Trees…Growing in Grace

On Wednesday last week on my way to work, I read John 17. This chapter of John talks about Jesus. He prayed for all of us believers before we ever came to be. I appreciated that. I looked around me at the trees. I found my source of inspiration.

On the block walking to work, there are many trees. Each tree has its own individual look and story. As I captured the pictures of these trees, what I noticed is that each tree and its branches told a story. Some were bent, some were straight, some went to the right and some went to the left.

As I became engrossed in the nature of these trees, I realized that we are to be like those trees, planted by the living waters, rooted and grounded. Looking at the various shades of green and the distortion of the branches, I concluded that trees grow regardless of the storm. They may begin to look funny. Sometimes the branches become broken. They get all tangled up. Sometimes the tree loses a limb. But, when it’s all said and done, the trees grow in grace. They weather the storms, whether rain, sleet, hail, snow, cold, wind or heat. Whatever comes, they continue to grow. I also realized that trees are only replaced when they are dug up by the roots. I came to see even more how important our roots in God and His word have to be for us to be “like a tree, planted by the rivers of water.”

Psalm 1:3 – “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither.”

How cool is it to know that Jesus holds the rivers of water. That a tree is a real symbol of growing in grace. No matter what happens, the tree is still standing. Even when the weather may break the trunk, guess what? The tree will continue to grow until roots are pulled up. When you are nurtured by the Word of God, you have no choice but to grow in grace, like the tree planted by rivers of water.


Processing the Journey

Phases 2Processing our journey. Enjoy the process. What do those things really mean? As I have pondered the discussion of this topic, I do concede that I do not have all the answers. Barely any of them. But I will share what I have concluded from my own journey. Processing to me means evaluating the events that you are experiencing. How what’s happening is affecting you. Why what’s happening affects you. What do you do with those answers?
When trauma, hurt and pain is the bulk of what you know, how can you process that? Why me? What am I doing wrong? Well, life throws us all curveballs. Some low, some high. But we all have to accept the events that are out of our control. Processing is learning how to not let those events overwhelm and control you. On the journey, we are told to enjoy the process. Enjoy pain, hurt, loss?

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Sometimes you are between a rock and hard place.

I believe that the enjoy means being grateful for the lessons learned, the growth, the self-awareness gained as we process life events. Becoming whole as we process what happens to us in a healthy way. Our emotional health is a very “high trending” topic these days. What with the fallout from the pandemic. Although our emotional health has always been a part of our wholeness, it has risen on the priority list.

Perfection 4The prcoessing is dealing with the emotions the events leave at the forefront of our lives when things happen. Are you dealing with high emotions at this point in your life? You can and should acknowledge your emotions. You just can’t wallow in them. Take the steps neceassary to move forward. How do you do that? First, accept that you have been hurt, have loss or betrayal. Second, forgive the other person (and in some cases it may be yourself) so that you don’t feed the hurt and pain. That causes development of the ugliness of losing control of our emotions. Third, replace this event wiith something that causes gratitude. In spite of what has happened, I am grateful for…
Forgiveness is proabably the hardest part. It shouldn’t be because Jesus forgave you.

Hope

Hope in God

On my way to work early one morning, I captured this picture of the rising sun. When I have moments like these, I am moved. I recognize that God created this moment just to bless me. Hope is the foundation of moving through all the fires, challenges, disappointments, betrayals, losses, griefs and every other emotional moment we have. Hope is also the joy, the fun, family, friends, strangers we meet, and other moments we can’t explain.

Hope, believing that things will get better. Hope, that God brings us through. He is always with us, contrary to popular belief. Just because He isn’t seen doesn’t mean He isn’t there. We can’t see the air we breathe.

Knowing God gives me hope. Knowing that my soul has an eternal resting place gives me hope. Knowing that the earth is not my home, it’s temporary. No matter how troublesome it gets (and this pandemic is very troublesome), I am destined for an eternal home. That gives me hope.

