A few Redbuds before bed…

Today was one of those sandpaper days that wore me down to my rawest spots. Every aggravating thing that could rear its head did. Toss in some miscommunication between the flooring repair installers, random dramas, messes, computer issues, and a major Sjogren’s syndrome flare up with joint pain and chronic fatigue and I had one bitter recipe for a come apart. Honestly, that’s not even the tip of the melting iceberg of trouble I saw today. Still, I’m gonna try to end this day on a positive and grateful note.

I didn’t get a chance to post these beautiful pictures I took of my redbuds this Spring. I remember the day I took them. I had been feeling quite overwhelmed and cooped up.(kinda like today) We decided to get the 4-wheelers and go enjoy some fresh air and nature. It was definitely a healing day!

I hope that whatever sort of day you had, that you get some much needed rest tonight. I’m definitely gonna attempt to. Please pray for me and my family as we enter into a season of preparing. We are getting our house and farm ready to sell. So many things to do and real life still happening in the middle of it all. If any of you have tips on how to deal with staging a home for sale while still living in it with a large family, send them on!

“I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. (George Washington Carver)”


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First thoughts from this quarantine

I think the internet has been grooming us all for years to believe that if we don’t post comments or pics about our life on social media then maybe, just maybe, we aren’t truly living.

Come on, be honest. Especially you mommas. If you miss posting about some big event you feel a twinge of guilt. Yes? No? Never thought about it before? Seriously…be brutally honest with yourself for a moment.

Here- I’ll go first…I have. And then I stopped myself in my tracks when I realized what was happening. Got a sad aching in my gut.

Well, let’s just suffice it to say our actions speak louder. Just look at our numerous social media accounts. Doesn’t really matter which you use. They’re all the same in their results. They encourage shallow interactions. They perpetuate and, I believe CAUSE, short attention spans. Gosh, I’m pretty sure you probably won’t even read to the end if this blog post. (If you’ve made it this far)

So, what can we do about it? Disconnect completely? What about right now when the world is in chaos and there’s some new disaster report fresh off the press each morning? 

I’m pretty certain that most of us, even the ones who are more satisfied to remain disconnected to the world wide web, have found themselves scouring for the latest information. Searching, watching, reading and listening in to the chatter of others that are doing the same. To sum it up, there’s a billion different theories as to what’s up in our upside down world right now. 

I don’t have the answer, that’s for sure. I have a couple of opinions about how some of all this will eventually play out, which I’ll keep to myself. That’s not the point of this post, anyway.

The world is in chaos. Honestly, its been that way for quite some time. It just seems that the last month has been a whole new Richter scale of crazy. 

I turned off my Facebook account tonight. Temporarily. I just needed to turn down all the narratives and theories…step away from the negative virtual vibes. There’s a new heaviness and heartache that’s swept over me the last few days that I’m just not shaking off like I want to. Each morning I open my eyes and the sadness greets me (usually with the first disaster report, I mean, news headline, that scrolls across my screen).

What’s at the root of this sorrow? Its more than just concerns over the uncertainty of this pandemic. Its a whole lot deeper than even that. 

I’m filled with sorrow over the status of how socially distant the world already was, in spite of being told by the “powers that be” to distance themselves from one another. 

My heart aches at how easily people slid into more virtual “living” and seem somewhat numbingly content with it. 

I’m longing for these daily excruciatingly dreary clouds to clear and let us see sunshine again. That’s another thing! What has happened to our blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and Spring sunshine?! Its difficult enough to be told to quarantine at home. But, to get up every morning and see another day of dreary weather? Well, that’s just adding insult to injury, if you ask me!

The last sunny day we were blessed with, I took the kids out and seized those hours to take pictures of one of my favorite signs of early Spring. The bright yellow blooms of forsythia bushes and jonquils spell “hope” to me. Seeing them against the still brown backdrop of winter? I. Can. Breathe. I know it won’t be long. There will be green leaves on the trees swaying in gentle winds. There will be soft grassy lawns to walk barefoot on. And there will, once again, be blue skies and fluffy white clouds.

