January 17th, 2018
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? Psalm 8: 3-4
Have you even seen snow-covered hills on a clear early morning under a full moon? The snow covered Black Hills reflect the moonlight so well that they practically glow. Although it’s normal to see the pine covered hills during daylight, to see them so visibly at night is startling and strange but in a nice way, like running into an old friend when you haven’t seen her in a while and weren’t expecting to see them.
If you can get away from the lights of town, moonlight and snow are a dazzling combination. The shadows are sharp,, and it’s amazing how well you can see! During the recent super moon I could have read a book by the light created from moonlight on the snow.
Genesis describes the creation of the moon on the fourth day. “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth”. When God reflected on what He had made that day, He said that it was good. And it is good! It’s AMAZING! How ingenious of God to design and create the solar system! He planned the complex pattern of seasons and weather that come together in moonlight and snow. It’s a phenomenal gift worthy of our praise.
The moon and snow are a brilliant combination, but add the Black Hills and you have a stunning trio.
January 10th, 2018
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it’s the same God at work. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
This has been a record breaking winter along the eastern seaboard, and devastating in California. Meanwhile, in the Black Hills, snow-capped hills rise majestically over the wintry landscape, but the foxes, deer, and many other creatures face a challenge in surviving until Spring. Wolves and mountain lions scavenge all winter. The Bison and elk must forage for food. In the caves, bats have stored up reserves and are roosting together. The squirrels stay awake throughout the winter, eating food they stockpiled in a nest. Each creature’s coping mechanisms for the harsh weather are suited to its strengths and weaknesses.
God is so creative, isn’t He?! What care He put into making each animal a unique creation. That creativity is extended to us as well. The apostle Paul wrote about this at length in 1 Corinthians 12, comparing the church to a physical body. A whole and healthy body, functioning as God envisions requires variety. “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be?…”
Our differences are not always a cause for concern or conflict. It takes all of us, using our gifts in various ways, to make His church whole and healthy. We need to embrace and celebrate that to survive this season.
I’m so grateful for all my friends and their unique gifts. I pray we’re guided to use our individual gifts in conjunction with others. Have a good winter!
January 3rd, 2018
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him … For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. Lamentations 3:25, 31-32
I’ve been lamenting over the loss of 52,000 acres of Custer State Park to a recent wildfire. After wildfires the land looks charred and barren – not what tourists (or I) want to look at. Local firefighters have termed the area where all the vegetation was consumed a “Nuke Zone.” A few of the larger trees are still standing, blackened by the fire. But the grasses, brush, smaller trees and downed logs on the forest floor are totally burned up. In some areas the ash is said to be several inches deep. Even the soil in Custer is scorched.
However, locals assure me all is NOT dead. Sometimes while the area is still smoking, deer wander through licking the burnt edges for minerals. The lodgepole pine cones that were tightly sealed have been opened by the high temperatures of the fire, their seeds scattered by the wind. I’m told by next Spring the area may be carpeted with wildflowers. And a couple of years from now, new brush will provide plenty of food for the Bison and Elk. The population of mice often spikes first, followed by increase in coyotes and hawks the following year, etc. Insects will move into the snags brining woodpeckers drilling holes into the wood, providing homes for other birds and squirrels. Healing and life continue even now.
Sometimes our lives can feel like a “Nuke Zone” too. Perhaps you’ve suffered the death of a loved one or gone through a divorce. Maybe you lost a job or been diagnosed with a life-changing illness. Our days can feel lifeless. Maybe you feel abandoned by God while suffering. However, as time goes by, new life peeks through the devastation. You begin to sense God’s compassion and love anew with new meaning, new joy and new understanding born out of the fire and abundance returns.
Don’t give up. Have hope in the new year. Life continues.