Steve to Earth - Encouraging you the way I like to be encouraged.



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Posts Tagged ‘frozen moments’

May you see Him everywhere you go

I hope you had a wonderful day.

I enjoyed a relaxed evening after work.

I met my family at my parents’ place and spent a few quiet hours working a 3,000 piece puzzle with my mother.

Driving home, flashes of lightning from distant thunderstorms lit up the northwestern horizon.

I stood in my front yard for a few minutes and watched the stars. They were incredibly clear tonight. One streaked across the southern sky.

The Milky Way was flowing directly overhead … bright and beautiful.

I was still … and knew … that He is God … and I am His.

You are too.

Everywhere you go, may you see Him.


Unexpected storms … unexpected beauty

I love learning how to live in relationship with Jesus. I love having my spirit uplifted and my soul encouraged. I love late-night visits and delicious meals with friends. I love road trips. I love snow. I love the fact that all of those things that I love came together this past weekend in Oklahoma.

There was homemade pizza and gentle conversation. It was snowing as we walked out the doors of the church building. I tried to catch the frozen flakes on my tongue. They collected on my eyelashes and my hair. They tickled my nose. My gracious host and good friend swept the thick snow from the windows of my pickup early the next morning and had the cab of my truck warm and ready to go for my trip to the city.

I drove through a winter wonderland. Black Angus cattle stood out in stark relief against the white countryside. The evergreens at the Christmas tree farm added a touch of the holidays to the late March snowstorm. The redbud trees, covered with blooms, reminded me of cherry layer cakes topped with thick white frosting. A jovial DJ played “Frosty the Snowman” as I headed east down the turnpike.

The cold temperatures made the warm hugs … sunny smiles … and firm handshakes even more inviting as I headed to class. Each day of learning seemed better than the one before. I listened intently to each speaker. My voice blended with thousands of others in worship and in song. I picked out books and CDs to glean from and study on my own once I arrived back home.

I lingered over delicious lunches and dinners with friends. We laughed … we talked … we listened. We strengthened our friendships with Jesus and with each other. Gifts were exchanged … gifts of time and attention … listening ears and encouraging words … shared experiences and insights about the struggles and the joys of walking with Jesus and living life abundantly in Him. On the final day, as we headed our separate ways, I was given a book … a gift made even more special by the handwritten message lovingly penned on the opening page.

I am blessed to have such good friends … to have been introduced to Jesus at such an early age … to have great opportunities to strengthen my friendship with Him and others who are being transformed daily into His image. I am blessed to have an avenue to share what I am learning with you. I plan to share some of what I learned soon.

Until then, may you see the beauty in the unexpected storms. May Jesus clear the way for you to travel safely in His love and His counsel, and may you emerge on the other side … stronger … more faithful … more thankful for the forgiving Jesus and those people who reflect Him beautifully in your world every day. May your soul live more abundantly in Him each day.


May His Holy Spirit fall gently upon your soul

I stayed up late to watch the snow fall Friday night. I love snow! The world becomes quiet when it snows. Harsh lines are smoothed and softened. Even unattractive and commonplace things are transformed into objects of artistic beauty when dressed in a fresh coat of fluffy snow.

Every wavy branch … each twisting curve … of every mesquite tree greeted the sparkling Saturday morning sunshine with a delicate tracing of soft ribbons of purest white. May Jesus so transform your world.

May His Holy Spirit fall gently upon your soul, surrounding you with peace. May your weakest vulnerabilities … your greatest temptations … succumb to His protective blanket of goodness … patience … and faithfulness.

May even your most mundane and frustrating moments be etched with joy … kindness … and self-control. May gentleness and love accumulate softly upon your tender spirit and your healing heart.

May you feel His Spirit. May you drink deeply of His grace. May He light the fire in your soul, and may you be the sweet aroma of Christ to everyone you meet … as you follow in His footsteps each day … and as you offer warmth and peace to a cold and chaotic world.

May you be as white as snow in His eyes.


May you live in the joy of forgiveness

Sunday night a friend invited me to attend a special worship service with him and his family. The whole evening was a celebration of the birth of Jesus. I was amazed at the talent of each participant during the service. I was attentive. I listened carefully … observed closely. My heart was moved. One moment my eyes filled with tears … another, I wanted to stand and applaud.

I was reminded that my Savior chose to humble Himself and enter this world as a tender, innocent baby in a stable in an insignificant little town … knowing all along that His destination was a cross … a cruel, inhuman death … an unavoidable and unspeakable event … because of no sin other than my own.

Forgiveness of sins is an incredible thing. Before Jesus, there was no forgiveness. Today, there is no forgiveness apart from Him.

Maybe it was that simple fact. Maybe it was the dual videos contrasting the baby in the manger and the Son of God on the cross. Maybe it was over 100 voices singing “Joy, Joy” at the top of their lungs. Maybe it was a revelation from His Holy Spirit. Maybe it was all of those things, but whatever it was, the good tidings of great joy took on a new significance to me.

The darkness was over. God was contacting His people. Reconciliation had begun, and there was no turning back. The world was about to experience the release of burdens and guilt of a magnitude that it could never have imagined, and this was an occasion for great joy … a joy that continues to this very day.

Every day that is graced with forgiveness is a cause for celebration … an invitation to rejoice. Joy can’t be legislated … censored … or banned. No amount of bad news … depressing statistics … or threats of impending doom can overcome the joy of forgiveness. It dwells in a secret place in your heart … an inner room filled with treasures … accessible only to the One Who offers forgiveness … for only He holds the key.

