Renewal?

To renew or not renew? That is the question.

That has been the question on my mind for the past 3 weeks. I started receiving renewal notices from WordPress reminding me to renew my subscription for this blog. Maybe it was a greater reminder to me to Bloom Where I am Planted. I need that reminder in more ways than one.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34

I really should post all of the scripture leading up to that…don’t worry about what you will eat or drink or wear…considering the lilies and the birds. As I cross the dam on the way to school each day, there have been many mornings when I have considered those birds. The eagles nest at the dam and their majestic, white crowns can be seen scattered in the trees. Some mornings, I see them swoop down and then ride the draft upward into the sky. Not flapping furiously trying to stay afloat…just riding. Gliding. Resting on the breeze.

Consider the birds of the air.

This has been a challenging year. For many I suspect. And I feel compelled to share- humbly- in hopes that YOU will find hope in Christ alone. I started working part-time at the school my children attend and have been blessed by it.  At a time when our household income has shrunk exponentially, this was a blessing and an answer to months of prayer. I am so thankful.  That endeavor came with a new set of challenges as well. I had to drop out of some of the ministries I was a part of and also am no longer attending the ladies Bible study that was so important- relationally and spiritually. I have a hard time waking up in the morning and have to empty my brain so I can sleep well at night. (BIG TIME thankful for my hubby who literally drags me out of bed like on of the kids in the morning. It is because of his diligence that I am able to sit in front of the Lord each morning with my journal and Bible.) We traded in our van because we could no longer afford it. The Lord blessed us with a smaller, cheaper, more fuel effecient sedan. We call it the “Blue Blessing”! There have been a few weeks recently when we have had to cut the grocery budget to pay for school field trips. We are just rolling with it…making changes and adjustments…just trying to be good stewards of the blessings God entrusts to us.

A few years back, this would have caused me GREAT anxiety. I am happy to report that I don’t have that now. There was a time of reflection. We realized that in times of plenty we weren’t as responsible as we could have been. That revelation makes my heart heavy at times. But, since we can’t go back and change that…here we are. There are times when it is tempting to get anxious. I am keenly aware that anxiety causes me to shrink and hold on to things tighter. My God is bigger than this. As long as I am following His lead, I have nothing to fear. And I tell you what! The math doesn’t make sense on paper, but God has provided for our every need every month and every step of the way. Praise the Lord.

So now you know why that question plagued me for a month…to renew or not renew? The renewal fee for this blog is a mere $35. That’s it. And, yet, I had to really evaluate that against the greater picture. Evaluate. Hmmmmm. I realized this morning that I didn’t pray about it yet. So I did. Then when I opened up the blog…this whole post just fell out. I hope and pray that it brings glory to the Lord when it finds you.

 

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

2 Corinthians 4:5-12

“Pressed, but not crushed”. These were the words playing in my mind and heart as I was driving home to meet the plumber after our well pump stopped working 2 weeks ago. A reminder. I wasn’t able to put it all together until just now. I have been neglecting to share God’s goodness with you. As I said when I started this blog…God places treasures, smiles, blessings, joy and light as well as storms, trials and challenges. All are designed to lead us closer to Him. We are to share and shine that light so He can be seen in all circumstances. This blog was built on this very idea and for the past 9 months I have been holding those testimonies to myself. It’s time to get back to it.

Yes, I will renew!

I have heard testimonies like this from others. I am sure you have a testimony or two (or three, or four) of God’s goodness in your life and circumstances. I’d love it if you’d share one with me on this blog.

A little slack

I love nights like this. Well…I love hearing about nights like this.

You see, I came home from school and hit the ground running. (After I had been running all day.) Putting away groceries…homework…dinner for tonight and preparation for tomorrow’s slow cooker creation…two loads of laundry…lunches packed for tomorrow…bath night. It’s 8:30pm and I just sat down. Not bad for a four hour sprint. While I was elbow deep in after dinner KP, hubby took the kids and the dog for a walk around the block. When they returned- I sat down while my hubby told me a story.

I love stories like this. You know, the kind when you learn something about God from your kids and a knuckle-head dog? THAT kind of story. And from this Mama’s perspective- it makes my heart soar to hear these things come from my son. So I’ll share…

Hubby was giving our son a refresher course on walking the dog. Cooper loves to walk, but he gets a little excited sometimes. The many, many (…many, many, many…) rabbits in the neighborhood taunt him with every hop as he pulls on that leash and he can be quite a challenge- especially when the walk begins. I have no clue what breed he is, but Cooper is the kind of dog who has a very keen sense of smell. In fact, his sniffer completely takes over and his ears shut off altogether! We keep the leash short so Cooper is beside us. Yep, we walk the dog- we don’t allow him to walk us. If the leash is too short he gags and huffs and pulls- resulting in sore muscles for all so there must be balance.

