Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tending to the Garden



“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
idolatry and witchcraft;
hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.
I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law.
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”
Galatians 5:19-26

This past weekend was so beautiful! The sun was shining, the breeze was softly blowing, the birds were chirping…just GORGEOUS! The type of weather that beckons me to take the kids out to play in the yard, bathe in the warm sunshine and behold the beauty all around.


And then, while we are out playing, I notice the weeds. Threatening to take over the flower beds and infiltrate those mounds around the little trees in our yard. And ants! Ugh! Why would they want to spoil my day like that!


So, Aspen and I drag a beach towel out to the front yard, lay it out in front of the flower bed, put on our gloves, and start pulling those weeds. About ¾ of the way finished, I look down at that sweet child of mine and notice something on her little pink ruffle skirt: a huge, brown spider! Naturally, I freak out, slap that sucker off of my baby girl and grab her up to the sidewalk. Yeah. I’m a bit over dramatic, and a little done with that front flower bed! (My wonderful husband finished that last bit of weed pulling in the front yard for me)


We move on to the back yard, starting with power washing the falling-apart-deck. Not too bad of a job; Aspen sure enjoyed getting sprayed with the hose. Now moving on again, to weed pulling- around the little tree mounds and then just a little around the 10x bigger-than-the-front flower bed. Whew! I was sweating, dirty, and sore. Although I was wearing gloves, my fingers hurt from digging into the soil and mulch.


So I move to cleaning the too-big-for-our-tiny-deck patio furniture. Spray it all down, enjoying the breeze blowing the water droplets onto my hot face. I put the umbrella up and feel something on me- little spiders are climbing up the umbrella pole and onto my arm! Aagh! What is up with these spiders today!?! At this point, I am finished. It was almost time for evening service anyways, so I take off my gloves and begin getting my family ready for church.


While I was fighting off spiders and pulling stubborn weeds, I kept thinking about how much that resembles my life and the daily struggles that I encounter. Weeds are so easily grown. They just sprout up and normally they aren’t alone. Kind of like sin- normally where there is one, another is lurking by closely and sometimes, you can’t see them, either for their hiding so well, or because you aren’t looking for them, you aren’t keeping watch so they can’t take over your garden.


And what exactly do weeds do to an otherwise beautiful and flourishing garden? They choke the life out of it! They break it down; steal what makes it beautiful to begin with…the nutrients, the food, the life that makes it grow. Does that sound familiar to you?



"Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life,
the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word,
making it unfruitful"
Mark 4:18-19

My life is the garden. My sins are the weeds. And it’s a painful experience, seeing them in our life, knowing that we must put on our gloves and work super hard to extract them before serious damage is done. It hurts. Like my hands, knees and arms did after a day of yard work. Actually, it hurts much more, more deeply than a physical pain. Sometimes we put our hearts into those weeds; we have strong ties to them.


An example from my own life is my love for food. I extremely enjoy good food that is not so good for me. But, when my weight was the highest (and it was almost a year since I gave birth to our last child), I knew what had to be done. I began to see food as a weed in my life. I needed to take measures to remove the weed and bring that nutrient-stripped soil back to life. So began my healthy-living –journey, and now 15 pounds later, I am feeling much better. But that weed sure is tricky, the devil uses it to tempt me each day, proving to make the weed pulling/weed watching a part of my daily routine.


Because we all know how those weeds are: taken care of daily, they can be kept under control; but when left unsupervised, next thing you know they have taken over completely and getting rid of them becomes this enormous task that is not easily done, and guess what, it hurts that much more!


“Put to death, therefore,
whatever belongs to your earthly nature:
sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Colossians 3:5

Food isn’t my only weed though, I have issues with money, money management, jealousy, pride, quick-temper, insecurity…Anything can become a weed if it is placed before God or if it is not used the way that God intended for you to use it. And God may not only remove the weeds, the bad, the sin from your life- He may have to prune away some of the good growth in order to completely remove the bad.


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit
he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
John 15:1-2

Take heart, there is a way to eliminate the weeds, and He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins; so that we could be set free from these weeds in our lives.

