Stop and Smell the Flowers

 

Fifteen years ago this spring I heard this song for the first time on Christian radio. There were so many good thoughts contained within the song, but this one phrase is what seemed to burn in my heart:

“take us to the throne room, in the city of our God”

We had just begun house hunting, to buy our first home after 25 years of marriage and living in many different rentals.  When the song stirred my heart, I could not explain the “homesickness” for a city that I did not know, and the longing for people that needed us and that we would need too.

Later that summer we purchased a home in a small lake town in the middle of the farmlands of Southeast Wisconsin. My husband’s commute was long, but one that he felt was worth it, for the beauty of the lakes that were so close. God confirmed it was His home for us through many details that unfolded over those first months.

But it took many years before we would see the beautiful connections He had made for us in this “city:” The neighbor who was struggling with deep trials who would open my heart to a deeper way of loving than I had known before;  The elderly couple who had blessed me with time for slowing down to chat, but who would later need my help after a horrible accident with the chainsaw; The elderly neighbor who would need my help driving her, and who then became a dear “second Mom” after my own Mom passed away; The artist who shared her log cabin garden with me as I watered and weeded for her, who opened my heart to rejoice in the artistic beauty of my Lord.

 

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(my latest art journal page created this week)

In recent years,  I have felt my life slowing to a crawl, and living such a different lifestyle from those days of walking to meet my neighbors. But when I look back I can see that He had been preparing me for this place of slow for a very long time–15 years actually.  I may have thought I was “stopping to smell the flowers” through all of those relationships, but I was still just “pausing to smell the flowers.”  All along, God has been inviting me to STOP. The rushing from one serving to the next has stilled. But the loving and the rejoicing together has only become more precious.

He has brought an “oasis of peace” in the middle of my pain-filled mornings. He has called for His loving kindness to cover me, even when I cannot jump out of bed, get dressed quickly, and breeze through my quiet time so that I can work through my to-do list.  Most days lately, dressing doesn’t happen until lunch time. But the mornings and the days are full. Recently a friend asked me, “What do you do all day, since you can’t get out much?”  Even though I miss my old ways of serving and doing, He has been bringing me to a deep surrender of those things that I thought were such a part of my identity.  I realized that God has filled my days with HIMSELF, and loving the people who call, email, or write.  I cannot remember the last time I was bored.

 

David’s poetic praise to God[a]
The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.[b]
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.[c]
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.[d]
That’s where he restores and revives my life.[e]
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness[f]
so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.[g]
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;[h]
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!  Psalm 23 Passion Translation

 

He has plunged me into that ocean of His mercy, in the middle of the driest of burning desert heat.  The pain may overwhelm, and the tears might flow, but as I look at the footnotes for this verse from Revelation, I can hear Him speaking again: He has been anointing those tears for His loving.

 

For the Lamb at the center of the throne continuously shepherds them unto life[a]—guiding them to the everlasting fountains of the water of life.[b] And God will wipe from their eyes every last tear!”[cRevelation 7:17 The Passion Translation

Footnotes:

  1. Revelation 7:17 As translated from the Aramaic. The sacrificial heart of Christ as the Lamb will guide them and be their path of life.
  2. Revelation 7:17 Some manuscripts have “to living springs of water.”
  3. Revelation 7:17 The Greek word for “anoint” is “to wipe” or “smear.” It is possible to translate this “He will anoint every tear shed from their eyes.” See Isa. 25:8.

 

His touch and His relief are such balms to my heart. There is no other ONE like our Good Shepherd, who knows the best paths to lead us on. I know that song from 15 years ago is ultimately speaking of the beautiful Throne Room in Heaven, the true “city of our God,” but yet He brings such pictures of His fullness while we are on this earth.  He has been calling me to see His dwelling place, His own throne, resting here where He lives in me, in this city, where He brings His love . . .

A love that is not altered or changed by the pace or the struggles . . .

A love that loves to dwell with the Beloved.

 

May I pray for you on the pathway where you find yourself?

 

Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for being such a Gentle Shepherd as You call us to walk with You. I pray for my dear friends today. Would You show them the beauty of Your pathway for them? When they are filled with questions, would You show them that answers will come in time, as they follow in Your steps? Where pain covers them, would You lift them onto Your own shoulders and carry them? When the valley feels too dark, would You shine Your light on the path in front of them? Thank You that You never leave us alone to fend for ourselves. Thank You that You are calling us to stop rushing, and to dwell in relationship, loving You, and being loved.

In Your great name we pray,

Amen.

