God is my refuge and fortress.
Branches broke off from the oak tree as another storm blew in from the North. I heard them hitting the roof of the cottage as the windows protested against the force of the wind. I drew my shawl around my shoulders and stood at the window, watching sticks and leaves fly about the yard. I spied the feral cats taking refuge under the hedgerow, their little bodies turned away from the gale. Not a single bird was at the feeders that swung like pendulums from their poles.
“The animals are riding out the storm in protected places,” God said to me. “They know to be patient, trusting that this storm will pass, just as all storms eventually do.” A gust rushed through the old oak in the yard. God pointed to it as its branches moved wildly in the wind. “Its roots grew strong from storms like these,” God said.
I thought of the storms I’d experienced in my life, each one making me stronger by taking me deeper into my only refuge, the Heart of God. A flock of birds braved the wind and fought their way across the sky. I watched them as they struggled forward, determined to get to where they were going.
“With you as our fortress, we will all make our way through the storms,” I replied. I didn’t want to leave the window, but there was work to do, and so I turned away and got on with my day, taking with me God’s promise that storms don’t last forever.
“Goodnight, God,” I said, my eyes heavy with the desire for sleep. “Thank you for another day. It was wonderful.” I put another log on the fire and hoped it would burn well into the night before allowing the cold to enter the room. “I’m really tired, so if you don’t mind, I’m going straight to sleep, without my usual prayers,” I mumbled the words as I started to drift off.
“I know what’s in your heart,” God said and gently pulled the blankets up around me. He turned off the light but left His light burning softly so that if I awoke from a dream, frightened and confused, I could see Him and be comforted.
“Thank you, God, for being there,” I said and fell fast asleep.
When I woke the next morning, He had already pushed the sun above the horizon and woken the songbirds for me. “Thank you, God,” I said, and got out of bed and stepped into another wonderful day of His creating.
Geese on the wing called to me this morning, urging me to get out of bed. The soft light spilling into my room was all the clock I needed—time to start my day. The feral cats were probably waiting at my kitchen door, noses pressed to the panes, wanting me to feed them. The geese circled the cottage, calling again and again. I threw back the blankets and swung my legs over the edge of the bed. “It’s cold this morning, God,” I said, a shiver running through me.
“It’s winter,” God said, and smiled at me.
I opened the curtains to see a dozen birds vying for position on the feeders. Off beyond the hedgerow, a rabbit hopped lazily in the early sun. “I’ll make us a fire,” I said, “right after I feed the kitties.”
“That would be lovely,” God replied.
“I’d like to spend some time with you this morning,” I said.
“I’d like that,” God said, and smiled again.
After I fed the cats, we sat by the fire and I thanked God for my many blessings and told Him how much I loved Him. I could barely hear the sound of my voice over the beating of His happy heart, its rhythm filling my own with peace.
~God will watch over your life.
All night the wind lashed at my little cottage. I laid awake in the small hours, listening to the walls groan with each gust. I knew sleep would not find me until the storm had spent its fury. Until then, I hoped the fire in the stove would keep the cold at bay. I watched the orange flames dance behind the glass across the room, grateful for their company.
“Are you afraid?” God asked as another gust shook the windows in their panes.
“Mostly feeling alone,” I replied honestly.
“I’ll keep you company,” He said and sat down in the wicker chair at the foot of my bed. The fire reflected off His face, filling the room with a heavenly glow.
“The storm will pass,” God said softly. “Go on and go to sleep. I’ll keep watch over you.”
I closed my eyes, my tired bones reaching out for the comfort of slumber, even as the wind howled. Sometime after dawn, I woke to the sound of silence outside, and to God’s sentinel heart beating at the foot of my bed. The night’s fire now ash and embers, but His love keeping me warm.
God is light. In him, there is no darkness.
~1 John 1:5
The day was long, and I was tired and tense, full of negativity. “God, I need your help to overcome my bad mood,” I said.
“Certainly,” God answered. “Come, sit with me for a while.” I sat down next to Him on my couch and waited for Him to speak again. But He remained silent.
“Aren’t you going to tell me what to do?”
“Shhh. Just listen,” He replied.
“But you aren’t saying anything.”
“Listen with your heart,” He instructed.
I sat next to Him in the silence and after a few minutes, my heart heard His heart. My heart heard His love. My mind settled down, and my body relaxed.
“Come to me whenever you are not at peace,” God said gently, and put His arm around me. I leaned my head on His shoulder, bathed in His light. I sat there for a long time, at peace.
Don’t stop the children from coming to me because the Kingdom of God belongs to them.
A brown leaf, crumpled and worn, caught the eye of my granddaughter, Bella. She bent down and lovingly picked it up and cradled it in her hands. “Look, Grandma!” she exclaimed, holding her hands out for me to see her treasure.
“Ohhh, that’s a lovely leaf,” I responded. She nodded and walked on a little bit in front of me, head down, looking for more delights nestled in the park’s grass.
“I want to show Mommy and Daddy my leaf,” She said as she stepped back closer to me. She tenderly placed it in the empty stroller and smiled at me, her eyes bright and shining.
“Dear God, I want Bella’s ability to see the beauty in a dry, dead leaf—the beauty of your creation—the beauty of you,” I said.
God knelt down next to Bella and opened His arms wide and hugged her. He looked up at me and smiled. “You can have what she has if you love as she does.”
“Home, Grandma,” Bella said, her arms above her head asking me to pick her up and put her in the stroller.
As I pushed her the blocks toward home, I pondered God’s words. The simple love of a child is what we need. I took my right hand off the stroller and reached out and took God’s hand. The three of us journeyed the rest of the way, our hearts so connected that they felt like one.