Monthly Archives: April 2015


wiminucheBy Judy Villanueva

 One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord 
and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

It was completely silent, except for the sound of lake water sloshing against the sides of the metal fishing boat that held us.  I was stretched out reading while my husband sat patiently, rotating the reel, waiting for the tug that would mean we were having fish for dinner!  It was one of those extraordinary moments when one feels held within the beauty of God and, ushered into a great shalom!  Between the blue skies that watched over us, and the hundreds of pines that surrounded us, it would have been difficult to imagine that we would ever be unsettled by anything ever again!  I remember stepping into that little boat with an anxious heart and returning to shore, at peace.  What is it about gazing at beauty that quiets the soul and bears witness to the reality of God—on the throne, in charge, alert, in love, and magnificently reigning over heaven and earth?

God is beautiful!  Massively, spectacularly, incomprehensibly beautiful!  It would be impossible to tell the story of His infinite beauty and yet, He has graced us with foretastes  scattered throughout the earth!  We see hints on purple, mountain peaks laced in snow, and in the array of colors splashed across the landscape.  We marvel under the magic of a night sky and catch our breath in the presence of the sun rising in splendor. Beauty blesses our soul and speaks to us of God in ways that words cannot.  When all seems lost and despair has declared a victory, beauty always has the final word…and that word is hope!

Reflecting on the attributes of God is a worthwhile and faith-building practice.  Awakening to His beauty in this world anchors us to the reality of God…a good and beautiful God.

There is something in the human spirit that intuitively understands that beauty doesn’t just happen.  It reflects and points to its Maker!

To behold His beauty is to discover His heart, peek at His face, and hear His loving whispers.  There is revelation of God on flower petals, ocean waves, and glaciers…ladybugs, redwoods, and the milky way!  At the heart of beauty is a happy God and our soul is calmed in its presence.  It bears witness that He is real, on the throne, in charge, alert, in love, and magnificently reigning over heaven and earth!

“Thank You, Father,  for this world and every inch of beauty within it!  Help me to notice and hear Your voice through all of it.  I am so grateful for starlit skies and glassy lakes, for delicately colored flowers, rainbow trout and moose!  I praise You, most beautiful God!  Amen.”

What about you? 

How does beauty impact you?  Does it?

When was the last time you were astounded by God’s beauty in creation?  How did it make you feel?

Is beholding beauty a familiar practice?

Do you know God as beautiful?

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All is Grace

DSC_257By Judy Villanueva

John 1:15-17

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

“All is Grace.”  (Brennan Manning)

Like little girls, we sat on the bed cross-legged reading to one another, only pausing to look up and marvel over what we were learning!  One of my very favorite things to do in all the world is to lose track of time celebrating God with a friend.  He is like a treasure  waiting to be unearthed and opened!  I cannot remember what we were reading, but I do remember the moment that captured our imaginations and invited us to jump right into the middle of the treasure chest!  It was then and there that we decided to begin a 50 Year Quest!   What would you want to spend a lifetime exploring?  I knew immediately what I would choose because in all the moments that led up to this one, I had become captivated by Grace!

Grace is a word I’ve heard a thousand times.  I’ve read about it, studied it, observed and experienced it but somehow am always left with the feel of it slipping through my fingers when trying to nail it to a definition.  Grace is a gift received “just because”…a priceless treasure we could never have earned.  It feels like being held, listened to, cherished, and known through and through.  It spills out in all good surprises, through beauty, sweet friendships, and being loved for no good reason.  It happens to us when walking in the wind, watching children play, falling in love…

And, in realizing that no matter what we’ve done or not done, God is boldly for us

Grace holds us in our places of sadness and disappointment, always whispering reminders that God is at work in and through it all.  Grace is truly the most beautifully pure and happy experience one can know and, the knowing of it, changes us!

Living present to the movements of grace around us makes us grateful and gracious worshippers.

It wants to stick to us and make us people who forgive because we are forgiven, who are patient because God is patient with us and, who love extravagantly because we are extravagantly loved!  We all need grace.  More than anything, Grace has made a way for each of us to be set free from a debt we could never repay.  We didn’t earn it and we don’t deserve it but it’s ours because God said so.  What is the definition of  “grace”?  Behold the cross… where it was nailed down once and for all!

“Father God, I cannot get over the gift of grace You have given me  or the length You went to give it.  Thank You!  “Grace” is such a power-packed word that after 20+ years I still cannot grasp its  magnitude and splendor.  Open my eyes to grace each day and help it to stick and change me .  Amen.”

What about you?

Have you received God’s gift of grace?

Do you know how to live “present to Grace”?   Awake and aware of  God in the day?

Are you a “grudge-holder” or “grace giver”?

Are you becoming more gracious?  Forgiving?  Patient?  Generous in love?

What might be your “50 year quest”?  What do you want to spend a lifetime learning about?

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