I have found that these last few weeks have challenged my peace. I’ve had to wrestle with worry and fear- I thought I was more stoic than that. I was wrong. Thanks to the internet, media, and mainstream news, there’s a steady stream of fear fodder 24/7. Turning it all off and socially distancing from your smartphone and tv is good medicine. I recommend trying it many times per day. 

The best remedy for anxiety and fear is the peace that God gives. I read His word. I fight my inner battles with prayer and keeping my eyes on what is true. (instead of the confusing narratives on social media and mainstream “news”)

“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”(Psalm 119:160)

“Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” (Psalm 25:5)

Whatever these uncertain, crazy days are, whatever comes of all this…those of us who rest on the unchanging truth of God’s words and His promises will always have something greater to look towards.

Spring is coming in full force and in all its warmth and glory. But, even better to put your hope in: Our Messiah, Yahshua(Jesus)! He’s coming someday to set right all that’s wrong in this upside down, confusing, backwards world. And because of this truth- I will lay my head down in peace tonight. 

Dear reader, if you made it to the end of this long post, I commend and thank you. You’ve got better focus than most people in this short-attention span society! Be blessed and stay healthy. Wash your hands. Eat your fruits and veggies, get good sleep, and exercise. Turn off the media regularly and go outside. But most importantly, put your hope in the One who has promised life eternal for those who place their trust in Him.

“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding, that we know him who is true, and we are in him who is true, in his Son Yahshua the Messiah. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:19-21)

 

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dinner at the cemetery and thoughts on death and what we leave behind…

Sometimes I visit our local cemetery to think and reflect…no funeral….no genealogy research… no other reason except for putting things into perspective I suppose. I knew more than a few of those laid to rest here. My grandparents, uncles, a cousin, and a few community members. Many I’ve researched or placed in my family tree branches- Herron’s, Hobgoods, Ramsey’s, Townsend’s and more. I have even unearthed long forgotten secrets and family dramas about a couple of them written down and tucked away in a crackled file at the genealogical office.

I ate my dinner at the cemetery this evening, my dog beside me waiting for his share between bites. My grandparents’ final resting place to my left, a peaceful, somber and sad reminder that in the end we will all come to this. I miss them both…maybe even more than the years they died. My grandfather passed away when I was eleven. His was the first death that taught me the fragility and transience of our earthly lives. His death was the first where I witnessed grown adults sob. It was my earliest memory of my parent’s and grandmother crying. His untimely illness and death was the first I’d heard a grownup wail and cry aloud to God, “why?!”

Grandmother lived on another 19 years after my grandfather passed on. For the majority of those years she was independent. Her life was filled with the busyness and joy of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The ache left in my heart due to her passing away was never healed by time. As I grow older and maybe even a bit like her each year, I think of so many things I would have loved to ask. I have an even greater need for her wisdom now that I’ve passed the 50 year mark. There’s so much about her I miss: her chicken and dumplings, the pies…the way she dropped everything to spend time with me. Her family was her world. Most of all, I miss how she always had just the right thing to say to me. She got me...understood my heart in a way only a grandmother can.

I look out across the many carefully etched headstones and wonder about all those precious people now gone who left behind someone who’s still missing their smiles, their laughter… and that unique (now empty) spot in the family. Many are buried here and enough time has passed that no one is left to miss them. They’ve become names, dates, and simply entries on someone’s Tree or a file on Ancestry.com.

I suppose it’s achieving half century status that really starts one to assessing their time already spent on earth and beginning to think of ways to make the most of what might be left. Proverbial or not, it’s true how time flies.

I can’t help but wonder what will be missed about myself when I die. I’m pretty sure it won’t be my chicken and dumplings, although they’re good enough. Will it be how I made them feel special and cherished like my dearly missed grandmother did me? I hope so. What will be forgotten and what will be remembered? Will I leave a legacy of love behind? Hopefully. Will my cherished loved ones truly know how much I loved them?

