Tuesday, May 27, 2008

gardening is like my heart

It has been awhile since I have taken the time on the computer as I have been so busy... (finally the sun came out here in WI and we broke 70 degrees a few days!!)...yard and garden work. Cleaning gravel out of the grass from snow removal, cleaning leaves off of flower beds from fall, and pulling weeds out of the garden that seemed to grow all winter. How is it that the weeds multiply in the winter?

The weeds remind me of sin. Something that never goes dormant is at work in the members of my body waging war against my mind (Romans 7:23)...like those nasty weeds-trying to choke out my beautiful flowers! I actually lose perennials if I don't tend to the weeds in the fall because they get choked out.

Tending the garden of my heart is something I have to be just as diligent at. Most of us look at sin (first glance) as the behaviors we exhibit at times, but sin really is more our attitudes that then manifest in behaviors. Attitudes like unforgiveness, pride, selfish ambition, manipulation, comparison, inferiority or superiority. Oh my, the list goes on and on.

So every spring, I attack the gardens and give them a good cleaning. Then I simply must maintain them on a regular basis. Giving the plants plenty of water, and fertilizing them from time to time.

I also like to go to a confrence once a year, and take inventory of my heart, see what God is wanting to pull out and clear away that is not pleasing to Him. Then as I meet with him daily, and spend time in His Presence hearing Him, I am transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).

I have noticed, after maintaining my flower beds for the past 6 years diligently, that they are a bit easier to maintain each year because I have tended to them. There is one that I have not been so diligent with, that is still more work than others in the spring. I also have one flower bed that has a stubborn, deep-rooted root system-weed that I have to truly vigorously attack every year. Honestly, sometimes I think I should just plow that one up and plant grass and be done with it.

God had to do that with sin in my life too-the sin of self-reliance/unbelief. He had to "afflict me that I might learn His decrees" Psalm 119:75. He plowed up the ground with the stubborn weed and cleared it away to make room for the flowers (or maybe grass) He is planting in my life. He is the perfect Master Gardner!! I am so glad that He tends my soul.

Like tending my gardens becomes enjoyable when it is maintainance, so is my time with the Lord tending my heart.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life. Psalm 119: 92,93

Friday, May 16, 2008

Responsibility To Pray

As for me, farbeit from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 1 Samuel 12:23

This struck me the other day in my time with the Lord. Samuel, as Israel's Prophet of his day, was overseer to the nation at the time before, and during Saul's reign as their first king. Samuel had been dedicated and brought to Eli, the priest, at a very young age. As I have pondered his life and devotion to the Lord, I believe he learned alot from Eli's mistakes. Eli's sons, as you may recall, had rebelled against the Lord and the Lord struck them dead. The Lord told Eli that it was partly due to the fact that he failed to restrain his sons. (story found in 1 Samuel)

God had given Eli authority over his family as well as the house of God. Unfortunately he neglected his family, and they suffered immensely for it. Samuel was told by God at a young age what God was going to do to Eli's family because of their rebellion. I imagine the strong impact that had on Samuel. There is not recorded any time that Samuel fell away from following God. He was steadfast and devoted. He understood God's authority and his responsibility as God's servant.

The above verse speaks to me about the responsibility (and privelege) we have on behalf of those given to us to lead. Wether we are parents, teachers, counselors, pastors, teachers, or any other office of leadership. We sin against the Lord if we are not prayerful for those in our charge. Yet another reminder of the fervency I need to have in approaching the throne of God daily. Going before Him on behalf of those He has given to my care. And oh, what a blessing it is to see the Lord answer! It makes me aware of His initmacy. His attention to every detail of my little life.

We have evidence all around of His provision and watchcare for/over us. I see victories in my life, and my family, and my friends, my church. Pray! Pray! It is the most beneficial way we can spend our time!! As the saying goes: any failure stems from a failure to pray.

God, grant me the grace to be diligent to pray for those You have put in my circle of life. Thank you for your availability and attention to your children's requests.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Tribute to my Mom

I wish one who is good at navigating the blog "how-to's" could come and show me some things. For instance, I got the little button to the left but I don't quite know how to get it over here. I don't know what a meme is, but this is my attempt...I did after all, sign my name to it....

The question is...what is the greatest lesson you learned from your mother, or a mom-like figure in your life?

Mother's Day is a day away and I want to rise up and call my mama blessed:-) She is a
Proverbs 31 woman (she's had plenty of opportunities to live in the chapter)

When I tell you my mom has nurtured 12 children, you will already know she is a wonder-woman. When I tell you that she passed on to me passion for Jesus, love for family, creativity, love for being a mom, love for others and a desire to be a blessing, well, I have only scratched the surface, but you will know she is a virtuous woman.

I am the firstborn. I have seen my mom at work all of my life being the woman God created her to be.

