Monday, July 25, 2016

Noise Be Gone


The other night I was suffering with a constant ringing in my ears. It just wouldn't go away. I hummed, swallowed hard, tried to ignore it...to no avail. Errrr! It was really getting on my nerves. I finally drifted off to sleep; only to wake up later with the ringing still persistent. (Good news, it finally went away. Shew!)

That episode got me thinking though...that's so comparable to the way the devil works. He speaks something, always a lie, and he just keeps poking and prodding away at us. It's like the annoying ringing sound in my ear. It seems to blare over the megaphone like cheering at a football game! Over and over again...lies, lies, lies...until we can't hear anything else.

The sad thing is that many times we side with the devil about what he's telling us. In reality we might be saying:

"You're right, devil, I have been treated ____________." (You fill in the blank.) 


"You're right, devil, they did ______________ to me and made me feel ________." (You fill in the blank.)

On and on we could go, he is sly, sneaky and always tries to tear relationships apart (between us and God or us and others we need in our lives) or cause disastrous outcomes in our lives.

Remembering, the devil comes not but to steal, kill and destroy, that he cannot tell the truth, and that he's loud and relentlessness might help us learn to identify his work and agenda. He puts us down, makes us feel intimidated, inferior, unloved, etc. See? It's always the exact opposite of how the Lord desires us to feel. And...if we're agreeing with him, we're signing up to play on his team and against God. The end thereof is destruction! BEWARE!!!

Let's learn to tune him out and speak truth. If we can't find the strength to speak into our own lives, maybe it's time we should find someone to scream it at us. Not really. Screaming isn't exactly how we should handle such a situation. Talk about gigantic misfire. Hello! Whatever way we go about it, we must silence the lie. Tune out the static noise. Listen for God's voice. Truth. Always.

Whether it's a ringing noise in your ears or the voice of the enemy, it's frustrating. We CAN be successful and victorious over the enemy's constant picking though - by realizing "who" it is making all the racket, putting some spiritual cotton in our ears, and screaming out what is true. Let's not give him an audience. Ignore him and put it out of our minds. Don't believe a word!

It's not always easy, but then again, who said the battle is easy? It takes work and determination. It's a choice. Let's make the right one.

 Resist the devil and he WILL flee. We have power within us to overcome. Don't put up with it and let it go on and on like the ringing in my ears which I had no power to stop. We have a choice to STOP this evil, unnecessary noise in its tracks. INSTANTLY! NOISE BE GONE~



 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Listen...It's a Love Song

The static noise that slowly fades from nothing until it takes over and that's all you can hear. *SSSSSSSSSSS*

As you drive down the highway, headed out of town on vacation or perhaps a business trip, you're be-bopping to the tunes playing across the radio waves. All is well. You might not notice it as soon as it begins, but suddenly you're accutely aware that those tunes are being interrupted by static noise. *SSSSSSSS* 

You continue to drive on, trying to endure the distracting static through the end of your "favorite" song which just so happened to come on only seconds ago...only to get a mile or two further and the static has finally won out and all you hear is the steady "sizzy" of static. You've gotten too far away from the source (radio tower).

Side note - I knew a young man once who insisted that the aforementioned static was somehow romantic. I laugh! OUT LOUD! Seriously? What could be more annoying than  that? Someone tell me. I'm waiting.

Whether you consider this white noise romantic or not, it is definitely distracting and more people than not will quickly choose to go "channel surfing" for a clearer song. Hit. Scan. Ahem...I'm guilty!

I think about my days. As I rush about doing the things a lady of my age does. Even with only one adult child left at home, there's always something to do, somewhere to go, dishes to wash or clothes to fold. I find that sometimes the static of life gets quite unbearable. Gives me a headache. And a heartache at times.

It's at those moments that I find myself shutting myself into my room with a book or something a bit-more-quieter to do. The noise becomes too much for me! Let me go in here, to this set-apart place, where I can really hear. Nothing. Just silence.

Spiritually? I find I need the quiet places in life to draw near to the source of my joy, hope and peace. When the static gets unbearable, I have to stop and ask myself, "Have I wandered too far from the Source?" *SSSSSSSSSS* 

How nice it is to leave all the "noise" of life and nestle safely under the wing of my Savior. What lovely melodies I can hear when I'm shut away. When I'm quiet and draw near to Him,  I clearly hear His love song to me...and I can feel His overwhelming love. How's that for ROMANTIC!? 