“Yahweh, make me know my end and what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am.” Psalm 39:4

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Cultivate Peace

James 3:13-18-

13 ¶ Who among you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show that his works are done in the gentleness that comes from wisdom.

14 But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth.

15 Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

16 For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.

LastingImagesByLisa2019

Cultivating peace. Just as our gardens require cultivation and care, so does peace. Other words to describe the act of cultivating: trying to acquire, pursuing, fostering, encouraging, nurturing, working hard at, or trying to develop.

LastingImagesByLisa2019

1 Peter 3:10-11-

“For the one who wants to love life and to see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit,

11 ¶ and let him turn away from evil and do what is good. Let him seek peace and pursue it…”

LastinImagesByLisa2019

Proverbs 12:20-

“Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.”

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Did you know you might be invisible?

What if I told you that much of what you’ve done for someone will be forgotten? Would you still do those things? Even if that person erases your presence from that period of time in their lives?

Suddenly you understand what it feels like to be invisible. Truth is- you’d probably still do all those things again and more.

crescent moon and cloud wind chimes

Photo by NIKOLAY OSMACHKO on Pexels.com

Welcome to motherhood: one long journey of random acts of kindness and self-sacrifice. Day after day of laying down even your most personal needs to attend to the needs (and wants and wishes)  of someone else.  All along, knowing those deeds may never be appreciated or even remembered. It’s one big roller coaster ride of emotional gambling. Russian-roulette with your heart and sanity.

person cleaning flush toilet

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Day after day you’ll put things on hold, give stuff up, and put stuff off- all in sacrifice to help your child. Chances are pretty good, they’ll never ever know or remember even the half of any of it…unless they become mothers themselves. (And even then, maybe not)

woman sitting in front of body of water

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Motherhood is being quite aware of your invisibility and still working yourself spent anyway! This is a perfect example of love in action…knowing what you do may never be noticed and possibly not remembered and proceeding on as usual.

person using mop on floor

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So, to all of you weary mommas who feel forgotten and are struggling with trying to find one more ounce of emotional energy to keep up the good task of raising children-

I have some advice.- Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. Its vital. If you don’t attend to your own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs (and wants) then you will become as “spent” as an overdrawn bank account. To keep all the above in perspective as a momma? See the scripture below for the best advice…

coffee cup notebook pen

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woman carrying baby at beach during sunset

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Most important advice from the Apostle Paul:
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”(Colossians 3:17)

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What if we all read the following daily?

What if we all read the following daily? In these over-stimulated-with-information-digitally polluted times, we need biblical refreshments like these below.

I Corinthians 13- 

1 ¶ If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

2 If I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.

3 And if I give away all my possessions, and if I give over my body in order to boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 ¶ Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant,

5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs.

6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth.

7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 ¶ Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end.

9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part,

10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will come to an end.

11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known.

13 Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love  —  but the greatest of these is love.

Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

5 Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

8 ¶ Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable  —  if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy  —  dwell on these things.

What are you dwelling on lately? Me? I’ve been mentally overloaded. Ironically, with my own self inflicted rumination. So, I’ll definitely be meditating on these scriptures and crowding out the negative noise.

Dear reader, may The Heavenly Father bless you this coming week! Take time to connect with Him –read your Bible, pray, and get out and enjoy the beauty of creation.

 

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An invitation and challenge to wade out a little deeper…

This post is going to be different from my usual posts. I suppose you could say its an invitation to explore and reconsider. To begin, I suggest you either have your Bible ready(I use the ESV and King James versions) or a good digital version of the bible. I recommend the Blue Letter Bible app. Get a Strong’s concordance and learn to use it. You’ll find it a valuable tool. There are many other Bible study concordances and dictionaries but for now start with a Strong’s. Stay away from Googling or internet fishing for stuff to match up with your current indoctrinations or belief system for now – it’s a tool that can also become a trap and will trip you up. Let’s just stick to the scriptures in the Bible until you gain a strong foundation and knowledge in them. Let scripture interpret scripture. Use your center column when needed. Be careful about only reading added footnotes or commentaries if your Bible has them. Stick to the scriptures.

