Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pieces of His Puzzle in our Hands

Imagine sitting at a table covered with colorful puzzle pieces; it is your task for the hour ---- a puzzle with a 1000 pieces. The task would be daunting if we did not have the picture of the finished product on the box top; with the picture we feel more at ease, we know what it is suppose to look like -- so we feel more equipped to accomplish it. "Knowing" what the finished product will look like makes the work of the puzzle seem much more "doable".

Life's a puzzle --- with lots of pieces --- some of life's puzzle pieces seem to appear unexpectedly or maybe fall off the table and add confusion with their absence. Just when we think we've got one corner of the puzzle all in place, one piece shifts and the whole picture we had begun to form is thrown off course. The work begins again, we are frustrated; the picture we had imagined is no longer a possibility.

Last Saturday night our family was blessed by a night of worship and praise under the stars in the crisp Autumn air. For an hour, we sang at the top of our lungs to the One, the Puzzle Maker, the Master Designer who gives us the puzzle pieces we diligently work to sort and place. It was a moving night for us ---- it was a soul deep worship --- as it flowed out i sensed Heaven hearing and puzzle pieces shifting.  Friends and family encircled our family as we took the picture we had envisioned and laid it down. They helped us realign ourselves with the newness of the puzzle pieces. They smiled with nods of approval at the new "look" of our altered puzzle and they even began to add some of their puzzle pieces to ours. It looks so much more beautiful than we had imagined. The colors and lines are more vibrant and defining. It's becoming a puzzle that no one family could possibly put together all by themselves. It's so much better --- yet very much different than what it was before the Call. We liked our "old" puzzle pieces just fine  ---- but we are stunned at the new pieces on our board and humbled. We were blessed. We feel weak. We know He is strong.

Mark and Clarissa Gibson and their amazing worship team

Saturday night --- praising and puzzle pieces lay everywhere around me. For the first time in my life i understood something i've never been able to completely grasp before. Under the stars HE created, breathing in the crisp air HE refreshed, surrounded by the colorful fall leaves HE painted, standing/kneeling on the green grass HE grew, and looking around at people HE has blessed our family with ---  i sensed God saying much to my heart --- His healing Words of clarity came ---

"donna - i'm most pleased when you praise me with the pieces.
it's easier to praise Me over the finished work -- i understand that --- and so therefore it's when you can and will praise me over the 'pieces' -- that i feel the great depth of your worship."

In His goodness and because He knew of my need --- He continued...
"I, Abba, will give you all the pieces you will need--- none will be lost or forgotten, I will show myself as your Provider. I'll love you through those I place around you and I'll walk the distance of the path I've designed for you ---- but I want you --- to praise me. Period. I will do the work, I will move the hearts, I will show myself, I will make myself known, I will never leave you and I'll never leave the ones I've given you to love -- they will not find themselves lacking -- they are Mine. I will be at the center and you'll also find me at the edges when they feel all frayed and frazzled. It's all Mine, It's all about Me. I'm the Map Maker and the Master puzzle Creator. All the pieces are mine, all the shifting is in MY mighty hand. And donna --- don't forget --- I AM SOVEREIGN. I hear your prayers and my heart is stirred, i have tears that mix with yours. But my tears are not tears laced with fear or timidity or longing or confusion. My tears are tears of joy over your offering, your surrender, your willingness to put your hands to the ominous puzzle pieces I have chosen to place before you. Hold the pieces in your hands donna, but keep your eyes on ME. You have three assignments ----
1) Focus on me --- focus on what I'm doing, give yourself over to it completely, see Me, I'm going before you and preparing the way of My choosing for you ----
2) Talk with Me-- i already know what is happening around you, i know all that concerns you -- but i want to see you bring it to me -- lift it up to me and i will be attentive to your words  ---
3) Praise Me, no matter what you feel, think, want, or need --- praise Me. No matter how things look, praise Me. I'm not concerned so much with how you feel about it --- i'm centered on whether you will or will not PRAISE ME in the midst of it. I demand it, I deserve it, I am worthy, I will meet you there in it --- Praise ME."

