Monday, October 5, 2009

An Easter Lily in October

"Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." - John 3:16

This verse just seems appropriate for today. This afternoon I was out checking my flowerbeds after a frost. I sighed as I saw the once vibrant zinnias now all brown; their dried heads drooping toward the ground, no longer taking in the rays of the bright sun. I eyed another bed closer to the house where four o'clocks once displayed their white and pink blossoms and bright green foliage. They too had been bitten by Jack Frost and had turned black.

Then I saw it. Could it possibly be? It was standing tall and vibrant. It's green leaves perfectly shaped. The near dead Easter lily I had planted in the spring was there catching rays from the late afternoon sun peeping from the grayish clouds. My husband and I had bought the lily in remembrance of our parents who have passed on. With its' full glorious white blossoms, it had once adorned the church where we worship, along with many others.

I had not noticed it all summer long. In fact, even though I watered the bed daily, I thought it must have died and forgot about it. But, the four 0'clocks must have sheltered it through the hot summer months, hiding it from my view. It had also managed to escape the freezing temps.

And now, the once dried up plant is standing tall and steady as if to say, "Yes I'm here, I'm alive!" As I reflect, I think it a wonderful reminder from God. A simple plant brought my parents and my husband's parents to mind. The lily had displayed new life among the dead, hope in a cold world. We would see them again some day. It was also an affirmation of the hope I have in Christ.

Earlier today, I had a conversation with a man who stops by our home every couple of weeks or so selling special flavors of ice cream and yummy foods to grace our table. But, he was carrying more than our order today when he reached the door. He had a burden on his heart and the tears in his eyes spoke volumes as he shared his sorrow with me. His dear friend had just been in an car accident and was killed. It had happened so suddenly and was so unexpected.

"Was he a believer?" I asked. "Yes, but only just recently" he said, explaining he had planted some seeds about Christ in his friend's heart not long ago. His buddy was apparently just getting his life turned around, had taken God's hand and was headed in the right direction. My distraught visitor was hoping the seeds had taken root. "Well, that is the Holy Spirit's work," I said, reassuring him he had done a good thing.

It's kind of like the Easter lily. I had planted it even though it looked like it was dead. I had hoped it would survive. And it did through God's grace and care. Even though I was not aware of it, God had been doing His work, nourishing it as only God can. I had forgotten but God had not.

Just like He will not forget us. Sometimes I need to reflect upon what is truly at the heart of the Gospel. That knowing Jesus is really all about a new life. A new body that will never perish. A new beginning in a new home where there is no more sin or suffering. I get so caught up in day to day life that I lose sight of what Jesus did on a cross for me. That my sins can be forgiven because of Him alone.

We are really only here for a brief time on this earth. God is good and has provided us with the Holy Spirit to keep us company on our journey. We are traveling through from here to there to reach our final destination where we will indeed have new life.

Death has no victory, has no sting, for those who confess their sins, believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The Easter lily in October reminded me of that today.

Has God reminded you of anything lately?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Harvest Blessings

"The tender grass grows up at His command to feed the cattle, and there are fruit trees, vegetables, and grain for man to cultivate, and wine to make him glad and olive oil as lotion for his skin, and bread do give him strength." - Psalms 104

The 104th Psalms is one of my favorite passages about God. His greatness and wisdom just shine throughout this portion of Scripture. While reflecting upon these verses, I feel so safe and secure in the world that God made.

Since I moved to the country recently, these passages have even more meaning to me. My husband and son and other farmers in the valley are harvesting what they planted in the spring - the first crop on the agenda is dry edible beans. Fields that were once green have now turned a golden yellow and the beans have matured inside the dried pods. They are ready to be combined, dumped in trucks and hauled to the beanery. Later they will be transported to factories where they will be processed - some will appear on your grocery shelves as cans of pork and beans, or baked beans, or perhaps chili. It is just one of the crops that we grow in Western Nebraska to feed the hungry of the world. And God designed these unique plants - He knew the type of soil and weather they would need to grow and mature into a food source. Caring for the crops is the responsibility of man. Although the mainstream media does not emphasize this much, being a farmer is a most honorable profession.

