Tag Archive | testimony

Vision Correction

There are so many places in the Bible where we can find some variation of this phrase…He who has eyes, let him see. And along with that usually comes…he who has ears, let him hear.

If you have kids, then you know that having ears does not always mean that those ears hear what is being said. Kids get a bad rep in that area. Frankly, I think we all are guilty of that. Likewise, if you have eyes- it doesn’t mean that they always see things clearly.

I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with a stranger yesterday. It is time for me to update my glasses, so I took the opportunity in the quiet of the morning to call the eye doctor’s office. The sweetest lady with the most melodious Jamaican accent was the associate I was asking for. A few months ago, she kindly wrote down the number for a pair of frames I had my eye on so I would have it when the insurance plan renewed. When I called yesterday morning, she and I began to discuss the task at hand. While she was calculating some things- our conversation turned to the horrible flooding in Houston. I shared with her that I just had our heating oil tank filled before the prices went up as a result of that storm. She, apologetically, gave me the hefty price for the lenses and frames I desired. I have such a horrible prescription that they have to be special ordered. Uggh….Ouch! She said, “Wow, I am so sorry. I know you just paid to have your oil tank filled and now this.” My response stopped her in her tracks, “Ma’am. I may be a bit hard-headed and a slow study at times…but, one thing God has been really driving into me is the fact that I am in control of NOTHING. Not one thing. So I just have to roll with it.”

She became very silent for a moment and began to almost whisper into the phone. She said, “Miss Joanne, I need to see the good in things. I know that the Lord had you call me today and I am so thankful that you did….”.  She went on to share how a friend had died of pancreatic cancer just months after she adopted a child. She shared how she prayed and her church prayed for both that woman and another person at church who had the same kind of cancer. Her friend died and the other lived. She expressed how down she gets and shared that she gets angry sometimes at God and just asks Him “WHY?”. She said the folks in her church seem to scold her when she asks such questions. So we began to chat. We walked thru Job where I reminded her that he asked questions of God. It’s ok to ask God “why”. (Just know that you may not see or even understand the answer.) We went into Hebrews and all of the folks who God used as a part of His plan…some who died horrible deaths… who never got to see the end result. Heavy hearted she said,  “I know that the Bible says His ways are higher than mine and I still get discouraged. I have to find a way to change my focus.” I suggested somethings to her…what if. Yes, these things hurt us emotionally and even physically. Our hearts break for our circumstances and the circumstances of others. But, what if the death of her friend planted seeds somewhere that would affect that adopted child in the future? What if that child learned how to pray when she prayed and saw her response and love for the Lord even in the face of such a terrile battle? What if that child has been set aside for a certain purpose that only God knows? I asked her to think about the flooding and the tornadoes and any other natural disasters that occur. When those things happen there is an abundance of good that comes in the aftermath. That is certainly hard to see when so many are suffering. We have to open our eyes to others’ suffering so we can minister to them and we also need to be watchful for God’s hand even in those things. We have seen a story of a gentleman opening his furniture store to displaced families and National Guardsmen and feeding them. There are people who were displaced by Katrina years ago who are now helping those in Houston. And it’s always during these times that the name of Jesus and various testimonies of God’s goodness are splashed all over the news. The NATIONAL NEWS. We may not understand these things, but God is in control. So we talked and talked. At the end of our conversation she said, ” I didn’t go to Bible Study at church Wednesday night because I was discouraged. Thank you so much for calling me today. This is the encouragement from the Lord that I desperately needed.”

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

What? All over a call about glasses?

Vision correction.

We don’t see clearly. We only see what is right in front of our faces and that is such a miniscule view. We read the Word, but struggle to apply it in our lives. We know the truth, but struggle to hold to it at times. This was another reminder that while we focus on what we can see, taste, touch, smell and hear…there is SO much more to this life and our purpose in Christ during our little time on this earth.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

God really wants us to see things through spiritual glasses. To see things through HIS lens and to really, really see.  The Pharisees didn’t “get it” and they didn’t have the eyes of their heart open. They were blind. There were many times when Jesus had to spell things out for the disciples even when they were walking with him daily.

He who has eyes…let him SEE.

I LOVE days like this! Days when God places someone in my path. Stay tuned! I am fully aware that -nine times out of ten – I will need those very words for myself a few days later. When that moment comes I pray that if I can’t see clearly with my human eyes, I will trust and know that HIS eyes see so much more.

 

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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. 

 

Simply Scripture:Praise!

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Proverbs 31:25

 

I will extol the Lord at all times;  his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;  let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
 Glorify the Lord with me;  let us exalt his name together.

Psalm 34:1-3

There is so much to be thankful for. Let there ALWAYS be a testimony of praise on my lips.

