Monday, August 29, 2016

Campfire Green Beans - Chopped Series

I had opened the three remaining cans of green beans left in the pantry.  As the churning of the can opener died, I said to myself, "Two cans of whole and one can of cut green beans." I shook my head in culinary disgust. While I'd normally never mix the two, the cupboard was scantily-clad and I was currently playing my own private series of the Food Network show Chopped. Into the pot went the green beans, I added what seasonings I had on hand, turned the burner on "high" and began the cooking process.

I retrieved a couple "left-overs" containers from the fridge. REPURPOSE! In my best Chopped-minded thinking: "I can do such and such with ________ and then this can serve as ________. Yes! I think I can pull this one off!" Oh, and I had a single box of cornbread mix to which I could add a freshly, chopped jalapeno for an extra, tasty treat.

Other thoughts raced through my mind in the background too: What am I going to cook for supper after we've finished off this lunch surprise? What if my family finds my food creations less-than-enjoyable? What about this job situation? What am I going to do about...and this... (I'm sure you get the picture and have done the drill a time or ten yourself. Why do we torture ourselves so?)

While I was focusing on all the items I was lacking, trying to figure out plans for the future, completely lost in the moment, an odd-smelling odor brought me back to reality. THE BEANS WERE BURNING! How had I let this happen?! Seriously? I was upset with myself for getting side-tracked. Then, in my best Chopped-minded version, I envisioned myself stepping up and proudly introducing my dish of CAMPFIRE GREEN BEANS to the judges. I laughed to myself as I doused the green beans with water and stirred them around a bit. (I can imagine even God getting great kick out of that one! Thankful for the weird sense of humor He gifted me with.)

Yes, we ate the Campfire Green Beans with quiet thankfulness. Nobody said a word about the "smoked" flavor. (Smart family there! I raised them well.) 

We (I) often get so wrapped up in the moment and become so absorbed wondering how things will work out. (I must admit that I temporarily forget where my help comes from on occasion.) I'm afraid we (I) often waste precious time and resources trying to figure it all out on our own when we don't have to. God is our help! We CAN trust in Him even in the darkest, most hopeless, scary times in our lives. 

And...as I sit here typing this post, as if on cue straight from the throne of glory, a text from a dear friend comes through: HE is able to do exceeding abundantly more than we could ask or think. Thank you Lord for confirmation! 

We are His children and it is His good pleasure to be there for us. He is faithful, loves us, will protect, defend and provide for us. He has never been late...or burnt the green beans. 

Thank you Lord for being
exactly Who you said you'd be.
Thank you that I am who you said I am too.
And thank you for teaching me the valuable
lesson of trusting in You.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Drop Here, A Drop There

 
To everything, there is a season...a time to soak in...a time to squeeze out. OK, I know this isn't in the verse, but you get my drift, right? There is a season for all things - even sponges.

We're each like a sponge, believe it or not. We go about, day in and day out, soaking up life. We go and go. When our days are good, we soak in the goodness of God. When our days aren't so good, we soak that in too. We're constantly consuming.

If we're doing what Christ has called us to do, loving our neighbor as ourselves, we are also squeezing that sponge out bit by bit. We're giving. When we run an errand for someone, or pray, or lend a helping hand...we're releasing some of what we've soaked up previously. That's the way it works.

Truth. A sponge can only take in so much liquid before it cannot possibly take in a drop more. The same is true on the opposite end of the spectrum. A sponge can only give out so much before there isn't a drop left to be squeezed out no matter how hard we may try. This is why its so important to live a life of balance.

Give & Do. But don't stop there. Receive & Be.

We most definitely want to imitate our Lord in giving and doing for others. Christ was the perfect example of loving our neighbor during His earthly ministry. He gave. He didn't hold back one drop! Just think about all the people He healed along the way. He was doing. He also allowed others the gift of doing for Him. He received. The first incident that popped into my mind was the woman with the precious alabaster box. Jesus was practicing the art of being as He allowed her to anoint His feet on that particular occasion.