As a young girl, (and the first five of the twelve were girls) I remember my mom spending hours sewing dresses for us, doing our hair, polishing our shoes, taking us to dancing lessons, helping us practice our dance at home , teaching us to tie our shoes, practice reading, help with homework, shopping, painting with watercolor, scrapbooking, coloring etc. She read us Bible stories and taught Sunday School. I remember every Saturday night was bath time in preparation for church. Three of us would take a bath together, and come out to the living room in our pj's and watch Lawrence Welk. Then she would take in the two little ones (or were they first??)...in her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers (verse 19)

Then there was the preparation of food: Putting in the garden, weeding, canning, freezing, cooking, baking, planning, shopping... One memory is of mom making bread. She had at least 3 large mixing bowls on the counter with bread rising. We had a peninsula in the kitchen. Mom would stand in the kitchen, and us kids would pull up chairs in the dining room side and kneel on them, leaning on the counter watching her turn the dough out and knead it. She would enlist our help as we got older making biscuits. What wonderful memories of a loving home with the fragrance of home-baked bread. Is there any fragrance better than that one? she provides food for her family (verse 15)

I grew up on a dairy farm, which meant daily chores. My dad hired young guys to help him when I was real little. When I was 8 yrs old, I was official age to babysit in the house so mom could go out to the barn to help Dad milk in the morning. They installed a phone in the barn so we could call if needed. I remember mom milking cows one time beyond her 8th month of pregnancy- I wondered how she squatted down next to those cows with that big belly in the way! As the years went on, you would even find mom out on the tractor plowing or baling hay...she sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for the tasks. (verse 17)

My mom was available for people in need...she was called on many times for a family whose mom was always being brought to detox for alcoholism. When her sister was going through a very hard time from divorce, she was invited to come into our home. When her parents were aging, my parents dug a well and put in a sewer and trailer next to our home and moved Grandma and Grandpa in next door. We sponsored a child in Guatamala and enjoyed writing letters back and forth...she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy (verse 20)

After I got married and started my family, my mom was the greatest source of encouragement. Those early days in my experience with motherhood were full of questions from me and advice from her. Wonderful wisdom for a young mama with babies. We spent many hours on the phone late at night talking and praying. Usually she was praying for me and sharing truth from scripture...she speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue (verse 26)

Mom, many women do noble things, but truly, you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate...(verse 29-31)

Of course there is so much more, but I think this provides a pretty good framework of my loving mom. To summarize the lesson learned: Seek the Lord with all your heart and all these things will be manifested in your life.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

lost but not forsaken

...and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will delier you, and you will honor Me.
Psalm 50:15

What a day it has been!! Ethan had a jazz choir competition @ UW Eau Claire this morning. He was sudposed to be there @ 8:30 for singing @ 9:00. We set out early for plenty of time (or so I thought) Having never been to the campus before, I scoped the area on Mapquest, wrote myself some directions. Ethan was driving his new (very rusty, but good gas mileage car with a stick) My directions were good getting us there. However, when we got to the campus with the map we had been given from Ethan's school, we were totally getting lost.

At one point (about 8:40 or so) we were so close...we had turned on a "road" which started out blacktop and ended up looking like a dirt walking trail with mudholes from the constant rain we seem to be having lately. We could see cars in a parking lot through the trees at one point, but no signs. We couldn't turn around (one-way) so continued on, hoping to see an end somewhere. We came upon a walking bridge overhead. I thought it was to the parking lot we saw on the map, so I told him to go ahead, and I would bring his car around to the parking lot (walking by faith-ya). So he took off almost forgetting his cell phone and dress shoes in his haste-so of course I yelled at him (ever had panic set in when the cellular communication is cut off for some reason??I'd like to know how parents ever got along without them)

I had seen a man walking his dog through a tunnel and I proceeded to flag him down...wondering if it was wise to flag down a strange man in a tunnel, but trusting God:) he informed me we were way beyond where I thought we were. I became anxious to get going as I knew then that Ethan was walking to nowhere or somewhere ??? The man gave me directions I thought I could remember and I raced back to the car. I was going to get the car going, but couldn't find the lever to move the seat and couldn't reach the pedals!! Then I thought "I have to call Ethan!" (Duh) So as I got out my phone, he was back at the car. He had figured out he was going nowhere.

We followed the man's directions to the best of my rememberance. We took a few wrong turns-which as you might guess kept the tension building. Meanwhile Ethan was on the phone with the teacher who was trying to help us. Finally we saw the building we needed to be in. He parked (rather, er, hastily) and asked a young man where the entrance to the building was. So-......my 6'3" son tore off across the wet grass leaving his 40 something mom to run after him in her heels (which happened to be sinking into the lawn with every other step-maybe I should charge for areation!) I was afraid if I lost him, I would miss him singing as he would not be answering his cell phone. I managed to catch up as he was asking for directions inside the building. By this time I had to go to the bathroom soooo bad. He found his people TWO MINUTES before 9:00!!! (Whew, thank you Lord!!) I followed the kids into the performing area only to find out the parents all came in a different door-ugh. Not too many noticed though (crooked smile).

They sang two fun songs, got a review and his part was all over!! We headed home and I was a bit disoriented (direction-wise, I am used to the compass in my vehicle now) as the day would have it, we ended up going the WRONG WAY on the highway that was to take us to the freeway. Turn around again...........Ethan commented on getting alot of practice driving his new, rusty, stick-shift car! (well, he didn't say rusty)

Finally we got on the freeway-homeward bound. We relaxed, listened to music and talked. The sun actually came out. We were tooling along and I completely missed our exit! I have no idea how we did that, but we ended up 15 mn past our exit before I realized it. Oh Lord help me!! We got going in the right direction again, and I happened to look down and realized I had spilled coffee down the front of my white turtleneck. I began to laugh, and cry a little, and laugh some more. Ethan asked me if I was okay, I said I was, it was really funny that all that had happened to us in the matter of a few hours. Talk about humanity in need of Deity (smile)we ended up enjoying our time toghther. My boy said, "it's okay, Mom, it is mother/son bonding time". What a sweet one I have.

Thank you Lord, that you make bitter experiences sweet. Thank you that we didn't miss Ethan's singing time. When I think over this morning, I am amazed at all the things that could have kept us from making it on time for him to sing. Then we would have made the trip for nothing. Now we have another funny story to tell to (my future grandkids) about You and Your provision. You are GOOD!