This was the lesson that hubby was teaching tonight and our son did a great job. A half-mile later, the bells and whistles went off. Yes…our son had a lights-ON epiphany. He went on to explain how this leash thing is much like our walk with God. God doesn’t choke us. He doesn’t pull and tug and wrestle. He sets parameters and lets us know how to walk and then if we pull…wait…I want to get this right…”If we pull too hard and choke ourselves then it’s our own stupid fault”…or something close to that. ha ha ha

Ok…so not a perfect picture, but I love his insight.

Psalm 23 (KJV)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm 23 is what came to mind. The Lord leads…we need only follow.

CHOOSE to follow.

He is the GOOD Shepherd, but we can be some hard-headed and seriously stubborn sheep. A fickle flock! Green pastures…would I recognize one if I was laying in one? Still waters? Oh…look at that butterfly! Squirrel! We pull, wander, strain and grow weary as we wrestle against God. There are times when we wander because the grass looks greener and others when we walk in stride with the Spirit just as He leads us to do. I just love the picture that my son painted this evening. Comical, yet true.

Lord, you give me boundaries because you love me. Those boundaries give me the opportunity to walk closely with you…near and without fear. Forgive me for the times when I wrestle and strain instead of follow, obey and rest in You.

Peaceful Pasture

 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:26-27

What a month.

We had to cut a visit with family short so we could return to a broken refrigerator full of rotten food and water pooling on the floor as said fridge defrosted.

A green swimming pool…been battling that for over 2 weeks now.

Dad’s cancer is back…and firmly placed in God’s hands…and Mom has a blood clot in her legs. (What a pair, right?)

Camping in 107 degree weather and returning to find our daughter polka-dotted. What I thought may have been poison ivy turned out to be chickenpox. Chickenpox?! Yep, less than 2% of the population who are vaccinated for chickenpox actually get it. Lucky us. We are special!

We applied for a little financial help with school and they were not able to scholarship as much as we had hoped.

Oh, and did I mention that I am trying my skill at couponing? No, I am not quite to the point where I have a binder and spend 3 hours in the store pouring over the pages. But, I do have apps and clippings and…what was I thinking?

Hubby traveling, preparing for back to school, engaged in 2 Bible studies, an ant invasion, and the pounds are creeping up because I just can’t focus on me right now…and the train keeps rolling.

I was laying in bed with my daughter at 3am two nights ago and she started crying. As she realized that her chickenpox were spreading to some uncomfortable areas, she said she was afraid. The “what-if” crept into her tired little mind. My comment to her was something like this. “Crying won’t make it better, but prayer will.” And we did. A LOT. I was sharing this with a friend yesterday and I told her, “I KNOW that I will need that talk myself one day soon. I just know.”

Sure. It’s been interesting. Some months are like that. But, my focus has not been on all that is going wrong so much as what the blessings are in each situation. For example, we have a freezer in the garage and a garden in the backyard. We were able to eat well for the week we were without a refrigerator and certainly appreciate that modern convenience all the more now. My father had cancer before and they do regular checks as a result- so that was discovered early on. While my mom has other issues in her legs, she was paying attention and knew that something was wrong. God’s prompting. My daughter got chickenpox before school started so that will be out of the way…and at a time when we had very little planned so we were able to get some movies, chill and watch the Olympics this week. What a nice slow pace before the school year begins. As for school, any amount they were able to scholarship was a gift and blessing. When I went into school to drop off some forms, they asked me for my resume just in case something comes up. THEY. Asked. ME! (WOW! THANKS GOD!)  I  saved $68 on my first grocery trip as a couponer…hubby made it home safely…I finished back-to-school shopping in one day…and the two studies I am engaged in are showing me where I have staked out territory that I have not given God (or maybe give-up and take back).

Praise upon praise upon praise.

My peace I leave with you.

Y’all…this was NOT me several years back. Sure, I might need that talk soon when I allow the whirlwind to toss me about. But, right now? He’s got this and I KNOW it. That’s just it, isn’t it? I KNOW IT. God is always in control. I just have to know it, believe it and rest in Him.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Provider, Leader, Protector.

He maketh me…He leadeth…He restoreth…He comforts…He preparest…He annointest.

It’s all Him. All I have to do is trust and follow.

Lord, I know that I will need to come back to this place and read this again…as a reminder. Thank you for these moments.

 

Tattoos- Love Ran Red

There has been a story circulating on the local and national news stations this week about a man named Bayzle Morgan. You may have seen it, too. He’s a young man who is going on trial for robbery and will be facing a separate murder trial at some point as well. This man is a “Neo-Nazi” and wears that identification (as well as other identifying marks) loud and proud…on his face, head, neck, hands and body.

It seems that the obvious has become a major obstacle when it comes to justice and a fair trial.  To quote from the Las Vegas Review Journal’s July24th story directly:

A month ago, a different group of possible jurors was summoned to decide on the robbery case against Morgan. But one by one, they saw his tattoos and his bald head and said they could not be fair and impartial.

