Tag Archive | blessings

Praise be to God for the many blessings… I can’t even finish that thought fully. There’s too much to be thankful for. Amen.

I love Thanksgiving. We host dinner in our home and family gathers from all over to enjoy the day together. I love cooking for Thanksgiving and appreciate a family who shares in the effort by bringing side dishes. Dinner is a community event in more than one way. Everyone pitches in…and everyone partakes.

I know many would say that the turkey is the focal point of Thanksgiving dinner, but I beg to differ. No dish is more significant than another. No ingredient is greater than another. They are all complimentary and one without the other(s) is just an ingredient. Let me illustrate…Turkey without stuffing? Can you imagine mac and cheese without the cheese? Mashed potatoes without a splash of milk? Cranberries without that accent of orange…oh, mercy. Ham WITH beans. Period.

I wonder though. What is more important-  An ingredient, a dish, or the hands that select, combine and orchestrate the fusion of these things coming together?

There is something on my mind and heart today. I have not felt the strong urge to blog in a while and today I could not get away from it. So I am going to take this moment to think out loud, evaluate my position, and challenge you to do the same. Do we try to make God an ingredient in our lives instead of giving him the honor and position of Master Chef? I wouldn’t usually refer to my Lord in culinary terms. It seems a little “lowly” to refer to the Creator of life in that manner. But, this is what has been on my mind today.  It’s an issue of surrender…completely.

I recall a skit that the youth did in church a few years ago. A teenage girl had given her life to Jesus. She was talking to him and she acknowledged that she was giving her life to him. That position of control and authority in this skit was represented with a stool. Yep…a run of the mill kitchen island height stool. This young lady gave Jesus the stool and invited him to sit down and she stood alongside him. When a certain decision came up with regard to school, or a potential suitor or a moral dilemma- she would slowly and gradually bump Jesus to the side…inch by inch she would reclaim that stool until Jesus was standing next to her and her rear occupied that seat. It was funny to watch, but hit very close to home for many of us. Unfortunately, I think it’s all too common. We only want to put Jesus in the seat until his ways counter our desires.

Attempting to “add” Jesus to your life doesn’t work. There is no equal to Jesus. He can not be an ingredient. Remember? Ingredients are all equal and work together to create the culinary masterpiece. Therefore, I deduce that he has to assume the honored, high position of Master Chef. If I give HIM control the RIGHT ingredients come together as the Holy Spirit overflows into me. These ingredients are selected by God. The Chef looks at this dish (Yes, I just referred to myself as a dish…sorry, I couldn’t resist) and begins to extract, skim, boil, steam and bake out the impurities. And then he seasons, bastes, marinades, sprinkles and fuses me with His goodness, His will and His glory. It’s all His.

I can’t select the ingredients of my life out of MY will and expect Him to be added to it. I can’t tell Jesus that I am going to take a night job that doesn’t honor him in the name of the almighty dollar and then ask that effort to be blessed by the Almighty God. I can’t say, “Lord, I know that your word says this…but, I’m going to do that instead…come up along side of me and walk with me.” No. He can’t be added. He must be the over it all.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” What things? All those things like clothes, food, shelter.

Philippians 4:19 reminds us that “My God will supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” And to that I say, IN CHRIST JESUS…all my need has been filled already!

And this is the scripture that was on my heart as I began writing this morning…

2 Peter 1
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Mercy, I don’t even know how to wrap this up or complete this series of thoughts. I guess I am still pondering it. I don’t want to take second-rate ingredients that fell off the back of a produce truck and ask God to be a part of it when I can get something much better…created by the Master Himself.

 

Lord, in this confused conglomeration of thoughts this morning- let Your Word and desire for me simmer and season in me. As I place faith in You, add to me knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness and virtue that can only come from You.  Help me to seek You first and not what I think I need. 

 

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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.

Consider the Birds of the Air: A Testimony

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ?