#hopewriterlife

God’s Handprint

Thought I would share this image I took walking to the bus stop going to work on September 18th at 6:38 am. I walked outside and saw this beautiful picture of the sun as soon as I walked outside. I immediately took the picture. There are times when I feel like I want to go take pictures and there are moments when the picture comes to me.

I know that things are still very chaotic. However, I would like to encourage you to take advantage of the moment. The distractions of the current state of affairs of this country can dampen anyone’s mood, positive thoughts and energy if given free reign.

What came to my mind in that moment is that God is still in control and an extreme artist. The sunrise was beautiful and it gave me peace. I have to say that this peace stayed with me all day. It was a reminder to savor the beauty that is still present. It reminded me to be in the moment and not caught up in what could happen. Not that I could do much about what could happen anyway. 

This is just a reminder not to let the beauty of nature slip past. Sure, there is chaos and natural disasters happening. But there are days when God reminds me “I AM here.”

Gratitude

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. This is synonymous with respect; acknowledgment; indebtedness which is a sense of obligation and appreciation; recognition; regard.

Happy 4th of July everyone. We can be thankful we are here to see another one.

The importance of this definition and these synonyms is understanding. It is all about our perspective of God and why He asks us to give thanks. Gratitude is about recognizing the bonus value for favorable things or positive life experiences for which we did not actively work towards or ask for (gifts outweighing exchange). This part speaks to God’s grace. Hebrews 12:28 – “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

Giving thanks offers appreciation for what one has. It is recognition of values independent of monetary worth. It is affirmation of goodness. It is worth noting here a quote found that truly speaks to what thanks (gratitude) is all about. “It is not happiness that brings us gratitude, but gratitude that brings us happiness.” (Monterey Bay Holistic). Another quote found is “Gratitude teaches us to appreciate the rainbow and the storm.” This one is by Christina G. Hibbert, a psychologist. And last but not least, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We can be thankful for the beauty of nature.

While these quotes are not from me, they speak to the topic at hand. Being grateful even in the midst of the storm, and yes we are in a storm, helps to keep us grounded. It points us toward what is truly important in this climate and any other. What is most important in this day and time is our relationship with Christ, the condition of our hearts and soul. If you are reading this, you have something to be grateful for. You have another day to honor and glorify God. Colossians has several different mentions of what to be thankful for. The following Scripture always moves me because I am so thankful not to be still walking in darkness and without God in this world. Colossans 1:12-13 – “12and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light. 13For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

When you feel caught up in what’s wrong with your life, with what you don’t have and start to feel depressed or discouraged, look up. Give thanks for what you do have. If you are breathing, walking, talking, not in the hospitable, not overcome with medical issues, etc., you have something to be grateful for. If you have family and friends, distant and close, you have something to be grateful for. I just want to encourage you today that life is worth living. We don’t have control over everything that happens in our life. We only have control over ourselves. It is time that we exercise that control and give thanks to God Almighty in the name of Jesus Christ.

When we trust Him, we can be thankful.

Triple O

Omnipotent, all-powerful. God is the creator of the universe contrary to popular beliefs. As described in Psalm 74:13-17, He is the master of all. There is nothing that God cannot do. Yet, as powerful as He is, He won’t force Himself into our lives. We must let Him in and give Him the control. He asks us to give Him our hearts. We tend to forget that He gives life and it is His anyway. But more than anything, He gave us free will. What a powerful thing. And, though He gave it to us, He allows us the choice on whether to give it back to Him for His purpose and glory. And, yes there is always more with God, He loves us regardless. So much so that He gave His only Son, Jesus, that we would have the means to reconcile with Him.

Psalm 74:13-1713 “It was You who split open the sea by your power; You broke the heads of the monster in the waters. 14 It was You who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave it as food to the creatures of the desert. 15 The day is Yours, and Yours also the night; You established the sun and moon. 16 It was you who opened up springs and streams; You dried up the ever-flowing rivers. 17 It was You who set all the boundaries of the earth; You made both summer and winter.”

