Tag Archive | stewardship

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.

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Hitting my stride

As I stood at the kitchen sink, washing up after dinner-I could see them clearly. They were swinging. Higher and higher. She jumped off the swing and began to run. Oh, her run. It’s so free. It makes me smile. She has a quick step and she tends to throw in a little skip or two to vary her step. She runs…and runs…and runs. She has two speeds: Off and On. As a matter of fact, at the library on Wednesday I had to caution her to slow down. Her response? “But, Mom…I am so excited!”.

sheruns

Thinking about her…running…excited…and RUNNING. Kids. Seriously- think about it…they RUN seemingly non-stop. Our little family participated in a 5k on Saturday. We have done this one for the past three years. The first year, I had both kids in a jogging stroller. The second year, our son “graduated” to walking and our daughter floated from stroller to walking and back again. This year, all four of us suited up; some to walk and some to run. Afterward, I was chatting with a friend and was telling him how proud I was of our son. He had run his first race with his father. My friend kind of chuckled and said, “And because he’s young he will probably go home and run another five miles in the back yard.” So true.

So as I watched her scamper around like the vibrant, energetic four-year old that she is I wondered…When do we stop running? Why?

Somewhere down the line we slow down, become more focused on “things” and “stuff”, worldly responsibilities creep in and consume our time, we smile less and complain more and even worry a little. Why is that? You’d think that as the days pass on- as we get one year older and one year closer to the Lord- it would be more natural to speed up instead of slowing down. That’s a lot to ponder.

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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him 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 sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)

 Recently, I started walking through a Bible Study called “Restless” by Jennie Allen and I have been nothing but restless ever since. In the video, Jennie opens with a story about running that really opened my eyes. (Maybe that’s why watching my daughter run struck me the way it did.) I will refrain from writing a blog on the race…because, frankly my sweet sister in Christ, Danielle, has already made a masterpiece of that in blog form.  Anyways, while walking through the study last week, I had a restless revelation. After talking a spiritual gifts test (again) and reflecting on past hobbies etc…I came to the conclusion that I was wrong. Last week, I had no clue what my gifts and talents were. I thought I had none. Sure, I was good at stuff…but, did I have a spiritual gift that could be used to serve the Lord? What is MY purpose? Through this study on that particular morning I discovered that not only was I wrong, but I was wrong and actually USING my gifts and talents. While there are some areas that I need to allow God to fertilize and plenty of room for growth…I am blooming where I am planted. I was blown away. When I sat down to speak with my hubby about my discovery he said, “You really sell yourself short. I think that makes it harder for you to see the gifts and talents God has equipped you with.”

There is much, much more to this particular restlessness that I am experiencing, but it was too much for one post. I wanted to share this part today because I am excited. After beginning the race as a young girl- RUNNING; I stumbled and spent many years of watching the race from the sidelines. I re-entered the race with a cautious walk and eyes wide open, but I think in this portion of the race I have finally hit my stride! (At least in my current season.) To have confirmation from the Lord during that study and prayer time was just what I needed to hit that stride with the confidence I should have. IN HIM.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds

Hebrews 10:22-24

I have always loved that word…”Unswervingly”. Part of the purpose I believe God is pushing me toward is “how we may spur one another on” and I am excited to see what’s next.

The Dog Days of Summer

“Dog days, dog days…it’s always about the dog days!”, my sister blurted out in frustration. You see, our great grandmother was always talking about the “dog days” when the weather got hot. That’s really all I knew of the term…hot and muggy. According to Wikipedia, the origins of the term is one of Greek and Roman astrological origins. I want to talk about the “dog days” in a different way.

Recently after watching “Old Yeller” on the classic movie channel, my poor dog got more attention that he really wanted from all of the members of our household. The kids were laying on him, petting him, holding him and I was scratching behind his ears…and all the while that grumpy ole hound was looking at us as if to say, ‘C’mon people…it’s still naptime!” My dog is a “dogs dog”. He’s big, goofy, gentle and loving and I will miss him when he’s gone. While he is a dog, he is a member of our family and still evokes emotion like that of any other family member.

