Tag Archive | encouragement

Known

I apologize in advance if this post seems a little poorly put together. Rest assured- it’s real. Me…in real-time. Sometimes getting these thoughts out helps me bring things back into perspective. Not mine…but, GOD’s. If you look at many of the Psalms they kinda flow the same way. Nope. I am not David- but, I MAN do I relate to him. Anyways…

I woke up this morning trying to get a grip on my “feelings”. I put that word in quotes because, while God gave us feelings….they often lie. They can be a little abstract, overwhelming, stubborn, and unruly and they certainly don’t think.

Stupid feelings.

How is it that I can be surrounded and feel alone? I suspect that I am not the only one, but it seems to be a perpetual thing here. (Especially when I dwell on it. Hmm. Maybe there’s something to that.) I think God has been using those same lonely feelings to move me toward lonely people and minister to them and I am thankful for that opportunity. THAT is a positive thing. However, I am keenly aware that Satan would love to keep me in a lonely place and make me ineffective for Christ. It’s a constant battle between truth and feeling.

Last night I was at a school function. This will be our family’s third year at this school and my second year working part-time there. It’s a super small school – so how is it that even some of the teachers don’t know that I work there? Why don’t the parents know who I am? I spend many hours in that building each week and feel invisible. It’s the same thing at church. As a matter of fact, on one particular evening someone needed help in the nursery. The woman I was speaking with introduced herself and proceeded to give me a tour of the nursery and give me a rundown of the procedures. She thought I was a new member. She was completely oblivious to the fact that I had not only taught her son for a few years in a children’s class at that church – but, worked in the nursery for three years and have been attending for eight years. Invisible. I could go on, but I would not allow my kids to wallow in mud like that so I will refrain and move on.

The truth is – I want to be known. Not like KNOWN with lights and a stage, because that is SO not my comfort zone. Not even a “look at me” known with recognition or props. (Hmm…a certain Francesca Battistelli song is coming to mind.)  Just…known. My name. The real one. Not “hey, girl!” or Joanna or Joan, but Joanne. That’s Jo..anne. Yep, just like that. I want someone to know that I have 2 kids and have lived here for 15 years. (My neighbor around the corner saw me out for a walk and asked when I moved in. Seriously.) I want people to see me and look in my eyes and acknowledge that I breathe in the same spaces they do sometimes. A little more than a smile and a nod would be nice.  Uggh…guilty and convicted… I have to be better at doing that as well.

The truth is – people don’t look up often enough. Myself included. And I am not just talking about “looking up” as in making eye contact with others but, “looking UP”…like, UP…UP. We get so wrapped up in the temporal things; the things we see, taste, touch, hear and smell.  This loneliness thing STINKS- I can smell that! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in Me, myself and I.

The truth is –  if I let those “feelings” govern me instead of God’s truth, my sinful self will end up in pretty bad shape. This morning when I Googled “What does the Bible say about feelings?”, the word FOOL was prevalent among the scriptural results. There was even one scripture in Proverbs that made me wonder if I should delete this post…”A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in til afterward.” (Proverbs 29:11). Yikes. I guess it technically IS “afterward” because I waited til morning, right?

The truth is- I am known…

Known by God (Galatians 4:9, 1 Corinthians 3:8)

And HE knows me well…

Psalm 139
For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Oh, Lord….Help me to remember whose I am. And to focus on all You are and not how short I fall. When I FEEL lonely help me to lift my eyes and see others and look higher to see You. Lord, I take comfort in knowing that YOU know me and loved me so much that You sent Your son to die for me. I am known by name and You see my heart and not my outward appearance. I am known by You, LORD, and need to let YOUR light so shine before men so that they may know You, too.  

So there…take that, Stupid Feelings.

 

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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. 

 

The Real

While I am pretty “real” on this blog, I think there are times when I really need to diffuse the notion that things here are always filled with sun and blossoms. As a matter of fact, last week when I wrote that post about my son giving me a card of encouragement– I was quietly praying that the other shoe wouldn’t hit me in the head too hard when it was thrown. Yep. It never fails. You give praise, count a blessing…share with someone how great your kid is (eh hem)…and Satan will try to use that very thing to twist you up. I wished I had saved the text from my sister just 4 days ago that said something along the lines of being jealous that my son encourages me with God’s truth. My response to her was that I was going to hang on to that card and that moment for the day when his responses were not so encouraging. He’s a kid…my kid. It’s bound to happen. I just didn’t anticipate it so soon. ha ha.

