Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Kinds of Soil- What Kind Do I Have?

I finished putting in my impatiens out front today, although there remain a few left in my flat. The ones that are seen here were placed in a spot that was flowerless for a long time. I thought it was time to bring it some life again. A friend encouraged me to do this very thing, bring my house, my garden beds, back to life.

Maybe at that time, I believed I just couldn't because of a dark and seemingly endless winter. But I was reminded: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," as it says in Philippians 4: 13.

Now, the Lord is restoring me to good health, vitality and His Joy. Praise Him! The sight of the flowers makes me happy. My gardening will never be elaborate, and my home will never be either. But I like what it says in I Timothy 6: 6-8:

verse 6: Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

verse 7: For we brought nothing into [this] world, [and it is] certain we can carry nothing out.

verse 8: And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

Pretty flowers on top of all spiritual and material blessings are just an overflowing abundance. Thank you Lord.

Even those flowers exist to glorify Him, as all His Creation does. I think the animals understand this even though people often times don't.

As I was working again, pulling out more weeds and dealing with different soils I again thought about how relative this gardening lesson was to my own life. I found an old rusty nail today. What does rust represent? Corruption. Jesus told us what rust did to treasures:

Matt. 6:19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 6:20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal."

All the things the world promise us end up being corruption if you follow after them thinking they will bring you happiness. There is only one way to find true happiness, and it is not through fame and fortune. Have you learned that yet? I hope so. It is a deception that will only leave you unfulfilled at the end. But I love this promise from God:

Proverbs 10:22 The blessing of the LORD makes [one] rich, And He adds no sorrow with it.

Let's get back to our parable in Matthew 13 though. According to Jesus in Matthew 13: 5, seed sown in stony soil does not produce fruit because its unable to form roots. When I consider that He meant that the seed is the precious Word of God, I don't won't to have stony soil in my heart so it is unable to receive it. That means I must be searching my heart, as David prayed in Psalm 139: 23-24. He was not afraid to beseech God to do this, because he realized that God already knew with Perfect Knowledge what was in his (David's) heart anyway. We can't hide anything from the Lord, so why not come clean with Him?

Some of the seed also fell among thorns. The definitions of a thorn (akantha) include 1) thorn, bramble and 2) bush, brier, a thorny plant (from ) I was pulling out lots of dead grass and weeds today before I could put in some of the new plants. Soon I had a pile of weeds, stones and dead roots and dried out grass. If I hadn't pulled these out, Jesus said in verse 7 they would have choked out my tender new ones. I could definitely see why. You have to make room for the new roots and you can't if the old ones are still in there, fighting for dominance. You can't have room for both. Do we want His thoughts (which lead to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22) or do we want it our way, leading to carnal death and being an enemy of God? (Philippians 3:18)?

Finally. the last soil spoken of by Jesus is described as being "good." The word is kalos and the first definition given is: ) beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable. Now I sure would like to hear that spoken to me at the Judgment Seat of Christ, but even Paul wasn't sure until the very end of his life that he would be a winnner on That Day.

Matt. 13:8 "But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Matt. 13:9 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

So that is the last word here for this post. I ask myself first, and then I ask anyone who may be reading: Do I have ears to hear? Do you?

I think about that every time I get so stressed that I start forgetting things and realize I am trying to do way too much and remind myself that Mary was the one Jesus commended, not Martha, even though she was running around in a frenzy trying to serve Him. (See Luke 10: 38-42)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Clearing the Land for Planting

My husband loves bright red flowers. This is probably due to the fact that his late mother Ruth always had her front porch planter boxes filled with red geraniums. It was her tradition, sure as Chevy's, apple pie, and lemonade.

My mother also, has a green thumb extraordinaire and manages gorgeous flower, vegetable and herb gardens. But I always saw myself as having a black thumb. It seemed every plant I touched died practically overnight. Our children did better with gardening than we did, especially our middle child. Finally, now I have come to realize that Mom was right after all. Gardening can be relaxing. But I resign myself only to flower gardening, and minimal at best. I'm trying to keep the red flower tradition going for my husband's sake.

So I was leaning over my front porch area where I was putting in some scarlet impatiens. Then my mind drifted to the new sermon (and series) started at church last Sunday 5/13/13 about Jesus' parables. There is so much more beyond the "apparent" surface meaning of the parables as Jesus relayed them first to the public and the last four only to his disciples.

