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God of the harvest

Waiting on the Lord versus just giving up. Listening to Him to tell me when to move versus acting based on my desires, wishes, or what I think God should do. That is how my prayer life and spiritual walk has been for some time now. Praying for light, but seeing darkness among the very crops for which I have been praying. Continuing to plant seeds here, but looking around to see them wither and die in front of me.

There is a lot in the passage from Isaiah 30:18-26 that mirrors my walk right now. As I sat reflecting on its truth today, I could not help but see the parallels.

He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries (v 19).

And cried I have. I have laid before my prayer wall with tear-stained cheeks wondering why God keeps directing me to do something. To pray continuously. To keep trying. To not give up. And feeling like those pleas are not reaching past the ceiling. Feeling like, maybe, that still small voice I heard was my own, and not His at all. That maybe this is not His will at all, but all my own. I have pleaded for Him to “just fix it.” I have said the same prayer over and over and over until I have wanted to rip it off the wall and burn it.

I’ve called for help.

I’ve heard nothing.

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (v 20).

I’ve called for help and heard nothing. And I have certainly suffered for what He has asked of me. Hurt. Rejection. Criticism. Discouragement and disappointment. When the way I was told to go doesn’t produce the fruit I hoped I would find.

Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you he will say, “This is the way you should go.” (v 21). 

This is the hardest part-surrender.

To a will that is not my own. To an outcome I may not like. One I definitely cannot see. It’s teaching me to wait. And I’m not so patient. It’s teaching me to relinquish control, when I want to be in control. It’s teaching me to trust, but I have soul deep trust issues.

It’s teaching me that it’s not my will, but His. And isn’t His always better than mine?

I may cry now. I may feel I am surrounded by darkness, and that all these seeds of grain I am planting are returning void and useless.

But there is a purpose in this season of suffering. While God harvests this turmoil here in my heart, he is also harvesting a victory:

Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock (v 23). 

There will be reward for your obedience, January.

There will be fruit for your labor, January.

Don’t give up now. Your tears mean something. They are not wasted. Your prayers are heard. Your work is not in vain.

I’ll show you if you just let me do the work.

If you just trust me with this harvest, I’ll show you what those tear-stained prayers will produce.

Don’t give up. Keep praying. Keep listening. God will do the rest.

He is the God of the harvest.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2019 in How Is Your Faith

 

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Well done….

 

“Well, what do I get if I do that?”

An all too common question. What is in it for me for serving, for being kind, for meeting an expectation?

People are often surprised that I do not demand that my kids do more chores. Earn their keep around the house. Perform duties in order to be rewarded for all the “good” things they have done.

It’s true. I don’t.

I have tried every chore system known to man (or rather, woman). Every velcro stripping, popsicle pulling, washi tape plastering, dry erase board posting, laundry clip moving chore chart on Pinterest. None has lasted. The only thing successful among any of these charts has been the endless arguments over who gets to do what chore, and earn what silly reward.

So, we keep it simple. We teach them how to respect each other and the adults in the home. That in our home (and beyond), we are spoken to with words of love, and no one leaves a room when asked to stay, without completing a discussion on an issue. We praise the daughter who decided to check the mail without having to be asked. Or the boy who fed the dog, just because he wanted to help. We deposit these moments into our memory banks so that the next time that girl wants an impromptu play date, we can remind her of her frequent mail drops and quickly say “yes.” Or that boy runs out of ice cream, and we remind him of the time he did not let the dog go hungry, and we can quickly hop into the vehicle for a quick trip for fro-yo.

But there are also times we remind them that in life we are not rewarded for doing good. We won’t always be praised. Sometimes we will be unappreciated or overlooked. However, we do our little bit of good anyway. We keep giving to others anyway. Even if you don’t get in return. Even if people don’t do anything to earn it. Even if people aren’t even very good.

Why?

Grace. Undeserved favor. We don’t deserve it. We have no reason to expect it. Yet it is freely given.

Just as God gave us.

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan. 2 Timothy 1:9

We didn’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. He gave it anyway. He loves us anyway. Even if the world may not notice our good efforts. Even if we may be overlooked, and it may take a lifetime. Grace was our reward. And, one day, all of those small efforts we make will be acknowledged when He looks at us and says “Well done. Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Now, that’s one fine reward. Don’t ya think?

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2019 in Grace

 

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“Real” Love….getcha some.

I’m going to show my age here. Urban Cowboy. It’s a movie. John Travolta. Not so Grease and Saturday Night Fever cool.

Common boy meets girl, fall in love, fall out of love, do whatever you can do to make each other jealous until you realize…well darn, he really was the one type of movie.

Classic.

I remember the movie. Yes. But, I remember one of the songs even more. Probably because when I think of this song it brings to mind a late friend. Singing it over and over in the middle of my living room, doing the same exact thing: “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places/Lookin’ for love in too many faces.”