So today is Mother’s Day, right? It was a great weekend. The kids played with friends, I had a date with hubby and then we went down to my parent’s house for a Mother’s Day/ Birthday combo. Wooo! But, there is this thing that causes contention in our home from time-to-time and that “thing” has been quietly rising up…twisting…turning…eroding.

VIDEO GAMES.

Our son loves them. He typically reads to earn his weekend video game play time, but lately we have all discovered that we enjoy playing Minecraft together as a family. What began as a parental investigation to see what he was playing, became FUN. It’s actually pretty relaxing to build and harvest, craft and create. And it’s even more fun to do together. The problem is, the more our son plays video games- the more he wants to play video games. His attitude was beginning to change and this weekend it all came to a head. Furthermore, hubby and I have been enjoying it, too and with the recent rainy snap in the weather we have been playing more often. It’s time we look forward to when that time could probably be better spent elsewhere. None the less- here we are. Something that is fun has turned into a stumbling block. We’ve been here before. Once we recognize the problem we reel it in, create boundaries and change our focus. Today we are taking steps to do that.

So here’s the “real” part I wanted to share with you. You have to know that I am a normal Mom with normal kids and an imperfect life just like everyone else. Here’s how Mother’s Day ended:

After taking games away from him this afternoon so he could focus on enjoying his real live cousins and other family members- he got salty. But, he got over it long enough to play…until we got in the car to go home. I thought I was clear that he would not be playing at all on the way home, but felt like he was repeating “Can I play yet?” instead of “Are we there yet?” all the way home… At which point we had a discussion on gratitude, contentment and true joy. If playing these things makes him miserable then I don’t want him to play. So when we have these discussions I try to give him room to respectfully give feedback, share feelings and ask questions so it’s not a one-sided lecture. (Trust me, I find it very easy to have a whole conversation by myself, but we’re working on communication and I need him to participate.) This is where things got “real”. On our hour-and-a-half hour trip home he told us exactly how he felt. We always get our way…we are taking away the one thing he really likes as a hobby…we play after he goes to bed and that’s not fair…we have our phones and we should have the same rules…and I (yep, me…Mom) drop him off at school and come home and only do laundry and play video games. As a matter of fact, he proceeded to tell me that the only thing I was getting for Mother’s Day was more laundry to do. He shared that it was also unfair that I got …let’s see, I want to get this right…” Why do you get two celebration days a year (birthday and Mother’s Day) and I only get one? That’s not fair either!” Ok. So his perspective is a little skewed, but OUCH.

I wanted to rip into him for his ungrateful attitude, but didn’t want to fall into an argument with a ten year old. Trying to keep emotion in check is hard at times like this. Even on a day when the pastor was preaching about God as our parental example. I responded with sharp truth followed by silence. Some discussions are best if left until tongues and heads cool off. I ended up in tears shortly after we got home…then he started crying because he knew my feelings were hurt. Then our daughter joined in on the tears simply because it was a long, fun weekend and she was tired.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The sermon today could not have been any more well placed. God has so much patience and mercy with us. While He is just, God is also faithful to forgive, slow to anger and abounding in love.

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; Exodus 34:6-7

We really need to follow His lead when parenting our children. I fall short.

So this Mother’s Day, I am praying to be free of offense. To forgive and to use this as a teachable moment as well as a moment for me to learn. I will respond to the conviction of truth and will administer rebuke with love. I will be praying that I can lean into God as my husband and I try to follow His example. I will pray that He will strengthen me to lead by example.

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 9:5-9

We will be having a gaming fast this week and will be looking for other ways to connect. And, of course, I will still be doing laundry because that is one of the many ways I love serving my family. That is a gift that I will happily accept.  I will be re-reading that card of encouragement that my son made for me because that was truth and encouragement that I needed last week- and still need this week.

And that, my friends, is the real.

 

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.

Lessons from the Littles: Shooting hoops

As I said in the last post…God has been using interactions with our kids to teach ME lately. This one comes from the bleachers. We are in the middle of Upward Basketball season. We have participated- and hubby has coached- in this program for the past four years and it is a tremendous blessing to our community. Our son is…well…not very athletically inclined. Like many kids these days he’d rather be curled up with a book (or more likely a video game) than running anywhere. Thankfully for him- he does not get that choice. While we really try not to push them into things they absolutely hate, we do require some kind of sport with physical activity in the Winter months to keep them from…well, getting like me. (There…that’s my brutal self deprecating honesty for the day.) He didn’t want to do basketball again this season, but he couldn’t come up with another option so here we are. PRAISE THE LORD!