“Be alert and of sober mind.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
1 Peter 5:8
We must keep watch over our garden and tend it daily. Stay in His Word so that our focus is on Him and when these weeds threaten us, we can be aware and stop it before it begins or gets out of hand. Talk with Him so that He can show us what we have been neglecting, which areas need to be weeded and fertilized.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13

God created us to glorify His Name. If we neglect our lives and continue to allow sin to take over, how then are we demonstrating God’s glory to the world? We must cultivate and nurture our relationship with the Lord so that we can be a beautiful garden for the Lord. So let's put on our garden gloves and set out for some weed pulling, then add some fertilizer, water daily, and watch for any re-growth of those pesky weeds. Amen?


“This is to my Father’s glory,
that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:8




Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Turning the World Off


I need to turn the world off for a while. You ever feel like that? God deserves so much more of me and my time than I have been giving Him. Yet I give most of me to the world. How ironic is that when God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for my sins, yet I keep finding myself so caught up in this world that I don't even wake up with a breath of thanks to the One who gave me another day! 

"For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

I try too hard you know, to make myself and everyone around me happy. There are so many "shiny things" out there that are temporary that tempt me-and win me over more often than not. And to be honest, I am sick of it. I want relationship with my Father, The Lifter of my head. I don't just want to know that I am saved from an eternity in hell, I want to know the One saving me! There is nothing in this world that can fulfill like He can.

"But you, O LORD, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head."
Psalm 3:3


We are broken- we need healing. The type that doesn't come from another dollar made, another dollar spent, another cupcake devoured, another cigarette smoked, another beer chugged, another _____(you fill in the blank). I am guilty of this type of thinking- I think we all are at some time or another. But we need to flee from this false belief- for there is only One who can heal and satisfy and quench our needs!

"O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly;
My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water."
Psalm 63:1

My life has been a desert-in the passage above David is in the desert, exiled. All about him is a dry & weary land, which is a representation of a life without relationship with the Lord. God is the all-powerful, living water; He alone can quench the thirst of your very heart and soul. You know why? Because that is how He created us. He did not create us to be an unsatisfied people constantly searching for something to fill the void temporarily. He did not create us so that He could sit back and watch the unending rat-race-trap that we put ourselves through, seeking happiness in things that moth and rust destroy, that thieves can steal. (Matthew 6:20) Our true purpose in this life, the whole reason behind our very creation and existence, is to give glory to God the Creator. (Isaiah 43:7)

If I'm not giving God glory and having relationship with Him, how in the world is anyone else going to see God's glory in this dark storm of life? He planted us here for a reason, and it isn't to please myself or to kill myself trying to make everyone else happy. I want to fulfill my mission: I want to know Christ personally, and then turn around and show it to everyone!  

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

I don't need this world or what it has to offer- not a single thing here is worth missing out on one more moment of time with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want Him to be my everything! I NEED Him to be my everything! Putting my hopes in man and in this world has gotten me into more trouble and brought me more heartache than I could have ever imagined. All I need is Jesus. All I need is to turn it all off, climb up in His Arms, and be still. He is the One Constant in this storm...the only Peace for my soul- the same yesterday, today, and always.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
Hebrews 13:8


I love You Jesus.
Thank You for Your endless grace.
I'm so unworthy, and yet You still love me.
Amen

 

In Your Arms (Meredith Andrews)

I’m turning the world off
Embracing the silence
Walking away from all the voices
That are Screaming in my ear

I've been too caught up
I've been so stressed out
All of the noise replaced the whisper
That used to be so clear

So I close every door
Put my face back on the floor

And I'm in Your arms
Where I belong
There's no other place for me
Than right where You are
Some things just don't change
When I call Your name
You never hesitate to wrap me in endless grace
When I'm in Your arms

I’m letting my fears go
Giving You control
For You are the one who holds me closer
In my soul's darkest night

Everything I see
Is so temporary
So help me to run the race before me
With eternity in sight

Now I close every door
Put my face back on the floor

To sit at Your feet
At Your table of mercy
To gaze on Your beauty, my Lord
To drink from Your well
And be changed by Your glory
How could I ask for more

Jesus, how could I ask for more


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Do You Measure Up?



