2020 Adventures – Spring – Post 1

Our winter was really wet. Gloomy days, dampness all around, foggy evenings, and on the brink of freezing temps, had me feeling rather glum. I held on doing all I could to make things as positive as possible yet towards the end of the season I had the worst case of cabin fever.

Then this pandemic with COVID hit and restrictions were implied furthering my yearning for brighter, warmer days.

2020 will be a year to remember. We will want to forget, but too many first time experiences probably rule that one out.

Our vacation was canceled rendering an opportunity for a staycation. You know, there has been a lot of stuff around here I have been wanting to clean up, create, and get set up, so I will be posting my journey in these following posts. I hope and pray somewhere in the realm of circumstance and time that these posts will relax, encourage, motivate, and encourage you.

First thing I want to get going is my beginner garden. It’s about an 8X12 fenced in area . I’ve made a garden twice before and loved it in this very same plot. I have planted cumbers, tomatoes, and yellow squash in the past but this time I will also be adding eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and green beans.

I love feeling the soil. Cold. Moist. There’s something therapeutic about sifting through the soil, tossing out rocks, and removing weeds.

I reflect a lot when I am outside. Gardening is like life, it teaches you many things. It’s refreshing. I love we live in a world where this is possible. I believe counseling services should have huge backyard gardens that can be tended during therapy sessions. Something about it opens you up.

What preparations do you make in order to have a productive garden during the winter months?

Do you feel a garden is therapeutic?

Good Friday 2020

Whoa. This is pretty deep. Surreal. Last night all I could think of is how Christ must have felt. This is a very dark day. I cannot imagine Christ’s yesterday being the last supper with His friends, the washing of their feet, the walk to the Garden to pray (all the while with this heavy and broken heart)  only to have his friends pass out in sleep, and then the betrayal by a kiss from one of His 12! 

Then on today (many years ago) the movement to have Christ killed came so quickly. The mocking, the beating, the scourging, and finally the gruesome crucifixion. 

He asked for this in His prayer the night before, “If there is a way Father let this cup pass from me,” “yet not my will but thine be done.” Matthew 26:36-39

Christ knew for a moment God, while He hung on the cross, was going to turn his back on him. For a moment, Jesus was going to feel what it was like to have no God in your life. The emptiness. The guilt. The sin. Yet, He did it all for US!   

He CHOSE to redeem us and give us life. Nothing about this task was easy. Nothing was comfortable. It was the most agonizing experience ever to happen in history. 

I think this video kind of brings us to a mindset where we are able to ‘feel’ Christ’s hurt at just a portion. 

What we call Good Friday, I find hard to be joyful and at peace … without first thinking and meditating on what it cost Christ. It’s humbling. It’s painful. Yet, at the same time, it speaks volumes. 

Christ is the only thing that dictates my worth, my purpose. He is protective. He is compassionate. And everything He went through during the Easter week many, many years ago… should leave me with no question of who I am.  And you know what He suffered for us ALL. Yet, don’t forget, He would have done it just for one, just for you. 

You are worth more to Christ than His value on His own life! It’s agape love. It’s real. It’s deep. It’s everlasting. But He has respect. You don’t want Him in your life, He won’t force himself as that’s not a relationship. 

However, regardless of choice, there are consequences. That’s not Jesus being sneaky and manipulating you to worship and believe in Him. It’s absolute Truth and it’s your choice. 

Our souls never die. We have a physical body at the moment but that will not be the case forever. Soon the spiritual life will come, where our bodies, and purpose, and rest of eternity is quite different all because of this Good Friday many, many years ago. 

You choose—–>

A life forever with Him striving to follow, serve, and live, all the while in constant communion and relationship with Jesus even in the spiritual life following this physical one on Earth.

Or a life without Him, still loving and being a ‘good’ person but without a relationship with Christ yet there is eternal separation in the spiritual life when this physical life on Earth is over because you chose it. 

then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:10‭-‬12 NIV

This video cuts deep. I wonder if the world was as vacant and as quiet like this as Christ hung on the cross? Afterwards, when He died, did the world grow vastly different? Imagine there not being any Hope. Imagine the emptiness. Maybe around us today are small glimpses. It’s important to remember. To process. To self-evaluate.

https://youtu.be/-VH0l5fuKUc  (watch video here)

To those who choose not to believe or question your belief, can you really afford to be wrong?

