Blessings in Our Lives

Blessings in Our Lives

Grandma's Special Herbs

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us“— 2 Corinthians 4:7

As we enter the Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of legacy. Thanksgiving is traditionally a time of remembering family and the blessings we have. Taking time to remember those blessings can be the challenge. We are so busy with every day life of errands and work and school that we may miss the everyday blessings that God has provided for us. Little things done today, impact the events of tomorrow and ultimately the next generation. But what are we passing on? Are we so overwhelmed with the cares and struggles in our lives that we are missing the blessings? Are the things we are passing on things that last for a moment, a season, or eternity? Are they truly treasures? Are we taking time to unearth the blessings in our lives?

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”                                —-2 Corinthians 4:8-9channeled-whelk

Sometimes we need to hold on to our treasure as the waves crash around us.

It is only then we realize what we are holding onto, what is deep and buried just under the sand, what comes not from ourselves but from Jesus and our relationship with Him,—- is the true treasure.

Are we passing on–how to have peace amidst the stormlove when faced with adversity…. perseverance to stay the coursejoy that comes from God that gives us strength to see joy amidst the everyday struggles and routinesgrace for the moment

To take the time to count our blessings may mean digging away the sand that is keeping it hidden and allowing the waves to wash away the rough edges to make it smooth. We may not recognize the treasure for what it is. We may only see the tip or the edge. It may appear broken and insignificant, but God sees the treasure and the blessings that is beneath. If we allow Him, Jesus has the power to slowly move away the sand and wash away the dirt and reveal the hidden treasure that was there all the time. True treasures transcend our lifetime.  True treasures lay a foundation for our children to stand on and build upon. True treasures and blessings come not from us but from what Jesus has done for us and within us. The power is from Jesus and not from us.

 

 

 

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Stand therefore…

Stand therefore…

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” Ephesians 6:14

Ever watch a tennis match? My son plays tennis. We enrolled both our boys in tennis lessons when they were little tikes and could barely hold a racket. Every coach they ever had talks about the importance of the stance. What is the stance? It is how you hold the racket and how you stand when you are waiting for the ball. The player stands with feet apart, both hands on the racquet (so can hit forehand or backhand as needed), and eyes on the opponent. In other words, your head is in the game. Why is this important? Because the milliseconds it takes for you to get into position to hit the ball square with the racquet could mean you slicing the ball, missing the ball completely, or even being hit by the ball. Ouch!!

Just like a tennis match, we are to ‘stand’. The word stand, ‘histemi‘, is a verb meaning to stand ready or prepared, stand with a steadfast mind, stand as one who does not hesitate, stand as one who does not waiver.

What does your stance look like?

Are you girded about with the truth of God’s word? Do you have on the breastplate of righteousness? To a soldier, a breastplate protects your vital organs, the heart and lungs and major arteries. Without the breastplate a blow can be fatal.

Righteousness means to be in right standing with God. It is the state in which we ought to be. It involves integrity, purity of life, virtue, correctness of thinking, feeling and acting. Notice how much of this definition involves the heart.

For our sake He made Christ [virtually] to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him, by His goodness]”. 2 Corinthians 5:21

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What does your breastplate look like? Is it the breastplate of righteousness?

(photo selected: by FreePik/Dan Mirica <a href=”http://www.freepik.com”>Selected by freepik</a>)

Radio man

Radio man

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

With a house full of testosterone, I have learned to appreciate a good war movie every now and then. They remind me that you can have courage under fire and strength when you need it.  (FYI…..Although my husband tries to convince me that Braveheart is a love story, I am still not convinced). Recently, I was watching this movie where the combat team is highly specialized and they are on a secret covert mission during WWII. The introduction goes through each man and gives their name, rank, expertise i.e. John, Lt, sniper; Frank, Col, leader; Bill,Lt, knife expert; Joe, night vision; Sam,demolitions, etc. All have been on multiple missions and all have been highly decorated for success and bravery under fire.

Then we get to the last one, Bill, RADIO MAN.

Experience— none.

Military— only 6 mos.

Reason for being chosen— other guy got sick.

Location when picked— in chair at the radio on the plane.

Reason chosen— no time to pick someone else.

Do you ever feel like ‘RADIO MAN’ or woman ?

I ask God some times, “Why am I here, Now. Not exactly what I had planned, God.” I think that maybe Radio Man thought, ” yeah, in the military talking on the phone, should be easy.” He asked the lead commander what the mission was and was told “need to know” (standard military response for –just obey orders peon).Ok, now Radio Man is on a mission he wasn’t trained for or briefed on and he is getting shot at. Radio man just about gets sick right there. But the good news is, he is THE RADIO man. Which means maximum protection!