"But it is good for me to draw near to God..." Psalms 73:28

Are we channel surfing today? 
 
I encourage us to stop the static. *SSSSSSSSS* We're traveling, but we don't have to lose the melody of the song. Let's not be content to listen to static. God longs to pull us near and speak (sing) softly to our heart but He's waiting on us to realize exactly what we're missing out on. Slow down. Step aside. Tune out all the noise of life...and see exactly what He has to today. 

Let's draw near to Him and declare His works. There may be someone in our day who needs help tuning in. Be sensitive. We're nearing home. He is coming for His bride very soon now. The signal should be stronger than ever. No more *SSSSSSSSS*...listen...it's a love song.


I'm reminded of an old song. I wanted to share: 

Shut in with God in a secret place 
There in the spirit, beholding His face 
Gaining new power to run in this race 
Oh, I love to be shut in with God




Thursday, July 14, 2016

Singing in the Garden

 "The LORD thy God...will rejoice over thee with joy...
he will joy over thee with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17 

I hear singing among the leaves in the garden.

Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, okra, fresh herbs and flowers...oh! how I love the sights and smells of things growing.

Every morning, I meander outside onto my back porch to have a walk-about through my "pot garden". Before you shake your head in disgust, let me clarify: I don't like to get "dirty" more than I have to and I don't like to worry about snakes or other critters, so I am the proud keeper of a thriving container garden...right outside my back door.

As I begin to water each day, I think along these lines: I know that pepper plants don't need as much water as cucumbers do. I water accordingly. I'm also aware that each container needs to be situated so that it gets the correct amount of sunlight to thrive. There are so many variable when it comes to different plants...it's more than just air, sunlight and water. Some plants are more prone to disease than others.There are many details to take into account.

As I'm walking around, taking it all in, I often think about how God knows every detail about us. Yes, we're all humans, but we each have our own characteristics, personalities, talents, strengths and weaknesses. He knows each of us in a detailed way! 

He knows what makes us tick. He knows how many strands of hair we left behind in our hair brush this morning. He keeps inventory of the number of hairs on our head. Imagine that! Isn't it glorious to know that we're so well-looked after? I mean, do you keep up with how many hairs are on your head? I don't think about it much. (OK, maybe I did start counting when the "grays" started poking through...until I lost count.)

I get so excited when I finally get to snip a cucumber or perhaps a sprig of basil from my garden to add to a recipe. It's amazing to watch new blooms and shoots form and then blossom into mature herbs or veggies. I love it when I'm able to help revive a dying plant or recognize a pesky problem before it's too late. What delight!

I stop. I wonder how excited God must get when He sees something growing within us as we walk daily with Him? Does He smile when we overcome a bad habit, or maybe we extend a bit of extra grace to someone when we'd normally fly off the handle? My friend, I don't imagine He misses a thing. He's aware of our every move. That is amazing.

While I'm working with my garden, I often find myself singing or humming. To me, gardening is good therapy and a start to a great day. Isn't it wonderful that God has given us the opportunity to experience the feelings of rejoicing over something so simple? A plant. Growth. Maturity. I guess we kind of take after our Heavenly Father, don't we? 

Yes, He rejoices and sings over us...how's that for gardening extra-curricula? Let's all hum along together we gracefully grow into what He wants us to be. Thriving. Abundantly living. Lights - in a dark & evil world. Sing. Rejoice, something is growing~


Monday, July 11, 2016

Phases...While We Wait

"... He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: 
for without me ye can do nothing."   John 15:5
Phases...

While it is growing beneath the soil, we cannot "see" anything. We must have faith.

The first peek of the curling leaves come forth...we can see, but cannot partake. We must have faith.

With stems growing stronger, leaves becoming larger...still there is no fruit. We must have faith.
A beautiful bloom blossoms into being...closer to fruit but we still can't "see" it. We must have faith.

The beginning of the actual fruit is now visible...but not mature...still waiting. We must have faith.

Once mature, it must be harvested before we can enjoy it. We must have faith.
Phases...

A plant is maturing and growing from the time the seed is dropped into the ground and begins to die. While it is becoming "fruitful", it goes through different phases and it doesn't come to fruition overnight. No INSTANT here! It's a process silently conducted by the Creator.