Hush

I hate it when I cannot sleep. I toss and turn, aware that with every move I make I am risking interrupting my husband’s sleep, yet my mind races!! And I know if I can’t get a prayer to calm my mind, writing will beckon me next. 

When I was seeing a psychologist due to trauma of abuse I encountered, one of the ways they would encourage you to process thoughts and fears was to write it out. For me, the pen or keyboard is a siphon to rid my mind of much unnecessary clutter. It also helps me zero in on a focal point, that’s why most of my prayers are written and lengthy. 

I have been so blessed with good conversation lately with people I have been blessed to meet just within this last year. Oh, how I love deep conversations. One thing that seems to be repeated lately, is the messiness in the minds. 

This messiness causes us to not be focused, to forget where we were going in our general conversation, to literally forget words. For me, I am having to seriously battle in my head before I can get out a solid prayer, hence, the lengthy written out prayers I have compiled. I would say the first part is me asking God to get Satan out of my head. What does it look like to have Satan attacking your prayers?

Here you are, head bowed, eyes closed, and you start, “Dear Heavenly Father… ( you should be up about getting your bookkeeping situated) … Dear Lord I ask that you clear my mind ( Did you make that phone call yesterday, what about ordering fuses for the lights in the Kia, oh and you need to schedule a doctor appointment) Jesus, please get Satan out of my mind. I cannot focus. Lord, the world is dealing with a huge spiritual battle. (It’s a virus) (No, it’s not, that is what you want us to focus on, now get out of my head) Lord, forgive me for being so distant. Satan is making it hard to focus. While there are these things I need to do in the world today, my heart and mind needs You. I can’t make him leave. They say at the name of Jesus, Satan has to flee. That he cringes at your name. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus… not today Satan. Leave me alone in Christ’s name. Back to where I was…. Oh yeah, Lord God so many are suffering in many unique ways. I ask that you be with my children, Lord. Not just my own but those I have bonded with outside of my home. You called me to youth. And I have many in my life. Lead, guide, direct and protect their lives spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. I know some of them are still on a search to find who they are and what they believe and I ask in this moment of wandering, what Grace has given me you take and give to them. Their lives over mine, Lord. (Oh, you need not pray for them. They are doing what they want and it’s not your business.) (Satan, hush!) Lord God, our Governor made a formal announcement that due to Coronavirus that schools would not meet back in a classroom setting for the rest of the year. ( I don’t like that idea really. My influence is stronger in their friend  social groups than with them at home. So now I’m trying to make them feel isolated, to make them feel not worth much because their friends give them their worth and purpose. Being home with parents and siblings makes this harder yet I think I have a great idea moving forward.) Lord, I ask that you empower these momma’s to build worth and relationship with their kids in this unique period of time. That the child’s worth will come from a stable home and not a teacher or a group of friends. I am not saying these are not important but I am saying we have forgotten the importance and influence of family. One thing solidified even more for me is that in the end all you really have is your Faith and family. We have been separated from friends, from school, from work circles, from distant family, even from Church (yeah, separating you from Church didn’t go as planned. You all have created such new ways to share the blasted gospel but don’t worry I’m on it trying to silence that as well. Notice how Facebook is having a lot of technical issues and how Zoom totally shut down?) (I said hush) but the one thing we haven’t been separated from is Jesus and our immediate family. All those years growing up I tried to find my place to fit in at school. It’s just how things were and I wasn’t shown any differently but these kids… God, you are calling an army. They have been given a unique time to focus on faith and family and I pray these momma’s see the importance of their own roles as nurturers in their lives right now. They are on the front lines of the family, Lord. The defeated feelings I am seeing, it’s not from you. (I….) (I said hush…in Jesus’ name) Lord God forgive me for the times I have failed you. For the times I let Satan hault my prayers, for the fear and worry of things out of my control. Strengthen me in your name. I ask Lord, that you lead, guide, and protect my husband, our church, all the pastor’s preparing your Easter message, and the families at home together. May our minds be as empty of the junk of this world as the tomb was 3 days after Jesus’ death. May revival spring forth as we finally can bring ourselves to a place of worshipping with our whole heart and mind. It’ll take a lot of hushing Satan. But I know we can do it. We want it. We need it. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

I hope and pray that for you the battle isn’t as immense as it seems to be for me. But if you find yourself like me, I have found the following scripture to help. 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,

2 Timothy 1:7‭, ‬9 NIV

So Long Fear

God never meant for us to live in fear.

