Archives

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.

Advertisements

The Tree

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:8-9

A few weeks ago, a friend drew my attention to this verse. It’s one that I think many of us overlook simply because there is usually one particular tree that gets all of the attention when we speak of Genesis.

“In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

“And”…yes, two trees.

The one we always hear about is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is the tree that Satan subtly slithered into and enticed Eve to focus on.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.

Genesis 3: 1-6

“Any tree”…there were many. The Lord created an abundance in that garden and Adam and Eve lived in the midst of that abundance. Yet, with a flick of his tongue Satan drew Eve to the tree of knowledge and convinced her that wisdom existed there. Wisdom vs. knowledge…if she had only known that there is a difference. All of the other trees in that garden faded into the background that day; including the other tree that grew in the middle of that same garden.

The TREE OF LIFE: the other tree placed in the center of the garden in the beginning of time. I wonder how close they were to each other? If only she had chosen to focus on that tree. Genesis 3:22 tells us that eating from this tree would result in eternal life. While Eve was faced with that choice so many years ago,we are still faced with that same choice every day.

Since the beginning of time Satan has been running this same play…distract and destroy.  Satan wants us to look at the one thing we don’t have. He does not want us to see and recognize the many ways that God provides for us. Certainly the LAST place he wants our gaze to fall is on that other tree in the center of the garden. Will I focus on the tight budget? Or the way that God provides enough to meet our needs? Will I focus on the turmoil and challenges in planning an event that will bring glory to God? Or will I focus on the potential that just ONE person will hear from God and be forever changed? Will we choose Christ? Or chase the knowledge of other things that are offered as counterfeit wisdom?

Jesus hung on a tree, nailed to a cross. But, he didn’t stay there. Conquering sin and death he is risen indeed- waiting for each of us to choose him. Choose the Way, the Truth and the Life or sin and death?

That tree of life -seen in the very beginning- is also seen in the end.

7Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:7

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:1-2

While Eve didn’t choose that tree- the tree of life- you can still choose. This tree of life…at the beginning, on the cross, and in the end…is still available and ripe for the picking.

Lord, thank you for the abundance you provide in my daily life. Help me to never look beyond the intricate ways you show Your presence. Thank you for bringing my gaze to the tree of life…who was, and is, and is to come. I pray that you will not allow me to become distracted by other things. Fix my gaze on YOU, Lord. wpid-20150328_184043.jpg

Childlike Faith

20151212_143228.jpgThis is my daughter. She is six.

On this fine 70 degree December day…this is the ensemble she has chosen to wear.  At 9 am she had basketball (add gray and neon green shoes to the mix) and tonight I will have to wrestle her into something much more tame for play practice dress rehearsal. She does her own hair…usually with a braid on one side and a ponytail or two elsewhere. And her pajamas can include a fedora and pearls.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I look at this little girl I see FREEDOM.  I absolutely love the liberty that she has. She lives!

Believe it or not, this freedom – while inspiring- is nothing compared to her faith.

 

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Matthew 18:1-5

Thankfully, I have been doing some work at her school this week. When news came that she was crying and in pain, I was readily available. However, even she knew that I was not the ONE who could make it better. She has been having belly pain…nothing serious or new, just very uncomfortable. On this particular day, it hit her fast and hard. When her teacher left us, my daughter was doubled over and in tears. Ten minutes later, she was walking out to the playground with a smile on her face.

The teacher came to me later and asked, “What did you do for her? What can I do to help her in the future?”

I explained that we are making some dietary changes to help her out in the long-term.

She clarified, “What did you do to get her from crying to smiles in a matter of minutes?”

“Oh! I didn’t do anything. She prayed. She went in to the quiet solitude of the bathroom stall and prayed that if she was going to get sick, that it would just happen. Otherwise, she asked that God would take away the pain. Just like that…she wiped her eyes and walked out and gave me a hug. All the glory goes to God.”

I told her teacher that as she has been enduring this belly pain, there are times in the middle of the night where she will wake me up in tears and just say, “Mommy, will you please just pray?” And I do. The pain subsides and she goes back to bed.