"Focus on ME.
Pray to ME.
Praise ME.
Focus - Pray - Praise
Focus - Pray - Praise"

Today as i type this, a dear friend is laying on a hospital table with her chest cavity opened up as skilled doctor's operate on her beautiful heart. Here heart needs help; her heart needs healing. It's a puzzle piece she had not expected to appear on her table. The best thing she can do with it --- it stay focused on God, pray and praise Him.

Another dear friend is wounded deeply over too many harsh words that have seeped into her soul and broken her heart. Words have been used to break her. Puzzle pieces she had not expected to find on her table. The best way she can respond is to focus on what GOD is saying to her, focus on God, pray to Him, and praise Him. Not praise Him for what is happening around her, but praise Him because He is faithful and true and loving and upright ----- and because HE will be her Comforter and can be the Healer of her home.

Today as i type this --- you may have puzzle pieces in front of you --- that confound or confuse or frustrate or wound you. I do --- is it wrong for me to say that out loud. But i'm finally understanding ---- dare i say it ---- there is a "Holiness" that can be found in the confusing puzzle pieces.

When we, at those moments of complete inability to put the puzzle pieces in their designated places ---- run to the One who can --- talk with Him about it ---  and thank Him for His willingness put them in their right spaces ---- we will find His Holiness is present, His joy can flow onto us. If we do not --- we find ourselves in the loneliest hole of desperation. There's a darkness that goes deeper than the night ---
-------it is known by those who do not run to the Light.

When we pray and when we praise ---- let's imagine we're holding those puzzle shaped pieces that confound and concern us the most in our hands --- and we're holding them up high -- to the ONE who has the box top and knows what the finished work will look like. He knows what to do with the piece that's laying there on our table --- He knows exactly where it goes and how it will fit into the greatness of the finished work of our life.

We can never change our life by trying to throw away the pieces we can't make fit. Those pieces linger, and haunt, and hover -- they will not be ignored.
But we can pick them up off the table in front of us ---- and hold them up to the One who knows exactly what to do with them.
May our life-puzzles be complete ---- with all the pieces in place --- the good ones that fit in easily and the not so good ones that are painful to place. But in the end --- may all our pieces be in place, according to the box top in God's hands.
No stray, ugly, harmful pieces left laying around ----- for someone else to have to deal with.

Leaving a legacy of goodness and grace to our children and those around us means ---- we will look at the hard puzzle pieces ---- focus on God and His ways --- pray over the pieces --- and lift them up to God in praise ---- it's the only way --- some pieces will ever fit.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  Philippians 4:6

"Come, let's shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us! Let's march into his presence singing praises, lifting the rafters with our hymns!"  Psalm 95:2 (The Message)

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."  Psalm 100:4

"Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!"  Psalm 66:20

"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise."  James 5:13

Paintings by Maggie, our daughter, were silent auctioned at the Kweli Moyo Event last Saturday night. Photos taken by Jana and Kevin Jackson at the Event.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

At the Eleventh Hour the Son Appeared

The many scars are proof of the hard living he has endured, this boy/man that Steve and i have loved since we first met him over 20 years ago. He was a boy then in a teenagers body, but to Steve he was a boy that fit perfectly in his heart. Details don't really matter ---- the fact that God moved Steve's heart to love this young guy with an unconditional, unwavering, unalterable sincerity --- that's what matters.
Digging posts for a fence, these two began sharing life. His was a world Steve knew little of and Steve's world was just as much a mystery to this young motorcycle maniac. Put this young man on a motorcycle and he could prove the laws of Science to be faulty. I could hardly watch his antics on a dirt bike, he could maneuver around trees and through ditches with such otherworldy skill. I've often been reminded of him when seeing a bat at night moving through the air with such speed and agility, quick turns, up, down, sharp curves --- all in an effort to catch dinner. This young man moved the exact same way on a dirt bike.
They worked hard -- Steve was feeding his family and G was feeding the fuel tank of his motorcycle.
Steve carried God in him, G did not.
Steve loved G and showed it in rough, firm, solid sort of guy ways. G loved Steve and took in what was being given to him from this country man who loved his family and God.
That's how it began.