He came to give us an abundant life. Abundant joy. Abundant peace. Abundant blessings.

A focus and perspective based on His promises found in His Word (the Bible) seems to be the sole source of finding this said peace and joy that we are all seeking in this moment of uncertainty and it is apparent in a life right with God.

Right with God, meaning you’re humble enough to admit your flaws and determined enough to honor Him with your life and be obedient to His Will.

His Will is not for us to succumb to fear, especially media-driven, in the financial, relational, and physical and mental health areas of our lives, but instead be meek enough to trust God highly cares for us and is working all things for our good despite the chaos along the way.

“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:5‭-‬7 NIV

The people I admire most are those who seem cool under pressure. It’s like no matter how hard their lives get they don’t get stressed. Instead of where you would usually find uneasiness, a prominent presence of peace lies in its place.

It’s peculiar yet at the same time, refreshing.

This is the advice I am taking during all the chaos, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5‭-‬7 NIV

May it help you too, friend.

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Be The Change

How is it easy for you to be so kind to people,” she asked her momma.

“You of all people have every right to be mean,” she finished.

“My precious girl, it’s because I have been treated so meanly that kindness comes so easily,” she smiled as she pulled her daughter close and kissed her forehead.

Moral: Be the change you want to see in the world.

If You Want Love

We often hear how the greatest virtue is love. Love our God above everything else, love your neighbor as yourself, love your wife as Christ loves the church, wives honor and respect your husband, love and nurture your children- love, love, just love. 

We are told we show God love by our obedience to Him. We attend church. We tithe. We read our Bibles. We follow protocol and obey but why do we feel so empty inside? If obedience is the sole factor, shouldn’t we be the happiest of people? However, there are many in this life filled with gaping holes caused by loneliness.

But we are obedient. 

How in the world do we still not feel loved? We are constantly seeking validation. We search for a glimmer of hope that our existence matters. How can this be if we are being obedient?  I mean we tithe, attend church services regularly, apply ourselves to serving, fulfill positions, read God’s Word and even pray. Our existence matters. But why are so many still seeking to be loved?

While obedience is the vessel through which love flows, the heart has to pump it through. They go side by side, one cannot function wholly without the company of the other helping it along.  If all we do in our families and churches is simply following protocol- we are not really serving or acting in love but out of obligation. I believe one can be obedient but not have his heart in it. What I am talking of is when as parents we have to ask our child to do something and they grumble or complain, but do it anyway. They obeyed but their heart wasn’t there. 

“Hear the word of the Lord , you rulers of Sodom; listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah!  “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the Lord . “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.  When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.”

Isaiah 1:10‭-‬13 NIV

Why would one just be obedient and not involve love, you might ask?

Our culture has become calloused. We have bullied each other with our careless comments and smart aleck remarks we’ve caused the sensitivity we all have in us to go into hiding. We have erected these walls that come across impenetrable because we feel we have to hide and protect what we hold in. We are so consumed with protecting said walls, that we fail to notice the walls of those around us who may be crumbling or have completely fallen. We don’t care. I mean we do, but we don’t want the vulnerability to hit us so we focus on our own walls. It’s safe behind them we feel. 

These scenarios I am seeing everywhere. God and I have had some serious talks. Actually He shows me a person, He asks me to observe, then things start coming to my mind scriptural and secular further deepening what He wants me to take note of. 

I am seeing brokenness and the crazy thing is,  I see it in a lot of Christian people whom I love. 

All I can ask God is why. 

Love is painful. It constantly wants to manifest itself in us but demands change in order to have room. Love demands change. Change of schedules, plans, dreams, goals, priorities, objectives, and our focus. You never can have too much love. God is love and He never gives more than you can carry. But love is tough. The renewing of our minds in constant communication renders the tender love we all crave and are seeking. We want to be loved but we don’t want to hurt. We don’t want it to cost us and because we are so afraid to lay aside our egos and expose our inner beings. The walls we’ve built feel safe. They are what we know and to tear them down scares us to death. 