Matthew 6:25-27

I shared last week about our new friend, Fabrizio. He is the brilliant, blue tree swallow who has selected our birdhouse as his new home. Earlier this week our area was plagued by a string of storms. We were able to prepare in advance by pulling in the deck furniture, lowering the umbrellas on the deck, and securing any loose items in the yard.  The winds were incredible and resulted in downed trees and power lines throughout our area. After one of the storms had passed, our daughter walked out onto the deck and shouted, “Hey! Where is the red house?”. We went outside to confirm her observation…the little birdhouse was gone.

Some things you cannot prepare for.

My husband went to the garden to get a closer look and found the little red birdhouse lying on the ground. He gently picked it up and noticed that the egg inside had been crushed. We noticed our two little bird friends (also surveying the damage) flying in a bit of a frenzy. I suspect that they were a bit concerned by our presence and possibly shaken from the fall. Fabrizio perched himself on the top of the patio umbrella so he could keep a close eye on us. We went to the garage search for a stronger bungee to fasten the birdhouse back onto the post until we can purchase a different bracket. After the house was secured in place, we began to wonder …will our friends stick around? Do we need to clean the nest out of the house? Will this tragedy force them to move on to a new nest? To search for a new home?

My heart was broken.

What we learned next was a lesson straight from the Lord Himself; another example that He has placed in nature that illustrates and amplifies scripture and truth.

I came inside and did what any concerned bird-hostess would do…I Googled! I did a search on what these tree swallows do when a broken egg is in their nest. I was surprised to learn that tree swallows do NOT abandon their nest. As a matter of fact, they work diligently to remove the broken pieces of egg and tattered remains of the nest and they rebuild. I was encouraged and excited and also hopeful when I read this. The next day, I walked out to the garden and found a bunch of feathers on the ground. They were too large to be tree swallow feathers, therefore I determined that they were the feathers that they had used in the construction of that prior nest. The cleaning had begun. Now- a few days later- they have rebuilt and moved back in. They have moved beyond the initial frenzy of a fallen home and crushed egg; they have cleaned up and are back to the business of being a bird.

God has really been working on me in the areas of worry and “control”  (as if I had any control, right?) over the past several years. There has been significant financial stress, school changes, and yes…our house even fell as a result of the crumbling foundation that we haphazardly constructed. With each challenge, I have learned (and am still learning) to lean into the Lord. Our needs have always been met, He led us to a wonderful school and He not only rebuilt our foundation, but He rebuilt our marriage on THE SOLID ROCK. Hallelujah and Praise the LORD!

This week, as I watched Fabrizio rebuild his house- I was waiting for medical test results. Through this whole ordeal I have been wondering if I was under-reacting. I have not been afraid at all and have been very confident of two things.

I am NOT in control….and God IS 100% IN CONTROL.

As I was waiting for the results of the biopsy, I called upon my family and close friends for prayer. God even placed a beautiful woman who had recently gone through breast cancer treatments in my immediate circle. Every morning, before school begins,  the teachers at school gather for prayer and this dear woman and the teachers prayed for the Lord’s hand in my situation. The Lord even put me in the waiting room with a very anxious Christian woman who was waiting for the results of her mammogram. As I shared Isaiah 26:3 with her, she exhaled and shared her heart with me. What a blessing.

He will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3

It wasn’t until yesterday that the “what if” crept into my consciousness. But, it wasn’t fear that I was facing- It was God Himself. As I prayed, He asked me if I would be this calm and peaceful if the results came back positive. Would my response change? My answer to that question was honest…I hope that my response doesn’t change. I want to remain in perfect peace as I trust in Him. Believe me…in all of my years of worry and attempting control things THIS was not a peace that I could ever manufacture. And I didn’t want that to leave. I am not capable of this- It’s ALL GOD.

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.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I was thinking about that bird as he cleaned up the pieces of shattered shell and removed a tattered nest. He didn’t retreat. He didn’t give up. He just did what birds do. He rebuilt and relied on God’s provision.

I went today and received the good news in the form of a diagnosis. NOT cancer. The next appointment will be with dermatology.

In the meantime, I am thankful.

I am thankful for a family and friends who pray.

I am thankful for a praying school.