So my advice to the teacher…”Just pray with her.”

Her teacher was pleasantly surprised. As a woman of faith herself, she was amazed to see such faith in this little one. Enough faith to move a mountain.

I am thankful for a Christian school with teachers who have the liberty to do just that–pray with her. And I am thankful for this little one’s testimony of faith as it is unfolding before our eyes.

My prayer for both of our kids has been…and is…Philippians 1:9-11.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

I am so thankful to see these kids grow and the opportunity to learn from them. I think sometimes we grown-ups just think too much…make things way more complex than they really are. I am thankful for the fullness of her childlike faith on the days when I need to rest in the Lord and all HE CAN DO.

Lord, give me a heart that sees more clearly than my eyes. I desire Hebrews hall-of-fame faith with child-like simplicity. You can… simply because You are…the great I AM! In JESUS’ name. Amen.

The view…from where I sit

It is almost 10 am on a Wednesday and I am still sitting at my table. I have been terribly ill for well over a week, and have seen very little outside of my bedroom or the couch. But today is a new day! I am recovering…awake…not in pain…and breathing deeply today. Hallelujah!

wpid-20150506_094047.jpg

This is the view from my table. All of the windows are open, there is a breeze blowing and the sun is shining. I can see some of my children’s creations on the refrigerator and see God’s creation out the window. What a perfect morning.

As I sit here studying and praying…a question was posed. Our Tuesday small group has just begun a walk through the wilderness with Priscilla Shirer in One in a Million. This is a study I participated in back in 2012 and could not wait to do again. It’s amazing how different my “view” is after just a few years time.

So back to that question…”How does God’s revelation of Himself to Israel differ from how He reveals Himself to us today?”

Well, besides the obvious pillar of fire and cloud- the first thing that came to my mind was Ephesians 1 and a song. Open the eyes of my heart, Lord…I want to see you.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Ephesians 1:17-19

Ah yes, that sweet, sweet Spirit gives us the ability to see with our heart. While God, Himself, doesn’t manifest in a visible form- there is evidence of Him everywhere: In my life, in situations and circumstances, in my marriage and my kids, in answered prayers and in nature. He is VERY present.

Honestly, when I look out my window and feel the breeze and the warmth of the sun…feel the air in my lungs…see my children and how they are growing…hear the birds as they sing and watch the seedlings as they grow…I ask…

How can you NOT see Him?

It sounds like a great morning to count some blessings:

An early morning

Wellness on the horizon

A cool breeze on a warm day

SUN!

The hole in my screen door…allowing the dog to saunter out to the deck and back at will. (He’s enjoying this weather, too!)

Food in the refrigerator-  and the ability to eat and enjoy it this morning

My husband has a job today…and he went to it (18 yrs and counting…thank you Jesus)

Quiet

Clarity

Four more weeks of school!

I have really let myself go!

wpid-2015-04-25-07.43.17.jpg.jpeg

 

My son painted the most beautiful picture of a cardinal in art class at school. It’s simple and vibrant. A brilliant red bird resting on a branch with snow falling in the foreground. I love the things that he creates.

When he brought it home…while I raved and gave praise over this mini-masterpiece, he did not. He said, “It’s really not that good, but…Well, I guess it’s OK.” WHAT?! How could he think that?

 

 

We have our children’s art on display all over our home; some framed and some hung with care on the refrigerator to be displayed for a time. This one needed to be framed. Yet, I knew the moment I saw it that it would occupy a special place outside of our home. It would go to Grandma and Paw’s house. Paw loves birds. He had a stained glass cardinal hanging in the window of their home for years and has a very large print of various birds in all colors hanging in their bedroom. Yes, this would be the right home for this very special bird…with someone who would appreciate the beauty of the bird and the loving hands that created it.