MEASURING UP.


Did anyone other than me just feel like hiding from those words?

I constantly compare myself to others around me and I make sure to point out to myself exactly what they have that I don’t, OR vice versa. (oh, that one hurt someone’s toes, including my own)
Do you measure up to _____? or Does _____measure up to you?

This has caused much issue in my life, past & present, and I’m just guessing here, but if I don’t catch it soon and cage it, it will probably fly straight into my future and cause some problems there too.

I have always felt a need to be more. be better. be greater. grander. prettier.

I grew up with 2 sisters and a brother, so attention was hard to come by at times. So I say that’s where it stems from, but I’m no shrink. :-)

I have this inexorable need to be someone’s all-someone’s favorite-someone’s love.

And in this crazy world where everyone is competing with everyone, and you are always going to be outdone by someone in some way, there is no way around the occasional envious feelings.

BUT- we can deal with it in a healthy and TRUTHFUL way when that jealousy finds its way into our days, hearts, minds and souls.

Lately I have been able to feel the feeling as it begins- like a burning bubble rising inside of me- and what’s weird is when I realize what I am feeling, I then get flushed and hot with embarrassment that I, an adult Christian woman, am having thoughts so childish and envious.

I think it is good that I catch myself feeling this way. It means that since I know what to look for, I can stop it from causing me to feel angry due to my insecurity.

He has equipped me with all that I need in this life to survive and glorify Him. So why do we keep striving for “stuff”, “things”, “titles”, etc., that do not belong to us? That we do not NEED?

Last night at church Brother Tommy was preaching on contentment. Wow, what a home run he hit with that one!

Peace & Contentment

His message began out of 1 Timothy 6:1-12

The key verses that I ‘gleaned’ from that passage:

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

(These are just thoughts & notes on the subject, not identically what he said)

What in the world is it going to take to make us happy!?!
Well, once I get ____ like she has I will be happy. Or once I reach ____ position, then I will be happy. Why, why, why do we keep on looking to be HAPPY?

I want to be content with the life that He has blessed me with- cause in all reality, WE DON’T DESERVE ANYTHING WE HAVE ANYWAY! It is so hard to grasp this when we are so caught up on the person next door and the big, new thing they just rolled into their driveway with and we think of how hard we have worked and blah, blah, blah...So the key is to not be caught up on it!

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:33

And as Tommy pointed out, contentment is to be learned- it is not going to happen overnight and it is not just putting up with it- If we “just put up with it”, we will have pent up anger, bitterness, and misery. Become satisfied with what God has given us- He knows better than us, and He gave us exactly what we need!

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13

He is our source of contentment and happiness and strength!

So back to the beginning of my “ranting” post ;-)

Measuring Up. STOP TRYING TO MEASURE UP! Be content- The extra things that we “want” (and don’t need), that’s where our discontentment and unhappiness comes from.

I’m not saying all this because I know it all and I’ve mastered this concept and I’m pointing fingers…I’m saying this because I am LEARNING it myself and I want to share it so that maybe, someone else can find contentment too, and stop striving to be someone they aren’t, or something they’re not. I’ve fought this battle my whole life-I’m ready to cage it up---and let contentment take flight into my future!

Hebrews 13:5
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”

He is glorious…Praise Him today for being our Source of Contentment

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stormy Weather

Just before sitting at the computer to write this, I was cleaning the counters in my kitchen-wiping up the messes from the day, the messes from our dinner that I ate two bites of and was full.
When all of a sudden there was a loud rumbling of thunder, followed by an even louder rumbling. And then the rain started to fall harder and all I could think of was "that is exactly how I feel inside."

My heart & soul are rumbling, like thunder during a rainstorm. My pride snuck up and bit me tonight- I'm having a tough time shooing it away...that's been happening more often lately- having a good day and then all of a sudden, someone says something or does something to spark my selfish-fleshly-self to become arrogant, or envious, or angry, or ______...you fill in the blank.
Whoa, bright lightning through the window and another loud roll of thunder.