The Lord speaks of His children being "fruitful" in multiple places in His Word. It even talks about bearing much fruit. I believe, just as with a plant - each stage of that process looks different on us too. We don't ARRIVE overnight.

It takes patience, we must wait while we're growing, while He is bringing it to pass...no matter what it looks like. We must have FAITH.

Phases... 
If we become discouraged and decide not to feed and water our plants; on those hot, hopeless days, they will wilt and eventually die. There will be no fruit. End of story.

That's one thing we never have to worry about God doing - giving up on us. He doesn't become disappointed with our progress. We are safe in His hands. As He silently conducts the growth in our lives, we change each and every day, no matter what it looks like on the outside. Have faith, it's a phase. It might not look like what we expected; but glorious things are happening regardless. We should worship while we wait...even on the difficult days...it's like fertilizer, my friend, and it always gets God's attention.

Phases...when God is the Conductor...there WILL BE FRUIT. Have faith. Worship.

No matter where we are on the road, happy fruit-growing phase to me & YOU~

Worship while you're waiting!


Friday, July 8, 2016

A New Thing Springs Forth

" Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth..."  
Isaiah 43:19


A road trip to Kentucky to see my grandparents last October blessed me with more than a time of memories of time spent together. I received beautiful potted Geranium. I know, the picture isn't one of that sort of plant...keep reading. 

My grandmother had received this potted plant on Mother's Day in honor of being the oldest mother in her church. And so, she had made two separate plants out of that plant; and decided to bless me with one of them...complete with it's hanging basket.

It made the road trip back to Georgia just perfectly in the back seat...completely safe in the seat belt. Yes, within me was this intense determination to keep this plant alive and well in honor of my Mamaw. (Did I mention that I'm a VERY sentimental person?!)

Only...as the winter season approached, my efforts failed and I lost it. I was discouraged. The desire to make this gift thrive, it had been there all along, but the cold, wintry season had won the battle.

This spring, I sowed several Cayenne pepper plants in the same container using the same potting soil. As the pepper seedlings began to peek from beneath the dark soil, I began to get excited. (I always do, something about GROWING something from a dying seed. I love it!) Anyhow, the pepper plants grew and when they were a little under a foot tall, I noticed a new plant growing in the pot too.  Hmmm...

A wispy, fern-life tendril was breaking forth into life and started climbing up the hanging basket wiring. After a couple days, it dawned on me...this was a plant from my Mamaw's. (Hello, sentimental gal - bring on the tears.) God had blessed me with a plant of my grandmother's after all. They grow all over her back porch in the summer producing beautiful vines with tiny, red flowers. (If you can tell me the name of it, I'd appreciate if you'd leave it for me in a comment below.)

I made the decision and carefully transplanted the peppers, which I had decided to grow, into other pots and left the little vine to flourish. I suppose God decided He wanted to surprise me with something else better than peppers. He even decided to let them show up in the same hanging basket container.

Then it hit me...an "aha" moment:

Sometimes God doesn't let things work out exactly how you and I want them to...no matter how sentimental we might be or with what determination we have mustered up. No, sometimes He has a better plan. Sometimes He allows things to die. Sometimes He allows plans to fail no matter how hard we work to bring them to pass. Yes, sometimes He desires to do a NEW THING and somehow it's always for our good and for His glory. His ways are not our ways.

Every single time. What great HOPE we have in Him.

So, as I watch this beautiful, new bundle of life weave itself along the lattice of my back porch, I am reminded that God will make things beautiful according to HIS PLAN and timing...not mine. And...I'm learning to be OK with that one day at a time. Sure helps to have a reminder though. Thanks Mamaw! Thanks God!! Simple things~

** Prayer request: My grandparents are both up in years now, my Papaw has dementia and my Mamaw is tired. Please keep them in your prayers during this difficult part of their journey. Mr. & Mrs. McCloud. Thanks.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rocky Road & Soggy Waffle Cones

"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy..." Zephaniah 3:17

I'm different today than I was a month ago. I'm not the same person I was five or ten years ago. The truth is I'm not even the same person I was just yesterday. With each day comes a dose of life; and sometimes it looks much like a ginormous, triple scoop, Rocky Road ice cream cone on a scorching hot, July, Georgia-kind of summer day. 

