Matthew 6:25 - 27

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


"And in the midst of trying to help each of them achieve their level of independence while desperately wanting to cling rather than let go, I find that I, too, need to go through that whole nasty process of self-identification all over again!"

Ever since I posted those words at the end of my last blog, "Thirteen ... Eighteen ... Widowed", it's been (Holy Spirit)-bugging me! No, I DON'T! The whole idea of "finding myself" or "self-identification" is flawed in its concept. We never have to "figure out who I am" at all –not at thirteen, not at eighteen, not NOW! God's “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him” (2 Peter 1:3). His word tells me who I am (His child), my value (completely, eternally, loved) and my purpose in life (to know Him and love Him)! Sounds too simplistic, doesn’t it? That’s where we miss “getting the message” … we get caught up in the details. We want to know “but what do I DO with my life? How do I pay my bills? How do I know where to live? … go to school? …work? … and on and on. How is my life to have meaning? How am I to be productive? Even as I write these words, He is answering me … “abide”. That is all He asks of me, of any of us. Abide in Him.

The word “abide” is a word we don’t use much these days. When I went looking for the scriptures that I knew used the word “abide” I kept coming up with “no results”. Even when I tried using the concordance in my NIV bible, the word “abide” was not there! But the Holy Spirit had clearly said “abide”! One of the problems of “growing up” as a Christian with at least three different translations of the Bible is that I never know what version I memorized something in and therefore, don’t know where to look when the Holy Spirit brings the Word to mind … it can be very puzzling and frustrating! In this case, the word “abide” is used in the KJV and translated “remain” in the NIV.

In the gospel of John, chapter 15, verses 1 – 17, Jesus tells his disciples that He is the vine, we are the branches and God, the Father, is the gardener. If we remain (abide) in Him, He will remain (abide) in us, and we will bear much fruit (be productive)! But if we do not abide in Him (if we strive to live life apart from him), the “gardener” will cut us off and discard us as so much dead wood! Those of you who garden know that a plant produces much more “fruit” if you remove what is dead so that the “life” of the plant is not sapped by trying to revive the dead thing and goes into producing new growth.

Earlier this summer I had some landscaping done. A “dead” corner outside my front door was given new life by removing a nasty scrub tree and creating a triangular planting area with my existing shrubs and adding 7 shrub roses, some grasses, and a few boulders. The shrub roses bloomed profusely in the first weeks but a few weeks later had only “spent” blooms with few new blooms. The landscapers who had installed them came back to finish some driveway work, and one of them took the time to show me that I needed to “dead-head” the roses for them to continue to bloom well. I did that at once, and within a couple of days, my roses were beautiful and covered with new blooms again! In the weeks since, it’s been too hot or too wet to get out there and tend to the roses. I let them go. Again, there are very few new blooms and a lot of spent blossoms. Yesterday I spent several hours getting sunburned “dead-heading” them again.

It occurs to me that our spiritual lives are a lot like those rose bushes. When we are “bearing much fruit” (everything looks beautiful and productive), we tend to forget the need to continue to tend to our relationship with the Lord. We’re too busy! And then things get “too hot” – troubles come, life gets complicated – and again, we don’t have time for the Lord. Or it is too “rainy” – doesn’t it seem that when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong at the same time? Only when the Master Gardener steps in and starts “cutting off” the things that are “dead works”, does life and fruitfulness begin to return. I am so thankful that He continues pruning and promoting growth even when we are unfaithful or distracted.

This blog has drifted so far away from my original intention: to share the truth that God has already defined who I am and my purpose in life, and all I really need to do is abide in him and He who began a good work in me will also complete it!

For a list of some of the things God has said about me, my life, you and yours, please read this wonderful blog: Measuring Up by Renee Swope of Proverbs 31 Ministries!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Thirteen ... Eighteen ... Widowed ...

Thirteen. We all remember being 13 ... and every one of us has said it many times - "I wouldn't be thirteen again for ANYTHING!" Right? I remember being 13. Trying to figure out who I was ... who I wanted to be ... What was special about me? Did anyone like me? What did it take to be "popular"? Did I have what it takes? Did I want to have "it"? Up one day ... down the next. Confident and scared to death all at the same time. Life was a roller-coaster and the future a mist that I couldn't see through. Do you remember? I do. I have a 13-yr old son who is living it now.

Eighteen. A high school graduate. An "adult". On my own. Having to support myself and make all my own decisions for the first time. Needing to move "forward", but not having the foggiest idea what direction to go. So many directions, so many choices, so many possibilities. Feeling very small and unprepared in a great big grown up world. Wanting to "live my own life" ... determine my own future ... have my own home ... have my own family ... "do it my way" (which I was sure would be the right way). Having a lot of ideas and ideals, and only a vague plan as to how to achieve them and no plan as to how to finance them ... Can you relate? My 18-yr old son can, I think. He's there now. I can certainly relate to him!

Widowed. Suddenly I'm 13 again. And 18 again. Everything that defines who I am, my purpose in life and my future has changed. Maybe if my kids were little and I could hang onto them and throw myself into being "mom" and defining their lives it would be different. Maybe if they were bot h grown adults and on their own living independent lives that I was no longer responsible for and Tom and I had retired and survived an "empty nest" and defined our later years together ... would it be different? But one just turned 13 and is barreling ahead insisting on living his own life while still wanting everything done for him and handed to him without any effort on his part ... and the other just turned 18 and graduated and really wants to pull away and get out on his own and have his own place and, yes, live his own life too. And in the midst of trying to help each of them achieve their level of independence while desperately wanting to cling rather than let go, I find that I, too, need to go through that whole nasty process of self-identification all over again!

Be still, there is a healer

His love is deeper than the sea

His mercy, it is unfailing

His arms, a fortress for the weak

Recently, I woke up slowly with the realization that the chorus of a song was repeating in my sleep: "Let faith arise, let faith arise, open my eyes, open my eyes". While I was sure that the song was familiar to me, I couldn't figure out what song it was. I thought it might be one of the last few songs I had downloaded into the music player in my phone so I quickly checked those and found that it wasn't any of them. Then life got busy and I forgot about it.

I lift my hands to believe again

You are my refuge, You are my strength

As I pour out my heart, these things I remember

You are faithful, God, forever

In the midst of my daily array of thoughts, feelings and busyness, I have been realizing that those words sung in my sleep were beginning to be manifested in my spirit. I began to realize that there was a renewed yearning for relationship with the Holy Spirit and a growing re-commitment to seeking Him and trusting Him as the Source of all in my life

Be still, there is a river

That flows from Calvary's tree

A fountain for the thirsty

Pure grace that washes over me

This morning, I had the radio tuned to my favorite Christian station and running in the background as I was sitting on the porch and being "busy". Suddenly my attention focused on the fact that I was hearing those words again ... "Let faith arise, open my eyes...". Phone apps can be very convenient and helpful for spur of the moment needs! I opened up my "Soundhound" app and let it listen. It is the song "I lift My Hands" by Chris Tomlin.

Let faith arise

Let faith arise

I am so thankful that even in my weakness and unfaithfulness ... His is faithful forever!