I wanna go stand in the rain right now!
Let it fall on my face as I lift my hands toward the sky and just be...Be Still. Be Still.

"The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be still." Exodus 14:14

All He has called me to do is to trust Him and follow His lead. Yet I keep pressing my feelings, my fears, my wants in, and I lose sight of His command. He is my Peace in any storm, if I will just let go of myself.

I'm letting go. I'm going to finish the kitchen, work out on the elliptical and all the while, I'm going to be God-focused and centered on Christ. He is my Portion and He alone is my Peace.

He calls me to be still---even through the stormy weather within my soul.

 Grace by Laura Story

my heart is so proud
my mind is so unfocused
I see the things you do through me as great things I have done
and now you gently break me
then lovingly you take me
and hold me as my father
and mold me as my maker

I ask you how many times will you pick me up when I keep on letting you down
and each time I will fall short of your glory
how far will forgiveness abound
and you answer my child I love you
and as long as your seeking my face
you'll walk in the power of my daily sufficient grace.

At times I may grow weak
and feel a bit discouraged
knowing that someone somewhere could do a better job
for who am I to serve you
I know I don't deserve you
and thats the part that burns in my heart and keeps me hanging on

 I ask you how many times will you pick me up when I keep on letting you down
and each time I will fall short of your glory
how far will forgiveness abound
and you answer my child I love you
and as long as your seeking my face
you'll walk in the power of my daily sufficient grace.

You are so patient with me Lord

As I walk with you I'm learning
what your grace really means
the price that I could never pay was paid at Calvary
so instead of trying to repay you
I'm learning to simply Obey you
by giving up my life to you
for all that you've given to me

I ask you how many times will you pick me up when I keep on letting you down
and each time I will fall short of your glory
how far will forgiveness abound
and you answer my child I love you
and as long as your seeking my face
you'll walk in the power of my daily sufficient grace.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blessings

I love to write. English was my favorite subject in school; even today I find myself correcting people, if not verbally, I correct them in my head :)
I created this blog about 4 years ago and never posted to it; I started posting to a blog on myfitnesspal.com when I began my healthy living journey back in January. But after my friend Cara mentioned that she had been thinking of beginning a blog my interest and passion for writing was sparked again. (Thanks Cara, es)

At first I had no clue what to write about. Yeah I could blog about my weight loss journey, but all my passion is not for weight loss; it goes much deeper than that!I live a crazy busy life, yet so boring and mundane to many. I have a beautiful family; I'm married to the love of my life and we have a daughter and a son together. We both work full time and like most families with two working parents, someone else gets the pleasure of keeping our kids while we work.
Also like other working families, we run high in the laundry department and low in the sleep department! And then you know, there are the other challenges: ear infections, financial worries, the economy and gas prices, kids being mean to our kids, balancing friends into our already busy and crammed life, and keeping up the romance and passion in our marriage.

With all of that being said, that is where I came up with the title to this blog: Seeking Peace in a Storm. My life is a storm; but so is yours I'm sure. We all have so much that we have to fight through; if we let it consume us, we will never have Peace. The Prince of Peace is who I live to seek each and every day. I don't seek Him perfectly either; I don't always have quiet time or a long prayer time. Sometimes the only "time" I have to just myself and the Lord is when I'm in the restroom! But even in the restroom, I'm seeking Him none-the-less.

I heard this song today for the first time and wow, it is exactly me and probably you too and really hits the spot on what reason I have for this blog. Hope you enjoy.

Blessings by Laura Story

We pray for blessings 
We pray for peace 
We pray for healing, for prosperity 
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering 
All the while, You hear each spoken need 
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things 

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops 
What if Your healing comes through tears 
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near 
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise 

We pray for wisdom 
Your voice to hear 
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near 
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love 
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough 
All the while, You hear each desperate plea 
As long as we have faith to believe 

When friends betray us 
When darkness seems to win 
We know that pain reminds this heart 
That this is not our home 

What if my greatest disappointments 
Or the aching of this life 
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy 
What if trials of this life 
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights 
Are your mercies in disguise



Comfort for family, protection while we sleep