourselves feel better, or to do good instead of harm, we often fail because the pain is too great.

We end up focusing on how much we hurt, and what comes out of our mouths can be negative and hurtful.

Beloved of the Lord, Jesus is the answer. Ask Him to intervene in your situation. Give Him your mouth, and believe that He has suffered all your grief on the cross so that you can be free and fully comforted.

Once you throw the “tree” into your situation, into your heart, the waters will become sweet, and you will drink to your heart’s content all the love, joy, peace, and wholeness you long for.

Phyllis Keels

Starting Eternity Now

Beach

Photo by Kim Lance (Used by permission. Click image for more of Kim’s work)

Okay. Forget the, “It’s so hot outside you could fry an egg on the sidewalk.” The reality is, “It’s so hot outside you could fry an egg on top of my head.”

I’m so sorry for anyone who has to work outside right now. I can hardly stand to walk through the parking lot from my car to a building.

The way I’ve started dealing with the heat is to remind myself that in about six months I’ll be crying because it’s so cold outside. Seems there’s just no pleasing me!

The truth is, I love spring and fall. I suffer through winter and summer.

But you know what? I think heaven will have the best of all four seasons. It will have the new life of spring, the quiet of winter, the warmth and full light of summer, and the color of fall. It will be no less that perfect.

The thing is, sometimes we miss enjoying the now because we’re longing for the future or we’re trapped in the past. Jesus said that He came so we might have life, and have it more abundantly. That means life right now. I think He wants us to start enjoying eternity in the moment.

When we take time to appreciate the wonderful light of summer (even if it’s from an air conditioned house), when we can savor the soft quiet of winter (even if it’s while we’re sitting in front of a fireplace), then we begin living in eternity. We begin to live in the heavenly places.

All of that appreciation and gratitude points us to our loving Heavenly Father, who is the giver of all good things. And He wants to give us everything that Jesus’ sacrifice bought for us.

My friend, if you are struggling with something worse than the heat, like disappointment or loss, then please take it from someone who has seen a glimpse of heaven waiting for us and know this: your Heavenly Father loves you with an everlasting love. What waits for us is full of His abounding love for us.

I have seen the golden light of heaven. I’ve seen the vibrant color that doesn’t exist on this earth, and the new life shining in the faces of those who have gone before us. The beauty that awaits us is beyond my ability to describe.

No matter what you’re going through, your Heavenly Father cares. If you are sad, He cares and is waiting to help you. He is such a gentleman that He will not intrude. He waits for you to invite Him into your grief, loss, and disappointment.

Once you do, you’ll be living in the heavenly places, my friend. You’ll begin the abundant life, and you’ll feel greatly loved. You’ll be living in the heavenly places.

Phyllis Keels

A Great Year

Canyon

Photo by Kim Lance (used by permission)

Where did this year go? It’s almost over. Seems like if I had blinked I would have missed it.

Time picks up speed when we reach a certain age, doesn’t it? Well, that’s okay. I always enjoyed riding downhill rather than climbing up!

It has been a very good year. A good year indeed.

Somewhere around February I found out I was going to be a grandmother. Then later in the year I got to be with my grandson when he came into the world! A lot of changes overall, and a lot more people I can be a blessing to.

There are so many things I’m grateful for and I won’t list them here. I just want to tell you how grateful I am for you, dear reader.

All the “shares” and comments of encouragement, all the news of how the Lord blesses you and others through what He gives me to write…

Thank you. Thank you from the overflow of love in my heart for you!

Please know that you didn’t hear about, stumble upon, or seek out this blog by accident. You were drawn to the loving call of the Holy Spirit.

You see, I can write words all day long, but only He can give real comfort. Only He can show authentic love, and only He can bring true healing to hearts that have been broken by grief.

So as this year ends and another brand new one begins, may the Lord bless you richly with all the beauty He has to give us in His Son Jesus! Because that is His desire for you, my friend – to know you are loved!

The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you;

The Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you;

The Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace (tranquility of heart and life continually).

Numbers 6:24-26 (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)

Phyllis Keels

Greatly Loved

field

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day, and already you may be tired of the “thankful theme.” It’s okay if you are. I understand.

I just wanted to wish you a happy Thanksgiving and to tell you that you are loved. Whether you know it or not, your Heavenly Father loves you more than you can imagine.

If you don’t feel it, or if you disagree, that’s okay. I hope you’ll consider that what you feel now is just a place to start.

My prayer for you is that soon the clouds will roll away, and the warm sunshine from the Lord’s smile will wash through you. I pray that His presence will fill you with the deep understanding of how precious you are to Him – to your Heavenly Father.

Never mind what has happened in the past. Never mind how life feels right now. Remember the truth and never let it go: you are greatly, deeply, uniquely, and completely loved. Right here. Right now.

Nothing you do will ever change that love. Nothing you do will ever diminish it or tarnish it, because it has nothing to do with our goodness or lack of it. Quite simply, this love is a result of God’s character, not ours. And He never changes.

Everything (guilt, sin, pride) that could keep you from receiving that love has already died. It has been nailed to a cross and does not exist anymore. We have been set free.

Just receive that truth, friend. Receive it and have joy in it. Be free in the grace that Jesus paid for. This is His gift to you and to me.

Happy Thanksgiving from one grateful child of the King to another. Happy Thanksgiving to you – you who are greatly, greatly loved!

Phyllis Keels

Of Gratitude

My dog Emma had her second surgery yesterday to repair her other back leg. The doctor said she did fine and that I can pick her up today. When I talked with the physician’s assistant she said, “Emma is such a sweet dog. It will be a pleasure to take care of her tonight.”

That sums up Emma really well. It is a pleasure to do anything with and for her. She appreciates whatever I do for her. I think she’s the most grateful thing I’ve ever known.

She’s a beautiful picture of gratitude and how I should always live.

I remember trying to explain that to Julie at times when she was struggling with anger. Once I remember that it made her angrier when I said that the only way to be content is to be grateful now. It may not have been the right time to say it to her.

But maybe it was. Maybe it stuck and she accepted it later. Either way, she did accept it and she was very grateful for everything the Lord had done for her. That’s a great gift when we can finally see.

It’s hard to be grateful when we are in despair. Sometimes all I can see is my broken heart and the reality that Julie is gone. It’s hard to even want to try to have gratitude for anything.

I think about Daddy being gone and of the years of his suffering. My mind starts to list everything that troubles me in any area of my life.

Before I know it, I’m the sheep stuck in the thicket and I can’t get out. The thorns cut me if I try to move. I can’t go in any direction. And it’s starting to storm.

All I can do then is to keep crying out to the Lord, “Help me!”

Then I hear the voice of the Shepherd. He gently pulls me out and carries me. He bandages my wounds and speaks softly to me to help me rest in His arms. I fall asleep safe and warm, knowing that I am loved beyond my greatest imagining.

When I wake, He reminds me that worry takes my focus off of Him. It blinds me so that I wander down a path I was never meant to take. Only gratitude keeps my eyes clear so I can see Him and follow Him.

I get snagged by thorns of worry every day, but as soon as I thank the Lord for all He has done and all He will do, the thorns give way. I walk past them as the Shepherd places His hand on my head and I follow Him to the next pleasant pasture.

What a privilege to be in His presence and thank Him for His loving kindness, every step, all the way.

Phyllis Keels