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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.

 

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Spring has Sprung

 

It’s that time again! The garden is in the ground and the veggies are starting to grow. It was a tough start because of the fluctuating temperatures. Some of our seedlings didn’t make it. But, in that was a FANTASTIC discussion with our kids about our responsibility and  charge as parents.  The Lord has commissioned us to train them up in the way they should go…to grow them and guide them and make sure that their roots are strong before we plant them in this ever-fluctuating world. The visual example in our garden brought a certain simplicity and clarity to that word picture. They got it!

I want to keep it simple today and just share some pictures. You will see my new friend- who we have named “Fabrizio”. He is a brilliant blue tree swallow who has chosen our new birdhouse as the home for he and his camera-shy mate. When I work in the garden, he comes out of his house and perches himself on the fence post closest to me. He pivots his little head around to keep an eye on me at all times and he also talks to me…and I talk back. I am so happy to have him as a guest in our mini-home. After all, part of his God-given job is to eat various bugs and pests that will attempt to thwart the growth of our little plants. THAT makes me love him even more.

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A beautiful gift from a beautiful friend and Titus 2 woman. I am blessed!

Ripples

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As I sit on the deck in the early morning hours, I see them clearly from my perch over the lake. Like polka dots, they speckle the surface of the glassy water as they come to the top – yet, they remain quiet. Then the big one…with a loud flop and a mighty splash, I see his silver belly as he flips out of the water. He disappears just as quickly as he appeared…leaving nothing but ripples that stretch out across the water. Those ripples remain present for quite some time…evidence.

The lake is ripe for fishing.

The ones that make the biggest splash,   make the most ripples and disturb the waters most profoundly also provide the most meat and lasting nourishment. However, my perspective must be right. If I look at that fish only from my perch and see it as a disruption to perfect glassy waters, I may not appreciate it. If I get closer…throw in a line…cast a net…then, I can really appreciate the fish as a gift.

Jesus loved to fish. He loved to teach through fish.

This morning, it strikes me that trials are like fish…always just beneath the surface of seemingly glassy waters. God sends these trials -sometimes in schools- to feed our souls and grow us. Some are barely noticeable as they come to the top; they have little lasting effect and are hardly remembered. Others leave a trail of ripples that spread out far and wide leaving a lasting impression on the surface and a deep nourishment that goes far beyond expectation.

The BIG one.

This one will provide a testimony that reels us in- closer to Him than we have ever been.  He feeds us.

Today, I am thankful for the ripples that the big trials in my life have produced. They are constant and lasting reminders of God’s goodness and grace in my life. Because He first loved me.

Oh, how I love Jesus!

Simply Scripture: 1John 4:4-6

SimplyScripture

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.  We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.

When I grow up, I want to be…

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Ephesians 6:19-20

If you look through my prayer journal over the past few months, you will see a theme. I want a strong purpose. I want to be a force for the Lord. I feel like I am camped on the edge of the wilderness and God is getting ready to push me in- to follow Him into some uncharted territory- but, I don’t know what, where, or how. In addition to purpose, Monday I had prayed for a gift. I wanted to know if God hears me. Does He know me? I feel like He has been so quiet lately.

Purpose. Influence. Confirmation. Affirmation.

Our Tuesday gals have been gleaning from Priscilla Shirer’s field in the study called One In A Million. She is walking us through the book of Exodus. It’s a story of deliverance, smelting, obedience and being surrendered to the Lord. Not relying on our own ability, knowledge or strength…but, God’s manna and provision. Perfecting us to following Him into Promised Land living. This is a RICH study and I have enjoyed every step.

Yesterday, however, I was a little downcast after study. Discouraged.

We had moved on to Numbers 13. A leader from each tribe was sent in to investigate and report on Canaan. Leaders are supposed to lead, right? Well, these leaders gave a false report…one birthed out of fear and uncertainty…and these leaders led the people to settle for second best instead of Promised Land living. For 38 years, they would walk in circles in the same place. Uggh. If only the leaders had been fearless in following the Lord…in having full faith in the Lord…in believing and trusting the Lord at his word.These leaders were to be the influence.

So I began to wonder. I am sitting on the edge of this wilderness…an unknown. Will I choose a comfortable, familiar place and walk in circles? Or will I follow? I pray that I do.

In times of uncertainty, we all need to make sure we have trusted people who we can go to for influence; spiritual counsel. We need to make sure that the people who influence us are pointing us to Jesus. But, we also need to be an influence-ER.

“What kind of influencer are you?”

Immediately, I hung my head. I wrote in my study guide…”I am not. Unacceptable + ineffective= lukewarm.” I don’t have a circle of influence. There is one woman in the group who has people texting and calling her for counsel all hours of the day. While that is her calling- not mine (I promise, I am not coveting here) – I wish I knew what my calling IS. Yes, I am planted and I am blooming and growing in Christ…but, am I still in the pot or am I outside in the great-wide-open providing shade for others, dropping seeds that may grow…unrestricted?