 

I am linking with:

#LMMLinkup

#Teaandword

#Tellhisstory

44 thoughts on “Stop and Smell the Flowers

  1. My dearest sister in Christ, the more I take in your journey, the more I can relate. Though not chronic physical pain, I have experienced the heart pain of loneliness my whole life, some times more intense than others. Thank you my friend for sharing how His oasis of peace and love is everywhere, including our very own hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Dear Julie, I think that heart pain can sometimes be even more intense than physical pain. I am so thankful that God allowed our paths to cross on this journey. He knows how to bring that balm to our hearts,and to our bodies, and to show us the oasis of His peace right here in the middle of these pains. You are such an encouragement and blessing. I pray for blessing and love for you today, Sweet Friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your prayers have been heard Bettie! I am feeling His love and peace as I prepare. Some day dear friend we will sip tea or coffee and talk until His sun goes down. May He expand your mobility and free your mind this night, sister. Love, Julie

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        1. Oh dear sister, that would be such a gift and a blessing to be able to share our hearts in person over tea! If not here, then Heaven for sure! Thank you for your sweet prayers, as I thank Him for every moment when movement is easier. Love you!

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  2. What a beautiful post, Bettie, in learning how to “stop” 🙂 I can totally relate to having to “stop” my previous life to make way for my life now, which has been very different than what I saw myself doing/being at this stage of my life! What I once thought of as an “ending” that filled me with grief has now turned into a “beginning” that I never saw coming! I am very grateful for having to “stop” and now live the life I never expected! In the “big picture”… my time spent now is so much more rewarding! ❤

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    1. Oh yes, I am so thankful that God’s stopping is not the same as our own! He has such beauty and new life for us, even in those hard changes, doesn’t He? I love the new life that He continues to bless you with! Even though our lives are so far apart, your lovely animals bring such joy to me! Thank you for continuing to share about your journey also. Blessings and love to you!

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      1. Thank you, Bettie!! Your words mean so much to me because so many think my having donkeys is “weird”?! I am VERY grateful I have “help” in their daily care that enables me to give them the home they deserve! I am truly blessed… If I had not changed my path, I would never have adopted the donkeys. And my life would be all the more sad! Changes I’ve cried about have now brought me so much joy! ❤

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        1. Oh Jennifer, isn’t our God so gracious to us? He doesn’t see the way others do, but He sees into our deepest hearts, where we don’t even know our deepest desires. I am so grateful that He helped you to keep pressing through those times of loss, in order to come to the gifts of the new that He had for you! Hugs & Blessings!

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  3. Thanks for these precious words. Knowing something of your daily struggles, these words carry a load of gold nuggets. I have never heard the River song before. Connecting the song to your househunting and the “city” where you found your present home is just beautiful.
    The Shepherd Psalm in the Passion version is beautiful!

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    1. Dear Lisa,
      Yes, isn’t that such a beautiful translation of a Psalm that we are so familiar with? Our Good Shepherd knows us so well, and how to help us along the path that is best for us. And yes, I was so surprised when I listened to that song recently, and thought about all of the ways that the Lord brought His guidance to us over these years here. And I am so very grateful for the peace that He has brought in this place of hard trials too. Thank you for all of your sweet encouragement Dear Sister. Blessings and Love to you!

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    1. Dear Michele,
      Thank you for your sweet encouragement. I am so blessed at the ways that God brings His Word and His heart to us just when we need it the most. He truly does allow us to share His comforts with each other. Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, wouldn’t that be wonderful if we could live closer, and share time and hugs together? But I am so thankful for the long-distance joy that God allows us to share. You always bring such a smile and light to my days! Blessings to you!

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  4. Thank you, Bettie, for sharing the fullness of the love and mercy God fills you with. It strengthens my heart. There is such a depth of meaning in that Passion version of Psalm 23. I hope the infusions are helping you. Love and blessings of grace and strength for each moment!

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    1. Dear Trudy,
      Yes, I feel like I want to keep reading that Passion translation of Psalm 23, to open my heart to deeper thoughts about our Good Shepherd! I am so thankful that God strengthened your heart here. You are such an encouragement to me. I appreciate your prayers so much! Yes, I think that first infusion will help the osteoporosis. I am still waiting on insurance approval for the new RA infusions. So I am especially thankful for your prayers, as I wait here. Blessings, love and hugs to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Bettie,
    I love how you make the distinction between pausing and stopping. I am learning more and more to actually stop, but my restless being wants to just keep going. You have been such a blessing and encouragement in my life, dear sister. Thank you for your love and prayers.
    “He has been calling me to see His dwelling place, His own throne, resting here where He lives in me, in this city, where He brings His love . . .” Bettie, through your words and sharing you are helping me see how close He is with me every minute of the day and night, all my life. Blessings, love and hugs to you, dear sister! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Gayl, Oh you have brought tears to my eyes tonight. I am so thankful that Jesus has brought our paths together, and that we can share and encourage each other. I know what you mean about “my restless being wants to just keep going.” God has shown me so much about myself in that same way too. I am glad that He doesn’t give up, but keeps pursuing us and calling us to Himself through each minute of our days! Blessings, love and hugs to you too dear sister! xoxo

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  6. This post was like a section of my life. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who isn’t dressed before noon. 🙂

    Thanks for the beautiful prayer. Praying for you as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Mandy,
      I thought you might understand those physical changes, Mandy! That late dressing was such a hard surrender for me, coming from strong farming backgrounds (even though I didn’t grow up on a farm, it was my Grandparents’.) I did not realize how strongly that habit was ingrained in me, but how that was actually hindering my ability to feel any kind of strength for the rest of the day! I’m so thankful we can pray for each other on this journey Mandy! Love & Hugs!