Today, my sisters dog Chloe finished out her final day with her family. There will never be another meal in which she is bumping an elbow in hopes of flipping a scrap of something…anything…off of the fork and into her general direction. Anyone with a furry family member knows that they ALL are special in so many ways, but THIS dog was really special. So, when my sister cried on the phone tonight saying, “I never want another dog because I can’t possibly do this again,” it broke my heart. I feel her pain. As I sit here looking at my own dog, who is getting up there in years I can definitely appreciate the heartache that she is feeling. But, does this one day…the last day…really trump all of the others? Roughly 5475 days in the family and the final day makes her never want to go through this experience again. I’m going to take a look back for a moment.

This dog mastered the art of chewing on unauthorized items in a manner that was so slick- it usually went undetected until the damage was done. While she was performing this incredible feat, her mouth was barely moving…head cocked to the side, looking up in the most angelic fashion. She was one slick chick! She and my Dad (who coincidentally “never wanted another dog in this house” as a result of the very same heartache that is ensuing now) seemed to be connected kind of like E.T. and Elliott. One would take a drink and the other would burp. (I won’t say which was which.) The joy that children gave her when they entered the room was quickly rivaled by the joy we all felt watching her skip around in circles upon the arrival of those children. She was a Sheltie mix which meant she was a natural herder. But, this became a problem when she wanted to herd and another family dog wanted to retrieve resulting in an epic tug-of-war battle over a rabbit that will not too soon be forgotten. So she stuck to herding children…and Paw when she wanted to go on a walk or wanted to gently push him toward the refrigerator for a treat. She was a natural born mother though she had no pups of her own. Each and every child who slept under the same roof could count on having a loyal watchdog at the foot of the bed. If there were too many children spread out through the house, she would find a spot where she would have a view of them all. She was a therapy dog and went to nursing homes to care for others in need of a pick-me-up from a pure heart. More remarkably, she could anticipate seizures before they happened and quietly gave the alert as she moved near my sister’s side. One who didn’t know her could mistake this gentle lady as a docile domesticated diva; but when her territory (especially with “her” children) was invaded her demeanor was more of a fierce lioness protecting her cubs. As a matter of fact- while she was visiting my home recently and was in the back yard with the kids, she saw another dog approaching the fence line about 50 feet off. She shot off of the deck at top speed…as if she were a spry 3 year old pup. However, when she reached the fence and announced her presence with authority, she turned- only to realize that her 15 year old body was going to have to take her time getting back to the house because she had spent all of her energy for the day. It didn’t matter that her vision was fading, her hearing was dull and her joints were aching- those were her kids. She was a companion, a mother to many, a cousin to other mutts, a grand-dog and kindred spirit.  Let me pass on this thought…

 ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

~Alfred Lord Tennyson

Does the pain of the last day really overshadow all of the others? Absolutely not. This particular dog lived each moment to please her master and care for others. We could all learn something from Chloe’s dog days.

Chew on a shoe today? Repent and move forward. Give and receive forgiveness. Give…serve…love…protect…be kind…sacrifice…be alert…use your natural God-give talents…help a friend in need…be constant, faithful and true.

As we enter these “Dog Days of Summer” and go gallivanting off on our vacations- remember that all of our days matter. God has given us each talents and gifts to be shared, the message of the Gospel, the love of Christ and the task of stewarding all that we have been given here on earth. Celebrate life…and live a life worth celebrating according to God’s will! Don’t throw up fences hoping to keep heartache out~ they only keep you captive. Embrace the life that God has given to you. Each day is a blessing as is each moment within. Count them all- but, don’t wait until the last day to look back in reflection. Reflect daily. It’s nice to be blessed, but be a blessing regardless of the circumstance. I am not just talking about dogs here folks…this applies to people, too.I pray that I will live a life for the Lord, one that will reflect Him. I want to hear those words…

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23