The very first of them, however, about the sower and the soil was what came to mind as I cleared out and prepared my soil for my little flat of flowers. First off I noticed that I had a lot of brush to clear first before I could plant anything. Over the winter, dead leaves had accumulated, dead grass clippings, stones and pebbles. I even found some of the kids rubber bands from when they were paper carriers! It felt good to rip out the old debris and I started to muse about my own heart.

Did you ever think you were a "pretty good person?" Well, I thought I was doing pretty good. I never murdered anyone, never robbed a bank, never shot someone. You know the things that could make you Miss or Mister Self Righteous. But read through the Word a few times and you will get a different picture of your heart.

Even the most beautiful smiling baby is described BY GOD as having one of these in Jeremiah 17:9: "The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

That is why I have finally given up hanging onto my own little pity party and self righteousness which clearly sees the faults in others, but not so easily in myself. When I was a wee girl, I really got confused about when I heard Jesus said in Matthew 7:3 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 7:4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye? I thought Jesus was being mean! I mean, the poor guy was only trying to help. (Such foolishness!)

God has been doing a work in my heart. This work is all of grace. I cannot boast in anything but Jesus's blood stained cross.(Galatians 6:14) I only know that one of my dearest friends told me once that I needed to get free (John 8:32) in order to help anyone else. As I pulled, tugged and threw last year's weeds out, I considered, if any of them had remained, the new plantings could not have grown.

So it is with my heart. I have junk in there that needs rooted out. And if I desire what God desires, I cannot go wrong. For He is in the business of washing "junked-up" hearts, hearts that need a good cleansing like David requested in Psalm 51. You might protest, "But that might be painful!" Tell me about it. I know. I have tried living my life in two ways. One way was my way. This is what I discovered about that way:

Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death."

It doesn't have to be actual physical death, but it can be carnal death, (dying inside because you are completely miserable), for, in Romans 8:6-7, we are told:

Rom 8:6 For to be carnally minded [is] death, but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. Rom 8:7 Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

The other way is God's way...

John 12:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 12:25 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

I am definitely not saying I have arrived. I am learning, ever so slowly that when I do things my way they end up disastrously. But if I, as Jesus says in verse 25 above, "hate my life in this world" means I will end up keeping it. In losing my life, I find His Life, which is higher than any life I could have dreamed for myself. And Jesus promises some pretty awesome rewards to all overcomers in the Church Age in Revelation 1 and 2. Check out especially His promise to the last church, Laodecia, which is the church of the Last Days.

I have started to plant my flowers... after I prepared my soil by clearing the junk. Next time, let's talk about having a soil prepared for the plant, or in our case, the receiving of the Word of God.
May God bless any and all whom this may reach...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

"My Dear Sweet Mother" and Her 7 Nuggets of Wisdom

One day, when I was just a little girl, I was in Grandma's bedroom with her and observed photos on her mahogany dresser.

"Grandma, who is that lady?" I asked in my childhood curiosity, when I saw a woman whose face wasn't familiar.

"That," she replied, "is my dear sweet mother."

I have always remembered Grandma's words. She revealed in that moment a reverence and devotion toward her departed mother, who then I vaguely recalled meeting as a tiny girl. The way Grandma spoke of her reflected on a different time, a time when children truly honored their parents, and cared for them even as their hair whitened into old age.

And so I present my own precious mother today, in honor of Mother's Day. I want to honor her and bless her today and give her the thanks she so well deserves. I posted five things that made my mother-in-law Ruth a great woman yesterday. Today I want to share seven pieces of advice from the little lady I call "Mom."

1) Put the day in the Lord's hands.(See Matthew 11:28-30.) Mom and Dad have the most blessed routine in their retirement years. Each morning they gather together and read a devotional portion for that day from Jesus Callingby Sarah Young. This little book is remarkable and filled with grace. It lists Scripture references to go with each day's thought. Mom and Dad look up each verse and read it aloud. They pray together, praising and thanking God and give Him their concerns, and mention the family members in prayer as well. If I am to visit overnight, and I witness them doing this in the morning, I am blessed "out of my socks."

2) Ask Jesus to go with you throughout the day. (See Hebrews 13:5-8.)
All throughout her adult life, Mom has done this. She told me she asked for His guidance when she was a teacher as she never wanted to walk alone. I often get way ahead of myself and she often reminds me to slow down, take a breath, and walk with Him moment by moment. What wisdom she has!

