Thursday, April 16, 2009

Green Acres, here we come!!!

We have had a desire since we first met to have a farm. Although I think a lot of our daydreaming had more to do with new and young love, and the rose colored glasses thing, there has always been a place deep inside of us that desired to get back to basics.

Since being let go from my job I have started to pursue some ideas we had been toying with. One of them was beekeeping. To my surprise John has shown a huge interest. So much so that we paid our membership fee to the local chapter and then to the state to become registered beekeepers! On top of that John has put an order in for a hive for next month. Then we start the Master Bee Keepers Program which, to my understanding, will give us the equivilant of a Master's Degree in Bee Keeping. I say coooooolllll!!!

The other idea we had played with was getting chickens for the eggs. SOOOOO, we now have 2 little Rhode Island Reds (Sarah and Lucy) and 2 little Golden Sex Links (Blondie and Ethel). They are so cute. And again to my surprise John is very into this.

Honestly, I don't know where my farmer mentality came from. I'm from Orlando and for all intents and purposes I'm a "city girl". But there's something intriguing to me about being able to plant a tiny seed and get a whole bunch of broccoli, or corn, or strawberries, etc. I LOVE the smell of earth, and good soil. If they made a perfume that smelled like it I'd wear it.

I have contemplated my infatuation and love of gardening and can come up with only one thought as to why I love it...I feel closer to God when I am tilling soil, planting seeds and new shoots, pulling weeds, pruning, tending and then harvesting.

It reminds me so much of the Christian walk. Our hearts need to be fertile soil where the seeds of God's word can be sown in, watered and fed. We sit in The Sonshine to gain vital nutrients. Sometimes there is pruning (ouch) and always there is weed pulling. But aahhh, then comes the harvest. The fruit of time spent with our Creator, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control. There are other fruits, the most precious to me being my friendship with Jesus. There's nothing like it anywhere!

I'm not a city girl. I'm not a country girl. I'm just God's girl.

Day #11 of my grateful journey I am grateful for time with my friend Gail this morning.

Until next time...

Friday, April 10, 2009

what true peace feels like

I had always wondered what true peace felt like. Now I know...

In this, my 5th day (sorry, I forgot to post yesterday. I know, I know, I need to keep up with it) of my grateful journey and spending intentional time with God, my reading led me to a quote out of Max Lucado's "Come Thirsty". In this quote we are challenged to examine how we respond to the stress producers in our lives. Do we react by worrying, complaining, pondering on the negative thoughts? He describes it as putting all of that into a big vat and turning up the heat, stewing on it, stirring it, moping and brooding about it and creating a delightful pot of pessimism. (yuck)


Do we cook up a pot of prayer? hhhmmmmm...sounds more delightful than the pot of pessimism.

Do we receive the lordship of Christ in our lives, acknowledging that nothing happens to us that God did not allow. Everything that happens to a Christian is filtered through God's loving hands. Could you imagine if it weren't?!

I know sometimes it doesn't feel like God is anywhere close when bad things happen. When I was diagnosed with cancer I was really upset with God. I remember asking John to go for a car ride. (For some reason driving around aimlessly is really relaxing to me.) Anyway, we stopped at a 7-11 to get drinks. I stayed in the car while John and Michelle went inside and I cried, and cried out to God asking Him why He let this happen. His answer surprised me. He said "I am answering your prayers." I must have looked like a crazy woman because I stopped crying, like someone had turned off a faucet and (out loud mind you) I said "WHAT?! Are You kidding God?! I didn't pray for cancer!!!" And He replied "No, but You prayed to learn to live by faith and not by sight. You asked me to use you to glorify me and show those around you that I do exist and that I am a loving God." He was right. I had asked all of those things however I had reserved the right to tell Him HOW to use me.

I wanted others to know and love God and to be used by Him but like so many of us, I wanted Him to do it without inconveniencing me, or allowing me to be hurt.

What if Jesus had felt that way? What if He had said "I love you guys, but I'm not willing to be put to death for you!! Are you guys crazy?! Man, those whips?! Those nails?! Do you know how bad that'll hurt?! That crown of thorns?! And on top of that having to carry my own cross?! No way!!!"