Sometimes I look at myself the way my son looked at that bird. “Well, I guess…I’m really not that good…yea, I’m just OK.” But, thanks to my kids I was able to see something this past week that I had not seen or appreciated in this particular manner before.wpid-20150402_154111.jpg

While I was looking for a frame to showcase his regal, red cardinal- I found a portrait. It was in a frame in the basement and tentatively appeared to be holding a print of a ship. When I took the backing off of the frame, I saw a portrait…one of me. It was taken around 1998-99 or so. I was about 60 pounds lighter (YES SIXTY!), I had longer dark hair and was dressed in what would have been my standard attire for work. Back then, I was a Marketing Representative for an insurance brokerage. I always had my hair done, nails done, and was usually pretty trendy (at least for the time). I was definitely a very different person. I was wrapped up in ME.

 

So there I was; face-to-face with myself. Skinnier, put together, dark-haired, well dressed me. My initial reaction was to adjust the t-shirt that I had paired with my baggy jeans.  Then, I took a peek in the mirror at the gray hair that I have surrendered to over the past four years. Yikes.

” I have seriously let myself go.”

Just for giggles, I carried this throwback picture to my kids. I braced myself for the reaction I expected and then showed them. The reaction I got was NOT what I expected.

“Wow! We like your hair so much better now. Mom, we love the way you look today better.”

What?? Are they blind? It must be time to see the eye doctor again! 

What I had expected to hear was “Mom, you used to be so pretty.” But, what I heard was just the opposite. And after the initial shock wore off…and as I looked at the picture again….and I AGREED.

Yes, I like the me now much more than the one in that picture. Sure, the superficial stuff looked great- but, I was my focus then. God is my focus now. My husband and kids are my ministry. It’s not about me anymore. I am genuinely happier and mentally and spiritually healthier now by a long shot. I have been gifted a loving husband and two amazing children and am blessed beyond measure. None of the blessings I truly cherish can be changed by gravity or age. Praise the Lord.

Could it be that my kids could see at first glance what I didn’t? They appreciated this old bird and the hands that lovingly created her. (ha ha ha! I couldn’t resist.) I know that my kids didn’t know me then – and I am glad. But, the thought that they can see and appreciate the Jesus in me is a thought that thrills me to my soul.

God is in control.

So I now, I will take a deep breath (inhale)…

…And I will say that again

…and I will rejoice in it…

“Yes…Yes indeed. I have seriously and thankfully let myself go.”

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

This is me. My five-year old daughter took this picture this past Friday while we were on a field trip. It’s the most recent image…not posed, not edited. Just Real.

wpid-20150424_113948.jpg

Two peas in a pod

Spiderman suitcase

wpid-20150122_094032.jpgThis is a Spiderman suitcase. It came into our home on Tuesday and will not depart until tomorrow. With this suitcase came a super little someone…and something wonderful.

He’s five years old- just like my little girl. Together, they have conquered a few villains this week while running the house in their super hero capes. I even saw him melt a mountain…all with a hug and three simple words.

“I love you.”

I will tell you that his presence in our home is divine providence- 100%. If I hadn’t been cleaning up the Christmas decorations in the church that day, his mother and I may not have met. She’s a missionary who serves the Lord in another place far away. She has a heart for kids…a BIG heart. She is a private lady. (Something I really appreciate in a person because I am, too.) But, wonderful things happen when two “private” people to jump in a car together and run around town. I have really enjoyed her company.

When this week started I thought I was the one helping out…serving her…blessing him. Last night, as I watched the scenes playing out before me, I realized that God was really blessing me the whole time.

Hubby had just gotten home from a business trip. He laid down on the floor and our new little friend hopped onto hubby’s stomach (quite literally). Our daughter jumped in and they all wrestled and played for a bit. When hubby relocated to his resting place of choice- the rocking chair, this little one wiggled up onto his lap. “I love you” he said. And the mountain-of-a-man before me melted. Yes, super powers indeed.

We tucked them in one by one and he wouldn’t let go of hubby’s shirt tail. Sweet, sweet spirit. The little masked man made off with all of our hearts this week.

So who is really serving here?? Who is really being blessed?

From my perspective- our family was blessed beyond measure. WAY BEYOND measure!

I am so thankful that this Spiderman suitcase found its way to our home this week…and even more thankful for its owner.

He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them,  “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

Mark 9:36-37

Amen. When this child entered our home, there is no doubt that he brought the love of Christ with him.

Thank you Jesus for this gift.