We don’t give deep, genuine love and therefore do not receive it in return. 

NF has a song God brought to my mind when thinking on this issue, this chorus has revived itself over and over in my mind lately. 

 

If you want love, you gon’ have to go through the pain

If you want love, you gon’ have to learn how to change

If you want trust, you gon’ have to give some away

If you want love, if you want love”

 

A long time ago you would hear of testimonies in church on a regular basis. People would share their tragic stories and how God had brought them healing, they would also often share how God answered their prayer. It was common. You looked forward to it in service, well, I suppose I should speak for myself. Honestly, aside from the Bible being read, the testimonies were my favorite part of the service. Why? 

Because people were real. Their hearts were full of worship because of what God had done in their lives. I remember many times people telling of their testimonies and their hearts, as well as those who heard their story,  would align in beautiful unison that only the glory of God could orchestrate. Imagine all hearts in one unison. Life change happens when real moments erupt. 

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

1 Corinthians 13:1‭-‬7 NIV

Let us be vulnerable, not in pseudo humbleness but in genuine humility. 

God has given us all groups (family, church, school, work, the bus stop…) to grow us. Simply following protocol won’t save a soul nor will it grow yours either. You want fulfillment? Love obediently hard. Love obediently deep. Just love. 2-23-2020

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Don’t Do Better

God has always sought to dwell among His people. In Exodus it was in the Tabernacle, today His Holy Spirit dwells in every believer.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 

Have you ever had a situation in your life that you were trying to silence, trying to rid yourself of,  a habit you were trying to stop and it seemed no matter how great your intention to do so you never got anywhere? You told yourself you would do better over and over again, yet you find yourself in the exact same place. 

This phrase, “It’s not about doing better, it’s about being obedient,” has been given to me this week and it has been a game changer. I did not create this verse. There’s no way I could have so I know God has spoken to me because when I meditate on this phrase I am strengthened. The defeat and guilt I felt from seemingly not being able to “do better” has been replaced with a solution.

If we say we are going to do better, it leaves room for making excuses as to why you didn’t do better. And if you’re somewhat better than yesterday you justify why you didn’t fully stop by saying, “Hey, at least I was better.” Don’t do better just be obedient. 

Let me explain. In raising 4 kids I have several examples of this in play. One of my kids had a very hard time not telling the truth. Each time they were caught, they’d cry and said they’d do better only to do it again.  It happened so often they began feeling like a failure and not very well of themselves. I was burdened for them as I know the struggle behind a liar. You get caught in a habit and it’s hard to stop but when given this phrase mentioned earlier, this child sprung back to life with vigor and you know what? The lies have indeed lessened. 

 

It’s not about doing better, it’s about being obedient.

 

When reflecting on this thought a couple verses from the song Come Alive in The Greatest Showman sung by Hugh Jackman (love this man’s voice by the way) came to my mind. 

I will share it: 

“You stumble through your days

Got your head hung low

Your skies’ a shade of grey

Like a zombie in a maze

You’re asleep inside

But you can shake away

‘Cause you’re just a dead man walking

Thinking that’s your only option

But you can flip the switch and brighten up your darkest day

Sun is up and the color’s blinding

Take the world and redefine it

Leave behind your narrow mind

You’ll never be the same.”

Listen to the song (click this)

Remember, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (abundantly). John 10:10” 

Maybe I am not the only one struggling to silence a habit I want out of my mortal fibers and you are there in that place as well. I hope the phrase I feel God has given me (It’s not about doing better, it’s about being obedient)  as ammunition to defeat this situation of mine helps you, too. 

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Radiate

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant of the law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 

When Aaron and all the Israelites  saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai. When Moses finished speaking to them, he put the veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would out the veil back over his face until he went to speak to the Lord. Exodus 34: 29-35 NIV

As I sit here thinking of these verses, this scene unfolds in my mind. Moses is descending the mountain carrying two stone tablets. I imagine the people noticing him when he reaches the bottom and coming towards them. I imagine them stopping whatever they are doing at staring right at Moses. He notices. Note: I firmly believe this bit of scripture is not of vanity. Moses isn’t bragging on himself in these books.(The first five books of the Bible are written by Moses)

This visual illustration raises questions in my own mind, ‘How did it shine and what would that have been like?’ It says Moses was unaware of it so I can eliminate that this radiance was not something felt physically. It must have been bright because so many seen it at once and was afraid.  “But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.’ 

