Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gardening thoughts and a priceless lesson

As I was taking care of my baby plants this morning a stray thought popped into my mind.  Something, or rather someone, I hadn't thought about in a long time.  My grandfather.  By the time I came along my grandfather was very limited in his movements by rheumatoid arthritis (Oh, how I wish some of modern medicine would have been available back then). I loved listening to his stories and advice. He got around with the use of a wheelchair or cane, depending on how his day way going. 

Why did my mind bring up my grandfather while tending my plants? Because my grandfather was a farmer, even when his movement was restricted by that awful disease. He may not have always been able to go out into the fields himself, but he guided the work.  Farmers from all around would come to ask my grandfather's opinion on various plants.  The workers on my grandfather's farm varied, but when I was small they included my father, my uncle (who I haven't seen in more years than I care to admit), as well as my mother and grandmother, and even me and my brothers once we were old enough. 

Farming is hard work.  While not always seen, the work goes on year round.  I honestly didn't realize that until lately.  Even in winter when the ground appears dead, the farmer is working, planning, preparing, for the next crop.  The grounds have to be prepared, fertilized, and watch and remove any noxious weeds that may take root.

These wonderful people in my life, my family, may have thought they were just going about their business while working on the farm, but they actually taught me a larger priceless lesson.  While farming work is hard, and may appear fruitless at times, there is a reward in the end.  With farming, the reward is the produce.

As I thought on my wonderful grandfather, actually both my grandparents, who were taken way too soon, my thoughts then moved to my Heavenly Father.  He too works hard for me.  God's lessons in my life do seem to come in odd packages these days, but they sure are powerful. 

Weeding my plants this morning I was fussing. Dog-gone centipede grass and weeds.  I get it my young plants some breathing room, and these unwanted plants reach out their tentacles and crawl back in.  The grass and weeds choke out the nutrients and sun from my newborn plants.  Not just the weeds are a challenge; poor branches on the plants can be a problem because they too pull away nutrients to help the plant grow.  These "sucker" branches have to be pruned in order for the plant to become strong.

Then it hit me, the sins and unnecessary busy-ness of life, that I allow to creep back into my life are just like the centipede grass, weeds, and sucker branches.  If I fail to stay in God's Word, following him, allowing the weeding and pruning in my heart and life, my undesirable behaviors and sins will slink back into my life, choking God from me.  Ohhhh, what an image that idea created.  My reward for working hard for God, following close to Him and His Word, doing the work He calls me to do, is eternal life.

Thank you, God, for continuing to work in my life, even when my fleshly ground looks dead, with no fruit in sight.  I long to produce the fruits in my life that You are cultivating!

(Jesus speaking) “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that does not produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. John 15: 1-9 (NLT)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

There will be trials - AKA The ground must be turned and fertilized

Some days I wonder, "Why? Why, Lord? Why the struggles? Why the challenges and heartbreak?" Is there an answer? I believe there is.

When I look outside today I see a beautiful hay field, springing up a lovely green. There's hardly a weed in sight.  How did this gloriously beautiful field come to be? The gentleman who owns that land worked hard. The land was turned a couple times, late last year and early this spring. I wonder if the soil could have spoken to me then if it would have asked, "Why the struggles? Why break me up and turn me under?"

Was that all the trial and upheaval for the soil? No.  Next, the turned soil was spread with fertilizer. Not just any fertilizer, animal dung. It was very smelly for a few days, and not in a good way. I wonder what the soil would have said to me during that time?  "Oh my! Can you believe this? I am laying here, heating up under this horrific odor?  Can things get any worse? Turned, broken up, and now tortured for days with heat and awful smells?" 

After all the trial and turmoil the soil went through, it is springing forth with a grand blanket of green.  It is very lovely to behold.  When I look upon that field, I'm of a scripture. "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NLT)  

The trials of life aren't fun. Quite often they're heartbreaking, leaving me very sad. Sometimes the trials are simply horribly smelly and frustrating, likely similar to what the soil went through being prepared for planting. But, without all that preparation, the turning and fertilizing, good growth isn't possible.  The farmer's seed would land on hard ground and be blown away, or barely sprout due to lack of nutrition.  I want to be a deep rooted, standing solid in my Lord's plan. So, ultimately, I do know the "Why?". It is so that my fleshly stubbornness can be broken up leaving me ready so that  Jesus can work in me, and I can bloom into the servant He needs me to become.  I need to grow so that I can share Jesus, plant seed, and help harvest for the Lord.