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  7. Absolutely beautiful journal page. Your words resonate so much contentment–being content in God’s ways, and where you are. And you may just be serving much more than you realize from your home environment than you thought possible!

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    1. Thank you Lynn, your words go so deep into my heart tonight. I do pray that Jesus brings His new ways of serving here now too. It feels so different to me, but He is full of unique and different, isn’t He? Blessings and Prayers for you this week, Dear Friend.

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  8. Oh that stopping is so hard, isn’t it, Bettie? All these years down the line and I still struggle with it, as well as succeeding in getting dressed by lunchtime! 😉 Deep soul rest is yet one more thing we are totally reliant on God to achieve in us. By nature I am a restless, let’s-get-on-with-it, A-type perfectionist, which seems a bit ironic when I fail to be any of those things because of having chronic illness. God sure has a great sense of humour and a much better way of living and being intended for us than we might envisage. Our lives are made all the richer somehow in the dependency and surrender to Him. I definitely see that in you, sweet friend.

    It was lovely to listen to Take Me To The River again. I haven’t heard it for years and it spoke to me afresh. I love the Passion Translation of Psalm 23, especially these words: “He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.” So beautiful, and as quietly serene as this post has been for me too. I am always aware of the gentle invitation of resting grace I see in your words and in yourself. Much love, blessings of healing rest and hugs to you! xoxo 💜

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    1. Oh Dear Joy, these words are so full of beautiful thoughts. This is so much what I have been coming to see: “Deep soul rest is yet one more thing we are totally reliant on God to achieve in us.” Hearing the words, “Just rest” can seem so easy, and yet feel worlds away when I try to lay my weary and pain-filled body down. But it is so true that only HE can bring that sweet rest that we so crave. Truly “Our lives are made all the richer somehow in the dependency and surrender to Him.” And I love that you are familiar with Robin Mark, since he is from your side of the pond. What a joy that Youtube allows us to share these connections too! And, yes, when I read those words of Psalm 23 in the Passion Translation it went so deeply to my heart too. Thank you for the sweet peace and encouragement that your words bring to my heart, dear friend. Much love and hugs to you! xo

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words, and for your visit here! Our souls do need that beauty and gratitude don’t they? What a gift when we allow the Lord to fill us with them. Blessings to you!

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  9. This is just precious, sweet friend. I love your attitude and loving, surrendered spirit, and the way you reach out to others is such a blessing. I will never be able to thank you enough for the many times you have emailed and let me know that I am on your mind and in your prayers. SO many times the Lord will lead you to share a song or words of encouragement with me, and you will just never know how much it is needed and appreciated. Even though you are not able to get out and about and do the many things you are used to doing, God is using you in new and amazing ways right there from your own home. In this season that looks so different from the way your life used to be, you are bearing sweet fruit and ministering on an even deeper level. Your life is a beautiful outpouring of Jesus love and all He is teaching you. SO very thankful to have you in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      I am so thankful that God takes those small offerings that He asks me to give, and multiplies them by His Spirit! You have offered me such precious offerings of beautiful words and prayers too! I am so grateful for your encouragement here. It really is such a different season than what I ever thought it would look like, but you are so right, that Jesus has a beautiful outpouring right here. I want to keep my eyes open to see more of Him. I am so thankful to have you in my life too, dear friend. Love, and blessings to you!

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    1. Dear Mary,
      I am so thankful that you were blessed by the Lord here. Isn’t He so gentle with us as He leads us further into understanding of His identity within us? He has created us for such beauty and calls us to stop the rushing so that we can see the way He sees. I am so very thankful that He allows us to pray and encourage each other. You are a blessing!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Bettie, Your post, as always, is deeply encouraging but your prayer really hit home with me. Your prayer had words that I could not find myself but ones that I wanted to say to God. Thank you………..from the bottom of my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Dear Wendi, I am so very grateful that the Lord brought words here that were the utter of your heart too. He is so good to draw us and bring just what we need. Truly those quiet places that you wrote about in your post too are such sweet meeting places with Him. This is the stopping that He has been asking of me too. Blessings and love to you Dear Friend!

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