Triggered to Love

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Trapped in the middle of going forward, staying where you are and backtracking is a state that seems to perplex the mind relentlessly.  For those of us that like to hold to a very strong conviction to serve others in our community, school, workplace, church sometimes these areas of service can be very difficult in measuring success or growth for others.  Following through on our convictions to serve, there will be times when it doesn’t all look positive.  One of the books that I ran to in my faith research was a book titled, Willing to Walk on Water, by Caroline Barnett.

To introduce her and recommend her book, Caroline Barnett married Senior Pastor Matthew Barnett and the two currently serve thousands of inner-city families and individuals with the basic necessities of life at the Dream Center in Los Angeles.  Her story is beyond miraculous as to how God has grown this ministry in “God sized” ways including the support of volunteers and financial resources that have been provided.  With all of the growth and visible favor, she describes the challenges that come with not always being able to calculate the good that is actually accomplished.  She recounts stories of families that have been greatly impacted by the ministry as well as those that seem to have relapsed.

While reading, Willing to Walk on Water, there were a couple of key reminders that one in a state of indecision needs to resort to and gather concretely in the constructs of the spiritual mind.

First, don’t let your mind play tricks on you.  What is healthy is that you love wherever you are and much of the time you will be asked to love in “less than lovable” circumstances.  Just as you go about loving them, go knowing God loves you dearly.

Second, let God love you.  Being willing to fall in love with who God is and that you were a part of his plan all along to bring him glory.  You can be one to show his handiwork, his interest in your soul, and his patient plan from the beginning to bring a Great Savior to redeem the souls of man.

Third, read God’s truth because it will put your mind at ease if you believe it to be the word of God.   His word is the source of all timeless truth.  I can remember plenty of times in sorrow that I found Jesus to be a Savior that sorrows with those that sorrow.

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.  Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” Isaiah 53:3 (N.I.V.)

Indecision and lack of self-assurance can creep up on us, but I find when I lack control, God is willing to direct me if I submit to his ways which are better than my own.  Have you become at times less than assured of God’s providential care; I pray you will find rest of mind as you go to him.

Truly,

 

FAITH

 

 

 

 

 

Spoken like a queen bee

 

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Friends and family have a powerful effect on the life of an individual, because it is within each stage of the individuals life that you are shaped.  By sharing in another person’s life, even though you are separate, you still are in conversation and response to what the other is experiencing.  Unfortunately, the last stages of life are the most difficult for a friend to witness to a once strong, vibrant, and in this case, a positively motivated family friend.

Sometimes when we visit our friends that have health declining, we may think that we will find them in a terrible state of depression and defeat.  We may not we sure of the words to say or the method of joy and hope to bring them.  Especially when our friend or friends have been struggling with cancer for months or years, it is like going to see a friend that has an archenemy slowly draining the vitality and passion from their spirit.   However, this was not the case when visiting a friend having had different forms of cancers over the years.  In fact, it sure was nice to sit and talk to my friend now in the retirement home.

Two years ago, this same friend was a busily active Christian lady that cared for a growing family of children, grandchildren, and eventually great grand children.  It surprises me how fast this process happens.  Once you begin to forge and architect your dwelling like the life of the honey bees, the whole process is started and your roles begin to adjust to the foundation that has been building and accelerating.  The process begins with the parents, but soon the children move the family forward at different speeds by their own life experiences.

Quietly, she thinks of what she will voice, and what she will voice whether there is anyone available to speak to or not.  At the same time, she has sat among others that may not be able to hear what she has to say.  I am sure that as one ages, he or she begins to think of all that could have been said if possible to reverse the time.  I wonder about what I may have already wished I had spoken more confidently and boldly about.

This day we spoke of confusing life situations and what we did not understand about what was still going on in our world.  We shared some blessings; there were still baby showers and vacation bible school pictures to talk about.  With her, I am reminded of the need for touch and concern, and access to touch and concern needs to be greater for all mankind.

People are hungry for for care and concern because of the expectations put on them to do.   When life has wrung one out and love is low in supply, we need more love to fill these chambers of our hearts.  This friend demonstrates daily how much love and faith she has to give still to others.  She is filled with joy and the Lord’s peace.  Telling her how much she inspires me with hope, gives me greater appreciation for the basic gifts of touch and concern.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (N.I.V.)

The touch and care of a friend can fill the heart with hope in healing ways; I am seeking to be more mindful of the needs of friends around that could use encouragement.  Do you have a friend that maybe you have lost touch with and would like to reach?