Once the beans are finished, it will be time to harvest sugar beets. We have some growing near our country home. If you have never seen one, they look much like a red beet in a garden plot only the leaves are much larger as is the beet itself. The beet is white and must be pulled from the ground and loaded in trucks. Then it is taken to the sugar factory nearby where it is turned into pure white sugar. You probably ate some of it today in one form or another. Not many food processors actually list sugar beet as an ingredient on the label but rather the term sugar is used. God knew we would need sugar in our bodies - for energy. You will find sugar in bread and it is added to fruit to make jelly and jams. The ways to use sugar is extensive including some very pleasant foods for us to enjoy - like candy, cookies, cakes and pastry. It is one food that we can eat too much of because it tastes so wonderful. Although it only contains 15 calories per teaspoon, we tend to consume too much sometimes:-)

Next, corn will be harvested. When it is picked or combined, it is in a dry, hard state, not like the sweet corn you may buy fresh, frozen or canned. The type of corn we raise is used to feed cattle and other livestock. So, in one sense, when you are eating a hamburger, you are also eating corn:-)

God had a plan in everything He made! He sends rain and sun to help crops grow and as the temps drop and fall approaches, the crops in the field ripen and mature. It is all part of His divine wisdom and His awesome creation.

Although I have only preserved sweet corn this year, there are others in my neighborhood who are canning vegetables like crazy - tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, carrots, red beets, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli and cucumbers. Soon apples and cherries will be ready to preserve. Again, we experience God's provision for His people to function properly and stay healthy. And we are truly blessed.

Harvest is a good reminder of God's greatness. What foods are harvested in your area of the country?

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Blessings to each of you!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Painting my world green

I am quite content to write today following the adventures I had last week painting the outside trim of our farm house.

Actually, as I continued to paint each day, I was proud of managing the occasional drips from my paint pad! After all, I had successfully kept chocolate brown and sage green paint off of most surfaces including the sidewalk, steps, the white stucco walls, dog and flowers. Now the cat did end up with stripes twice - once brown and another, green - both times she received a nice sponge bath. I think she actually liked her time at the spa but never really understood why she was receiving such lavish treatment.

Now, on the final day of my painting project, my journey took a turn. More like a sharp curve, really. You see, it was a hot day and I could not wait to get finished! I had been trying desperately to reach the eves of the house with the extended ladder my hubby provided. Stretching as far as I could, and nearly on the top rung, I prayed to God to keep me from falling. But I still could not reach the entire trim board at the peak of the roof. "Oh, to be taller", I cried out to the Lord. Finally I swallowed my womanly "I can do anything" pride and asked my hubby to help.

He consented with little reservation - so he climbed on top of the roof and could easily bend over and paint the trim board from there. I was so happy! Yes! I will no longer have to struggle and remain in my dilemma. We worked so well together - as I confirmed from below what spots he had missed and needed to touch up. Soon, he ran out of paint. I reassured him I could bring him some in no time!

Running into the porch where my paint supplies were, I thought about grabbing the whole paint can but had second thoughts. Which was a good decision! I quickly poured the green sage paint in a container and headed out the back door, thinking how great it would be to actually get the trim done that afternoon!

Then it happened.

Carrying the container out the door, I simply tripped. Green sage paint went flying!

It landed all over the back step, hitting the concrete slab below, the black railing, and the white and pink four-o'clocks I had saved from the dog's impulsive digging. And the paint also splattered on my car! That's right, my Ford Taurus that my husband had parked near the step the night before. (So we could easily unload bags of mulch we had purchased for the fall flower beds.)

For a moment - a brief moment - I froze in my tracks. My right hand and arm covered in sticky, gooey paint. I couldn't believe what had just happened. I looked at the whole scene in a state of shock.

Then, I went into bumble bee mode - buzzing here and there! First, I grabbed the garden hose and turned it on full blast! Spraying the step down with water, then the car, my thoughts racing like wild fire. Running in the house, I had to get something but what? For awhile it was if I was running in circles! Think, think! What should I get? I grabbed a can of Comet, a steel brush, some laundry detergent with extra stain fighters,(yeah, that should do it!) and a scrubbing sponge.

Meanwhile, my hubby called from the roof - "What happened? Look at your car! Look at the step! You better get that off your car and it's going to set on that step fast."("Yeah, like I know Lar", I remember thinking.)

It was if a race was on. . . . between the car and the step. I ran back and forth between the two - threw some soap on the car, then sprinkled Comet over every bit of paint I eyed on the step. Then I took a steel brush and scrubbed the cement like my life depended on it, working quicker than I could have ever imagined. To think I had felt almost like taking a nap a few minutes before. - Ha! Now, I had a burst of energy that came out of nowhere within the depths of my being. I rushed over to the car and splashed it with more water, and returned to the setting paint on the cement. It seemed to soak into the porous substance in seconds!

But as I kept working, I gained hope! Things were looking better all the time. Once I had the step under control, I took a sponge to the car and moved faster than a monkey in a peanut factory.