So, in order for any of what I will share here to be of value to you you must already believe that the Bible isn’t just some ancient text that contains only history, geneaologies, or words that have no value for our  present day. You need an element of trust to begin understanding. IMG_E0413The following scripture must ring true for you as it does for me:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The apostle Paul wrote the book of Timothy toward the end of his life around A.D. 66. In this letter to Timothy he reminds him to continue in what he’s been raised from childhood to know. Read in verses 14-15 and see what Paul tells him.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

Did you catch that? The “sacred writings” were able to bring someone to the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ. What part of the scriptures do you think he was speaking of? It wasn’t what we call the New Testament. Many don’t realize how much of the Old Testament(as we call it now) points to Jesus. More on that later.

So, if you agree that all scripture, both Old and New Testaments is useful for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness then we can move on.IMG_E0445

Let’s go straight to one of the most stern things I’ve ever read that Jesus said.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

What Jesus refers to as the Law or the Prophets was what they understood to be the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch or the books of Moses) and the books of prophecy. When he says “fulfill” he did this by accomplishing and obeying the scriptures, thereby bringing clarification and fulfillment to the prophecies foretold of him. He is NOT saying that because he is the fulfillment of those prophecies that God’s laws were now old news and done away with.”

Some other noteworthy things written in Matthew that were said by Jesus:

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matt. 5:46-48)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is  hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”(Matt. 7:13-14)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”(Matt. 7:21-23)

Did you read that? Lawlessness. The word “lawlessness” was translated from the original Greek word anomia which means “lawlessness, iniquity, disobedience; utter disregard for God’s law.

Side note- there are a couple other times that the phrase “depart from me, I never knew you” (or  words meaning the same) are used in the Bible. See Luke chapter 13 and Matthew chapter 25. There may be others and if you find them please comment below.

There is so much more contained in the book of Matthew. I recommend reading the entire book. A Strong’s concordance is helpful for clarification of hard to understand verses. Get a notebook, take notes and make highlights and your own notes in your Bible.IMG_E0419

Now, before I get emails thinking I need to be informed about how we can no longer keep ceremonial laws of  Moses’ day, please gain an understanding and knowledge of how Jesus became the atonement for our sins. So, of course, I know that the ceremonial sacrifices were indeed done away with. He alone is why we no longer have to make ceremonial sacrifices for our sins. He canceled our debt to sin that stood against us-that’s what he nailed to the cross, not God’s moral laws.  To see what Paul said regarding sacrifices of the old covenant go read all of Hebrews chapter 10.  Read it in entirety and then go back and reread verses 26-31 in case you’re inclined to think that you’ve now got a ticket to ride on the grace-train without walking in obedience to God. Never, never, take for granted what He did for us! We walk in obedience to God not because it is what brings us salvation. Jesus is the “way, the truth, and the life.”(see John 14:6) Obedience to God is a result of salvation through Jesus. We obey because we love him.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”(John 14:21)

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”(John 15:10)

“And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.”(1 John 2:3)

Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”(1 John 2:4)

“and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”(1 John 3:22)

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”(1 John 5:3)

Now go read what Revelation 12:17  and Revelation 14:12 says. Truly, these two verses were what caused me to rethink, pause, and dig deeper into God’s word. I was studying prophecy several years ago and started by reading Revelation. The rest is history and ongoing enlightenment and growth. Oh, the things the Lord has shown me since.

I’m going to stop here. Word of advice: pray before beginning your studies of the scriptures. Ask God to open your heart to His truth and give you discernment.

So here’s your invitation and challenge: 

READ AND STUDY-

*All of Matthew

*All of Hebrews(or at least the 10th chapter)

*All of the gospel of John

*All of I and II John

*All of Psalm 119

*read the Ten Commandments- you can find them in Exodus chapter 20 and Deuteronomy chapter 5

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