Truly,

 

FAITH

 

 

 

 

 

Power of the backyard

 

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via Daily Prompt: Hideout

The yard was modestly arrayed with a busy street out front hosting a large walnut tree in the front yard with crab apple trees lining the side of the drive way.  The backyard, the hideout, was a place for a young child to search and find adventure.  Growing up with three younger brothers in this small fenced in backyard, we had everything.  We had a hideout that was a place for us to find our wild side and be louder than our parents could tolerate.  There we could even get away with throwing sand which later became a problem in the swimming pool.

Blue Spruce trees guard the entrance to my children’s yard.  Our yard is not fenced in but partially wooded.  They play football there, and there is not a weekend that they would not wish their hideout to be filled with a new game going.  With the cousins playing, they can create the bare bones of their favorite rival football teams.  They are crazed Madden players, and in their hideout, they do their best to try not to tackle during their game.  When they were younger, they would also stretch the boundaries in their free zone.  The age gaps between them, were so large that a stolen tackle would leave someone in emotional alligator tears only to quickly resume their dearly loved game.

It was in my backyard that I began a love with my three brothers for softball.  We threw, batted, and ran the bases like pros in our own minds.  Even though, none of us would ever grow to become baseball players.  We all thought we were José Canseco and loved the game more and more together.  In remembering this hideout, I remember my dad even joining our sport and having him help us in our pitching and our aim.  I could tell he must have enjoyed a space like ours and that being a catcher younger grew his love of the game.

The closer I come to my children’s backyard, I remember my own backyard not smaller but just as big.  There I see like my own life that the rules, expectations, and responsibilities seem to roll off my children’s frames.  It is almost as if outside you are allowed to be as youthful and energetic as you want to be.  The warm energy of the sun and the beauty of nature beg of you to be yourself and to enjoy what is there.

The developing masterpiece

 

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Everyday we are challenged with feats of courage for ourselves and others.   I know we are able to gain understanding from each other during the process.  One of the greatest feats of life is to determine and continue to determine which way to raise the blessed little ones that are given to us for our instructing.  The reality that one strategy does not work for all children haunts even the most well-informed parents.  Always the question comes did I try enough with this little one, elementary child, and eventually high school masterpiece?

One of the strategies that I seek to encourage more and even more at night is prayer and reading.  Yes, the children have spent most of their days in school, but they have read about what their schools and their teachers are interested in.  It is the parent that influences much of the children’s own personal interests, their priority to read, their developing psychology, theology, and common everyday habits.

It is during our evening conversations and readings together that the parent begins to cut past the surface of the routine.  Each evening there are general tasks that have to be done that weigh heavily on the events of the parent and children’s evening.  Homework is to be accomplished usually taking at least twenty minutes or more to complete, showers, dinner, and if there aren’t any other sports or extracurricular events, some reading to do before bedtime.  When the parent accounts for the children’s free-time after school, he and she notices there really isn’t very much.

During my prayer time and Bible reading with my children, I have begun to notice what takes place that I would not have mysteriously uncovered any other way.  It is during our reading of the the Bible, discussion, and prayer, that most quiet, concentrated time I have to hear their thoughts.  One conversation was really very special.  In one of my children’s prayers after talking about faith he said that he wanted to be better about living out his faith.  He said how happy he was that he did not have to have a faith in God that is found all at once so to speak, but that he prayed to have “faith ablaze.”

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (N.I.V.)

As parents, we have the joy of mysteriously “cracking the code” and discovering who our children are becoming each day through our interactions with them.  Praying and reading the Holy word of God brings up discussions that test the integrity of the their development and ours.  What will we discover about our children over this year that would not been revealed without that quiet space built into our routines?

 

Truly,

 

FAITH

Dream on that for a while

 

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A dream allows one to see past a problem and to construct the dream that is a size too difficult to  conceptualize.  The dream can be even too large for our own imaginations.  During our remodel process, I was hoping for the effort to be useful for a purpose even greater than my own needs maybe to help someone else to tackle their own pain staking adventure or to create a place of retreat for a lonely or tired friend that needed the feeling of a relaxation and a breath of fresh air.

For this reason among with the overall creativity and functionality of the hoped finished project, the walls came down, the boxes were packed and moved out, trim detail was constructed among doors, window detail and all.  What a large scale project this had become!  Could we have moved?  Should we have moved?  Of course one can always move, but that was not the decision we chose so we needed to work with the demolition we had created.

When we discussed expanding the kitchen, we could have talked about all of the drywall that would be missing from the ceiling.  Each of these pieces would require us to engage fully with a dream that would take several steps and several people to be involved.  This should not have seen so new to us since we had already built this house once, after our first son was born, with all kinds of construction help needed then.

