Fruitful?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

I finally grasped the difference between busy and fruitful at some point in the last few years. I once ran myself ragged trying to do far too much and none of it to my satisfaction. I now realize fruitful doesn’t equate to a steady stream of productivity coming off a line.

As in my garden, there are times in the process of bearing fruit that seem barren. It looks like nothing is going on. There are dry patches and periods of dormancy. Then there are times when the storms of life inundate us, and we feel like we will never feel the warmth of the sun (or Son) again. Yet, it is all part of the process.

Few things of any substance grow without considerable changes to their environment and a substantial amount of time.

Some things sprout overnight, like the weeds I’d rather be rid of. I’ve grown wary of anything that offers instant gratification. Things that are truly valuable like fulfilling relationships, accomplishing goals and realizing our dreams tend to take time and attention to not only develop but to also keep those things alive.

  Thankfully, God rewards faith and patience as evidenced by Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses and a slew of other flawed yet willing figures in the Bible. And God rewards us as well.

If we do not give up on those dreams God plants within us, we can eventually yield the promised harvest if we trust and obey. This also means keeping the faith when we are pruned (as were our heroes of the Bible) so we can eventually produce something good!

Pruning is painful and leaves lasting scars. But it is necessary. God would have us reach for the new things He wants to give. Instead, we often hold fast to dead dry things. When we are stubborn, God simply rips away the very things (or people) we are clinging to for our own good.

Left to ourselves, we can produce a lot of different things.

Doubt. Fear. Worry.

But that is not what God ever intended. Our Father wants more for us in this life.

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
and the work of their hands brings them reward. Proverbs 12:14 NIV

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ,
that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead,
in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4 NIV

I’m striving to produce those things our Father desires, not just whatever happens to come to mind.

I’ve also learned that becoming fruitful means enduring temporary pains to produce long-term gains. I’ll admit that lesson probably took a lot longer than it should have to learn.

Thankfully, God is patient. God’s power working in and through us can produce a harvest that truly glorifies Him and even allows us to love one another in the process.

What are you bringing forth?

Omnipotent…

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24:1-2 NKJV

Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?
Every word of God is pure;
He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him.
Proverbs 30:4-5 NKJV

Cast your cares.
The Creator of the multiverse is more than capable of handling your problems.
Let Him.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 NKJV

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Ephesians 6:2-4 NKJV

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY  to all those men who are strong when we are weak, offer shelter from life’s storms, and pull us up when we fall down.

In memory of fathers who served and sacrificed, held thankless jobs without complaint and simply did the best that they could…

Thank you.

 

 

What Are You Searching For?

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.  Isaiah 55:6 NIV

But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”  Psalms 40:16 NIV

Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
 Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always. Psalm 105:3 NIV

 

 

Time…

Timing is everything.

Or, at the very least it is mighty important.

Time is quoted in the Bible hundreds of times. The NIV cites “time” eight hundred and eighty-eight times!

I have a strange relationship with time. There have been times in my life I was quite short on time. As a result, I don’t like to waste it or eagerly give it up.

Some people don’t like to give up their money. My issue is with time. I figure, I can always earn more money but time, once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Then there are times when I know I did not act in God’s timing and lost favor I would have received had I done it when I was prodded to.

A few days ago, it struck me to go for a walk. There is a hill nearby that would give me a quick mile. It was nice and cool, around seven that morning. Well, I sat on my porch and drank some coffee. Then, I watched the birds. I even spent time with God. When I got up and got going it was nearly nine o’clock. The same number of steps, same calories burned but I worked for them! The time of favor (ease) I let pass a couple of hours earlier.

Have you ever regretted not doing something in a timely manner?

Did you learn from it?

I am a firm believer of “all things work out for the good of those who love the Lord,” having witnessed this firsthand. Still, I’d like to remember to do what God wants me to do promptly and not have to wait on God to work out the mess I make.

Live and learn.

Continually.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” Hebrews 4:15-16 NIV

“In our time of need.”

This makes me wonder if in those times I don’t receive what I’m looking for, if maybe I already have the grace and mercy I need and just don’t realize it?

Hmm…

Time is fleeting.

It is also precious.

I am trying to make the most of mine even as I learn to give it away.

Our times are in God’s hands.

Thankfully.

My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. Psalm 31:15 NIV

Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:8 NIV

Happy Mother’s Day!

“Her children rise up and call her blessed”

Celebrate your mother, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, godmothers, teachers, community leaders and all the women who have positively affected your life. If possible, give them flowers while they can smell them and kind words while they can hear them.

Here are ten lessons I learned from my mom…

Keep your eyes on your destination, not your current location

Good manners show respect for other people

The value of a good education

A great attitude can take you farther than a good education

Money can’t buy common sense

Don’t expect anything you aren’t willing to work for

How to cook with love

Generosity

Unconditional love

How to pray!

  Be grateful for all the great women God has placed in your life. 

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:  “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3 NKJV

Mother’s Day…

Two words that evoke love or dread.

Mother’s Day.

This weekend, mothers of all capacities will be celebrated. There are mothers to be and new moms engulfed in the glow of their newfound status.

There are also mothers mourning the unimaginable loss of children born and unborn.

This will be the second year without my mother. It will also be the first Mother’s Day I spend without the company of my children.

When my husband asked me what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day, my answer was, “lay low.” A day that once brought about fun memories with my kids now makes me keenly aware that Mother’s Day is painful for many.