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This year, my hubby decided to coach our daughter instead of our son. Let’s just say there is some value in stepping back for a moment to invite another person in to give direction. While hubby has voiced that it hurts a little to see our son excel under the direction of another…we are both super excited at the change in our boy this year. And that’s not just a skill thing either! He is really getting it! In the years past he walked, skipped, sauntered…and stood…and dribbled…and stood…and dribbled…and let the clock run out while he did it. It was frustrating to watch, but we encouraged him every step of the way.  I don’t know if he was storing all of that knowledge up or if he is a little more coordinated this year…maybe a combination of both AND the unfamiliar voice telling him what to do. WOW. Each week he is learning and using a new skill. He is running. They are keeping him in longer. And his confidence is soaring! During his last game, he made 3 baskets and ran the whole time. WITH A SMILE.

One of the things I noticed in weeks past; someone on the opposing team would shoot the ball and my son’s team would rebound and run it up the court. Our son would run to that basket and just stand under it…waiting for the rebound. Never mind his team players scrambling for position and looking for someone…anyone…to be open. So the following week in practice, the coach focused on offensive and defensive positioning. He talked to them about running around to PLACE themselves in the best spot to receive the ball. That means positioning and re-positioning …going around obstacles and the people who are trying to keep you from that ball. Defensively, it means positioning yourself in a spot that will hinder the “enemy” and guard your teammate. Do you already see where I am going with this?

As I prayed on Tuesday, I was throwing a bit of a pity party. Stinking thinking. The comparison game is not a good one. I should be focused on the ONE…not the other ones. When I look down at my feet and the feet of those around me, I am not focused on God or the ministry that HE has laid out before me – and am certainly not walking (or sprinting) forward in victory.

Positioning.

There are times when I wait for the ball. Standing still. Not rushing to get it and not really knowing where to be. I want to shoot. I want to score- not to be known, but to make Jesus’ name known to others around me. I want to reach others and share God’s love. I want to serve and share. I want to link up and be part of God’s team. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” -just to be affirmed that I am being obedient. I need to move…eye always on the ball…placing myself in a position to act- always. Hands up. Ready to catch, pass, block. Where do I stand? Am I blocking Satan’s attacks for my friends and family? Praying for them? Interceding when they seek godly counsel? Stepping in and saying “No…look at HIM!”?  Do I hear the coach? Do I listen? Do I respond? Am I doing anything at all or just sitting on the bench?

(sigh)

Good news is- I am not on the bench, but there have been times when I was tempted to sit down. Especially as I watch other players shoot one after another…nothing but net…and wonder if I am needed; if I have a purpose at all. I am so thankful for the little team in this home I have been given to train up in the way they should go. The body of Christ…we are the body and a hand cannot be a foot. We all can’t be guards at the same time…offense AND defense are required. TEAM work all under the direction and in obedience to THE ONE coach. We all need good teammates, too. On Tuesday, one of my valued teammates blocked a shot, passed me the ball and pointed me in the right direction. Words of wisdom from a woman who is growing in Christ…

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:1-3

Thank you Lord for your faithful and wise instruction. Always when I need it. Thank you for teammates who love and care and communicate truth. I pray that I will be one.

***6:48 am Friday (48 minutes after I posted this )…a reminder on the radio. “Grace”…it’s not about anything that I do, it’s about what Christ DID. A word from the Lord…focus on THAT ball. I am overwhelmed!

Flat Water

In May, I found a new hobby: Kayaking! My hubby hadn’t been since our oldest was born and I had never tried it. Since we are surrounded by water, it seemed like a good idea. We now have a whole family of kayaks and this has become an activity that we can do together. It has been a real blessing!

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Our daughter’s favorite part is seeing the cranes and turtles along the way. I have always liked being on or near the water so I feel like I have found “home”. My husband is eager for the day when we all become comfortable and confident enough to set out onto “bigger water” so he can catch some fish. And our son…well, he is getting a bit bored waiting for adventure outside of the little marsh we have been practicing in. But, he is also a little cautious and apprehensive to go out into unknown territory.