A Desperate Situation!

There are two reasons that I have not deleted my Facebook account completely: the ability to keep up with family members who live far away, and keeping up with the prayer needs of others. A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to get off of Facebook for the summer, I saw a post from a friend that caught my eye. This particular friend is someone I spent a lot of time with as a teen as we were coming up through the youth group at church. While we have all grown up and moved away to raise families of our own- these are  my brothers and sisters and they always will be. Seeing his post made it even more difficult to sign off of Facebook for the summer because I wanted to be sure that I would know how to pray for his wife and their family in their hour of need. Dana Livingston is her name. I believe I have met her face to face only once- but have been so blessed to see pictures of she and Lesley and their beautiful kids over the years.

I am thankful for sites like CaringBridge.org that allow family and friends to stay connected as loved ones face medical challenges like hers. I signed up to receive her journal entries so I can keep up with her treatment and progress as she shares. When I saw her post on May 19th, I emailed my friend Lesley and asked if he and Dana would mind if I shared it with you. I don’t want to add a thing to her words other than to say…take notes folks. In this midst of her struggle she is sharing the Lord with others. THIS is faith and she is blooming where she is planted. Pray for this family as they walk this part of the journey with God.

The following excerpt is from an earlier entry. I wanted to include this portion so you would have a better understanding of the challenges she is facing.

On Tuesday, May 6th, I was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkins follicular lymphoma. For most of you that know me pretty well, know that in May of 2003 I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer.  To hear the word cancer once again in my lifetime has rocked my world!!! I can honestly say that between the first results of the scan on April 28, when the Dr. said to me that the radiologist’s report confirmed several lymph nodes swollen in my abdomen, and that it was consistent with lymphoma, until yesterday with results of the bone marrow biopsy, has been the hardest three weeks of my life. 

And her post from May 19th…

A Desperate Situation!

I thought today of how we find ourselves in desperate situations at different points in our lives. The loss of a job, a home, a loved one; or even the possibility of these things coming to be.Having an “incurable” disease – well that puts me into one of those desperate categories.  The truth is, we are all in a desperate situation without God.  Desperation by definition means, loss of hope!

Thank God that we are not a people who have no hope!   It is my prayer that I proclaim that hope so that a lost and dying world will have an opportunity to know the hope that is within me.

By the way; that label of “incurable” is not accepted in my house! That will be the last time you hear it from me or my family.  I serve a God who created me and this universe- “incurrable” is simply not in my vocabulary! All things are possible with God!

I want you all to know that all of you must be banging on heaven’s doors for me because those prayers are being answered.  I truly have had minimal side effects to the chemo!!  I have felt somewhat like I’ve had the stomach flu with headaches and slight nausea.Thank God that we are not a people who have no hope!   It is my prayer that I proclaim that hope so that a lost and dying world will have an opportunity to know the hope that is within me.

My immediate prayer requests are good blood work, and I really need to not lose any more weight.  I have been loosing for the simple fact that I have trouble eating (from lack of room in my abdomen), so thats a two fold prayer – tumor reduction and weight gain!

I truly thank you for the prayers.  Where would we be without our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ??

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

Love you all!
Dana

Her hubby said that they are not without moments of fear, but as Dana so eloquently put it “Thank God that we are not a people who have no hope!   It is my prayer that I proclaim that hope so that a lost and dying world will have an opportunity to know the hope that is within me.”

Man. Talk about encouragement for the race. GOD. IS. GOOD. All the time.

How to Caramelize an Onion

If you really want to know….here’s a great link with a step by step walk through. http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_caramelize_onions/

wpid-Onion.jpg

Why? During a conversation with my sister recently she said, “When I look at my tea in the morning, I see…..TEA. You see Jesus in your tea. Really, Joanne?”. And we both laughed. She is probably my biggest fan and encouragement on this blogging endeavor and I thank her for that. I assure you all that I am not sitting around my home looking for God in ridiculously mundane things like my tea- but HE IS showing Himself to me through seemingly mundane aspects of my day. He is everywhere. I can’t write this stuff. He has opened my eyes and changed the lenses. But, this conversation brought something else to my mind. You don’t know me. Even those who think they know me, likely don’t really know me. There is no other way for me to begin to share than one layer at a time.

There is a category on this blog called “The Onion”. This is where I will share my testimony- one layer at a time. You see, God is always working and this becomes obvious in the multi-dimensional layers that appear in our lives as He moves and works in them. He is always molding us…changing us. My testimony reflects that….and my personality is like that as well. Back to caramelized onions. Here is an excerpt directly from the link above.