Mark 4: 13-20 Parable of the Seeds
"And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted." Mark 4:20

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Day 3 Blogging Challenge - My Views on Drugs and Alcohol

Day 3 - My view on drugs and alcohol

Somebody really worked on these questions to keep people either (a) out of their comfort zone, or (b) on their soapbox.

My view on drugs, and I'm assuming the creator of this list is referring to illicit and/or recreational drug use, I don't agree with the practice. It is dangerous because the drugs lower inhibitions and create more avenues for people to be taken advantage or, get hurt, or hurt others. If the drugs used aren't lower inhibitions, then they are amping up the person's metabolism and heart rate in order to "stay alert" and party longer. I've heard so many excuses over the years as to why drug use is cool, most being "It helps me relax and feel good." Yes, when I was younger, that was me. Now that I'm older, I have to shake my head and wonder, why in the world did I want to be in situations where I was so uncomfortable that I had to drug myself in order to have a "good time." What was I thinking? Well, that's an easy question to answer. I wasn't thinking. I was trying to be part of the "cool" people. I wish I could reach out to my younger self and talk some sense into me.

As for alcohol, that is an exceptionally touchy subject around here. Yes, alcohol is in the Bible. Yes, they drank wine. However, there are so many warnings in the Bible, as well as in our current culture, to drink responsibly. Absolutely no good comes from getting drunk, not in Noah's time and not now. The smartest and safest thing by far is simply, don't do it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

30-day Blogging challenge - Day 2 - Where would I like to be in 10 years

Where would I like to be in 10 years
Good question, one that keeps changing. In the 90s, my 10-year goal was to earn the rank of Sergeant Major. Alas, an injury and other events caused that goal to get sunsetted. In the late 90s and early 2000s my goal was to be a successful business person. Pushing for big, better, best, and allowing myself to get into the "The one with the most toys wins" syndrome was very taxing. I was very goal-oriented and ambitious, well, truth is I'm still very goal oriented. These aren't necessarily bad character traits, but they can be when personal priorities get out of sync. Poor priorities equals poor personal relationships which equals extra stress, which is very avoidable.

So, what is my new 10-year goal? First, I want to be debt free, including our house, if at all possible.

Being debt free will lift a great burden as well as required commitments that keeps us tightly bound to home and work and away from our extended family. Being debt free would allow us to visit with our children and grandchildren more often. What a great joy that will be!

Next, I want to be better acquainted with my guitar, which has grown very lonely over the years . My piano and clarinet are also crying out for attention.

I want to be more involved in ministry, whether it is supporting a ministry or actively leading one, whatever door the Lord opens. It is so inspiring watching what the Lord is doing in the lives of the young people around me. I want to roll up my sleeves to get more involved as well. I would be so exciting to have the Lord open a door to a ministry overseas. However, I know there are vast fields right here at home that need attention as well. So, wherever the Lord leads, I will follow.

So, where will I be in 10 years? Only the Lord knows. I'm looking forward to seeing what great gifts He has in store for me.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

30-day blogging challenge - Current relationship

Current relationship

I really enjoy writing, but I've fallen away from it this year. I allowed work and other things to pull me away. When a friend shared this 30-day challenge, I picked up the gauntlet. It took me a few days to let things settle in and get a game plan together for my writing time (yes, I stole back some of my time!! Yeah!!) Let's see how things go.

The first day's assignment is to write about my current relationship. I'm in an incredible relationship that is truly standing the test of time. I heard of this man a while before I began hanging out with him, which was when I was 14 years old. See, I told you the relationship was standing the test of time. :-) He's been with me through all the highs and lows in my life. When things were at their worst when I was a teenager, he was there to comfort me. We would lose ourselves in music and talk, and that would give me a better perspective and I'd feel a lot better.

Then there were the years when my life's worst became even darker. I admit, I became very frustrated with my wonderful friend and turned my back on him. For a few years I tried to walk in this world on my own, thinking I could make all my decisions and plans without any input from anyone. Yes, I'm a very stubborn, independent-minded person. However, this wonderful man waited for me. He didn't stray, he never changed, he stayed right there waiting for me to realize that this world is too big and too deceptive for me to handle things on my own. What a glorious reunion when I made that realization and went running back into His open arms! Ever since that time, we've been inseparable. It is so comforting to know that no matter what, He's always there.