Yep. I left there feeling small, insignificant and super discouraged. I’d love to write a book…but, don’t know where to start. I’d LOVE to be like Priscilla Shirer and share the things God has shown me in life and through study…but, being in front of large groups makes me turn ten shades of red. Being in front of groups of people is not my place.

So where is my place, Lord?

There is no way I could have been prepared for the gifts that followed immediately after this wall of discouragement stopped me in my tracks. Yesterday, God started sending me gifts of purpose and confirmation…affirmation.

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At 4:55 pm, I received this text from a friend about a conversation we had a few weeks back. Encouragement from a dear friend. But…wait…did I say something? Am I really an influencer and I didn’t know it?

Then I thought of the card my dear daughter gave me on Mother’s Day. In it was a picture she drew under the caption “Mother’s Favorite Things”. That picture is my Bible, coffee and a cupcake.

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This is what she sees. In the morning before they go to school this is where they see me; at the table with my coffee and Bible. (The cupcake? Not so much, but it certainly sounds like a great idea!) I am not perfect. They see my flaws. But, my kids are “seeing” even when I am not “saying”. Thank you Lord. Not only did He confirm this special and important purpose, but I feel like I must be doing a good job – as long as I am following His lead.

So, I sat down and stopped drinking from the cup of my own insignificance – served in my private pity party. The truth is: when I am less, God is more. I started thinking about where I am planted…I am a mother. I can think of no greater influence than the molding and raising of children. Funny, I had been praying about that this month, too. I so want to be a Proverbs 31 woman in my home, a helper to my husband and also a Deuteronomy 6 mama who leads by example and really walks the walk with my kids and anyone else who I may encounter on this road.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9

Then came the greatest gift…one I could have never even thought of. To GOD be the glory!

Last night was our daughter’s Kindergarten graduation. After a song, each child came to the microphone one at a time to introduce themselves. This special introduction included their name, birth date and what they want to be when they grow up. As a general rule, I try to not share pictures of my kids faces on this blog and keep their personal information to a minimum. TRUST me…if I could have gotten this video to upload I would have broken that rule today. As she stepped confidently to the microphone, she gave her name and date of birth and then this….

“When I grow up, I want to be a Mommy.”

At the end of that short video clip, you would have heard a whimper just before the camera shut off. It was me. The Lord pricked my heart and it’s contents gushed out in the form of tears of joy. It was all I could do to keep from WAILING. I know that I didn’t hear another word said for the next 5 minutes as I tried to contain myself. I cried on and off for hours after that.

Influence.

Mothers: never underestimate the power and scope of your influence in Jesus’ name!

It is a divine calling and should not be seen as a purpose that is less than others. No, I am not speaking to stadiums, congregations or even small rooms of people, and if it’s God’s will- the book will happen in God’s time. God spoke loud and clear yesterday. I am an influencer- to my kids, my husband, their friends and anyone I come in contact with. As I walk the road and when I rise and sit- if I am living what I believe and for WHOM I believe- I am making a difference in the name of Jesus. Yes, I want to do more for Him. But, I think God wants me to provide shade and seed to these little ones who are in my care and not brush off this purpose in search of another. The eternal importance of these years is one that cannot be measured. The influence I have on these two children and the influence they will have on others…their grand kids and so on…is one that has the potential to seed and grow for generations to come.

She could have chosen ANYTHING…and she wants to be a Mommy…like me.

Oh sweet Jesus ~ Thank you for making me hers.

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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:20-21

Yes, to HIM be glory…throughout all generations.

A little word with BIG meaning.

I first posted this back in 2012, again in 2013 and would like to share it again. This word “sustain” is one that I cling to daily. A promise. A fact. When I am not enough, God is infinitely MORE than enough. 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 reminds me…Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

BLOOM where I am planted

I was just reading in Psalm this morning and a verse caught my eye, head, and heart.

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. Psalm 3:5

“Sustain” is such a little word. Yet when I look at the definition it has such BIG meaning! When I read this definition, and feel and understand the TRUTH that without the Lord, I am nothing, can do nothing, have nothing…wow. It really took my breath away this morning.

sus·tain  (s-stn)tr.v. sus·tained, sus·tain·ing, sus·tains
1. To keep in existence; maintain.
2. To supply with necessities or nourishment; provide for.
3. To support from below; keep from falling or sinking; prop.
4. To support the spirits, vitality, or resolution of; encourage.
5. To bear up under; withstand: can’t sustain the blistering heat.
6. To experience or suffer: sustained a fatal injury.
7. To affirm the validity of: The judge has sustained the prosecutor’s objection.
8. To prove or corroborate; confirm.

It’s just that simple…

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