As I stand there in the middle of my day, enjoying such a sweet treat, I can't seem to lick the scrumptious sweetness quick enough. It quickly begins to melt and drip down over the crispy, waffle cone, over my fingers and drop by drop, onto the ground below. You see, as delicious and enjoyable as it may be, even an ice cream cone doesn't remain the same for long. 

We change. We experience life. It's a road trip we all must travel. Often we find ourselves much like the child in the candy shop - chubby nose pressed anxiously against the cold, glass counter display. How our taste buds begin to dance about as we decide which to choose for our goody bag. Then, at other times, the "delightful" isn't quite there. Whether the day brings a positive or negative experience, we are touched by it...and forever changed.

It's was during one of those, not-so-enjoyable times in my life, when instead of having the option of choosing a soft, sugar-crusted, gumdrop assortment, there I stood with a soggy waffle cone topped with a semi-liquid, chocolate and cream concoction. Life can leave such a mess! Somebody bring on the napkins! No, forget the napkins, bring the water hose already! SOMEBODY, just help! The phrase "hot mess" comes to mind.

So, there I stood wondering if the "new" me would still be loved and accepted. Or would I now prove to be a burden or too much to be around? It became hard to smile at times. Would that chase people away? Would people stick around for the "messy" me on the humid, summer day? (Questions the enemy can interrogate us with when we've got heat exhaustion.) There was so much to say, but instead I stood there in silence. Longing for some companionship yet fighting hard to resist the urge to run away. Desiring to build bridges but instead erecting walls at the expressive speed of light. You see? Hot mess is an under-statement. Dripping. Messy. Sticky. 

Ever been there? It's a scary place to be, don't you agree? No matter how much you love God, life happens. It can bring joy. It can also hurt deeply at times. And people change during the journey no matter what. 

One comforting thing I found though, God is faithful - every time. He never changes or leaves us like He finds us. We're never alone on those messy days. He carries and sustains us. He doesn't mind the hot, sticky mess I (or you) can become. He gave His life for our mess! He has plans and a purpose for us...right in the middle of a hot, Georgia (or wherever you may find yourself) summer meltdown. Oh, how He loves us...and He chose us. In spite of it all...just because He could.

So imagine with me if you would, we're standing there in the hot, sunshine, enjoying our cold, sweet treat together. All is going well it seems, then we notice the first cold drip against our warm, chubby fingers. Then another. We lick faster. Another drip. There, standing with us, is our gracious, grace-giving, very present Help...He welcomes us to bring ourselves, complete in our messiness, to Him. You see, He delights in melting Rocky Road and soggy waffle cones after all. 

I sigh in relief...and you have that privilege too. *drip*

Melting Rocky Road ice cream in a soggy waffle cone
makes for the best summer treat - said no one ever!
 

***Trying this for the first time today....feel free to link-up...I hope it works :)




Sunday, July 3, 2016

LOST in the Hands of God

"...but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God." I Sam 9:27

There are times in life when things go missing...keys, sneakers or perhaps a ten dollar bill. Yep, it happens. Then there are times other things go missing...our dreams, life plans and expectations. Yep, that happens too, but when those things go missing it's on a much larger life-scale. 

Sometimes we find ourselves experiencing these larger-than-life losses in an instant. If you're like myself (I'm working on it, folks!), you might go into panic mode and wonder, "God? Are you there? What's this about?" Or perhaps, "This isn't the life I signed up for!" would be more appropriate. Yet, get ready, brace yourself - sometime God allows us to lose things. On purpose!

In I Samuel 9, Saul's daddy's donkeys (whew! a mouth-full) had gone missing. A big deal back in that day! And, because I know the story in it's entirety, I can just picture God "misplacing" those animals on purpose...just because He can and it was part of His plan for His children. Saul went searching, decided to inquire from the man of God. God had already told Samuel to be expecting Saul. Etc. Etc. Etc. (You can read all about it. It was a plan perfectly laid out...by the hand of God. Period.)

When things in our lives go missing, you know, the big stuff: all the stuff that we had imagined that would just make life hunky-dory, do we stop to think how maybe God misplaced them on purpose? Perhaps that's the only way He can get our attention for something else He had in mind that might be, what, BETTER for us? Seriously! Maybe our dream job, the one we lost yesterday, was keeping us from fulfilling God's purpose for our lives. Or the perfect plans we had made, you know, the ones that seemed to go up in smoke last month, maybe they would have been detrimental to our soul. Maybe things get LOST for our good at times; and yes, it's hard to see that when we're in the middle of the drama of life. God sees the entire picture though! 