Years passed and life carried Steve and G to different places.
But G never left Steve's heart, and as my Steve loved this young man, so i loved him as well. He would visit with us from time to time. His world was a foreign place to us and ours was to him ---- but God had chosen to melt us together ---- God.
He would sit on our front porch --- and tell us humbly and sadly about the world he was surrounded by. We would love him where he was -- not requiring that he change in order to be loved. But hoping -- oh hoping --- he could escape and find God's peace. And we prayed.
If anyone happens to believe there is not an enemy to our God ---- they should meet our dear G. He can tell you ---- he has scars.
Sitting on our porch, or walking and talking with Steve in our backyard, this boy/man cemented himself inside our hearts. He did not "want" the plate he had been served, but he felt tied to the chair at this table of torment. When you have not grown up knowing Christ, when other things besides Christ surround you ---- it's very hard sometimes to let go and believe.

Seditives from satan began to numb Gs world. Even as he thought of God from time to time the lie was fed through a megaphone to his heart and mind that God would not want him.

The enemy exposed --- he's the tempter that entices with his dangling bait of sinful desire --- and then he's the first to pour out hatred, rejection, and self-destruction on the one he just moments before was wooing. He is a wolf poised to bite hard underneath the sheep's covering. Our dear G has the marks of his teeth.

God was relentless with Steve and i. He whispered to our hearts, "No matter if you have not heard from him ----- I have --- I know where he is, I'm with him, he is hurting, pray - pray - PRAY." And so we did.

Many years ago while sitting on our front porch, late one night, we began to offer to G the story of Christ and how he could be adopted into God's family. G listened politely but gently turned away. We were moved by his painful honesty. He would not lie and say he believed just to appease our desire for him to be saved. He wanted it, but he simply could not accept the simplicity of God's love. Perhaps if the "saving" had required something of him --- a penance of pain or bleeding out of guilt and shame --- perhaps then he could have woven God's gift with himself. But to simply believe and receive --- it seemed like a Mt. Everest before him and so he turned from it.
Pain continued for him.
But God never left him - not for a second.
If you believe in warrior angels --- then those that travel with G are mighty. His own testimony of life will tell you that many times over he should have died. But God sustained G. God would not let go. God was serious when He called for prayer cover over His boy G.

All that G has done, all that he has endured is not the part that matters now ---- the important part of the story is ---- all about what God has done for G.

On October 14th, Steve got a special phone call. "Hey man, i'm in the area, let's meet up, i want to see you guys." We wrestled with our GPS as we made our way to where he was staying. God had placed our G in the hands of a beautiful couple that knew the road G was on and knew the way from there to God. And they were loving G where he was, enabling him to crawl out of the pit and breath in the goodness of life. Being tough when needed and honest always, this anointed couple was busy at work helping G to open the windows and let in the Son.
It was late when we arrived --- but we were welcomed warmly ---- and our hearts sang when we saw our G.

We talked long, the five of us. Our conversation centered around Christ and the journeys we each had taken this side of Heaven. G took it all in and shared about his early days working beside Steve. We all laughed at the stories.

God began tapping on my heart, whispering, "don't leave until you give him an opportunity tonight, I'm knocking on his heart --- I want G for my own". As the night ran late, i had to dig deep for the courage to ask --- "have you received Christ as your Savior?" Time hung silent; air was pregnant with hope. G answered, "i'm not really sure". Then when asked if he would like Steve to pray with him, the greatest smile spread across his face as he replied, "i would love that".

Did the angels begin singing right then? Or did they wait until after the prayer? Not sure, but i know they sang and i'm wondering if there were tears in Heaven on Oct. 14th. Because without a doubt, God had saved His son G. The prayer was simple, child-like, and deeply sincere. The work of Christ on the cross of pain ---- was poured out on G that night ---- the blood sufficient to cover all ---- the claw of the enemy removed.