Meanwhile, back on the roof, Lar had not received his paint and was doing the best he could with what he had. "Can you come look at this Carole, did I miss any spots?" "MISS ANY SPOTS!?" I said to myself. "Like, I have enough spots to handle down here honey".

Well, to make a long story short - there was no argument between husband and wife,(Some would call that a miracle.) And the trim was finished - yay! Plus, my quick actions and extra scrubbing power paid off! I was able to get the paint off of everything - even the flowers!

But, when I was tempted to paint the picnic table later that afternoon. I had just started to scrape off the old paint when I thought again. "No, I think I've had enough painting for one day. It can wait for tomorrow."

And once more the truth that Jesus taught comes to mind. "So, do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself, Each day has enough trouble of its own."

And another . . . . . "Joy cometh in the morning."

Finally, like my last post proclaims, "Laughter is like medicine to the soul." Upon reflection, I can laugh about the experience - it actually was quite funny and as one of my friends told me, "like a cartoon".

Have you had any experiences that played out like a cartoon? If so, I would enjoy hearing about them!

Thanks for visiting "Reflections"!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Joy during "one of those days"

I should have known I might be having "one of those days" when the first thing this morning I started having little mishaps.

I walked out the back door to give our dog Shaggy his breakfast, carrying the large popcorn tin with the stubborn lid. He was standing there patiently waiting when the lid suddenly gave way to my determined prodding. Dog food went flying and I lost complete control of the can. Empty by now, it rolled down the steps with a loud bang and then another BANG! I stood there almost in shock. Bits of dogie treats - well lots of bits - landed all over the step. Would you believe not a single piece went in his bowl? The whole scene scared Shag so much that he forgot he was hungry and left. And I had a big mess to clean up. When the neighbor dog showed up, I thought there might be hope! Naught. He walked by, as if to say, "I don't eat food not properly served." Some of the food landed in my pots of orange, yellow and purple mums. I doubt it will make good fertilizer. But, I had to laugh as I swept up the mess. I thought of the verse in Proverbs about how a "joyful heart is good medicine for the soul." And it was.

Later, while I was walking to the mail box, I heard the squirrels scampering about in the large black walnut trees in our yard. Every once in awhile, an outer shell from a nut would fall to the ground, then another and then another. Soon, I felt like I was being bombarded! I looked up and one landed on the front of my shirt. "What is it about animals and their food supply this morning?" I said to myself. On my return trip to the house, I joyfully watched two squirrels play a game of chase - it was hilarious and I had to laugh! God had provided a simple blessing via squirrels.

Back at the farmhouse, I thought I would do my husband a favor and wash his coveralls before harvest, after all he'll be needing them. So I stuffed three pairs in the washer, only to find some rusty substance all over the inside of my washer afterwards - and all over the coveralls as well. What in the world is this stuff I pondered as I wiped down my washer with bleach. My hubby could shed no light on the subject. So,I washed them again. They look better but hang on the line embellished with rust stripes. I'll let him explain it to his fellow farmers.

Speaking of stripes, our gray tabby kitten decided I needed a helping paw when I attempted to start painting the trim on the house after lunch. I know the paint looks like chocolate but it's not. I tried to tell her. Within minutes of her appearance on the step, she had brown stripes on her coat. Thus, I ended up giving her a sponge bath. Although cats aren't too keen on water, she had a positive and willing attitude. I was pleased. But I also decided to delay the painting project and headed for my PC to write!

Now, the question is, should I go on to the next project? My husband has picked sweet corn so I can preserve it for the winter. I planned to do that this evening. But should I? I hesitate as I ponder whether I should sit at the picnic table to shuck it - that's where the squirrels hang out and I am quite sure both kittens will show up to help. Do I really want to be bombed by nuts or have a cat's paw help me remove husks? My office is so inviting right now:-)

I guess the main thing is this; as long as I can keep laughing and feeling joyful I'm good!

My daughter recently gave me a plaque she made. It reads "Enjoy the little things." I have it hanging by my monitor and it seems quite fitting for today. Being able to laugh during "one of those days" is indeed a blessing from God and I thank Him for it! Laughter is good medicine for my soul!

Do you find joy in simple things? Please write and tell me about it! I would love to hear from you.

p.s. By the way, a skit I wrote will be performed this Sunday in church. All the actors are volunteers who answered the call so willingly! It's another one of those doors of grace God has opened along my life's journey.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Walking through God's doors of grace

"He, who began a good work in you, will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6

Since I wrote my last post, I am continuing my time of stillness before God and have not made any major decisions about which way to turn. However, I am reminded of a verse from Scripture that I had posted on our kitchen bulletin board for years - "God is always at work in you." And as I wait in my stillness, I see my Heavenly Father working. . . . . . . some doors have opened in my life that I call "God's doors of grace." And I am feeling confident and joyous about walking through those entries of divine goodness because each door conforms to the gifts God has given me. It's a fit!