I am thankful for time in the waiting room and the ability to extend God’s peace to someone in need.

I am thankful for a negative result and a positive outlook.

I am thankful for the “what’s next?” that is on the tip of my tongue. I know that there is more to this testimony and am excited to see what that is.

Tonight, I am considering the birds…what a fine example of trust, sustenance, and perseverance. Thank you, Lord for your mighty hand. 

 

Encouragement

This may very well be one of the shortest posts I have ever posted. During a moment when I am super discouraged…God sent my son to remind me of HIS Son.

I wonder if there is anyone else out there who needs this word of encouragement today. This is for YOU as much as it is for me.

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Diamonds indeed. Made beautiful under pressure.
P.S. He is ten. TEN!

Thank you, Lord.

Sour Power!

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I am a little apprehensive to brag about my kids. They’re not perfect…just as I am not perfect…and I don’t want to set them up for a great fall by placing them high up on a shelf or portraying them as such. But, there are times…the Lord blesses me through these kids and even gives a little affirmation that we’re doing alright at raising them. I am thankful for those moments.

Our son and daughter started at a new school this year and they are both really excelling- socially and academically. They are so different from each other. For him, the academics come easy and the social part is hard and she is just the opposite. She is in first grade and is friends with most kids in most grades. It just comes easy for her. Various experiences at this school are pushing our son out of his shell (I think maybe I need to go to school there, too. Maybe it would help me out! ha ha)  and it’s exciting to watch him bloom and grow. One of those experiences was last month. He had his first Science Fair!

You may remember the Science Fair from the days of your youth. They each have to pick something to report on, experiment on, or demonstrate and then present what they’ve learned and how they did it. Sitting on this side of the project…I now have a new appreciation for what my parents must have gone through. It was PAINFUL! I had to balance encouragement, pushing him, not doing it for him, and not getting to the point of frustration that would result in discouragement. MERCY. It was the most difficult and most draining experience I have had with our son to date. I understand why many parents just knock their kid out of the way and do it for them. It would be so much easier. But, where would that leave him? Yep…I had a tremendous growth experience in this, too.

The project he chose was the “lemon battery”. If you’ve never seen it, Google it for sure because it’s pretty cool. The acid in the lemon reacts with the zinc in a nail. Add some copper wire and you get a current that generates a small amount of electricity. FUN! So he decided to measure the electricity output of one lemon, then two hooked together …and so on. Then, when he was all done, he used five lemons hooked together to light a small string of low voltage LED lights. As I said, the project itself was fun- but, the preparation and education that went into it was a challenge. I had to lead him to videos that would explain the process on a level that he understands and could explain to others. I didn’t want him to just speak words…I wanted him to understand. This is a challenge and concern that runs deep in me- especially in his young walk as a Christian. I pray that for my children all the time- I want them to know the Lord, not the answers.

He did GREAT! He cut everything out, made graphs and mounted each piece while  I was like the paparazzi- taking pictures from a distance yet trying to give (push) him some direction. This was his finished project:

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Part of this project involved tying the experiment or demonstration to a Biblical correlation. He had to look at the project -or a component of the project- and write a short essay on how it relates to God or His character, creation or a Biblical principle. Once again, I had to resist handing him a bunch of scripture references and telling him what I thought…BAAAHHHH!!! I thought I’d crawl out of my skin. There is so much that could be drawn from this little lemon experiment. In my silence- our son came up with something beautiful.

PRAYER.

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Thank you, Lord.

Prayer. While he was in the midst of this project I was having some minor health issues. Pride presses on me to keep those issues to myself. Other people have problems of their own and much bigger than mine-  I don’t want to bug them to pray for me. So I pray -and rarely ask others to pray for me. In this process, God began to work on me…yep, through a fourth grade science project. Pride has to go. Prayer is a powerful thing and God is clear about praying with others in Jesus’ name….there is power in the name of Jesus. He wants us to link up and pray together and for each other. Pride blocks me from fellowship and from God directly.

I feel like this is an abrupt end to this post…but, I think I need to just let it sit here. Ponder and pray.

Lemonade anyone?

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.