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 21:6

063In God’s army, we are like THE RADIO man. We have maximum protection. We may be in a battle and not know why or how, but God always has His plan and reason. The battle will bring out fruit in our lives that can only come out under fire. This is the time where our relationship with God flourishes. It is the time where Jesus shines forth in all His glory. The battle is not ours, but His. The victory is in His hands.

We don’t need to know the mission, it will be revealed to us when the time is right. In the mean time, press into the relationship with Jesus, learn to hear His voice and His voice alone. Allow Jesus to do His perfect work in our hearts.This is a time for prayer coupled with action. Let your heart stay soft and sensitive to the voice of God. Look for the miracles amongst the battle.

Praise Jesus and ‘thanks to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’  1 Cor 15:57.

In case you are wondering, What happened to Radio Man? Well, the original mission failed and had to be changed in mid battle. As it turned out, they had to sabotage a submarine minefield that was controlled by radio signals. Guess what, only Radio Man knew that equipment. The original man chosen would not have been able to do it. As a result, the American fleet made it through. When the battle is over we will be able to look back and see that it is no mistake that we were where we were. Jesus sees the big picture when we don’t.

(FYI– the movie is Ambush Bay by United Artists, 1966)

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Gazebo Gallery

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When did you feel like ‘Radio man’ or ‘Radio woman’ and how did you receive ‘maximum protection from God’?

Princess…Inside and Out…Spiritual Mamas

Princess…Inside and Out…Spiritual Mamas

Princess…..Inside and Out…..Honey, Patricia, Janet, Carol

In God we Trust….four words that bring so much controversy. It is not the world we grew up in and I am sure our parents thought the same way. Songs, videos, books that praise God’s name are viewed as offensive, but when we are in a time of need, we drop to our knees…. from which comes our strength, our hope, our joy. I know we refer to the faith of our ‘founding fathers’ as the basis for this, but it goes deeper than that. It is the very core of our being. It is the empty hole we cannot fill with anything else. Since the beginning of time man has tried to fill that void with all sorts of things from money, daring excitement and adrenaline rushes (natural or man made), sexual pleasure, or just wanting to be in the best house in the best neighborhood with the best job and the best family (the idea of a ‘perfect’ life). All these are fleeting and bring joy for a season.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

As a teenager, I learned that negative emotions can be habit forming and that joy has nothing to do with happy times or happy circumstances. Joy comes from knowing God and knowing that He is there with us always. Jesus will supply all we need physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially. As a teenager, my parents divorced and my mom and my sister and I moved to a new town. I struggled with my identity of who I was and with acceptance as most young girls do. During this time, God brought four ladies, friends of my mom, into my life, Honey, Patricia, Janet and Carol. They filled in the ‘mama’ gaps when my mom could not. What I saw in them was the power of prayer and faith in God and Jesus’ ability to fill that ‘gap’ in my life and bring true joy. Their families and children were not perfect, but their love for Jesus was. I saw a faith and determination to trust Jesus through the hard times and rejoice with Him in the good times. Their relationship with Jesus was and still is a steady anchor in their lives. I wanted that for me; a faith that expressed itself in the unconditional love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. A joy that permeated to the core of my being.

Honey had ( and still does) a joy that lights up regardless. I treasure her statement, ” It is not an obstacle but an opportunity for God to overcome.”

Patricia showed me how still waters can run deep. She has integrity and showed me how to stand on principles of God and not to compromise. God has His best for you, don’t settle for anything less.

Janet, a prayer warrior (then and now), showed me where my source of strength needed to come from— the word of God, my relationship with Jesus  and prayer. Through Janet, I learned that in order to be as Psalm 1 states” tree planted by the waters that produces fruit in due season”, then I needed to take time and be open and honest with God. I needed to allow the healing blood of Jesus to forgive.Our own abilities and intellect can only go so far and will only produce temporary fixes in our lives, but Jesus’ fixes are deep and permanent.

Carol showed me that Jesus is the source of wisdom and discernment, not my own mental understanding. I watched her stop many times and pray before making a decision and it didn’t matter the size of the decision. I could tell by the look on her face that she wasn’t just pondering the situation, but was saying,”Ok God, what do you want me to do?” Wisdom, understanding and discernment come from a spiritual ear and heart tuned to hear God’s voice. In order to hear God’s voice I needed to know Him and in order to know Him  I needed to read His word.

Through these ‘spiritual mamas’ I learned to not dwell on my own short comings, failures, inadequacies and struggles, but instead to develop a love for God and to trust Him.” All things are possible to him who believes, ‘ Mark 9:23.Thank you Jesus for the praying ‘spiritual mamas’ in my life.

summer deals!

photo from www.freepik.com
photo from http://www.freepik.com

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Look around for the ‘spiritual mamas’ in your life. What characteristics did they impart to you?

