Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Garden Growing

Growing a garden is a lot like growing your faith.


As I cultivate my garden this summer, many things remind me of what I need to do to grow my spiritual garden.

Last year, I moved to a new climate.  As I started to plan my garden, I realized that it would not grow in the same way as my previous gardens had.  This climate is harsher and colder.  The season is shorter.  The ground is rocker.  The animal scavengers are bigger.

I had to rethink how my garden would grow.

My spiritual life is a lot like that.  The seasons of my life differ greatly and what encouraged and made my heart fertile ground in the past, might not work in this new season of my life. I need to be aware of that and be willing to try new things.

My new garden is built above the ground.
One because you can't till rock.  Two because that keeps the javelina out of it!  And I had it built in a specific location that maximized the sun (we live in a forest).


Once my garden was built, then came time to prepare the soil.  I couldn't just put any soil in it.  It needed to be rich with minerals, compost and manure.  I needed to prepare it the fall before spring so all those things could meld together into really great soil. 

Once Spring came, I added some rich top soil and watered it all down before I started planting my seeds.  I picked the best organic seeds to grow and planned out where and how I would plant them.  

But it didn't stop there.

The seeds just don't grow.  I had to put together a watering system so that they got plenty of water, but not too much.

I go out every day to check on my garden.
I look for anything it needs to produce healthy fruit..more water, a new trellis, pruning.  I look for bugs and any signs that my plants might be in distress.

There is a lot that goes into growing a beautiful, healthy garden.

And there is a lot that goes into growing a beautiful, healthy, Christ filled heart.

Just like my garden, I need to prepare the soil.  If my heart isn't ready to hear God's Word, it won't take hold and grow.  I do that through bible study, prayer, fellowship with other believers, reading God's Word.  All those things meld together and make my heart fertile ground for my faith to grow.

And just like my garden, I need to examine my heart daily and ask God to show me what it needs to grow strong and also what needs to be removed.  Daily I need to spend time with God allowing him to mold my heart to be more like Christ.  I also need to allow Him to daily show me things that are causing my heart distress....sin, anger, bitterness.  

My faith is very much like my garden.
When it is well cared for it is beautiful and everyone who sees it, notices!  And when well cared for, it produces wonderful and plentiful fruit...that can be shared with those around me.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Stepping away from the window.....

I wrote this post a couple of years ago.  
God recently reminded me of it and I felt a nudge to repost it. 

It's easy to trust God when things are going well in our lives.

But what about when there is a storm....

..and you can't see how or when it will end?
...and you can't see how it could possibly end well?
..and you pray for God to intervene, but it continues?
..and you are tired, worn out and just want to retreat?

Can you trust Him then?
 
God tells us over and over in the scriptures who He is:

I AM
the One who created the worlds into order, by a Word
the One who placed the stars and knows them by name
the One who knit you together in your mother's womb 
the Beginning and the End

How could I not trust that He is able to take care of the storms in my little life?

Yet my human heart will time after time turn my eyes from Him to the storm....which causes fear......which causes me to doubt, panic, take things into my own hands, become anxious...

....and that never works out well for me.

As I have matured,  I feel like I am doing a better job of keeping my eyes on Him.....I am spending time with Him in prayer, studying the scriptures daily, bringing my thoughts to Him during the day through music and reminders...

These are all very good things.
They bring a sense of Peace and insight and direction

...but in a storm....it's not enough.

He wants me to trust Him....completely.....with my whole heart.
Which should be reflected by a calmness in my life, even in the middle of a storm.

Recently, He gave me a clear illustration of how this looks.
I am a visual learner and I love that He knows me so well!!

Easter Sunday I awoke to a very dark, stormy day.  We were having 11 people for lunch at 2:00, so I got busy preparing food before I had to leave for church.  The whole time it is just thundering and storming like crazy and Lily (our dog) was following me everywhere I went, right on my heels. So fearful of the storm.  I had some time to spare and sat down on the couch and Lily jumped up on the sofa and stood over my lap.  I tried to get her to lay down and let me hug her to calm her but she kept getting up and going to the other side and looking out the window at the storm.  Then she would freak out a bit and come back and stand over my lap.  I quit trying to make her lie down and just let her continue to go look out at the storm and then come back.

She knew I was her comfort, but she was so fearful seeing and hearing the storm, she wouldn't allow me to comfort her.  Even though I knew the storm would end soon....Lily didn't ....and that made her fearful and anxious.

As I sat there,  God just spoke right to my heart.......He said, "you are just like Lily, Sara.  You stay close by Me in the storms.  You know where your comfort is.  You are even in My lap at times.  But you continue to leave My lap and go look at the storm.  Just trust Me.  Stay in my lap and let Me comfort you.  I know this will end soon, even though you can't see it.  I am in control of it.  I know what is best for you.  Quit going to the window to look at the storm"

He's right.

Going to the window, just scares me or makes me angry or anxious.