The project which initially only required a carpenter now required multiple carpenters, painters, movers, heating and air-conditioner experts, plumbers, and home decorators.  So, our dream had expanded as our kitchen and closet design expanded.  We needed better heating, air, and water systems as well that had to be updated.  It seemed when one job was complete and an area appeared it could be moved back into, another job would take place in its path.

Now, the project is not fully accomplished, but it is getting there and more than 90% along.  When you look at the size of the task, and the plan doesn’t appear to be captured by your imagination, I try to imagine it at least in a written or picture form.  Now, although remembering the level of stress during the task, I can see how this built patience in myself and our family.  I can also see how a dream of this kind but more importantly a spiritual dream can begin by seeing a problem exists and arriving at multiple conversations and a consorted effort of a team to accomplish the “God sized” dream.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (N.I.V.)

It  may be often that you or I notice that a problem exists, this experience like many others, continues to artistically remind me that great solutions come with great dreaming and God’s forming of our plans.  Do you have any God given dreams that you would like to consider? I hope that you and I will take all of our plans and dream on them for a while.

 

 

 

Truly,

 

FAITH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dream discussions

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How does a dream begin?  Dare to look back on your life and think of your greatest dreams.  We must begin back where we started at times especially if you or I are at a loss for new dreams to be found.  When our remodel project began, I did not know that was truly a dream of mine.  At the time, it was more of my husband’s.

The start to our dream began with me saying, “I think you need to put a bit of money on something you think is needed.”  This dream started small, and it began with a closet and the laundry room rebuild needless to say.  Gratefully, the dream is for the most part complete outside of decorations and curtains.

The demolition is never the greatest part of the project, and at that time it felt like a “natural disaster.”  It was at the demolition stage that I became the most out of touch and wanting to take control of a dream that I was not gifted to complete.  Truly, the responsibility of the execution of this dream was my husband’s since he has the construction background.  So, we talked about the closets as I wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do with them.  Just brainstorming about the closet, it occurred to us that we rarely use our dining area which is ill-equipped without enough seating for our family of five.

Soon we were planning our kitchen remodel, and oftentimes, a dream begins just like that.  For me, I believe everyone has unique God-given talents that each has been given for work , and what I liked most about this project is that even though I do not have my husband’s construction talent, I was happy to complete tasks with him that allowed me to share a dream with him that I could not have shared had I not been open enough to learn some new interests like home design and decoration.

The process of this dream was a long one especially at the demolition stage.  Just being a part of it taught me how to exercise a lot more patience remodeling, which had never been a natural talent of mine.  Remodeling is not for everyone, but dreaming is.  I hope you have a dream that you think God and his son would be hoping that you would pursue.  I know God truly does care so much about the way he designed us.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen”  Ephesians 3:20-21

Truly,

 

FAITH

Remodeling the interior

 

tools-1209764_640-1When I have been faced by my greatest giants and I try to retaliate immediately without feeling loved by God, I don’t pour out God’s love.  Not pouring out God’s love and his best of me by this truth, His word, His dedication and devotion, then I may appear as an empty leader.  It is then that I must ask am I a living sacrifice to be used of God in the places he puts me or an empty bucket without his love, grace, compassion and mercy being overflowing?

Let me give you the analogy related to a remodel; one of the practical, inexpensive resources that I saw used repeatedly, during our over a year long project, was that of a bucket.  These come in all sizes.  You can purchase the ten quart, one gallon, two gallon, and the five gallon pail.  The five gallon pail will cost about $25.00.  You can find the buckets in all different sizes and colors as well.  During the remodel, the buckets were useful for the painters washing brushes and the tradesmen’s tools that would be carried through out the whole house like the smallest of items the nails and dry wall tape to the larger hammers and drills.  While the project was being done, I did not find a tradesman including the painters, carpenters, mason, electricians, or plumbers that did not need a bucket of some sort.  Buckets are useful even for the  general clean up after a remodel project, and they are often the last items left after the project is completely finished.  They fulfill their purpose.

It was by taking a look at a effective bucket that I realized what one fills his life up with really does make a difference.  I could fill my life up with all kinds of troubles because they are there.  There are the challenges of living like raising children, financial pressures, marital differences, lack of motivation, illnesses, injuries, and we can name many others.  From the other angle,  I could also look at the Almighty God in his infinite power to look to him and for him to love me and fill me.  Even in trouble, the love of these challenges will not fill me like a useful vessel and the incorruptible love of God and his son Jesus.