You can read the story here (http://www.reviewjournal.com/crime/homicides/neo-nazi-gets-makeover-hide-tattoos-jury)

The interesting part of this story to me is the judge’s response. The judge in this case has ordered that this man’s tattoos be covered up by a professional make-up artist so there will be no bias based on his appearance. When you read the story, you will see the before and after pictures. What a difference!

A few years back I had a conversation with someone who felt intimidated when she entered a certain store because it was in an area where heavy tattooing is pervasive. The appearance of these folks left her feeling unsafe and vulnerable.(Which is funny because she has tattoos of her own.) While those tattoos are superficial marks, they often do reflect something about the person’s personality and the issues, people or things that may be important to them; both beautiful and sinister. Is it unreasonable to feel uncomfortable based on appearance? Yes. But, let’s entertain another thought. What if- after those marks were made- there was a change. What if those marks no longer reflected who that person is on the inside? My question to her was…

What if we had to wear our sins, past and present, as tattoos on our bodies?

How scary would I be? How intimidating would you be? Would those scary, shameful, intimidating and humiliating marks reflect who I am today? Would they cause people to just make wide circles around me?  Would I get a fair trial?

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

1Samuel 16:7

I am SO THANKFUL that the Lord doesn’t look at my sin marks. I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ and now I am clean. He doesn’t see those sins anymore and I am not to defile myself with new marks either. Yes, if you are saved you still sin…I still sin. When Christ takes the stand for me He will present me as the judge did this young man…only it won’t be a temporary covering painted on by a make-up artist. It will be genuine. Washed clean in the blood of the spotless Lamb and presented in white robes.

 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:11

When you are washed clean, walk victoriously in Christ. When you encounter others who are unsaved or saved and in bondage, remember that you were there. Not to say “look at where I am now”, but to proclaim that you have been transformed by the blood of Christ. “Look what HE has done!”  Show compassion and share His love.

Man. I am overwhelmed.

I have a little tidbit to share with you. As I was looking into this story, I began to research the process of covering a tattoo with makeup because of something curious I saw. In one of the pictures in the article, the make-up artist was using something red to cover his tats. I looked up some videos online and sure enough…the best way to cover a tattoo is with a red base (lipstick or powder shadow) followed by concealer, foundation and powder and hairspray. Interesting and cool.

Your love ran red, and my sin washed white…

 

You’re INVITED

I have always felt like I live outside the circle, lonely, overlooked, used and discounted. Well…maybe more like Emmet from the Lego Movie. He’s the guy who wakes up happy and goes about life doing for others, saying “hello”, surrounded by people…but known by no one. When he disappears, the people around him are interviewed and Emmet is discouraged and saddened by the responses.

(The following clip was found on YouTube…I didn’t create this and have no rights to it.)

It’s not that I want to be known, because trust me– that is not my thing either. I just want to love and be loved. I want to feel connected. I don’t want to be like that person in Ecclesiastes 4 who is alone, overpowered, and cold. I think Emmet wanted that, too. I know I have shared this before and I promise that I am not in a place where I am rolling in this like a pig in mud.

In fact, I know who God says I am…

That I am precious and chosen (1Peter2:9)

Fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

His workmanship created in Christ for good works (Ephesians2:10)

Valuable and bought with a price (1Corinthians 6:20)

I am seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)

And I cling to these truths and so much more. I cling to Christ.

proverbs31

No, I don’t find my value in other people- nor do I want to. But, I will admit that when these feelings bubble up, they do still hinder me in a tremendous way…if I focus me and not God. When I look around, I see so many other women who are disconnected and probably feeling the same way I do. So imagine my surprise when Lysa Terkheurst announced her book called Uninvited! WOW! This is not just something that I feel…c’mon, Lysa Terkheurst!?

I pre-ordered the book last week and look forward to reading it.

I don’t get onto Proverbs31.org daily, but there are some days when I can feel the Lord pointing there instead of the places He has me studying. Today was one of those days. I wanted to share her blog post/devotion with you today and offer some encouragement to those who are not “in”, but feel rather “un”.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND YOU ARE LOVED.

God has a purpose for YOU! (And me, too!)

Please read Lysa’s post: When Rejection Steals the Best of Who I Am

Cut and paste this URL…I was unable to attach as a link today …  http://proverbs31.org/devotions/devo/when-rejection-steals-the-best-of-who-i-am/

 

And here’s the INVITATION…On August 9th there is a webcast kicking off this new book and study. I signed up for it. If you see me around, but don’t know me and want to watch it with me- let me know. If you want to read this book with me, study God’s Word or just walk and talk. Find me.

It’s easy to misread people. In this day of technology and social media, it’s way too easy to feel connected and yet never make eye contact with a living soul. It’s time to put down the phone, step out from behind the tablet…lift up those eyes and see people. REAL LIVE PEOPLE who need a friend…who need encouragement… and who need Jesus.

Let’s knock down some walls…because Jesus invited us. Now, we need to reach out and invite others!