As we drove away that night, Steve and i were in silent, tearful awe. The prayers of over 20 years had been answered and God had allowed us to be present in the moment of the answer. We wondered if anyone else in the world felt the axis of the universe shift a bit ---- because the weights had been altered by one in favor of Heaven.
We reminisced over the fact that G's name is written in a very special place at our church, written there during the building of the church. A prayerful petition to God for G. Steve, with tears, wrote G's name there over 5 years ago, asking God to not let the enemy win in the war over G's soul. We drove in awe at the memories wrapped around the prayers. We prayed together again for G and we praised God for His goodness.

Later, in the early hours of the next day i pondered; G's life was much like the twisty, curvy, dangerous motor cross trails he could easily maneuver through with such speed and agility. Always pressing toward the finish line, hoping to win. His journey, his story reflects those dangerous winding trails ----- but he has now crossed the line and won. Christ is his reward and Heaven is his.

And the trails ahead for G are sure to be the best he's ever ridden ----- God designed them ---- God --- the One who formed Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon --- God has amazing trails for this one.

Enjoy the ride ahead dear G.
You are loved. 

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.John 8:36 (NIV)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (NIV)

Photos taken by Steve in Kenya and Georgia

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

As Simple as Laundry

Every week, without fail, the laundry bins at our house fill up again with dirty clothes. They need to be washed - they have dirt and sweat and grime on them. If i ignore the laundry piles, they will not go away --- they'll grow and bulge out of their bins, smell bad, and overwhelm the room.

While folding cleaned clothes this morning it struck me in a funny way --- just how very much we are like our laundry.
We ---- get ---- dirty ---- and need to be cleaned. It might be we chose the grass stains on our knees when we willingly got down on the ground and dug in the dirt, or it could be we got pushed down against our will. But inevitably, if we live in this world, we're going to get dirty.

Have you ever felt dirty and discarded? Tossed in a pile of smelly, filthy things of which you neither wanted to share company with nor wanted to be associated with. Have you ever wondered, "what happened, how did i end up here"? Or, maybe you knew you'd get dirty if you joined in on the games that were being played, but now, your sick and tired of the stench and filth you find yourself surrounded by.

People are like laundry:

-we get dirty and need to be cleaned
-sometimes we stay in the dirty clothes hamper a long time; when that happens we really stink
-we can't wash ourselves --we can try --- but we'll still stink -------- we need help
-it takes lots of good Water to clean us, dirty water won't do the trick
-soap stings when it's ground into the embedded dirty places
-dirt doesn't come out completely with just gentle strokes, it takes some serious agitating to get to the deepest filth
-we need lots of rinsing, lots of fresh water, lots of help getting all the dirt out completely and if we don't rinse well, we're still stuck with the dirt, it just may have moved about and spread all over us
-spin cycles can leave us disoriented --- sometimes it's good to be disoriented from where we were, so we can have a fresh perspective on where we need to be
-once we're clean, we need time to let the sun (Son) dry us and cover us with His good, fresh, clean smell
-we need someone to fold us and help us get to where we need to be
-if we end up in the wrong laundered pile, we will never be worn by the right person
-sometimes we can be hanging on the clothesline, letting the sun (Son) dry us, and a crow flies overhead and poops on us ------ not our fault, but we still have to be washed again
-it feels so good to be cleaned and ready for the next time the hand reaches for us
-it feels terrible to be dirty and unused (dirty, unused people are the meanest)
-if you lay next to moldy, mildewy, dirty clothes for too long in the bottom of the bin, it doesn't matter how clean you are, you're going to start growing mildew too
-clean clothes never "rub off" on dirty clothes --- but dirty clothes do '"rub off" on clean clothes (clean clothes can't clean dirty clothes -- it takes soap and water and a Cleaner)
-rough living can get us dirty but also leave us with a hole torn into us -- when that happens it takes a needle and thread to sew up the hole (and that hurts) --- then we still need to be washed --- it takes a lot longer before we can hang in the closet again, ready to be used --- but it's still very possible
-a cleaned shirt will last much, much longer than a shirt never laundered; it will go more places and see more of life

So --- where are you in the laundry process right now?
-are you patiently waiting to be worn again?
-are you carrying the filth from your last encounter with the world?
-are you feeling the soap being ground in deeply to the wounds that need to be cleaned?
-are you blowing in the breeze, hanging in the sun, letting the sweet scent of clean settle in?
-are you stuck at the bottom of the laundry bin, beginning to smell the stench of old dirt and grime?
-are you moving about in the world today trying to dodge the grass stains and bird poop?