Yes, it is true, it's more blessed to give than receive. It feels good to give! However, a person can only give if she has taken something in to fill her sponge up in the first place. See? We must receive. We must BE at some point in order to give and do. It's a cycle. One that must be done in balance. You see? God is a God of order.

So, my sponge sisters, let's be consciously reminded that we are not limitless resources who are constantly in the giving and doing mode, we must step back and receive at times...and that's alright. Give to your hearts content, but allow those precious moments when you're on the receiving end soaking up the goodness again. If this we'll do, we'll always find ourselves with a few drops to share with someone else as we go along our days.

A drop out here, a drop in there...just the way God intended it to be. 

Check out Luke 6:38
"Give and it shall be given..." - This is spoken
by Jesus...it's the way it's supposed to be.
 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wrap Your Roots Around This

"He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved."
Psalm 62:6




As I sat down for a breather, to take a rest at the bottom of Sitton's Gulch Trail, I looked across the way and spotted this view. I was instantly mesmerized. Truly, the photo doesn't do it justice, for one cannot see the other network-leg of roots hugging the other side of this boulder. You see, somehow or another, these tree roots wrapped tightly around this rock and the rest is history. 

I sat there in amazement as I took it all in. Truly, there are so many illustrations of God's sovereignty in nature. Countless pictures just waiting to be "seen."

I thought about the network of tree roots, with their gripping tentacles wrapped securely around this rock. What a profound statement nature was screaming at me!

This tree isn't shaken loose when the storms come. When the violent winds come and threaten to blow it over...they don't phase this tree a bit - because its network of roots wrap tightly around a sure foundation.
YES!!! I want the roots of my life to tightly wrap around my Rock. My firm foundation. I know my Rock is immovable, secure and definitely my strong defense each and every day - no matter what comes my way. He will help me stand strong. I can always rely on God to anchor me. I DON'T WANT TO BE MOVED! 

So, when we find our lives threatened, when it gets messy out there, when we're worried we'll be shaken by the storms of life, let us anchor our roots a bit more firmly into the Rock - which will never be moved. We CAN stand tall through it all if we are held up by God - He ONLY is our rock. Our salvation. Our defense. 

Wrap your roots around this!

Dear Lord, 
Help me to wrap my arms around you so tightly
that I never need fear the possibility of 
being shaken loose when the storms of life rage.
 

 


Monday, August 22, 2016

You've Got This

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: 
I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the
right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10
 
Sometimes you just have to keep on climbing.

There's only one way to get to the top. There's only one way to overcome obstacles that threaten to be insurmountable. There's only one way to make it to the finish line.

KEEP ON CLIMBING!

I can't tell you that it didn't seem like an impossible feat to get back to the top. I can't tell you that I wasn't out of breath or that my heart didn't threaten to beat out of my chest. I can't tell you that I looked as put-together at that moment as when I first began. I can't tell you that I didn't have to stop often to refocus. I can't tell you that my muscles didn't ache and cramp...and tremble. The truth is, ALL that HAPPENED. It was hard work. It took patience. Perseverance. Persistence. It also took some help and coaching from my husband to get me back to the top. "You've got this!"

Over 1,400 stair-steps and lots of rocky trail made up the route. There were struggles, but there was also beauty and blessed moments along the way that I'll never forget. 

You know what? It's the same way in our walk with the Lord. It can be quite scary some days. We may question if we're going to be able to make it. We might even be ready to quit sometimes. It's not always easy. We have to learn and grow along the way. We must make up our mind that quitting isn't an option. God is right here with us! If we stop and listen, we can hear His gentle, encouraging whisper, "I'm right here with you. You've got this!"

We just keep climbing, my friend. It will be worth it one day. We can make it! It might look impossible from where we're standing right now, but be encouraged. God is always with us and we'll never walk a single step alone. The same God who created the mountains and the valleys will be our strength and our help...all the way to the end.

Keep climbing...you've got this! Because He's holding you in His hand.

Friday, August 5, 2016

We're All Tomatoes

Doing my part to save these little babies! 

