Cami Tapley

Cami Tapley

“Think of yourself just as a seed, waiting patiently in the earth—waiting to come up a flower in the Gardener’s good time—up into the Real world, the Real waking. I suppose that all our present life, looked back on from there, will seem but a drowsy half-waking. We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming. It is nearer now than when I began this letter.”

From Letters to an American Lady, by C.S. Lewis

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A Good Word for Birthdays

When I was six years old, I was excited to turn seven. It wasn’t because I expected to be more beautiful or healthy, rather, I expected to understand more things as I grew older, and I greatly looked forward to that. I feel the same way now in my 50’s. There is always something to learn and to understand.
      Although I’m not getting any younger, neither is anybody else. Aging is a collective problem, not an isolated one. Birthdays, on the other hand, are personal, and, if viewed rightly, have nothing to do with aging. Every one of us knows someone who’s lived plenty of years without exhibiting any real maturity or wisdom, and, hopefully, we also know someone who exhibits grace and wisdom as a reward of their years. Aging tests what is yet undeveloped in us. Birthdays celebrate the progress we’ve made.
      As we get older, we often become more and more distracted with our physical bodies, both their appearance and health. But we should think of our physical body as a car we are gifted. Not one of us had a choice in the make or the model, only whether or not we take care of what we’ve been given. When an event or the passage of time brings the use of the car to a halt, it’s important to understand we are the driver, not the car.
      The car doesn’t celebrate journeys made, the driver does. That’s what birthdays are for. A journey means progress – and new beginnings. In Isaiah 43 we are told,

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

      A journey that involves heartache, disappointment, illness, and death is no barrier to progress; He makes a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. It’s up to us not only to leave the past behind in His sea of mercy, grace, and forgiveness, but to fully accept and embrace every new iteration of ourselves that He makes a way for us to realize while we are still here. A birthday, for me, celebrates what God has brought me through, and what He has yet to show me and teach me; what stores of His grace I have yet to discover. Outwardly we degrade physically, there’s no debate on that – but the potential of inward renewal is exhilarating. It contains many doors of discovery into the future, all the way into eternity.
      David said, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” – he saw what we should see when we look at ourselves. It’s lost on grown-ups, who are distracted by their own years and experiences, but Jesus has admonished us to become like little children – and what little child dreads his or her own birthday? : )

Inspirational Bits

…If our knowledge or our belief in God doesn’t extend beyond our own feelings and experiences, we have nothing but ourselves. This is poor religion and poor science; both science and faith tell us that there is more than we can see and experience in one lifetime. The nurture of wonder is crucial to a growing life, spiritually and naturally.

…Snow, as a matrix of ice grains and air, dramatically alters the ground environment, and is an extremely complex material that evolves continually. When the Lord says that our sins, which are as scarlet, will be white as snow (Is. 1:18), it isn’t a simple process. Everything in our lives, our spiritual, mental, and physiological course will change, and change continually, if we will allow it.

…To continually inspire one person holds value where infrequently inspiring many does not; faithfulness yields results, popularity fades out.

…Pretending we have strengths and capabilities we don’t have is killer. Better to be God’s own unique child.

…We’re not always better than we were the day before. God is the only One Who is always good, and admiration belongs with Him.

…Humans mistake their good intentions as goodness. God IS good; He doesn’t merely intend to be.

…Sins aren’t mistakes, and mistakes aren’t sins. Mistakes work themselves out. The blood of Jesus, alone, takes our Sin out.

…We have a terrible habit of basing our idea of God’s nature on our moods, i.e., “If I’m happy, God’s pleased with me, if I’m not, He’s not.”

…Regrets are understandable, not useful.

…Human beings are always living life as if there’s some choice that doesn’t exist.

… “Why is Jesus the only way to God?” and, “If God is real, and a God of love, how can He permit suffering in the world?” These are simple questions, and common. But there are earnest questions; questions so deep they can’t even be uttered aloud. These are the real questions; the ones the Maker can satisfy.

…Jesus didn’t establish a religion, He said, “Come Unto Me.”

…The truth about learning is, after we’ve learned a good number of things, we have the responsibility to unlearn things that aren’t essential to right relationships; it’s the path to greater understanding, to humility.

…Sometimes all we need to concentrate on is staying on course.

…Life will not be summed up by vitality and youth. This is an important test for those who find themselves left with nothing of value in this world. God looks for value in the hidden motives of the heart.

…Nothing of real worth is past for children of God, it is now and always.

…Just as the mist is a promise of a new day, hope is the assurance of His love, which will one day make all things clear.

…Paul said he had become all things to all men so that some might be saved. It starts with our families and our neighbors; if we can’t be the Lord’s with them, we can only be hypocrites.

…To be is something.

…The human spirit can be broken under abject cruelty, and completely ruined beneath undiscerning generosity. The sad truth is, we are more likely to rise above affliction than we are to exhibit a grateful heart.

…If God didn’t spare the dirty details of His chosen ones’ lives in the canonized Scriptures, why do we try to hide what the Holy Spirit must expose to bring us to repentance?

…The social-networking generation is a lonely generation; everything for the senses, nothing for the soul.

…The only way you can be liked by everyone is to not be yourself.

…We don’t do ourselves any favors by considering ourselves “good.” We aren’t wired to be good apart from deliberately choosing what is good.

…Hell is not what most people think it is because some are already experiencing it.