(Reflection: I've been in more than a few places where it was not a good fit. That can be a very revealing experience about oneself. Simply put; a round peg does not fit into a square hole. And it just doesn't feel quite right inside one's spirit. . . at least not for me. I chalk it up as lesson learned and God had a purpose through it all - it was not in vain. Keep on keep'in on!)

Back to God's doors of grace. . . . .One door opened last week, while attending a Christian Education meeting at church. I was asked to write a script for a skit to promote Sunday School. The skit will be performed by members of our church family and is planned for the morning worship hour later this month. When pastor asked me to do this, it was as if a bright, beaming sun rose in my spirit! "I will be glad to write that for you," I said joyfully!

Another "door of grace" opened yesterday while I was out delivering sweet corn. (A fun thing to do if you have never tried it! My husband's family grows it every year on their farm and gives it all away! ) Anyway. . . . . . during one of my stops, a conversation arose about a former video/music presentation I had done for a group at a local church. The leader, who is planning this year's events, asked if I would return and do a similar presentation. S-M-I-L-E ! "I certainly would," I said.

And so, I will be sharing photos I have taken of God's creation, thoughts from His precious Word and play melodies I have composed on the piano. I can't wait to get started! This door also prompted me to think about other possibilities - what other groups might like me to come and share? Perhaps the Veterans Home. A call to them might be a good thing to do. What do you think God? Again, Be Still. Don't run ahead.

In the meantime, I have painted my kitchen, did yard work, shopped for groceries, had lunch with a friend, celebrated my grandson's birthday, have sweet corn to prepare for freezing and mums to plant into God's rich earth.

And as I proceed and try to get settled. . . . . . I'll listen and watch for "God's grace doors" to open.

Have you experienced "God's grace doors" in your life?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

August 6th - 2009 Stop and Be Still

On my church bulletin from last Sunday is a picture of a stop sign mounted on an extra tall post with arrows below it - one is going right, one left, one down, one up but they all have slashes across them indicating not to turn that direction. Below the signs is a verse from the 46th chapter of Psalms, "Be Still and Know That I Am God". . . . . . ..

This depicts how I feel right now in my life's journey. And the verse from His Word is exactly what I need to do. But this is a challenge to my anxious spirit. I want to move in one of those directions - get busy with something and not stop for awhile to listen to my heavenly Father.

The "should committee" is in full force in my head. You should be making money. You should be using your skills to help others, you should be productive - there's no time to sit around, get with it!! I even feel guilty for sitting still. Wait a minute! Who was it who told me to do be still?
The Lord. Why did he tell me that? Because He has a plan for my life and I need to listen for His direction before I proceed.

How do I accomplish this? I can't just sit in a rocking chair all day and wait for Him to speak! First, I pick up my Bible to read and ponder. Second, I pray and write in my journal. Third, I open my mind to possibilities, believing God will open some doors - the RIGHT doors for me to enter. Fourth, I develop MORE patience and fifth, I do what I call "no brainers" - i.e. painting the kitchen, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house and etc. Thanks to my husband, who has been so supportive of my decision not to work outside the home, I also have some much needed time to spend with family and friends - that is a tremendous blessing to me:-)

And God is beginning to show me some paths. At a Christian Education meeting the other night, we were brain storming on how we could get a Sunday School started for children and teens. We will be starting a campaign of sorts to get this program started. One of the things we will do is share our enthusiasm with the congregation each Sunday. I was asked to write a skit to be presented in church. "I would love to!" was my response, my spirit soaring inside me. . . . I get to write again - I can actually sit down and write a short play - yay!!!!

And how did I know this was God leading me down a new path? First, he has given me the skill and love for writing. It has been tucked away for awhile. But it has always been my dream to pursue it further. Not as a reporter, as in former days, but in some new way. It is a dream that keeps coming back to me time and time again. For years, I have put it on the back burner.

In a recent sermon, our Pastor said that if your life's dream - your passion - keeps returning to you - it is an indication that the dream is from God and involves His plan for your life. But you have to be still to listen for His leading - to recognize when He says, "Come walk with me."

"Be still and know that I am God." Have you tried this in your life? If so, how?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

July 30, 2009 - How do I want to spend my remaining time on earth?

. . . . . . . Well it is has been more than awhile since I have written on my Blog or even visited any. That's what a full time job did for me at a doctor's office whose goal was to process 20 patients a day in 20 minute slots. I had little energy for anything else.