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Romans 12:11 (NIV)

Living like a bucket being filled with God’s love; I can be assured I will have a Godly resource to share.  Do you want to be filled more with his incorruptible love; I know it’s more than the mind can comprehend at times, but I’d sure venture to explore it.

Truly,

 

 

FAITH

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Angel’s words fulfilled

 

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Having faith is less about my understanding of all of the reasons why something happens.  Generally, it is during a difficult time that we notice where our faith lies or how great our faith is to get us somewhere.  It is helpful to have a journal nearby to walk with you as you go through your “faith growing pains.”

Take the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, for instance,  Joseph and Mary’s beginning was a marriage begun in uncertainty with an unexpected pregnancy, a surprising celestial angel visit to each of them with a promise that He, Jesus would be conceived by the Spirit of God.  The angel answered, in Mary’s response of her conception even as a virgin, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 NIV

It is by the act of God and obedience in faith by Joseph and Mary their marriage became a covenant relationship and the start to the raising of the Messiah.  Sure, we could ask all kinds of questions about the two of them, but this was what God wanted.  These were the words of God sent from his messengers.  This was Mary and Joseph acting in faith and assurance that what God had said would come to pass.  Mary was convinced that all would happen just as the angel had said.

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered.  May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke :1:38 (NIV)

Deeply desiring to take God’s words for certain, do you need to meditate on His truths even more as I, believing that what is written there is not only full of spiritual nourishment but of truth?  What an example, don’t you agree, by Joseph and Mary of faith?

Truly,

 

 

FAITH

 

Holding Future Thoughts

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Where does abiding steadfastness come from for this day of production, speed, and more knowledge than ever before?  The waves of the internet are hotter than the heat off of a steam engine.  In every one of life’s minutes, according to Business Insider’s article, “15 Things that Happen on the Internet every Minute,” by Brandt Ranj, 1,041,666 videos are played by Vine users and 1,736,111 Instagram posts receive a 💗 each minute. As the speed of information advances many people believe that they are being left behind.  The human spirit’s natural bent is to strive to do more, give more, succeed and show what one is able to accomplish.  Steadfastness of heart is not to be quickly defined by one who succeeds; it is never measured simply by success.  For the faint of heart and the overly stimulated by information overload, maybe one need consider the light of true illumination.

Fear of God rather than fear of success and to be in the constant “know” puts the mind at rest.  If one is constantly running to the information station without much mind to the source of true light and joy, he or she will increasingly become detached from not only meaningful social interactions and thoughts of spiritual matters.  The overall benefit from the true rays of hope and joy that are brought by not only reading the truth of the Bible, believing it’s content, but realizing the Maker of this world has a great plan.  This source of light brings inner fears relieved, and a promise that if I am seeking the Lord and Jesus, the chosen Messiah from the start of creation, he will provide for me especially the illumination of what choices one must make for true spiritual fulfillment.

The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them. Psalms 25:14 (N.I.V.)

This seeking for information can become toilsome, but the refreshing of the soul by God is rejuvenating and inspiring.  Have you taken a fresh look at God’s words to you?  May a fresh new look at God give you and I great faith.

Truly,

FAITH

Parenting Awareness

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In life I have been amazed by the creation, I think that most people that know me realize how much my family has lauded the miracle of a child’s birth and the priority of raising a child. There was such wonder at the initial birth of it all. I can remember when I brought my baby home the first few days and my hesitations.  I remember hesitating to give my son, now fourteen, his first bath.

At the time, my husband and I were staying with my mother and father-in-law in their duplex, I realized my own ill-preparedness and that I needed an awareness.  I was very much in awe of my sweet baby.  How was I to give that little one a bath?  I  had thought of everything from the weekly to monthly development of the child before he was born, but I had not thought deeply enough about the basic act of a bath after he was born.  Having my mother-in-law there, giving a bath to an infant had not been forgotten by her so I had my own success with this basic necessity of his life.

I needed my family’s guidance and leadership, and I knew that what had been created was more advanced than my ability to understand his needs all on my own.  I knew I could not put him in a tub!  I didn’t want that little remaining cord to get wet!  Mothers and fathers, yes, we know our children, we are amazed by what they do and what they need. Looking back on those years, I remember falling in love with my curious, strong willed son and falling in love with God at the same time.  By getting to know my son, like other children, I am most amazed by God because you see God’s most endearing qualities in nature and leadership there is.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature– have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

I wonder about my own investment in understanding God’s own ways of child rearing.  How about you: do you enjoy watching the development of your own children and wonder if I became more aware of how God describes life, that I may parent even better this next year?

 

Truly,

 

FAITH