We read in God's Word that "all things work together" and we shake our heads in agreement on Sunday morning when the preacher speaks this into our lives. On Monday though, we might find ourselves in turmoil because we've suddenly lost something more important than our keys or lunch money. 

No matter what, let us remember (while we're trying to stay afloat) that God is God. He sometimes allows things to go missing in our lives, true; however, He is the Author of our lives and can choose to rearrange our story at any time He chooses. What we feel as a loss today, may be for our own good. When we look back on it next week, next month or ten years from now, what will it look like? Did God do that on purpose? I'm not saying it will always be easy when we lose, that we'll be all smiles about it and be immediately boasting of the goodness of the Lord in the midst of the trial, but one day...

While his daddy's donkeys were being found, Saul was pulled to the side by Samuel and shown the bigger picture. He was going to be king. Something crazy God had planned out. (I say that with the utmost respect for the Almighty) True story! Sometimes God allows us to lose something to get our focus back on Him or in order to bring what He has planned into fruition. Maybe it's permanent. Or perhaps only temporary. No matter what, His ways are always best...LOST for our good...and always for His glory. 

Now, where did my keys go? lol

Friday, July 1, 2016

Thank you, God Girlz

So, no matter what you DO (what you feel "called" to do, what God "made you to do" or any other way you might like to phrase it) sometimes what you DO makes you a bit more vulnerable than is comfortable at times.

For me, it's writing. I LOVE to write. I always have. My favorite part of high school, next to blessed art classes, was English with Mrs. Davis where we picked a topic every week and just began writing. It didn't matter a hill of beans what the subject was, I'd dive in and swim under-water for as long as I possibly could before resurfacing, frantically gasping for air. I LOVE to write. Yes, I guess it's safe to say that God made me that way. Why else would anyone love the tedious task of writing?

As I post on this blog (which isn't the only thing I write), there are moments when, to be honest, I wonder how it might sound to others, if I'm being too transparent, if I'm making sense or if what I'm writing is even relevant. To be honest, I am often severely overcome by a rush of nervous, cold chills right before I hit the "publish" button which puts my thoughts out there for the whole world to see. It's a big thing! Its scary! And, maybe that's a good thing because it keeps me on my toes and humbled simultaneously. Yes, learning to slide into that vulnerable state is a constant struggle, but if I'm going to give what is on my heart or share what has happened in my life, how else can I do so without going there?  Can I get an "amen"?

I suppose that's why it is important to have a team of people who will come beside you and encourage you to do what you do. Yes, even when it doesn't seem quite so comfortable! We need those people in our lives who will push us forward when we feel like retreating. You know, God places those specific people in our lives for a reason. We. Need. Them. He knows all things - along with the fact that we might not get out there and do what He wants us to do without having someone to support...and push us occasionally. Hey, we're humans, people! It's reality. 

So, I just wanted to send out this Thank-You post today...to those special people God has placed in my life. My God Girlz! I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate every comment, every piece of input, and for the occasional "prod" that keeps me going when I begin to slack off. I need people like you in my life! Thank you for being there. I bet you didn't picture yourself as a cheerleader, did you? Girl!!! You MADE the squad. I am very grateful to everyone who has come alongside of me during this life, through every phase, around every bend in the road...thanks for keeping me company and for what you've contributed.

And, just to give back and continue the cycle, if you're reading this today and you feel overly vulnerable and scared-to-death at times, wondering if you're DOING what God has on His agenda for you...because it just doesn't feel like it on some days, let me take up the pom-poms and scream, "YOU CAN DO IT!"  

No matter how weak we may feel or how many times we fall, God never gives up on us or the job He has for us to do. Let's not give up on each other. He'll give the strength and provide just the right people to come alongside us...for His glory. Together, we can do it..whatever IT might look like in each of our lives. Let's not be afraid to pass on an encouraging word, to put on our uniform and pick up the poms-poms and cheer each other on. 

So, in the most exciting and encouraging voice I can muster, and with a short leap into the air (as high as my 43 year old body will allow) I cheer you on today - and also give a shout out to say thanks to the God Girlz in my life. 

*Wanna give your own shout-out? Feel free to leave a comment below!