God is…Omniscient, all-knowing. If you want to know something, ask the Lord. James (1:5) states that if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask God. Many times, when we think of asking God, we feel like we can’t or won’t wait for the answer. However, with God, there is always an answer. It is “yes”, “no”, or “wait.” Now, let’s say that God does answer you, are ready for the answer. If yes, are you prepared for whatever comes along with that yes? If no, are we prepared to trust that God knows what’s best for us? We may think we need what we want right now, however, since God is the omniscient one, He knows the future and may see something attached to that thing which is harmful to us. Remember His love for us. He is good to us whether we always see it or not. Can you “wait” on God when you need to?

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God is…Omnipresent, present everywhere. We see evidence of God all around us, from the neighbor or person next to us – man created in God’s image – to the beauty and wonderment of nature. However, God is also present in the spirit. The Word states that God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:23-2423 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

God is just that awesome that He would give us a deposit of His Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us. He is present everywhere. Let us exalt Him daily and give Him the praise, honor and glory due His name. This post is a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the awesomeness of God, and then some more fractions. He is an all-consuming fire within us when we let Him be. Won’t you join me in worshiping the one, true God?

God’s Faithfulness

Deuteronomy 32:4 – “He is the Rock,” His works are perfect,” and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

When we consider God’s faithfulness, what is it that we think about? Do we assume that means no sorrow, no pain, no trials, or discomfort? It took 400 years for the Israelites to be freed from Egypt. Does that diminish God’s faithfulness? Did they question God’s faithfulness when they reached the Red Sea and things looked really bad? They were not confident at all that they would reach the other side. However, as God always does, He was right on time. He shows up and shows out.

Psalm 91:4 – He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”

In the above Scripture, the word rampart means defense. In Deuteronomy, God showed His defense for the Israelites. Though life brings serious difficulties and pain, God will bring us through. The question that might need to be answered is if you had no difficulties, no challenges, no pain or sorrow, would you still need God? Of course. We would not be here without God. Difficulties for some may be more important because of financial challenges. However, those with money still find there are serious challenges. Money will not fix everything. It will make physical things a little more comfortable. Do the tears on a down comforter feel less significant?

Lamentations 3:22-23 – 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Consider that every morning, you have another opportunity to make things better, do things better, accept God’s love for you and appreciate the day. How awesome is that!

Romans 3:3 – What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?

We must ask ourselves the hard questions.

Still Committed, Faithful

Nature expresses God’s faithfulness.

Expounding on the post regarding being committed, it would serve us well to look at our standard for commitment. God. He is committed, faithful to us. There are Scriptures, of course, that speak to this characteristic of God. In order to become wise about commitment, let us go the Scriptures. God loved us so much and was so committed to us that He gave His only Son that we might have life, and that more abundantly.

John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 10:10 - “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

The Psalms are such comforting chapters for us no matter where we are or what state we are in and sincerely speaks of God’s faithfulness. When we seek comfort for heartache, tough circumstances, and anything else this life throws at us, the Word says the following, from the Old Testament to the New Testament.

Deuteronomy 7:9 - “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

When reading the Old Testament, it is clear that God was faithful to the children of Israel, from the parting of the Red Sea to providing manna from heaven and water from a rock. Just the simplicity of God providing something out of nothing moves me. Sure there are times when it is difficult, but remembering His faithfulness is strengthening and refreshing. Understand that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways not our ways. There are times when patience has to have that perfect work where you endure because you are faithful to Him and trust Him.

Psalm 145:13 – “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,” and your dominion endures through all generations. The Lord is trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does.”

There is nothing that you will experience that God cannot get you through. Not unless you don’t want Him to. He is omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent. He is present everywhere, knows everything and is all powerful. If there was ever a source to connect to, He is it. Yes, things are crazy and chaotic right now. Some might say they don’t believe because of that, what would they be committing to? But know this, God is still and always will be in control. He has allowed things to happen for His glory. They are at times uncomfortable, painful, and just get in the way of us getting what we want right now! Let’s keep it real, when we feel the most discomfort, it’s because we believe that we are not getting what we want and He may be keeping it from us. However, since God is all knowing, there may be something that will be harmful to you and God will not allow it. That said, what He does allow He knows you will be alright.