3) Throw "today" in the wastebasket. (Reference Philippians 3:12-14.) Mom told me this when I was struggling all the way through public schooling. I would come home after someone said something particularly mean or rotten and I would cry to her, especially to her, and she would say just to throw the day away into the wastebasket. I had trouble with learning how to do that, but she had excellent advice that was Biblically sound.

4) Always do the best you can, and after that, don't worry about it. (See Colossians 3: 23-4.) I was very conscientious in school and Mom's words always echoed in my mind. I always questioned whether I had done my best, because I didn't want to let my parents down. In high school I took Organic Chemistry to help with my career track. The only problem was that I was totallyin the dark. I mean, I was faking any understanding that I had at all. It just made no connection in my brain. I even tutored with the father of a good friend of mine. He was wonderfully patient with me, but still, no light bulb went on. I ended up with a "D" in that class for my final grade. But Mom knew I had really tried my best, so there was no anger or condemnation from my parents. vs

5) Always get your homework in order before it's time to run out the door for the bus. (Look at I Corinthians 14:40.) How many times did I run for that bus? How many times do I still dream about missing the bus? Or how many times did I search for lost homework under my bed? This remains an area of difficulty for me, but Mom really did her best to try to help me out. I am just one of those crazy totally right-brained people. I organize in a totally different way than do most people, including my sisters, who are left brainers.

6) Have room and patience for your spouse as big as the state of Texas.(Look into Ephesians 5:22-33.) Mom didn't "tell" me this one, she lived it everyday before little watching eyes. My Dad travelled extensively when we were being raised and it left Mom with the difficult job of raising three unruly daughters who tried her nerves to the utmost. Poor Mom. But... Mom always stuck up for Dad, shared his dreams, and followed where he led. Dad fell in love with tractors and tractor pulling. There, right with him was dear little Mom sitting in the hot Arizona sun as he participated in the "pulls" and collected ribbons. Today, I look at them with wonder. I behold a couple so devoted to one another, that if one were to go, the other would be completely devastated. Thank you Mom, for showing your girls the importance of "standing by your man."

And finally...drumroll please...Mom's chief "Mom-ism:"

7) "It is what it is." ( See I Thessalonians 5: 16-18.) Dear Mother tells me this one a lot lately. But she is right, absolutely right. And I was too busy to listen to her. The Bible says in the reference verse says to give thanks in everything, not just in some things. Well, what if there are things in your life that you do not like? Mom says, "It is what it is." Give thanks for them. vs God let them into your life for a reason. He knows exactlywhat He is doing. The only thing He wants us to do is TRUST HIM. When we give thanks for things that we don't understand, we prove that we have faith in His plan for our lives. If we are loving Him, we are assured that He is working it out for the good, so that we can have the best things not only now, but in eternity, where it really counts.

To my dear sweet Mother, you taught me simply, yet you spoke profoundly with the Word of God to support all the advice you ever shared. It took me more than half of my life to realize your wisdom, after I thought I was so smart. I honor you, and say "Thank You" today.

"I see that you have opened your mouth in wisdom and in kindness. You have taken care of your household so well, and today, your children, (your three daughters), call you blessed. And your husband, he is praising you also. Many women have done wonderfully, but because you sought the LORD, you excelled all of them. While beauty flees away and charm deceives, a woman like you who fears the LORD will be praised. Now you will reap the fruit of your hands and your works will praise you in the gates.*

*my personal family paraphrase of Proverbs 31: 26-31

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Remembering Ruth..aka "Grammy" and Her 5 Habits of "Highly Successful Mother in Law-ing"

Let's be clear, Ruth was not my mother.
But she was important in my life, so much so that I have written about her more than once, though it hasn't been published. Ruth, though I never called her by that name, was the mother of my husband. But she was much more than just the butt of typical "mother in law" jokes. She demonstrated to me in a very humble way how to be a good mother in law and now I am wearing her shoes with two daughters in law myself. I never imagined myself in that position, but here I am.

Ruth did not live to see her eldest grandson, whom I bore, marry his Southern bride in May of 2010. Ruth died in 2008 after a battle with cancer and Alzheimer's. She held her dignity until the end, and her husband bravely cared for her up until the last few months, a daunting task for him.

My sons' weddings were almost a year apart. Suddenly I had a new role but Ruth was not there to guide me. I had to go on recall of how she had acted toward me. Here are my few nuggets Ruth "showed," not told, by her life.