I would like to introduce you to the man in my wonderful relationship. His name is Jesus. I learned all about him as a child, literally studying about him at least 6 out of 7 days a week because I attended parochial school during the week and church on weekends. I thought that all that head knowledge was all I needed to know about Jesus to get me safely through my life. When I was 14 I went to a get-together at a church that changed my life forever. The speaker was saying things that kind of went against the grain of what I'd been taught throughout my younger years. I don't remember who the speaker was, but I remember the message. We were told that even the devil and all his demons know about Jesus. They know all of Jesus' teachings, His miracles, and His sufferings. That's right, they know the scriptures. Even with all this knowledge, they chose to turn their backs on Jesus, His Father and the Holy Spirit. Oh, that so struck a chord in my young heart! I didn't want to just have a head knowledge of Jesus, I wanted to truly know this wonderful Man who chose, yes freely chose, to leave all the glories in heaven to come to earth as a baby, go through all the temptations of a man, and then be persecuted, prosecuted, and then horribly executed. I had to get to know Him better because He went through all of this for me! For me?! Wow! That still boggles my mind!! He made this decision and went through everything just for me, before I was even born! Yes, He went through all He this for you as well. Do you know Him? Truly know Him, with a relationship like you have with your friends and family? If you don't, and you want to, you can right now. Jesus will accept anyone as a friend, at any time. The wonderful thing is that we don't have to wait until we've cleaned up our life, wear the right clothes, make enough money, or done anything special in order to qualifty to get to know Jesus better.  We simply invite Him into our life. It is something you can do right now, and it is literally as easy as A, B, C.

Admit that you're a sinner:

Romans 3:22-24

"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

elieve that Jesus Christ died for you, was buried, and rose again
(Yes, He Lives!)

John 3:16-17

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

Romans 5:8

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Confess that Jesus is your Lord and Saviour

Romans 10:9

"That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

After that comes the great part, you get to keep growing our relationship with Jesus. How? Read His Word, the Bible, every day. Once a day, twice a day, whatever you choose to do. You say you don't own a Bible? Well, until you can get one that you can hold in your hand, find a Bible online. Check out sites like or or There are even Bibles you can download to your cell phone, iPad, etc., and many include extras like Bible reading plans, devotionals, etc. These are handy applications when you're away from home and want to check out what the Word has to say about something.

Next, if you don't have a church, go visit a few. Don't decide on a church just because it is the most popular church in your area. Find a church that preaches the scripture the way the Lord wrote it. You wouldn't buy a house or a car without doing research and finding out for yourself that you're being given the facts, so do the same thing when you're looking for the right home church. Take notes during the sermons, and then test what was preached by checking the Bible for yourself.

I pray that you decide to build a wonderful relationship with Jesus. He is truly the best and most reliable friend you will ever have.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lessons Learned in the Round

Ahhh, these long hot days of summer are hanging on. But that means I get to spend more time exercising in the pool. This Monday evening I took advantage of some quiet time since my hubby is in school and my youngster is hanging with his buddies, to get in some pool time.  My routine is to check the filters, skim, check the pump, and then get in my laps. Earlier in the summer our pool pump quit. Well, I couldn't find an exact match, matter of fact I couldn't find anything close, so I had to get a pump about 1/3 stronger than the old pump. It has actually turned out to be a very good thing in a number of ways.  Our pool is round so I found out right away that this bigger pump did more than just move the water in a circle to the skimmer. This pump actually creates a current, one that you can feel pushing you.  This is a huge benefit for me because my exercise time is usually somewhat limited, so I want to get the most "bang for my buck" with my time.  When I swim my laps for exercise I always swim against the current. It seems like in no time my arms and legs are burning, so I know I'm getting a good work out.  When I've hit my exercise goal, I swim the other direction....or rather I coast in the other direction (that big ole pump does a really good job of pushing me along).

This evening as I swam I was doing some thinking.  Some thoughts about work, some about home, school I'd like to finish up, and so on. Then I realized I really wanted to stop and spend this wonderful quiet time with the Lord.  I really needed to have a good chat with my Lord. Sometimes these "chats" can go on a long time, but tonight was totally different.  My puzzlement of late was why it is such a challenge for me to stay close to God. I know what I need to do, I read, I pray, but I feel like I'm always struggling.  Then....quick as a flash God spoke to me.  No, not in a clear voice, but to my soul.  He said, "Oh, child of mine. You are so impatient. When you exercise, do you push your arms and legs against the air with no resistance and expect results?" Just that quick I was humbled and different scriptures began to come to mind.  I knew I had to dig further into this Word from God right away, so out of the pool I came and straight to the Bible.

First I went to James 1:2-4 "Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing."