 Yet, I distinctly remember one thing my mother said to me over twenty years ago.

“I will always be your mother and I will always love you.”

And she did.

The love of a mother and its bonds are strong.

It withstands life’s pains and problems. It allows grace for failure. A mother’s love suffers much. It restores confidence with a word and offers support in silence.

A mother’s love evolves and bends, but it never completely breaks. Maybe that’s why there is no other like a mother.

Celebrate your mother by heeding her wisdom and mothering those in need when you can. You don’t have to literally be a mother to teach, guide and love like one.

And If you’re like me, who would do well to merely reappear when it’s over, I challenge you (and myself) to smile over memories and good times once shared.

Give thanks for the women that love and nurture you.

Mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, sisters, sister-friends and aunts.

Other mothers who listen to and encourage you.

Show them love while you can.

Be gentle.

Be kind.

Be considerate and wise.

Celebrate and give thanks for the great women in your life, past and present.

Even take a moment to celebrate you.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

Dark Places…

Easter weekend found me giving more than a bit of thought to “Silent Saturday.” Other than egg hunts as a kid, little attention was given to the Saturday before Easter. Yet, these many years later, I suspect there are more “Silent Saturdays” in our lives than repentant Fridays or Sunday resurrections.

Perhaps, when things look worst, as they did after the crucifixion, is when God is doing the most. Our silent times tend to linger far longer than one day, and in some instances, years. Still, that does not mean our personal transformation is delayed.

Jesus foretold the disciples of his death and resurrection, nonetheless, the disciples were not waiting expectantly on Sunday. They disregarded the very promise Jesus personally gave them.

We, too, can find it hard to hold on to those things God promised us as well. When circumstances look less than ideal, it is easy to let go of our dreams and purpose and instead merely seek to survive. Like Thomas, we can find ourselves surprised and doubtful of the very things we prayed for when they come to fruition.

 As Jesus fulfilled His promise to the disciples, God fulfills His promises to us. Jesus lay in a tomb separated from those who loved him before He was glorified before the Father. Maybe we must endure some dark places as well in preparation for the very miracles we seek to receive.

I have witnessed a caterpillar spin a cocoon. I have seen beautiful butterflies break free of them. However, I have never observed the metamorphosis of one into the other. This transformation is done out of sight, silently and without fanfare. Only when there is movement out of the darkness and into the light can we delight in the miracle.

We all endure some dark places.

Yet, the darkness is temporary.

We can push forward, into the Light, to become the very people God created us to be.

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
John 12: NKJV

 

Gethsemane…

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. Matthew 26:36-40 NIV

In the above verses, Jesus asks his disciples to wait with him.  This simple request sounds like something we would ask our own friends if we were facing imminent death.

But what did those nearest and dearest to Jesus do?

They fell asleep.

My revelation from this is that there will be times in life where we are forced to go it alone. Friends and family will forsake us, through no fault of their own.

Even God may be silent.

Yet, Jesus teaches us by example how to persevere as we walk in those lonely places.

First, Jesus continued to pray even as his friends slept. He didn’t rely on them to keep him encouraged or uplifted. We often forget the Son of God was still a man with friends he loved and desired when he needed them most. But his friends would not wait with him. Three times they fell asleep. Three times Peter would deny Jesus. If people who literally lived among Jesus for years could fail him, why are we surprised when people fail us as well?

The second thing Jesus did was submit himself to the Father.  “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

 We should ask God’s will, “on earth, as it is in heaven,” no matter how awful it looks. The very things we pray to escape are often essential to producing the best outcomes. Jesus knew he would live again in three days, but he didn’t want to face the trial that preceded his triumph. Likewise, we dread our trials even though they eventually promote us. Like Christ, we need to endure as well. If Jesus, who was sinless, suffered, we will too.

Yet, our God is rich in mercy!

Jesus left with us the Holy Spirit, our Advocate, to help us and be with us forever. And as He did for Jesus, our Father often provides a Simon when our load is too much to bear as well.

Our journey may be lonely, but we are never alone.

God is faithful on earth and through eternity…

 

Spring Forward!

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”
Philippians 3:13 NKJV

Some things are intended to move with us.

Memories. Love. Lessons learned.

Others are meant to be forgotten and buried such as regret, disappointment, and fear.

Spring as a verb means to move in a forward direction; it also suggests momentum and height.

Some of us have lost our momentum. Others are not reaching high enough to attain the promises and abundance God generously gives.

In the above verse, emphasis is placed on the “I do.”  This indicates that it is an active and continual process to forget those things which are behind and reach forward.

It takes an effort to let go of pain and hurt. Remaining somber and disgusted won’t make the memories and emotions fade. It takes a concerted effort to forgive and forget. It takes a determination to reach, think, and look forward.

But it is God’s will for us to look forward and to look up to Him!

In spite of the many miracles experienced by the Israelites on their journey toward the Promised Land, their faith did not overcome the temporary discomforts of moving to a better place. They complained.

A lot.

In fact, their lack of faith, complaining, and the poor report from the spies sent to survey the land promised to them angered God so much that these naysayers never lived to see the promise fulfilled (Ref Numbers Chapters 13 and 14).

We would do well to learn from their mistake!

 Spring, new blooms and the Easter Season will soon be upon us. This is the perfect time to renew our minds and spring forward in whatever manner “forward” means for you.

Forget what lies behind.

Embrace the new!

“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert,” Isaiah 43:18-19 NKJV

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