Let's all remember --- we're surrounded by other shirts and socks. Eventually we'll find ourselves in the laundry bin waiting to be washed or the laundry basket waiting to be put away --- but we'll find ourselves there together. Surrounded by each other --- in need of a Cleanser.

Even through laundry --- God reminds me ---- of how ----- we ----- need ----- Him.
And how --- if we will do our part ---- HE WILL DO HIS.
And we'll find ourselves laundered, sewn up, and ready for His Hand to reach for us.

There's lots of "dirt" in this world --- it's inevitable that we will get dirty --- but we don't have to hide --- dirt's no big deal anymore --- if you have water and a Cleaner.

"Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."  Psalm 51:2 (NIV)

"Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
   Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry."  Psalm 51:1-2 (Message)

"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted." 
1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)

 Photos taken by Steve of a typical Taylor laundry day :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nearing Moriah

Reading through the Old Testament again, this time in the Message translation, the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy and Leviticus can be grueling (am i allowed to say that?...) God surely knows it is true. I often imagine myself as a little girl on a treasure hunt (like looking for the prize egg at Easter) when combing through the details of old testament laws and sacrificial regulations. Thinking, "surely there is value in the details here". And so i diligently read on and store it away -- wondering when in the world i'll ever need to know the rules for purification of skin diseases in the Israelite camp or who beget who and which tribe lived where.
I've often told those i love and spend time with ---- usually it's in the obedience of reading His Word that we are silently transformed. Not necessarily because we have "acquired" something needed for that moment (although that does often happen), but more because of the gradual transformation that takes place. God's Word is alive and it transforms what comes near it.

It was in the midst of these sometimes arduous chapters that God overwhelmed me with a revelation of great value. A realization that i assure you, would not have been born from my own mind.

In these Old Testament books the people sacrificed many, many animals to God. Grain offerings, fire offerings, drink offerings, whole-burnt offerings, made with lambs, doves, rams, oxen, etc.. Many things were "given" in an effort of atonement for sin. Then Christ came and gave Himself as the final offering to pay for our sins. We are so thankful.
As a child, this was the thing about God that bothered me the most. Why did so many animals have to die on the altar?
But now that i am His daughter full grown --- i can understand more clearly.
In order for reverence to be shown to God, things of value were given up. Things that could fill stomachs and meet needs were placed on God's altar. And not just anything -- only the best and unblemished would do. They willingly surrendered what was valuable to them to the One God who could be trusted to bless in return.

Sacrificing things of value, loved things, treasures of my heart ---- this has been the order of late. For how could the selfless serving on the other side of the world take place if i still held tightly to my deeply loved, sometimes unseen, but most cherished ---- treasures.

It sounds so harsh doesn't it ---- to think that sacrifices are still to be made. After all --- wasn't Christ the ultimate Lamb of sacrifice. Yes -- He was. But that sacrifice of greatest value was the pinnacle offering ---- there are still many smaller things we must individually place on the altar. Things that get in between us and the altar. Things we hold dearly; so dearly they can sometimes get in the way of "dying to self and living for Christ". Things that have actually been given to us by our Father --- that He might now want to receive back from us --- freely He gave it --- but will we freely give it back to Him.