So I am making a conscious effort to step away from the window in the midst of my storms....

...and trust HIM.

He is more than able.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Peace

I have a lot of emotions running around in my head today.

My heart is hurting for friends that are struggling as they watch their children fight the battle of their lives with illness.  Or the ones that are fighting their own battles.

My heart is hurting for friends that are struggling in their marriages.  Fighting to hold on to the vows they made.

My heart is hurting for friends who are desperately praying for the return of a prodigal child.

And my heart is hurting for those in my life who have been deeply hurt by people that are supposed to love them and protect them.

It seems my prayer list is incredibly long these days.  I have even found myself thinking "how can I get through these each day" when I am asked to add another prayer for a friend.  Don't get me wrong, I will always pray when I am asked.  It just seems that there is more and more to pray for each day, more and more hurt, more and more discouragement.

I think the enemy looks at that and thinks he is winning.  He probably looks at our country and the decline going on and thinks he is winning.

But guess what?

He.is.NOT.

God is still in control and God is still bigger than all these problems.

 “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

In my prayer time today I was reminded of two things....

One, this life is short.  In comparison to Eternity, it is just a blip.  
And in recognizing that, it helps me remember to look at each problem through Jesus.  If I focus on Jesus first, I see the problem "through" Him.  It doesn't make it any less of a problem, but it does put the problem into the right perspective and it seems smaller in comparison to Him.  

And two, I am so very thankful for my salvation and the Holy Spirit living in me.
My salvation gives me HOPE.  Hope that this life is not the end all.  Hope that God has a better place prepared for me for ETERNITY.  

It also makes me so very thankful for the Holy Spirit's work in my life....the restraining He provides.  His grace and power in my life restrains me, holds me back from acting out on what my sinful, selfish side would really like to do.  I am no better than anybody else. I just have relationship with God and because of that have the help of the Holy Spirit.  I know He restrains me and keeps me from a lot of trouble.  I am forever grateful for that.

I don't know what you are facing today, but don't face it alone.
   When you face it on your own, it's like a wave.  It looks relatively small at a distance, but as it gets closer and closer it grows bigger and bigger until you feel it will overtake you.

However, when you face it with Jesus, it is surmountable, manageable and you can even find joy and peace in the middle of it. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13

Friday, March 25, 2016

Remember...

Today I am making a intentional effort to remember just what Christ did for me.

This time of year, many of us skip right over Good Friday to the celebration of Easter.  We love the hope and joy that the resurrection brings.  But we don't necessarily like to look at what got us there.  We tend to turn away from and skip over the pain, suffering and hard of Good Friday.

But you know what?

If you don't take a close look at that pain, that hard and your own depravity...

....you will NEVER come close to truly understanding the significance of that empty tomb.

Today, I am wearing this on my hand...



..to remind me to think about what Christ did for me and to try to more deeply understand that it should have been me.

Christ loved me so much that He endured the hard, the pain....the Cross....even knowing EXACTLY what it would entail.

Have you ever thought about that?

I have endured many hardships in my life.
But I didn't go into them KNOWING just how hard they would be.
If I had, I probably would have done all I could to get out of them!!

But Christ KNEW what it would cost Him.
Pain
Hurt
Suffering
Loss
The Cross
Death
And the rejection from His Father as He took on OUR sin.

He knew.
And yet He still did it.

My heart can't contain that kind of love.
But as I think on this and look at my own sin that put Him there, I am completely humbled and overwhelmed.

I want to be reminded today.  
And I want to look at EVERY part of the hard.

Because come Sunday, 
the JOY and HOPE  and GIFT of that empty tomb...

....will abound in my heart even more!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Darlin'


Early Tuesday morning, February 16th, my beautiful Mother-in-Law peacefully slipped out of this life and into the arms of Jesus.  I have so many wonderful memories to hold on to because I was blessed to have a MIL that loved me like a daughter. But as a family, we all remember that no matter if you called her, showed up at her door, or she was writing you a card...she greeted you with 'My darlin'.  

Hi Darlin!....My darlin's......well hello darlin!   

While my middle son processed his grief over losing his Grams, he wrote this poem.  He was brave enough to read it at the memorial through his tears and we all cried...
...because we all felt his words...like they were our own.

My Darling 

When I was a kid, 
My idea of a gift, 
Was found in the mysterious contents, 
Of your purse. 
The sacred to me was a toy, 
In this case, Bugs Bunny. 
It was nothing special, 
Yet held it all, 

It soon vanished, 
Along with my childish ideals, 
Leaving perspective, 
And a hard night’s wonder. 
But that wasn’t enough for me, 
In those middle years. 
I hadn’t a clue 
Of what this gift could do. 

It wasn’t until I had my baby girl, 
And saw you in her, 
That I started to see, 
This gift that I’ve been given. 
From that moment on, 
I heard it over the phone, 
The moment you picked it up. 
I heard it on your porch, 
As soon as I could reach for you. 
It embodies two words, 
‘My Darling.’ 