Oh, yes. I want to build up my endurance! That's the point of my exercise. I want to be able to do things like I used to be able to, walk farther, ride my bike for miles upon miles. Shouldn't my walk with God be the same way?  Well, I have to exercise my faith, stay in the Word, pray, and spend time with God.

I then turned over to Romas. Paul wrote: " For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."  "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!"  NIV Romans 7:19-20  and 7:24-25. 

Paul struggled, and stayed in prayer, and he endured.  Growing stronger and closer to the Lord. Oh, how I want that. 
Then I paused for a bit and realized that even Jesus took time to get alone and talk to God the Father.  What a "Wow" moment to realize even Jesus needed time with the Father to renew Himself.  I don't see many places where it is shared exactly what Jesus prayed, but it is mentioned frequently that Jesus would rise early to prayer....or go to lonely places, quiet places, to pray.  However, Jesus' prayer in the garden is shared in scripture.  In Gethsemane Jesus was troubled.  Scripture tells us that He said "His soul was overwhelmed."  Jesus knew what awaited Him, so I can clearly understand why He was overwhelmed.  He knew that the persecution, the beatings, was coming upon him very soon.  He was in human form, so He knew this was going to be agony.  In Gethsemane, not only do we see Jesus asking God to give Him an easier path, but also saying "Not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39).  I'm not a theologian by any means, but it seems like He's not only asking for relief, but strength to see everything through.
Yes, I was sorely humbled by word I received. What a wake up call. Why did I spend so many years assuming that things should come easily, fall smoothly into place, and be a snap for me? How silly.  It didn't happen for John, James, Paul or even Jesus.  Why did I think I was an exception.  Thankfully, that self-deception has been lifted. I see clearly now that it takes resistance, trials, some hard lessons, and spiritual exercises in order for me to build "muscles." I know that God has a plan for all these spiritual muscles He's building. It is going to be exciting to see how He plans to use them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't overlook God's blessings

What a morning! I woke up with a busy, busy morning in front of me. Or, rather a very busy 1-1/2 hours. Today is grooming day for my 3 little dogs. This means I must rise extra early, let all 4 dogs out, get myself showered, dressed, and hopfully woken up minus caffeine (there is never enough time to drink a cup of coffee or tea). Then it is load up the 3 little dogs while keeping the big dog penned up and get to the groomers. Doesn't sound too hectic until you consider the drive to the groomers is about 20-30 minutes (depending on school bus route times).

This morning I fully intended to keep my focus on the simple things in life, the beauty that God has all around me for me to appreciate. Instead, here was my lesson.

God works all things for my good.

How did that lesson arrive? Well, part of our grooming day schedule is (weather permitting) to ensure that the backyard gets mowed because one of our little dogs is allergic to grass. Of course, he's the shortest dog as well so literally can spend his life up to his neck in grass if we can't keep it mowed.  Well, the grass was damp because we've been blessed with much needed rain.  This means that I wasn't about to try and learn all the inner workings of my husband's new riding mower (just enough different from our old mower to get me in a LOT of trouble), so I got out the push mower. Granted, it is self-propelled, but it is still a push mower.  I gas it up and off I go.

As I mow I realize that all the edging around the heat pumps, patio, and fence line needs to be done as well. Then here comes my fleshy self. I was just ranting and raving in my mind about things like "How come no one ever runs the weed-eater the way it needs to be done? Why do they wait until a 30 minute to an hour touch-up job turns into a full morning chore?" I got myself quite worked up, when suddenly Romans 8:28 came to mind.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

WOW! Suddenly the Holy Spirit convicted me of all the negativity I had been building up. I was humbled as a new light was shed on everything I had been looking at through a dark glass. My God, even though I was so undeserving, has blessed me with a house and some land. We have a yard that He allows us to enjoy and it does need regular maintenance. All the opportunities that come with having this glorious gift came flooding into my mind. I don't have to have an extra gym membership. My Lord has provided a way for me to get regular exercise and enjoy the outdoors while caring for the land He's given us stewardship over. I don't have to search for opportunities for my children and grandchildren to learn the feeling of a job well done with their own hands. The Lord has provided a way for them to have a regular job in helping care for this blessing the Lord has bestowed upon us.
Instead of allowing myself to wallow in the anger and rage that had been rearing its ugly heard earlier (and setting a potentially ominous tone for the day), my soul raised up a huge praise to my Lord!  Thank you, my wonderful Father in heaven, for blessing me so generously. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for showing me this wonderful lesson today. Help me to forever keep my heart, mind, and soul open to You and your teachings to I can walk more closely to You, my sweet and precious Lord and Saviour.
Trixie supervising morning mowing chore