May you turn off your television. May you unplug your stereo. May you log off of the internet (yes, including this site). May you clear your busy schedule, and may you rekindle your friendship with the Author of forgiveness. May you laugh with Him and cry with Him. May your voice blend in unison with His, and may the two of you sing a song of joy like no one has ever sung before.

Joy to the world!

Joy to your homeland!

Joy to your neighborhood!

Joy to your family and friends!

Joy from Jesus straight to your forgiven soul!

Joy to the deepest reaches of your sincere, hopeful heart … today … and every day!

May you live in the joy of forgiveness.


May you never forget His goodness

This past weekend I planted spring-flowering bulbs. Over a hundred tulips, along with some alliums and lilies, are now nestled snuggly beneath six inches of rich, moist earth. I planted them in an older flower bed just north of my house … an ideal place for tulips.

There are no tree roots to congest the soil or compete for nutrients … the northern exposure encourages the soil to remain cool deep into our fickle unpredictable springtimes, providing the necessary chill needed by the tulips to produce long, slender stems … and the soil … well … the soil in that bed is the best I have. Generous additions of organic matter over many years have softened and mellowed its texture. Roots and stems travel through it just as effortlessly as the blade of a shovel. It’s rich … full of life … ready to feed those who settle and spread their roots there with just the right mixture of moisture, oxygen and minerals. And if the weather is kind, this spring the earth will laugh with flowers.

I’ve always associated things … not because I’m intelligent or clever … but simply because that’s how things make sense to me. I’m a visual learner … a hands-on learner. I like the feel of the plump, heavy flower bulb in my hand … the slight resistance and exchange that occur as the prepared soil eagerly accepts the small package of life from my hand.

For a brief moment, I connect with the very substance from which I am made in an effort to bring life and beauty to my little corner of the world. My fingerprints are left in the soil. Its fingerprints stain my white T-shirt, my blue jeans and my hands. As has become my custom, I ask for our Father’s blessings on each variety that I plant, and I entrust them to Him.

Planting can be hard work … messy work … the kind that requires a good, hot shower with lots of soap and scrubbing afterward … and maybe even a good long nap … to restore and refresh the gardener. But it’s good work … actually pretty easy work compared to the incredible things that our Father does in a garden.

Any good gardener will tell you that we may plant and water … cultivate and feed … prune and harvest … but no gardener has ever been able to make a plant grow … and never will. That is a process reserved for the Source of Life … the original Gardener (John 15:1 & I Corinthians 3:5-7). Because of the growth that He provides, this spring a healthy bed of vibrant tulips will sing His praises with an eloquence unknown to the human tongue.

One day later …

As I look out my west window, a mallard duck executes a perfect landing on the water’s surface and begins to preen. The bulbs I planted yesterday are already busy sending out firm, white roots … anchoring themselves in anticipation of proudly displaying their living goblets and globes of creamy apricot and rosy peach petals … and butter yellow backgrounds streaked with glowing red flames.

My sinful heart is starting over … given a new morning and a new opportunity for my soul to grow and thrive in a place I do not deserve to be … in the greatest garden of all … the Gardener’s garden. He is amazingly good to us! May you and I never forget that.


A segmented vessel

My old jeans, oversized t-shirt and thick, textured jac-shirt were the perfect match for the cool, moist Saturday morning weather. The wind was picking up, and the skies were promising rain. A whole hour had been reserved to feed my inner artist. He knew it, and he was thrilled. He’s energized by ideas, and he and I agreed that a trip to the Fine Arts Center would be the perfect source of inspiration that we needed.

Inner artists don’t like to be hurried, so I didn’t rush as I made my way across town. I had no troubles finding a parking space, and I relished inhaling several deep breaths of the moisture-rich breeze as I approached the entrance. Inside it was quiet … spacious … and warm. As I signed in, the docent informed me that the two main exhibit halls were closed because they were between shows, but that the other sections of the Center were open for viewing.

Almost before she had finished speaking, it caught my eye. It was the first thing I noticed, and it was beautiful. It was a two-toned handmade wooden jar. It was symmetrical … smooth … exquisite. From a distance I assumed it was made from a single block of wood and painted with three decorative horizontal stripes. Upon closer inspection, I was amazed to discover the complexity of its structure. It was actually composed of a large quantity of small pieces of wood. The pieces of lighter color were Maple … the darker ones were Purple Heart. A skilled carpenter had painstakingly assembled them into a stunning work of art … both useful and attractive. It was descriptively titled “Segmented Vessel 2.” I stood for a long time … studying this intricate, fascinating, artistic piece. That was all it took. My inner artist was fed, and I was inspired. Later that day the rains came … and I sat quietly and began to write … to you.

May the King of Carpenters gently gather the disparate segments of your life … the odd, seemingly useless pieces … the leftover fragments … and forgotten scraps. May the touch of His hand redeem them … softening the rough edges … smoothing the damaged surfaces … refreshing the brittle grains with rich oils. May He lovingly assemble each segment … seamlessly reconcile each isolated piece … and with the precision that only a loving God could possess, may He fashion your broken, lonely life into a Masterpiece … a holy vessel … decorated and inlaid with a purple heart … expertly designed and dedicated for daily service in His hands. May you be “Segmented Vessel 1.”



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