Now I reach back into my mind to withdraw, 
Memories peppered with those words. 
All of which were good, 
All of which were gifts, 
All of which began with those words,
‘My Darling’. 

Now I’ll always look back, 
To this gift I’ve always had. 
I’ll remember always, 
The love on which it stands 

I’ll remember the birds nest 
Tucked into your porch’s roof 
The pear tree and onion chutes. 
Sunflowers, Whisper, and classic books. 
I’ll remember the toast with its cinnamon-sugar elixir. 
I’ll remember the jar of M&M’s and ice cream bowls. 
I’ll remember the smell of your house, your naked lady lamp, 
The turtles, marbles, and big board games. 
I’ll remember the clowns that hung over my bed (and always wonder why they did). 
I’ll remember the fire station, park, purple everything. 
Mr. Bubble baths, and crazy basement carpets. 
I’ll remember the terror of being whipped by a switch, 
And relief after. 
I’ll remember being shocked by the tubes that assisted you. 
By the frailty that soon consumed you. 
I’ll remember the day you left us. 
The day you won, leaving your pain behind. 

This is the day you’ve received the gift, 
This gift you’ve given me, 
As you walked into our Savior’s arms, 
He welcomed, 
‘My Darling.’

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Covers

Have you ever had one of those days where life just seemed to be piling on and the weight of it all brought you to your knees?  One of those days where you don’t want to get out of bed?  You think that maybe if you just stay there under the covers, all those problems will go away?  Or at least, if you don’t get out of bed, you just won’t have to face them?

That is how I felt this morning.  As I lay in bed after a fitful night of sleep, I just wanted to stay there in the warmth with the covers over my head.  It seemed like a good place to be...drifting in and out of sleep.  No phone calls about my MIL.  No phone calls about the problems going on in our unsold house.  Maybe I could just ignore it all.

But then a song found it’s way into my mind…..this is the day.  This is the day that the Lord hath made.  Let us rejoice.  Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

And God gently reminded me that being under those covers didn’t protect me from my problems and it certainly didn’t take them away.  He lovingly reminded me that HE made every new day and as a follower of Christ, I should not wish it away.  I should consider it precious because God made it. 

So I lifted the covers off and slipped out of bed.  The cold in the room quickly hit my face and woke me up.  I headed down to the kitchen, grabbed my cup of coffee and sat in my chair to spend time with God.  This is what was waiting for me in one of my devotions….

Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life.  Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties.  This is false hope!  As I told My disciples, in this world you will have trouble.  Link your hope not to problem solving in this life but to the promise of an eternity of problem-free life in heaven.  Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, pour your energy into seeking Me: the Perfect One.  Jesus Calling.

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man….he will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.  Psalm 112:4,7

What a personal and loving God I have!  He knows my heart and knows ME.  He knew exactly where I would be this morning and what I would need to hear. 

I love Him for that. 


And I can’t imagine facing this life without Him and the hope He brings.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sitting at a Place I never thought I'd be....

This morning, we moved my sweet Mother-in-Law to hospice.  I guess mentally I knew I would eventually be at this place.  We all know everyone dies.  But all my life it seemed so far away. 

We think so much about living.  We spend many hours planning our days to the minute.  But we rarely think about dying.  In fact, I would venture to say most of us think that topic is taboo. 

But here I am with a hurting heart.  Jumping every time the phone rings wondering if it’s “the call”.  Trying to figure out when to go.  Wishing desperately that I could see her one more time, hear her infectious laugh and tell her I love her. 

I never thought about being here……but here I am.

How do I navigate this.  I have been struggling all night and all this morning with my thoughts.  Do I fly out to see her. Is that the right thing to do? Do I wait until both my husband and I can go.  Is she scared?  Does she understand what is going on? Does she know we desperately want to be there?  Is she wondering where we are?  My mind moved so fast it literally took my breath away.

I lead a bible study on Monday afternoons.  It is a Kay Arthur precept upon precept study and we are working through the gospel of John.  I almost called the study off today.  I didn’t feel like I was in the right frame of mind to lead others, but God gently spoke to me and said “Go”.

Of course, I am so glad I did.

God’s Word is always the place to find peace and Kay Arthur’s video was amazing.  It reminded me again what I already know…that our times are in God’s hands (Ps  31:14-15). That God is in control of the problems and He is also in control of the solutions.  He knows the situation and He knows my heart.  I don’t need to worry or try to figure it out, I just need to listen. 

And as I listened to Kay teach, I realized that my Mother-in-LOVE knows I love her.  I don’t need to tell her that.  And I know she loves me.  And what is more important is that I know she loves Jesus. 

And soon, on God’s time table, she will be done with this broken body that is not working for her and she will walk into the presence of God fully healed.  And because we both have accepted that Jesus is God, He is the Son of God and He died for our sins……this is not good bye.  I will see her again soon…..

 and what a wonderful reunion that will be!!