…When you want a fire to die out, you don’t throw another log on it.

…Pure and faithful discipline is love disguised to the rebel, and it’s always calling him or her back.

…We each need the love of God to start all over again.

…If there were something of real value we could offer God to help Him love us, His love would equal ours, and it would fail. His love never fails.

…A disciple doesn’t have a plan of his or her own.

…It’s humbling to be a disciple of Jesus, it makes us strange among people considered normal in this world.

…It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and not see the long run. Wisdom will show whether or not we are to take risks or to put reins on relationships that come and go, or come and stay, in our lives. The “long run” will either have us smiling or sorrowing, depending on whether or not we listened to wisdom in the moment of choosing.

…Temptation can build strength for our spirits in the same way that bodybuilding builds strength for muscles: by resistance.

…Being “made in His image” has to do with our eternal souls. God made us to think and to reason, to love and to create.

…Without the peace of Christ for our minds, we will be robbed of joy even as our prayers are answered.

…As David was surrounded by his enemies, he said, “I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for Thou, Lord, only makes me dwell in safety.” (Psalms 4:8) I have often gone to bed feeling that I cannot bear to think about a problem or a responsibility one more second, yet when I awaken after a relinquished night’s sleep, I discover the meaning of “His mercies new every morning.”

…Although Abraham and Sarah greatly desired a child for many years, at a certain point they became past caring. But when God desires something, it doesn’t matter what we are “past.”

…All we need for a successful Christian life is the Holy Spirit; one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. There is no lasting self-control apart from the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. We can get sick of ourselves and work to break our bad habits, and may succeed for a while, but it will either end in failure when the going gets tough, or, it will take on the form of a different addiction.

…Leave your life at the cross. Be dead to yourself, and let Christ live His life through you. Be so passionate about being totally His that nothing else appeals to you in comparison.

…Christianity begins in a singular heart learning of Christ and following Him, but will end—or worse, stalemate—within a “set of principles”.

…Focusing on religion, rather on Christ Himself, alienates people from their spiritual gifts. God alone knows why and what He’s gifted us for, and the value is subject to Him.

…A child is born impoverished, while elsewhere, a man grows rich. While neither one deserved their lot more than the other, both face Eternity.

…The name of Jesus offends people because it puts a face and a name to the plan of salvation. Even so, one may cry out to the living God not knowing His Name, and if sought in truth, He will hear and answer.

…Like the wind, no one can predict where God’s Spirit will come in.

…Faith is a gift of God. When we try to interpret for ourselves what we have yet to experience, it usually loses something important in the translation.

…Faith glorifies God while it waits.

…God’s character defines itself. Period.

…When God speaks something to us, it isn’t so we can say, “God told me,” it’s to learn more of His character—and this is something often inexplicable, both to ourselves and to others.

…There is no doubt that life is full of magic, and only those who keep their eyes open for it ever see it. After all, God created the world by the magic of “Let there be…” and there WAS.

…Humdrum exists where everyday miracles are taken for granted.

…If we are good students—submissive, teachable and humble—the Lord will fill us with His own Spirit of wisdom for making important decisions, both big and small.

…If you judge your spiritual life by how often you read the Bible or do devotions, you will slip into an emotional pattern. We don’t serve God by our emotions. God gave us His word to confirm His nature, and we can know Him by the circumstances and people He brings into our lives to test us and to shape us. Never boast to yourself or to others how much you read your Bible, just live by it.

…Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that God cares about people more than we ever can, as we trust in His Spirit to bring forth fruits of righteousness at the proper time.

…It is a blessing to do menial tasks that require little concentration, because in them, our minds are free to perform the awesome and powerful ministry of intercession.

…The Lord never sleeps nor slumbers, and sometimes we are “asleep” to something He’s been working on for a long time. When we “wake up” is a matter of His knowing love.

…We can’t find love; love finds us. If we go looking for it, we will always find the wrong thing.

…It’s too easy to fall into a pattern of thinking that has already been defined by others who tell us we should be like them. We are to be like the Lord. The Pharisees criticized Jesus for eating with “publicans and sinners.” Jesus could walk and sit and sup with immoral people because he was internally detached from Sin. In this, He set the example for how we should be.

…Love is like a torch in a dark place, taking us where we would never venture without its light.

…No matter how black the night, morning comes.

…The very best thing we can do for a child is to show them what is best by living an upright example, and when we fail, to admit we’ve been wrong. Children learn little from what we say; they learn from what we show them.

…Training a child in the way he should go is just that: training him or her in the way he or she should go, not necessarily in the way we think he or she should go. The wisdom of man is foolishness to God.

…After your children are fully grown, you’ll realize that nothing else ever mattered to you more than their opinion of you does now.

…Young children don’t judge others from preconceived ideas. Their disapproval is based on truly hurtful words and behavior, not on what that is simply unusual or unexpected.

…Without a doubt, our children will be courted by the world to worship creation, not the Creator. We need to take our imaginations and feelings back from worldly thinking, and guide our children never to hand them over. We can do this by feeding in them what is from God: the predisposition to believe in more than they can see.

…At any given time, children are the most important people in the world.

…Laying down the things most precious to us so we can know how precious we are to God equips us with His nature.

…There is no other effective plan for living. “Kindle” means, “to start or to ignite.” When we give our dreams, our plans, our hopes and our sorrows to God, His touch kindles meaning in them.

©Cami Tapley. All rights reserved.

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