Sound familiar?

Looking for acceptance from the number of likes on your Insta post.

Looking for approval from the “in” crowd. The “cool” kids.

Changing who you are, or ditching your own goals because someone else has told you they were lame. All because he or she “loves” you.

Looking for love from the first person who looks extra long at you, or gives you a sideways glance, even if they may be oh-so-wrong for you. Even if you know this already. You need love.

Looking for attention from those who will laugh at any little thing you do, even if it’s not some nice stuff. Maybe some downright cruel stuff.

You will change your style to find love.

You will do whatever you can to lose weight for love.

You will give up on a dream for love.

You will forget who you are.

All for what you believe to be love.

Love like that. The kind that demands you be someone you are not. The kind that is all based on that “Ooooohhhh. Aaaaahhhhh. I need that” feeling. It’s fleeting. It goes away once that “need” goes away. And then you move on to something else.

There is, however, a love that never leaves.

God told them, “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” Jeremiah 31:3, MSG

It’s the love that comes from our Creator.

How would I know?

Because I knew the fleeting kind of love. I knew the kind that caused me to sell myself short because someone “loved” me. Because it was “cool.” Because I “needed” something.

But when I realized that all I ever needed to be was wholly and gloriously me in the eyes of God. That I could be accepted in all my broken pieces, and he would love me anyway, and create in me something new and amazing-I didn’t need the approval of the world anymore.

Love found me. It loves me when I am unloveable. It pushes me towards a dream that is all my own. It knows my personality. My style. What I bring to the table. To the room. The space I am in, and uses that, because He put that in me. He loves those gritty, fiesty, inner fighter parts of me.

The world will look at those parts and see something different, and there was a time that used to break me down. But I’m not looking for love from those faces.

I’m looking for it from One place. The One.

Because I’ve never known anything else quite like it.

Want that kinda love? The “real” kind. Unconditional. Everlasting. You can getcha some, too. It’s pretty amazing.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2019 in Craving More of God, Loving Oneself

 

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He is protecting me

“But who is protecting us?”

That was the question I asked. After I had once again felt victim to someone’s cruel behavior. A kid, in fact. Discouraged once again that I had spent a number of years (and countless tears) devoting my time, talent, and energy to being light and love in the midst of all that was dark and mean in this world. Discouraged because now I was being mocked, laughed at, and rejected time and time again by those for whom I had made it my calling to protect. For whom I cared. Even loved as if they were my own.

Who was protecting me?

So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you. He will place you on a firm foundation. 1 Peter 5:10

He is protecting me.

Just like he protected the one who died to save me.

Who suffered through more pain than I did. Who was rejected. Mocked. Laughed at. Sold out by those he loved. Who claimed to follow him.

He protects me by giving me rest. He protects me by reminding me that in His Word it reminds me just how worthy I am. He protects me by fighting for me and alongside me. He protects me by never leaving me, even if the world decides I am a joke and rejects me. He protects me by giving me everything I need even in the midst of my suffering.

Though it may be a little while.

He holds me.

He sustains me.

He strengthens me.

He protects me.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2019 in Mercy

 

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“Feeding” a different beast

This past summer I spent the entirety of my time off in a period of self-care and healing. Working on and loving who God had created me to be. Part of that was understanding just how much I was loved. Through that process, I spent a lot of time in His Word, writing down a number of verses that spoke to my identity in Christ.

Thirty-one verses from God to remind me how awesome I was. That I could flip back to on those days when I didn’t feel so awesome.

But had I? Had I used them?

For about 2 weeks now there has been this on-going battle in my home over social media, whether or not to let the middle have Instagram to be exact. In the same 2 week span I’ve listened to parents who have struggled with setting limits with their own children over media usage, watched kids seek attention in negative ways, and even discussed the ways in which social media makes them “look good.”

Then yesterday in my own journal I wrote this:

I’ve been very distracted lately, Lord. It’s been hard to find my center. I’ve been distracted by people. By work. By media. By the news. And when I sit alone in this chair, I can’t filter it all out, and I get discouraged by what I have seen and heard all day. It’s hard to feel like I am succeeding in Your Wisdom when I am distracted by all that looks anything but kind, but instead looks ugly and dark. 

No, I hadn’t flipped back to those pages. I had scrolled through Pinterest looking for all the right words to make myself feel better when I felt ripped apart by mean ones. Vented on Facebook about crappy people, and the need to be more kind, but had I sought truth from His Word? Had I looked to Him to remind myself whose I was? No. I was distracted by my feed. And when I wasn’t distracted by those voices and trying to feed my soul with feel good videos, I was distracted by all the stories of evil lurking in the world. Discouraged all over again.

I can’t make media go away. It’s here to stay. It’s getting into the hands of kids at younger and younger ages.