1 Corinthians 10:13 - “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

God desires our heart. He wants us to be committed to Him; not our flesh, not the enemy and not the world. Are you committed? Are you still committed?

AHEAD in 2020

It’s about moving ahead now. We must be diligent in our pursuit of God. More even than we were when we pursued the things of the world. It’s time to move ahead with focus being the key element. The focus for this year has been streamlined. The primary focus will always be God. Submit to Him and then you are able to resist the enemy. In order to fulfill our purpose, we must streamline the extras that are distractions from His plan and purpose for our lives.

There was a major process that I had to experience to move forward in God’s plan and purpose for my life. Part of that process was recovery. I truly did not understand the wide expanse of what that included but I needed to learn how to love myself.

Learning to love myself has been a challenge and as I go through my recovery journey, it is more important than ever. I am good for encouraging others but also had to learn how to encourage myself. The Word tells us to love others as we love ourselves. How can we love others when we don’t know how to love ourselves? This doesn’t mean the egocentric, “I’m all that” attitude. This means taking care of yourself the way God wants you to in order to be that vessel fit for use. This process has been cleansing and heartfelt. Now that I can see much clearer, my desire to help and encourage others can be much less hindered.

One other important note I would like to add is that as a believer, with a much lighter load, I can express the joy that I truly feel as a child of God. I am more motivated to be thankful, as well as acknowledge who I am in Christ. As I move forward, simplicity is my key. What’s yours?

GRASP THE MAGNITUDE!

 

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The magnitude of God, even the creation speaks of the goodness of God. 

 

As I return to my writing, I thought it would be encouraging to speak about the magnitude of what Jesus has done for us. January started with reading the Bible in a year. There are several reading plans available that include the Old Testament, the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, etc. I just like to start at the beginning in Genesis and read through Revelation. I could read it like this all the time. What I most like is the story of Israel and God’s relationship as it unfolds. Most important and why I deemed the name of this post “grasp the magnitude” is the struggle we as humans have in giving it all to God, truly not fully appreciating and understanding the true depth of His love for us.

 

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He set the earth on its foundations so that it should never be moved. (Psalm 104:5 ESV)

 

The Israelites really did struggle and Judges shows the return of evil again and again in the sight of God. The evil is truly turning your back on Him and choosing other “gods”, whatever they may be. Only you know what you have given your heart to. As I read, I reflect on what Jesus truly did for us. Between the burnt offerings, sin offerings, and feasts as well as the cleanliness protocols, I tend to flinch. I am not sure that I would have been okay. But what Jesus did when He died for us and rose again is give us the option to choose Him and let Him do the rest. Can you imagine giving your child everything he may want for Christmas and then act like you did nothing? The attitude of insignificance and no big deal would drive us nuts.

Grasping the resurrection and us receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in us as a real deposit for eternal life is magnificent. All God wants us to do is worship Him and He promised to provide all of our needs. That includes physical, emotional and spiritual. How awesome is that! Simple, but not easy. We are so easily distracted by the world and things that we forget that He created the world and things through us. We make the thing created more important than the Creator.

IMG_0134Each time I start reading the Bible from the beginning, it moves my heart more towards God. Not saying I am always diligent in keeping it that way, but I do love God and desire to worship Him only. I have experienced God changing my heart on things I was holding to and found difficult letting go. Grasping the wrong things instead of His heart about those things. Intangible objects can do nothing. It is our heart towards those things that make us move to do what we do not desire to do. Paul really did have a clue. Grasping that we have the power within us, the Holy Spirit, to change that is just the tip of the iceberg. Is it so impossible to fathom that we have a God that loves us so much that He cared for us and loved us in and through our mess to give us not just a more abundant life here on earth but eternal life as well?

Can you grasp that?

 

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Can you grasp the magnitude of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ? He created the heavens and the earth, as well as us. And even when we did not honor Him, He cared enough to offer up His Son as a sacrifice to draw us back to Him.