I'm so grateful that He didn't feel that way. The way I sometimes feel at my interrupted life. I have a long way to go to be like Jesus. But thankfully I have an understanding, patient, loving God who already knows my heart.

I said at the beginning of this post that I knew what true peace felt like. Most of you know that Michelle is in Trinidad on her first mission trip. I am the one parent that everyone would have pegged to be crying and sleepless HOWEVER I know in my heart that she is exactly where she's supposed to be and I have slept well every night (except for the animals wanting to get up at 3 am to go outside) and I have had no worry about her at all. I can't explain it other than the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Today, in my grateful journey I am grateful that Jesus did not feel the way I have felt about being used.

Until next time...

PS...yesterday in my Grateful Journey I posted on my facebook that I was grateful for 26 years with John. It was our anniversary :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

An empty vessel

Third day in a row of my reading and you guessed it...on the money again. The title is "A Useful Vessel".

Scripture reference is Luke 9:24 "Those who give up their lives for me will have true life."

For the past few months I have felt anything but useful. Defining your value by the world's standards always sets you up to feel inferior, insecure, insignificant. But define yourself against God's word and amazing things happen.

I read a verse today that I've read and heard in sermons a bazillion times. It's where Jesus says "If people want to follow me, they must give up he things they want. They must be willing to give up their lives daily to follow me. Those who want to save their lives will give up true life. But those who give up their lives for me will have true life." Luke 9: 23-24

As I pondered this verse my eyes were opened even more to what God is doing in my life. If my days were filled with external deadlines, boss' demands, office issues, I wouldn't be able to focus on the things that I need to focus on. I wouldn't have the time to spend with God that He needs (more like I need) for me to have. I'm not saying I'm a saint or where I need to be. But I'm where I'm supposed to be. He's bringing me back to the basics. I keep hearing Him say "Just concentrate on ME. Do not worry about anything but spending time with me."

I was reminded today that I am in a place of preparation and foundation building, and that I need to be an empty vessel in order to be a useful vessel. God cannot fill me if I am full of myself.

Day #3 of my Grateful Journey I am grateful for the sunshine :)

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Time for God...

As promised to myself, and proclaimed before you all and God, I spent time with the Lord today, again reading in my Grace for the Moment Bible (by Max Lucado). Yesterday the topic was on the money. I couldn't wait to see what the topic for today was.

Are you ready??? Again it was right on target. The topic is "A Cleared Calendar"!!!

Bible reference Psalm 42:2 "I thirst for the living God. When can I go to meet with Him?"

The next sentence was what got me. It was a question..."How long has it been since you let God have you? I mean truly HAVE you? How long since you gave Him a portion of undiluted, uninterrupted time listening for His voice?" Then the author reminds us that Jesus did just that. He arose early in the morning and went to a (now get this) LONELY place, where he prayed...(Mark 1:35)

Most of you know that God has been speaking to me about surrendering my whole life to Him. I am sure that being unemployed is part of His plan for this journey. I am convinced that He has cleared my calendar on purpose so that I will have time to meet with Him, and listen for His voice. How long has it been since I've done that? Too long. It's interesting the choice of the word lonely because that's how I feel so much of the time. And yesterday I took a walk after my time with Him (I almost said quiet time but all of my time lately is quiet time) and on my walk I was contemplating on the difference between being alone and being lonely. There's a big difference. defines loneliness as this, "affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome. 2. destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, a lonely exile. lone; solitary; without company; companionless." And this morning as I was reading the verse, it dawned on me that I am in a lonely place for a reason...however I am not alone. And there's a reason I am here.

Remember that I had said that I was hoping that through this journey I would find out what my true purpose was? For years I've been told by many people that I would make a great counselor (or teacher) and that I should be writing for a living. I've just never known how to get started. It hit me today that the place I am in right now is a place of preparation, of cultivating my relationship with my Creator and readying myself for what he is bringing my way. I have wanted to be able to have it all, a career, a family, etc. You know, the way the world defines having it all. But what I really need is to have all of Jesus, and He needs to have all of me. I've known for a while that I was not giving my relationship with God my all, that I operate at times by "winging it". The problem is that I am not honoring Him that way, and I am not being a benifit to others. And I am missing out. I don't want to miss out anymore.