A time to Plant ….. A time to Uproot

A time to Plant ….. A time to Uproot

A time to be born and a time to die, A time to plant and a time to uproot. Ecclesiastes 3:2

For some reason I have had a hard time putting this one together. I don’t know why. I grew up with gardens. My sister and I were in charge of  sowing the seeds as dad made the furrows and tilled the ground. Hours were spent gathering the harvest, and preparing it for the freezer or table. I still wince when I think about husking corn and finding a worm, yikes! I have the muscle memory to snap beans in my sleep! The work was worth it. Come winter, we had fresh corn and vegetables on our Thanksgiving and Christmas table.

What kind of seed are you sowing? What kind of harvest are you looking for?

What I learned from this is that to reap something good, you have to first plant something good. If you miss the time to plant, you will miss the time to harvest. Some may be looking for a harvest and they have not planted a crop yet. “Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7) In Colossians 1:6 we learn that “the gospel is producing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all truth.” Fruit comes from the inside out. You cannot produce healthy good fruit that last for eternity on your own. Only being led by the Holy Spirit and not by your own selfish desires will you produce fruit that is eternal. (Galatians 5:16-26)

What kind of soil are you planted in? What kind of fertilizer are you spreading in your heart?

In Hebrew, the word here for ‘plant’ also means to ‘establish, put down roots’. “So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Col 2:6-7) In order to reap an abundant crop, you need strong roots that can nourish the plant and the fruit it produces. You need light, water, and good soil . The Israelites had planted themselves in Egypt, the land of sin and idols, and it took God 40 years to replant them in the soil of the Promise Land. Planting in good soil and uprooting weeds takes courage and strength. There may be rocks and boulders that need to be cleared. God told Joshua three times to “Be strong and of good courage.” (Joshua 1:6,7,9). Think of the American settlers heading west. When they reached the prairie, they did not know how to develop it. Would anything grow? They kept going west to where there were trees, something familiar to them. As a result, the Midwest was one of the last areas to be settled. Today, the Midwest is known as the “Breadbasket” of the US. You may have areas in your heart and life that the ground has become so hard and barren that nothing can grow. Like the prairie, there is a crop of coarse grass and stickers. You don’t know where to begin or how to clear it for an abundant harvest.  Or maybe you are going for what is familiar. It may seem easier to hide some things and not face them.This will only last a short while, for God desires abundant crops in all areas. Remember it takes work to clear land. It means doing something different.

What needs to be cleared? What needs to be uprooted? Are we watering what needs to be watered?

We may not know what to do with the land God has given us. We may not know, but God knows. Somethings may have to die in our hearts and lives for others to live. God has the nutrients and  resources for an abundant crop. When you add the Holy Spirit and the blood of Jesus to your land that God has given you, the land will flow with milk and honey. Come to Him in prayer and lay them at the cross. When you allow God to fight your battles and clear your land, your heart, then you will see that there are things already there that have been planted. Things that are good. They were being choked out by the weeds in our life. There may be areas in your life that you have been trying to tend, weed, water, etc. but only in your power. If you just trim under your own power, it will come back with a vengeance. We trimmed a vine that my kids affectionately called ‘Plantzilla’. We thought it is gone. We were soooo wrong! It came back greener and more wide spread then ever. We didn’t get the roots. Only the Holy Spirit can pluck up from the roots.  Allow the Holy Spirit to pluck up areas in your life that are crowding out the crop that God is planting. ‘Pluck up’ or ‘uproot’ in the Hebrew means to ‘render useless for battle’.  Jesus already is the victor over the things that are waging war against us. On the cross, Jesus rendered them useless in our lives. (Romans 5:6-17) God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy spirit, whom He has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:5-6)Maybe you  have built walls around your gardens. Don’t worry the Holy Spirit has a ball and chain that is capable of crashing down walls. God brought down the walls of Jericho for Joshua and the Israelites. He is capable of bringing down the walls of your heart.(Romans 8) In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us ….” (Romans 8:26)You will need to tap into the living water of Jesus.When you allow the Holy Spirit to do the watering then you will reap a harvest that lasts. Like Jesus told the woman at the well, you need living water that you will not thirst again. (John 4:4-13) Situations, things, people, work are not the problem. Not having a relationship with Jesus is the problem. God blesses the land as result of the relationship. (Romans 6:1-14) Think eternal. God does. Look for the bumper crop. Remember there is a “time to plant”, don’t miss that time and in so doing miss your harvest.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:9-15)

Helpful Links:

http://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=three_characteristics_of_humility

http://www.cbn.com/stepstopeace/index.aspx?intcmp=EVAN0017

 

Easter Garden

 

Here is a picture of an Easter garden our kids made. Easy to do with a planter box, clay pot and some stones. We used pansies and begonias in the garden.

 

 

 

photo from www.freepik.com
photo from http://www.freepik.com

 

Gazebo Gallery:

What kind of seed are you sowing? What kind of harvest are you looking for?