To keep the birds from robbing my husky Cherry tomato plant, I started picking these little gems before they are totally ripened to perfection. I harvest them, then set them in the windowsill to bask in the warmth of the sun. Then, when they suit my liking, I'll pop one into my mouth for a delicious burst of goodness and sweet satisfaction. Homegrown bliss! Oh yeah!

As I was doing the dishes this morning, I glanced at the little round balls of yummi-ness. Each one a little different shade of tomato red. Each one has a slightly different variation in their circular shape. I suppose what I was seeing was that they were all tomatoes, but all at a different stage of maturity. Some were ready to delight my taste buds right at that moment while some of them weren't quite "there" yet.

I thought about our spiritual walk and how we're all longing to be "there." I mean, honestly, how many of us are really satisfied with where we are in our Christian walk? Sure, we're striving to walk uprightly every day, but we are all sinners, saved only by the grace of God.  I think the proper answer from us should be, "We're not satisfied!" Personally, I never want to become satisfied and think I've "arrived." Isn't there always room for growth? Just sayin~

The truth is, we're all at different stages in our spiritual walk. That's not a bad thing either! We all look a little different. We're all uniquely created. We all mature at different speeds. We each have different talents, personalities, abilities, quirks and characteristics...but we're all tomatoes. Oops! I mean we're all God's children. 

He has the sovereign ability to see where we've been, where we are presently, and where we're headed. He doesn't wait for us to look like others around us or for us to get "there". In fact, He loved us while we were still dirty and undone, mired by the ugliness of the sinful nature we were born into. He doesn't wait, like myself, until the perfect moment to take pleasure in us. No, unlike my cheery, tomato crew, He takes delight in each of us at the exact stage we find ourselves in today. HERE.

So when, not if, we feel like we're not quite measuring up, let us find hope and assurance in knowing that as long as we're exposed to the "sun" (I love playing with words), we'll become better and better with each passing day. Yes, we want to get "there". One day we'll be perfected, safe and sound in our new home in glory; but for now, let's be encouraged to keep maturing and basking in the presence of our Almighty God. 

Join me in the warmth of God's windowsill. Yes, we're not "there" but we're all tomatoes. :)

"For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation."
Ps. 149:4



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Me? Coo-coo?"

This post was first published - July 21, 2014

"How in the world did I get here? What am I doing? Is that really true? Does God truly love me?"  Questions!!!  They say I can talk to myself and as long as I don't answer back, I'm good.  

You know the little playful routine I'm talking about...if you're answering the questions you ask out loud, then you're probably a little coo-coo.  Yet, I'm beginning to doubt that!  There are days when I know what I'm doing, where I'm going and that God truly loves me, etc.  I don't even hesitate to ask those questions because I KNOW.
Still there are days when my spirit seems to be weak and my insecurities surface; and, whether silently or out loud I find myself in the questioning mode.  "What in the world is going on?  How is this going to happen?  Is it going to be alright?"  Well, I've learned this one thing...it's in those times of questioning that we MOST CERTAINLY better supply ourselves an answer.  

Whether that's a sign of being a "little coo-coo" or not!  The Bible says in Proverbs 15:23 - A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word [spoken] in due season, how good [is it]!
I suppose there is a time for everything and when we are talking to ourselves like this, we MUST provide the correct answer.  Not just any answer will do!  Answering ourselves with a negative under-tone that we don't know if God is going to come through for us or not, we're not sure if God has us in the palm of His hand and or whether He really thinks we're the apple of His eye...isn't going to get us anywhere. Believe me, I know from experience! 

We need to answer these types of questions with what we KNOW to be true about God and what He thinks about us as recorded in His Word.  We so need to speak the TRUTH! Remember, His Word CANNOT fail!

So, as for you and for me, let's get into God's Word and study so when questions arise, and all of us will do so at one time or another, we will be prepared to answer with God's Word.  It's for certain God doesn't make us ask such questions; however, the enemy would love nothing more than for us to ask ourselves and NOT have an answer.  He doesn't want us reminding ourselves (or him for that matter) that we are chosen, set apart, and to God we are priceless treasures.  

Don't worry about appearing "coo-coo", answer the questions with God's Word and promises, drive the devil coo-coo, and find yourself full of joy!