In this journey from Mockingbird Road to Kenya --- i've learned there were many things that had been given to me --- to comfort and bless and encourage and guide me --- all in good ways and for good purposes. But now that the "call" has arrived and the next chapters are very different than the chapters already lived, i find these "gifts" of greatest worth in my life have now become my "Isaacs".
And so i've been tearfully tying them up and laying them on the altar. No ram is caught in the nearby bush and no angel of the Lord is halting the sacrifice. Thankfully --- no blood flows, but many tears do. Surely Abraham's tears soaked the robes he wore climbing up the mountain at Moriah as he prepared to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Genesis 22:2 - "Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering...”
Surely, God sized tears fell as Yahweh himself sent His own son to Golgotha. (Mark 15:22 and John 19:17). We can read that the earth shook, rocks split ... darkness came... (Matthew 27: 51,52)

I'm not speaking of any morbid, twisted sacrifices (sadly, in this world i must pause to clarify ---- nothing is being slain on a real physical altar). I'm speaking of the spiritual giving up and the emotional surrendering taking place as i willingly, obediently, thankfully lay on the altar the things, people, places, dreams --- that had become thoroughly and unavoidably dear to me. And in so doing -- i realize fully and embrace completely:
---- what i thought needed to happen, is not what is needed
---- what i imagined in the future, is not what God had planned
---- what i thought i was being prepared for, doesn't match what He was preparing me for
---- HIS PLANS ARE NOT my plans
---- HIS WAYS ARE NOT my ways
and so i'm on my own private journey to the "region of Moriah" as God has said, "lay down what matters most to you donna --- so you can fully hold what matters most to Me. And i in turn will hold intimately to My heart what you lay in MY ARMS" -- nothing will be lost, much will be gained."

Does God really think these weak arms can hold what matters most to Him? He knows they can not, but He knows He will not leave me or forsake me --- it's a promise i'm breathing in and out. He knows it will REQUIRE Christ in me --- and He knows the plans He has for me --- He knows what is ahead and how to accomplish His plans. He is simply offering to me the gift of being "present" as HE does what only can be done by HIM.
And do i believe God can and will hold in HIS ARMS what is most dear to my heart? Yes, i have come to know all that i hold dear is much safer in His arms than in my own.

Wouldn't it be a most horrible ending to this life to be given a vision of what could have been in God's plans for us ---- but was missed ---- because we would not journey to Moriah and sacrifice what we loved most. And what of that thing or person we clung so tightly to --- would they be strangled by our choke hold and wither, not ever realizing the fullness of God's plans for them, because of our grip on them. What a horrifying thought.

In all of this ---- God gave me a "prize egg" from the old testament --- from the middle of the begets and rules for sacrifice. He brought to me his request to place on His altar all that i held most dear, my home, my husband, my children, my family, my friendships, my hopes, my comforts, my securities, my ideals, my favorites, my joys. Lay them on the altar and burn them there.
What a horrible image --- what a terrible thought ---- why God --- why?

Because - what is burned turns to ashes ---- and in the hands of GOD ---- ashes are transformed into something beautiful.
I could cling to my treasures until they die and crumble.
I could place my treasures on His altar, surrender them  --- giving them over into His ashes --- and then see Abba --- do what ONLY Abba can do ---- transform them into something BEAUTIFUL in His Hands.
Held in my hands, there would be immense limitations --- but placed on His altar and in His hands, the results will be immeasurable.
Isaiah 61:3 "and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
   instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
   instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
   instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
   a planting of the LORD
   for the display of his splendor."

His altar is a beautiful place, where tears and ashes transform into beauty.

Over and over again in the old testament we read where God received the sacrifices placed on the altars of old and to Him they were a "pleasing aroma".

May i be strong enough to obey Him fully ---- and lay on His altar the treasures He gave me --- may the sacrifice be a pleasing aroma to Him --- leaving ashes behind that will be transformed by His hands into beauty --- an oak of righteousness ---- planted by Him --- and for his splendor.

It's a part of His design and His plan ---- while we are still this side of Heaven.
If you too --- are on your journey to the "region of Moriah" --- be encouraged --- i'm hiking nearby...

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,... " John 3:16a 

"By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son." Hebrews 11:17

"I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God." Philippians 4:18

"Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  Ephesians 5:1-2

"The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: 'Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done'." Genesis 8:21

"Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma..."  Exodus 29:18

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?"
2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Photos taken in Cades Cove, Tennessee and Akatiman, Kenya by Maggie and Steve