1) Don't ever dictate to your daughter in law about their marriage. If you do, you could put your son's happiness and marriage to the test.You want your son to be happy. Support your daughter in law and try your best not to nose into their affairs with your opinions of how they should do this and that.

2) If the couple needs a little help, they will appreciate your efforts, whatever you can do. Ruth demonstrated this most beautifully to me. I had a major surgery and was bed ridden for a while. We had active elementary aged children then. She practically ran the house for me, taking over laundry and cooking for me and much more. It was all done cheerfully and naturally, as if that was just the thing you would do if any family member was sick. Thank you, Ruth.

3) Be generous with your son's family if they are open to it. Ruth absolutely loved getting the kids clothes at flea markets and such. After I washed them well, these clothes were a real blessing to us and not to be looked down upon. Ruth was trying to save us money. Only my husband was working at the time, in a stressful job to boot, and I was home absorbed with caring for the kids. Sharing was Ruth's way of showing her love.Thanks again, Ruth.

4) If you can be (and I realize many simply cannot) available if your children ask for help with babysitting, it would be wonderful if you can help them out. This was also something Ruth and Bob, her husband, were thrilled to do. When I bore our first two children we lived just ten minutes away from them. I was a new graduate nurse and did work for a short while. This is how Ruth became "Grammy." When my son was an infant she delighted in watching him in her house. I worked in the hospital for a while and then considered taking a job offer for a position in an office. It became a crossroad in my life. Did I want to be a working Mom or stay home and watch my baby grow? Knowing it would not be popular on all fronts, I timidly chose to stay with my baby. But if I had chose to work, Grammy would have most gladly watched him for me, indeed all my children. Grammy's eventual eight grandchildren (not all ours!) became her Pride and Joy!

5) Praise your daughter in law to others. When we told my husband's parents of our plans to teach our kids at home, well, the idea went over like a lead balloon. But only a few years later, Ruth saw how the kids were doing well and helping with home chores. Soon, she began singing my praises for what I was doing with them. I was amazed by it, and quite grateful.


Ruth, if you were alive today you would be quite proud to see how all your grandchildren have grown and are making
something of themselves. They remember you tenderly.

And Ruth, I wish you could see how your own children and the two daughter-in-laws and one son-in-law remember you lovingly as well also. Your kitty Missy is loved and cared for right here in our home, while Kitty Belle has joined you. You gave birth to my husband right around this time many years ago and so I say, " I haven't forgotten you. Rest now, my dear mother in law Ruth, and a job well done."

"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many daughters have done well, But you exceed them all." Proverbs 31: 28-29

Monday, May 6, 2013

God's Rod and How I Learn...

Proverbs 20:30 reveals to us, "Blows that hurt cleanse away evil, As [do] stripes the inner depths of the heart." I remember being instructed about this verse one time in a ladies study. How it was meant for the believer who is disciplined in love by their Heavenly Father.(Hebrews 12:5-11)

Well, the Hebrews writer, whoever he was, was absolutely right when he stated in Hebrews 12: 11:

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."

Boy, have I been taken to the Divine Woodshed. But I say, "Thank You, Dear Father!" For without Him taking me there, I would be a miserable, cantankerous mess.


Psalm 94:11 "The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they [are] vanity."

Without the filling of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God richly indwelling our souls that statement is absolutely true and I am the living proof of it.

For many years, I believed I was the victim of an unfair situation in my family of origin. I felt I was the least favored and thus was consumed with bitterness. It ended up corrupting many people. I was sure I received no respect and resented it for many years. I kept a record of wrongs, the very opposite of what we were instructed to do in I Corinthians 13:5. I sure had a lot to learn.

Hebrews 12:15 "...looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;"

Do I like revealing this about myself? Of course not! But I do it in the hopes of helping someone out there who may stumble across this, who may find themself in a similar situation. Please learn from my foolishness.

Ahhh, but Christ does all things well.

Mark 7:37 "... He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak."

When I get my little ole eyes off of my own little trinity of ME, MYSELF and I, and put them on the Holy Trinity, and on others, the ONES HE CAME TO DIE FOR, well, then, life becomes much happier.

I realized that this last weekend, when I enjoyed a "God blessed" trip with my wise and godly parents and spent some time with my sister's family. I watched her eldest son graduate from a solid Christian college in western Ohio and also greeted my daughter in law, who has just returned home after deployment. What a grace-filled trip.

Life is better for me when I do things God's way. How about you?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May Day! ... for Me!