“Caramelizing onions, by slowly cooking them in a little olive oil until they are richly browned, is a wonderful way to pull flavor out of the simplest of ingredients. Onions are naturally sweet; and as caramel comes from the simple cooking of sugar, when you slowly cook onions over an extended period of time, the natural sugars in the onions caramelize, making the result intensely and wonderfully flavorful.”

So, not only am I layered like an onion…I have been anointed in oil and have a natural sweetness that can be released over time. (Ha ha ha ha….sorry couldn’t help but laugh out loud on that one. Dawn, that was for you.) Yes, I AM the “simplest of ingredients”.

Because the purpose of this blog is for me to share how God interacts with me on a daily basis- that is what you get to see. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to share with you on a more personal level. Pulling back the layers, so to speak.

The lighter side…

I like art and am starting to explore it again….my favorite place to be is at the beach and it’s also the place I spend the least amount of time….I stay at home with my two kids…I haven’t colored my hair since last summer and am going gray gracefully….my house is straight but not clean…I love golf but am pretty bad at it….I don’t laugh enough, but when I do I snort sometimes….I have extremely goofy moments that may or may not include wearing articles of clothing in a manner other than intended…there are times when I may dash quickly into my bedroom and jump like a spider monkey onto the bed just to scare my husband as he’s easing into bed for the night….I sometimes play my kids video games while they are sleeping (“monitoring” their games of course)….HGTV…I make funny noises to make myself laugh…and find it hard to control my giggles when my daughter “toots” at inappropriate times…I like “family piles” when we all crawl on top of my husband and smush him with hugs…I like to joke and cut-up with my family…bounce houses and roller coasters rock with or without my kids…I once launched cake at my father from across the dinner table because he very sternly dared me to – and then laughed uncontrollably as the pieces that were sticking to his glasses fell to the table…I still know the lyrics of most 80’s and 90’s rap and R&B songs and would have been a ringer on “Name that Tune” if they hadn’t cancelled it on me….I was once “in love with” Adam Sandler, Harry Connick, Jr., and Sean Connery (what a combo, right?)…I prefer the scent of coconut and banana or vanilla over perfume…and prefer to be barefooted. You see…I am a dork.

The other side…

I take my walk with God seriously and want to be always moving closer to Him…I was a prodigal and am ashamed of that…thankfully forgiven…I grew up in 4-H…my mother taught me how to sew, cook, bake and keep a home -I am thankful for her influence in my life…I pray that I am raising my kids the way God wants me to…I am stern when I need to be…Hallmark commercials don’t get me, but the scene in “Mighty Joe Young” when the gorilla falls from the ferris wheel gets me every time (as does “Steel Magnolias”)…I cry -for myself and others…there are sleepless nights…I am a “Martha” like my father…I am steady in a crisis…I am learning to grow veggies…I have built a deck, refinished a basement, and demolished other things and enjoyed all very much…I love to cook and entertain…I’d rather spend a quiet night at home with my family than be anywhere else…I can’t just read one book at a time, so  it may take me longer to read one…I take comfort in food too often which results in other struggles…I helped teach a marksmanship class at camp when I was younger and currently enjoy time at the firing range…I love deeply and have been hurt deeply…I love planning things and have control issues (my greatest strength is my greatest weakness)…I like to sing, but not in front of people…I am competitive…I am quiet and “to myself” unless I really know you- then you can’t shut me up….the news gets me fired up…I am my worst critic…dogs not cats…I have lost two children to miscarriage…and I get lost in Home Depot just as much if not more than my hubby…I am not perfect and will not pretend to be- but am making an effort to not make excuses because there are none.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, only scratches the epidermis of the onion. I am not always a deep, thoughtful person. As a matter of fact, I never would put those words anywhere near my name. I am a girl, a woman, a mom, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a manager, a teacher, a chef, a sportsman, a goofball, a cry-baby, a taxi driver, a general contractor and a child of the Lord God Almighty. If you’re looking for perfection- you won’t find it here. If you’re looking for wisdom- open your Bible. I can only share what I see, hear and learn and am so excited to do so. How is God talking to you? How is He working in your life today? I hope you’ll share with me as we get to know each other better.

Simply Scripture- Psalm 51

wpid-SimplyScripture.jpg

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise. 

Psalm 51:10-17

I have read and prayed this for the past two days. I need the Lord…his presence…his Spirit…the joy He brings through His gift of salvation. I need a willing spirit so I can be a Do-er for Him…speak his love and praise to others. I need to open my mouth more.

There is nothing I could give Him- no sacrifice of any kind….no thing. But, only to come before Him with a broken spirit, a repentant and remorseful heart.

Lord, create in me a pure heart….renew in me a steadfast spirit.