Did it serve as a cloak of authority from God himself so that the laws Moses was about to share with them have credibility? Was Moses’ ability to radiate kind of like an introduction to the people from God? If so, what an entrance. I’m sure it was intimidating. They had been in Egypt more than likely serving Egyptian gods. LIttle did they know of God at this time. Moses had even been fasting for 40 days. I don’t know about you, but two days without food would have me looking like death was at my back door. I would not be radiating nor would I have caught anyone’s attention. 

I believe any time we surrender our needs and wants for the purpose of fellowship with God he bestows on us this same light. In our moments of seeking Him, we are inspired, we are changed, often refreshed, and sometimes strengthened to make it through trials and missions in order to carry out the will God has for our lives. 

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I also believe people notice. Notice that you spend time with God. They watch your life. They may say nothing at all, but believe me, people notice if you have truly have been in communion with Christ as you have a ‘radiance’ that they can’t put a finger on or understand. And I believe, as a true believer, you can not even notice what you project based on your relationship with Christ. I had someone once told me, “It’s hard to be around you because you make me feel so guilty.” That hurt me. I asked if I had done anything wrong in hopes of somehow fixing it. They said, “It’s not you, it’s me.” I have since learned they were dealing with a huge spiritual battle and were involved in some things they were ashamed of. 

I want to radiate Christ like Moses did. I want, what others see in me, to draw them closer to Him. In order to do that, I must stay in obedience and fellowship with Christ. It’s not about me. It’s about Him and His Glory.

Let The See You In ME by JJ Weeks

Set Free To Serve. What?!

Liberty is not the same as license. In other words, we are not free to just do as we like. We have been set free in order to serve. Definitely not the world’s definition of freedom, is it? 

 

True freedom for the Christian is being free to do the things that God wants us to do. Primarily, that means loving others as He loves. It means being servants of one another, just as Christ was to us. (read John 13:3-17).

 

We are now in a position to fulfil God’s law—the Ten Commandments—by loving others. When we love others, we are loving God. When we love others, we are expressing our faith. When we love others, we are communicating the truth to them. When we love others, we are showing them what God is like. When we love others, they can see what true freedom really is.

 

WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE TO LOVE!

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Lots of Christians have their heads full of doctrines and ideas about God, many of which may be quite true. But if they don’t love as He loves, then it’s all pointless. Reading the Bible. praying, going to church, singing in the choir,  being very religious—all of these things have no point to them at all if we are not serving one another in love. 

 

To set out to love takes an act of the will. We have to learn to say, ‘I will love that person’, or, ‘I will serve that person’ -no matter what it costs. That’s hard, and the sin which still dwells in us doesn’t take too kindly to it! However, to love one another is not a hint. It is not a suggestion. It is a command.

 

Not to love one another as we should will inevitably lead to strife in our relationships. If we don’t love, we will do the opposite. We will just go the way the flesh dictates. We will begin to snap at each other. We will get cranky with others, and there will be a tension between us and those we ought to be loving. In the end, it destroys us. Our Christian fellowship collapses.

 

Don’t let this happen to you. Take care that you guard against this danger. All of us are prone to allowing the flesh get the better of us, when we should, in fact, be genuinely loving and serving each other.

 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

Galatians 5:13‭-‬15 NIV

 

I Want To Be Guilty

Our collective Christ-infused hearts should beat for literal widows and orphans, always.

But here’s something to ponder – what about the figurative ones?

What about those who have been widowed from someone or something they dearly loved, and now their days are full of grief?

And what about those who have been orphaned due to a tragedy of some kind, those who now feel utterly alone and cut off from the flow of life?

In a very real sense, we’re talking about the same people – the lonely who are around us on every side.

Our hearts should break for the lonely. God’s heart breaks for the lonely. To come together as the people of God and to be His hands and feet in caring for the lonely could just be the thing that causes the world to stop and look and say “See how they love one another!”

Dear brothers & sisters, let us be accused of something to be proud of, something that generates hope and healing, something that Scripture assures us brings joy to the very heart of our God. Let us be tried and found guilty of but one thing – love, which is the one thing I want to be found guilty of.

Let us love radically.

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