Until Tuesday….

This past Tuesday, we went out after hubby got home from work. We always go in the evenings and the water has always been choppy at our entry and then calmer as we enter the marsh. Tuesday, something was different.

FLAT WATER. It was like glass.

It was absolutely beautiful and calm and PERFECT! My hubby and six-year-old daughter put their boats in first and paddled out. This time, not into the marsh…but, into bigger water. My son was a little apprehensive to head into the “unknown”, but once we were off shore his sense of adventure kicked in and he was invigorated. “Mom, look at that! Do you see that dock? Can we paddle there?” And then my favorite…”Mom, is that the end of the world?!” HA! Mercy! While he knows that the earth is round, this made for some great discussion about the early explorers and the horizon line. Of all the times we have been kayaking this summer, this night was my absolute favorite.

A few weeks ago we got a life vest for our dog, Cooper. We decided that we need to start taking him with us more often because we have not done a good job making him feel like part of our pack. The first time, he jumped out of the boat thinking that he could just walk across to me…then he sank and had to swim. His eyes were huge as he hit the water! This was Cooper’s second trip out in the kayak and he is still uncertain. As I paddled up behind my hubby, Cooper was growling and barking at a tree limb that was poking through the surface of the glassy river. He is not quite sure what to make of all this just yet.

Mid way through our exciting adventure onto flat water, our daughter got a little tired. My hubby threw her a line and she tied on so he could pull her for a while and give her rest. Cooper, then, transferred into my boat. In an instant, my peaceful flat water paddle became very interesting. My kayak is a sit-on-top, which means that there are no sides. When Cooper sat down he wasn’t sure of his boundaries and occasionally his foot would slip off or he’d dip his tail into the water. He couldn’t just trust…sit…rest. I found myself getting a bit frustrated. It was perfectly calm water! Why couldn’t he just lay down and chill?!

Cooper was trying to see my husband so he’d lean to the left…and all of a sudden my boat would make a sharp turn left. He saw something in the water so he would lean right…and my boat would track hard right. As he leaned, I fought against him. Even though it was perfectly calm, glassy, flat water…I had to paddle twice as hard that night to counter Cooper’s every move.

This morning in my study time the Lord pressed on me hard. I am not trusting right now. He is still in control and I am leaning. In my morning study, there was a story of a backseat driver that the author labeled as a “panicky passenger”. I am studying in the Women of Faith study “Giving God Your All”. This morning took me to the chapter called “Putting it in God’s Hands”.

Panicky passengers “… are the ones who ride with a white-knuckle grip on their armrests. It doesn’t take much to evoke little gasps of fear from them-changing traffic lights, the sight of brake lights ahead, low-flying birds.” The author goes on to suggest that we often try to take God’s place in the driver’s seat or she says “maybe you’re more like the panicky passenger, not quite trusting the driver to get you safely to your destination.”

This is the scripture that the Lord brought to me this morning through that study:

 How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.  Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:19-21

 I have been enjoying some pretty flat water lately. This summer has been a blessing in so many ways. But, this week I have allowed anxiety to flair up and -like Cooper- I am not trusting…sitting…resting. I cannot see under the surface. There are changes coming in the near future and with change comes some uncertainty. Instead of becoming excited and invigorated by this new “big water” experience, I find myself behaving like Cooper. Leaning…looking…frantic.  It’s flat water and I feel like I am paddling twice as hard just to counter my own movement.

If I would just BE STILL.

Yesterday, I found myself crumbled into a pile on the shower floor crying out to the Lord. I could hardly breathe and I felt as if I might drown in those tears. But, I know that the Lord heard me. Now I just have to listen for that voice, “This is the way, walk in it.”

Pray for me in the coming days. Our kids are starting a new school and while they are fine…I am anxious. Do I need to go back to work? Or am I supposed to be still and trust the Lord to provide? I wish I knew what was just under that glassy surface. In the meantime, I need peace and to believe Isaiah 26:3.

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.