But I can choose not to be distracted. Not to reach for it to validate what I may be feeling in the moment. Instead of reaching for His truth or calling out to Him.

I can set the example at least in my own home with my daughter. And, yes…maybe even for others. Because whether they want to admit it or not. They are watching. And what message do I want to send? That love comes from Him? Or how many likes, hits, streaks (whatever), retweets I get on a given post?

That every time I have an issue or have something to say it needs to be shared? Without consequence? That is why I write. To remember. But not everything is Facebook worthy. Not everything needs to be said out loud. Or should be posted for the world to see.

I want girls to know their worth cannot be measured by the number of likes they get on a picture. That life is also unfiltered, unaltered, completely messy, and not usually a highlight reel. That bodies come in all sizes. Even “pint-sized…,” like me. And most of us, yeh, we don’t “wake up like this.” I want boys to know that they are more than a rating scale. That God thinks they are a perfect ten. Even the ones that don’t fit in anywhere right now. That it is OK, more than OK to be nice. To be a gentleman. To stand up for a woman (or a boy) being treated badly. That’s the kind of man I would want in my corner!

That is what I will be sharing from now on.

Unfiltered. Some days with no makeup on. Some days in my pjs. Maybe days my face will be tear-soaked. There will be highlights and lowlights. It will not be perfect. It will be flawed. Guaranteed.

But fearfully and wonderfully made. Molded and made new. Loved by God in all its mess.

Just like you.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, On Purpose

 

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I need what He’s got

Crowds. I never much liked them. As a kid, teen, and a young adult I always remember struggling to figure out my place in the crowd. Where exactly I fit in. It gave me anxiety. Made me nervous. Made me wonder who exactly I was. I would either be the loudest in the room.

Or the quietest. It all depended. My anxiety either meant I over compensated by becoming a social butterfly, flitting through the room lit up like a Christmas tree. Mingling and talking to anyone and everyone. And I do mean ANYONE. Or I was in a corner with my head in a book. Daring anyone to talk to me.

At times. I still go between the two.

But when it comes to being attractive to others. I want to be more like Jesus.

Whose mere presence in a room or crowd commanded attention. Who may have walked by many who were watching, waiting and looking just for him.

But his presence was quiet. Sure-footed. Humble. Purposeful. He was powerful. He drew crowds. He wasn’t intimated by them. He certainly knew his place in them.

As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, the whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” Luke 8:42-46

Yet he still had time to stop for the one who sought him.

He didn’t need fanfare. He didn’t need to announce himself. He walked up in the place and peeps just knew!

I gots to get to Jesus!

I need what He’s got.

I need some of that in my life.

I want to be like that. Not the loudest. Not the one who commands attention by doing things to get noticed. Or the one who walks in, unsure of herself. Of her worth. Her place in that space.

I want my presence to light up a room. Sure. But only because it means I’ll be a noticer of a face in a crowd who needs a little love, and knows they will receive it. The one who will stop and help the fallen even if I’m busy. Even if a slew of other people and things need my attention. This one may need it, too.

I want to walk quietly, sure-footed, humbly, and purposeful. Knowing to whom I belong. Stopping to touch his garment at all times when I feel empty and discouraged.

Yep. I need what He’s got.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in Like Jesus Does

 

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The One who stays…

Give up. Left. Let go. Abandoned.

These are the things that may swim around in our hearts and heads when we choose to relinquish control of a situation. When we choose to let our children, despite our prudent advice, follow their own path. When we choose to untie the strings that bind us to a past of hurt, and even the people who were part of it. When we choose to speak the truth in love to others we care for, instead of always “making nice” about how we feel about their choices or the way we are treated.

When we choose to simply take a step back and stop doing all the human intervening and fixing, our human hearts start to believe we have been left, or that we are failing others.

Here’s the truth:

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t-not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again. James 5:16-18,MSG

This means, I only let go of the string. I drop all of what I was trying to control, even the parts of that person I wanted to fix and manipulate, at the cross. I leave it up to the One who can truly change lives. My job is to ask God to fix it.

We never leave. We never abandon ship. We never give up. We always hope. We always love. For those of us who have God in our corner we are praying tear-stained prayers for that prodigal son or daughter. We are screaming at God in our cars on the way home asking Him to help us help you. We are desperately asking Him for miracles. Praying for the sky to open up, and for God to rain down His blessings on you.

We just may not be present to watch someone continuously make poor choices. To keep swooping in to save the day. We are desperately praying and waiting for the day that God will do that.

Because we know He is a God that never leaves. Never abandons. Always hopes. Always loves. Will make things new. And will bring healing to the broken. We can’t do that without Him.

So the ones who stay, rely on Him to do what only He can do. We pray. We ask for Him to work in the lives of those we love. And we stop doing all the work, so He can work.

But we never leave.

We are the ones who stay.

Asking for help from the One who stays.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in Grace, Mercy

 

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