It was a stressful job for me and every time I reviewed responsibilities of the job with my boss, the bottom line always seemed to be money. That was a big turn off for me. An ethical turn off. I saw a side to health care I had not seen before - no wonder our health care system is in such a mess in America! ( Has Congress thought about putting a cap on what doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies can charge? If not, why not?) When he added more responsibilities to an already rushed day, I had to ask myself this question, "Do I really want to spend the rest of my life on God's earth doing this?" Some people can handle this type of work load well but I am not one of them. I had to recognize this about myself. And, the answer was clear cut. "No! I think the Lord has other things for me to do that fits who I am." It was a turning point.

So I am re-evaluating how I want to live my life and use the skills God has given me to help others - to make a positive difference while adding some dollars to help with living expenses and give some of it back to the Lord.

I am reflecting over the past seven years since my divorce. . . . all the transitions I have went through with Him by my side every minute. Each one had a purpose, each change was a part of His plan for my life. All the challenges I have overcome with His help and the growth steps I have taken knowing He was in charge of each one. The new found joys I have experienced along the way and discovering how simple things can truly bring so much satisfaction in life. And how TIME is such a great healer - if one is just patient enough:-)

I have re-married now. It is a new beginning of sorts. It is also a time to get settled which I have not done for quite some time. To really settle for awhile and listen for God's voice. Sigh . . . . how I have needed this time and never realized it. Until now.

How does He want me to spend my remaining time on this earth?

Perhaps for some of you readers out there. . . . it is also time for you to do the same. "How do you want to spend your remaining time of earth? " We only live once. Maybe it is time for you to reflect. . . . . to ponder. . . . . . to find your place in this world.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A sunny day writer's block

April 20, 2009
Well, sure enough the sun is shining - in fact, we have went from near winter conditions to summer in a 48 hour time period! The moisture was a blessing and has certainly prepared the soil for planting. And the grass is beginning to turn shades of green giving me a touch of spring fever.But today I have a video presentation to get ready that includes a writing project. I seem to be having some writer's block -something I have experienced before. I do not always know what brings these frustrating blocks about. But I do have a few remedies if any of you writers out there run into such a challenge.
(1) Step away from the computer - the research books - anything that has anything to do with the project and give yourself some space. It will be there when you return:-)
(2) If you haven't started to journal - give it a try. It is great therapy, a good way to vent and it is surprising what insights emerge when one puts pen to paper. I have gained many through the years and have started a book project containing tidbits from my journals that I hope may be helpful to others. My granddaughter hopefuly can illustrate it for me one day. At any rate - I am going to take some time to write in my journal for awhile TODAY. It often relieves a writer's block, among other things.
(3) Take a walk - nothing like fresh spring air to clear the mind and get the body moving. It doesn't have to be a long one - just a stroll of sorts to drink in some of God's creation. It's a great way to get to know God better - what He has created tells us volumes about who He is. "Shall I look to the mountain gods for help? No, my help comes from Jehovah who made the mountains!"
Speaking of. . . . .(4) God knows all about those writers blocks so ask Him for some wisdom and some peace until you return to your writing post:-)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Rainy day reflections. . . . . . . . .

It's another rainy day and I so long for the sun to shine! But until then, I will thank the Lord for the moisture He is providing. . . . He surely has a reason for sending it - of that we can be sure. Seeds will soon be planted in the fresh earth as spring is upon us! And the mositure will help them sprout:-)
It's a good time to sit inside and get cozy with a warm cup of flavored coffee and relfect upon rainfalls found in His Word.
Did you realize that when God first created the earth there were no plants or grain sprouting up for the Lord hadn't sent any rain - however, water later welled up from the ground at certain places and flowed across the land causing a green landscape and lush garden for all creation to enjoy. And God had a reason. The first ever rainfall was recorded in Genesis 7:11-12 when Noah built an ark - the Bible says "the rain came down in mighty torrents from the sky". And God again had a reason - read more about it in Genesis 6, 7 and 8. It took alot of faith and trust in God for Noah to build a huge, sturdy boat for his family and the pairs of animals God told him to get on board! I have to ask myself, would I have had the same faith as Noah? Upon reflection, even though it seems like it has been raining for a long time, it is not even close to 40 days and 40 nights! Can you imagine?
So, a few days is not so bad to endure inside and travel some muddy roads if necessary. Soon the sun will shine and the temperatures will rise. I have faith that God will bring this about. . . . He has a reason. (He knows there are flowers to plant and crops to grow :-).