So I woke up on May 1st like any other day. While half of America is still battling large snowstorms, we are blessed here to have sunny, pleasant spring-like days. I am thinking to myself about all the terrible things I am seeing surrounding me at this time. The economy sinking, terrorism growing, politicians failing us, families disintegrating, nations crumbling, wars and rumors of wars. The list goes on.

I think about it. Maybe I could post about May Day. Yes, that might be catchy. Yes, for I knew that it meant distress in some way. I checked again the definition online at the Free Dictionary by Farlex.

The first definition that came up was:

"An international radiotelephone signal word used by aircraft and ships in distress signal"

How appropriate, hmmm, little old writer me, I'll use it. But I do get sidetracked. I was going to get a haircut after dinner and do a couple errands at our little shopping plaza. I sat down to eat with my husband, and I had two Very Important Things that I just had to tell him right then.

The problem is, I talk and eat at the same time and then I start coughing and choking. Sometimes it can be awful. Like last night. When I experienced my very own little May Day. Wait a minute, Lord, I was going to write about that...

Suddenly, when my husband and I realized I could not get a sip of water or any beverage down and I felt like a big air bubble was trapped inside my stomach but I could not release it, my husband, who had worked in a GI lab, said we needed to go to the Emergency Room right away.

May Day! It is a panicky feeling when your saliva gets backed up and it starts to make you sick. I started hyperventilating, and by the time we reached the ER, my blood pressure had risen higher from its normal low.

They took me right away, just as my husband predicted. They gave me some meds in my IV to help the sphincter relax. It did respond a bit, but definitely did not clear. It was kind of humorous to me (if you could be laughing at a time like that!)but the nurse called the attending ER Physician and said:
"I have a food bolus in Room 14"

Now I have worn many different hats in my life, but being called a "food bolus in room 14" was never one of them. We did manage a laugh or two between my spit up sessions.

Everyone on the GI team assembled. All we needed was my doc. Please, what was taking him so long?

May Day! I am still gagging.

While all this is happening, I think, "God are you showing me that Iam the one who is in distress?"

I have to admit that I have a painful situation that I have carried for many years. It has not resolved, and it probably never will, this side of heaven. It is a person close to me that I deeply love, that I have sought to reach, to restore a relationship with. That person does not want to requite my affection in any way. I am hurt beyond words. I am grieving and it manifests itself in illness that is leaking out in various parts of my body.

By the end of the evening, I have an upper GI. My husband is present and doesn't like what he sees.

I have to deal with this.

I love this person.

But I have to get over the pain that hurts me.

Then I think about the ONE MAN who knew this suffering a trillion times more than I ever could. He knew billions of years ago, when He looked down the corridors of history, that this very thing would happen, even though He did not cause it.
He was looking down in love at all of us involved. He saw every part of it. I believe He felt every anguishing tear that we shed. He is not just a God that is way off somewhere, watching us groan and squirm down here.(Matt. 28:20)

Yet I am on a path, I want to count all things loss if only I will gain Christ at the end. (Phil. 3:7)

It says in Isaiah 52:14: "So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men."

Well, I can't say I have suffered like that or what Jesus did in Hebrews 2:9:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."

My suffering is probably caused a lot by my own failures to receive and apply grace in my own situation. So the Lord allowed me to suffer my own little May Day distress signal.

I was at the doc's mercy then. Who knows what would have happened if I didn't get treatment.

All I can say to my Gracious Heavenly Father today is:

Psalm 25:4 Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths

25:5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You [are] the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.

One last note, this post was about suffering distress. If you have not personally believed in Jesus Christ, the most horrid distress of all is awaiting you, ending up in a place the Bible calls the Lake of Fire.(Rev. 20:15) But Wait! You DO NOT have to go there! For Jesus has also heard the distress call of everyone on this planet. He awaits your positive consent to the facts of the gospel:
Jesus came as your substitute and died as the perfect God-Man upon the cross, bearing every sin you ever will or ever did commit.(Romans 3: 10-17) He completely satisfied God's wrath against all the sins of mankind.(Isaiah 53:10-11) God proved His satisfaction by raising Christ from the dead. You can be a fresh, BRAND new creature forever and be rescued eternally from the Lake of Fire by receiving God's gracious gift given through His Son.(II Cor. 5:17) If you believe this is in your heart, you will be saved from the wrath to come.(John 3:16, Romans 4:5) I beg you, do not put it off.