So even though I feel like I am in isolation, I know that I am not alone. I know that God is continuing His good work in me and will be faithful to complete it. I need to be faithful to give Him all of me. I want to take this time that He has granted me and use it wisely, to grow and to truly know God.

Day #2 of my Grateful Journey and I have 2 things I am grateful for 1) Michelle and the rest of the Trinidad Team made it to Trinidad safely and are having a great time of fellowship with the people there. 2) Cool weather in April :)

Until next time...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Never alone

OK, I just had to write a follow up. Since I had purposed to spend time with God, I chose my Grace for the Moment Daily Bible.

The topic for April 6 is "Never Alone". (OK, if that's not God speaking.)

The bible reference was "Don't' be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go." Joshua 1:9

Then the caption heading is from "Traveling Light" and says this: "The Lord is with us. And, since the Lord is near, everything is different. Everything! You may be facing death, but you aren't facing death alone; the Lord is with you. You may be facing unemployment, but you aren't facing unemployment alone; the Lord is with you. You may be facing marital struggles, but you aren't facing marital struggles alone; the Lord is with you. You may be facing debt, but you aren't' facing debt alone; the Lord is with you."

Then it says "Underline these words; you are not alone

And all I did was take the 1st step :)

Until next time...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Brighter days are on the way my friend...

I am preaching to the choir here.

There are days when I look at where I'm at in life and I consider all of the blessings. And then there are the dark days, where discouragement creeps in and Satan pokes me and tells me how useless my life is. I have to admit that I have been struggling with some depression in the last month or so. Just when it seems that I can actually function with a real smile on my face, those deceptive thoughts about my life creep back in. You know the ones. They sound like this, "You don't matter." "You're not valuable." "You have never accomplished anything in your life." "You are incapable." "You are nothing but a big failure." There are so many more.

I know these sound harsh but the reality of it is that many people, yes even Christians, get depressed. We are not immune. And we entertain thoughts that are destructive.

I've been trying to pinpoint the place of the depression and this is what I have come up with: 1) I am not accepting, nor believing God's truth about who I am. His word says that I am a masterpiece, intricately woven by the Master Himself. He has uniquely gifted me yet I have allowed people's opinions of my gifts determine how I will feel about them, and subsequently use them. I have allowed the opinions of others towards me determine how I feel about myself. 2) I am lonely. Being home and jobless has been hugely depressing for me because of the isolation. And when you are already feeling alone it's wierd, but you don't feel like being around anyone else. There's such a stigma on sadness and depression and you have to wear a mask because most people just want you to snap out of it. 3) I had put so much of the value of who I am on what I did for a living, on where I worked and what people there thought of me. I've allowed success to be defined by the job that I did at work 4) I have never put the value on my family that God intended for me to place on them. The value of being a godly wife, a godly mother. I can't help wondering if God has intentionally given me this time at home to spend getting to know Him better and take better care of my family. Everytime I think about our financial situation my heart hurts and gets heavy. I know that not having my income has hurt us, but I feel that if God wanted me working He would have provided a job, I am sending out resumes almost daily, and networking with so many different people. I have so many ideas but can't seem to bring them to fruition. And this is where I give up. I hate that I let discouragement be my companion. I know there are better friends to spend time with.

I poured out my heart to John last night. He's so supportive. He says he's not worried about our finances and that we WILL be debt free in the next couple of years. I guess I would feel better about being out of work if we didn't have the debt looming over our heads that we do. But I guess that this is also where God does His best work.

So this morning I decided that I am going to act. I decided that I needed to take the 1st step and then let God do the leading and guiding. I mean isn't that where the faith comes in...when you just start walking???

Today I am starting a "grateful for" journey and will document daily for the next 30 days 1 thing I am grateful for. I am also going to spend the 1st 30 minutes of the day with my Creator, and not myself or my new companion (discouragement). I am going to take pride in the things I accompish in my home and pray that God will mobilize me to work in the areas He has gifted me in.

I pray that through this my life will be forever changed, my eyes will have clear focus, my heart will be lifted, others will be blessed and that God would be glorified. I pray that I truly find the purpose for which I was created.

Today I am grateful for: 1) being able to write

Until next time...