Outgrowing small pots


My husband has found a new hobby! He has decided to try his hand at woodworking and building things. Don’t get me wrong…he’s a super handy guy and always has been and I have been blessed over the years by his knowledge, skills and talents. He has some training and familiarity in electrical work, he has flexed his muscle in remodeling and even built the deck on the back of our home. He maintains, sharpens the blades and changes the belts on our fleet of lawn equipment and he is an awesome chef in the kitchen, too! Yes, I married a multi-talented man. AMEN! Frankly, when I look around our home and see the extent of his work- there is little he can’t do! (And if you were to say that…”You can’t”…to him- he’d figure out how to do it just because HE CAN. ha ha)wpid-20150418_171353.jpg

Hubby’s latest conquest was a gift for me- this potting bench. Built out of scraps and pallet wood, he custom-built this piece so it would fit perfectly in it’s intended space in the shed. The addition of my daughter’s hand-painted terracotta pots were just what my potting bench needed. Perfection!

I love it.

I LOVE HIM!

I had mentioned in prior posts that we were preparing our garden for the season…and we have. The kids helped by placing seeds in the fiber pots…we added rich soil…and have kept them watered.

For a few weeks they occupied wpid-20150501_151654.jpgspace on our clothes dryer where they could soak in the afternoon sun, but remain safe from the cool nights and the warm days. When the risk of frost passed and their roots had developed, I placed them outside on the patio table so they could acclimate to the great outdoors. But, something happened….they wilted. After the second day, they looked positively peaked. Ailing. SICK!

Oh no! Did I put them out too soon? The mercury rose quickly and it seems like Spring gave way to Summer in only a matter of days. Maybe their roots weren’t strong enough. Should I bring them in?

No. I continued to water them. Moved them to the shade outside occasionally. And let them continue to grow in -what would soon be- their natural environment. Their intended place. They started to thrive and in a short while those plants began to outgrow their little pots. They were ready for more.

I find it awe-inspiring when God places simple examples like this in everyday life.

In Priscilla Shirer’s study, One in a Million,  I am learning about wilderness experiences in life and how God uses them for our good…to draw us closer…to grow us and push us to realize and truly experience God- and the potential God placed within us. It is true that the times of greatest adversity are the very times that strengthen our roots and draw us closer to the Lord. Reaching for the SON.

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Exodus 13:17-18

Do you see that? God did NOT lead them on the easy, shorter road. HE CHOSE to lead them through the desert…and they left prepared and ready for battle.

Yes, just like my plants they were thrust into the wilderness. They walked out of Egypt ready to battle in the flesh. Yet, God chose to lead them on a wilderness path that would force them to rely on Him and not themselves. He used this experience to change bad habits, remove idols, cast off fear and doubt and establish true faith and trust. There is so much we can learn about our trials in life and God purpose for us in them by reading God’s Word. But, we see examples also in nature.

Back to my poor wilting plants. I was tempted to bring these plants back in to the easy, climate controlled environment they were accustomed to. But, what would that have accomplished? Those little plants would eventually outgrow their small pots and would never bear the fruit (or veggies) they were created to bear.

Maybe your current “wilderness” is a health trial, marital struggle or long period of unemployment. Hang in there and have faith. No, it’s not an easy journey as you follow the Lord through this struggle. You may wilt. But, He will bring the rain. Don’t turn back.

For others, I think many of us get comfortable in our little pots. That pot may be the comfort of your church…doing what church folk do…and maybe ignoring God’s voice as he calls you into unfamiliar territory. Maybe you’re a habitual Bible Study attendee, but ignore the call to lead a study with some new folks who are on the fringe. What if, in addition to teaching the kids class on Sunday morning, God asked you to use the same material to lead a backyard Bible club with the kids in your neighborhood this summer? Or what if He was leading you to start a ladies study in your own neighborhood? Would you be willing to leave the comfort of that little pot?

It’s time to get out of that small pot. Endure some heat and ask God to keep the water flowing as He leads. God used the Israelites’ experience in Egypt to keep them in a time of famine. He never intended for them to stay in that small pot. He had a much bigger purpose for them and He has a much bigger purpose for each of us, too. The plant’s roots can only grow as big as the pot. There is a choice to be made. Camp at the edge of the wilderness = stay in the small pot. Or follow the pillar = rely on the Lord for provision, have faith and be planted…and BLOOM, thrive, and bear fruit.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

They will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8

I feel a stirring.

I don’t know where or what just yet.

I have two little seedlings here in my home- a son and a daughter- who need nurturing and rich soil. I know that we must continue to water them in the Word while their roots develop.

But, for me personally-I am praying for a bigger pot today…or no pot at all.

Lord, lead me.