Saturday, November 22, 2014

God, The Chief Restorer


“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, The consuming locust, and the chewing locust, my great army which I sent among you.” Joel 2:25

 I love getting old stuff, cleaning it up and repurposing its use. My eyes light up when I spot a “treasure” while perusing the aisles of a thrift store…I can see the potential in what may be someone else’s cast off.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like new stuff too, but I seem to get so much joy out of things that have been around for a while. To me they have a story and even though they are inanimate objects I wonder what they have witnessed in their “lifetime”.  Some old things have aged gracefully and show little wear, which means they may have been in a china cabinet or a room and never really used; while some pieces are what I call all “jacked up” and look as if they have been kind of thrown around.  Were they cared for and appreciated? Are some of the questions that run through my mind… Sounds weird huh?  I used to think it was weird too that I really loved old furniture, china, glass, etc., but now I have accepted it as one of the simple pleasures God has so graciously given me. 


When I look at some of the furniture and things that I have rescued, I am reminded of how God is the Chief rescuer and restorer.  2 Chronicles 16:9a speaks about how God is roaming to and fro the earth looking for those that have a heart for Him, to show Himself strong. My interpretation: God is perusing the aisles of the thrift stores of humanity. Looking for those that are crying out to Him to be restored, those that have been oh so hurt, those that have been abused and rejected…those that have been cast off.  I believe that He delights in picking us up, wiping our tears, cleaning away the dirt, shining us up by whispering encouraging words to our hearts. And the icing on the cake so to speak is: He delights in repurposing  our lives!  Some of us may have thought we have blown it the first time around, but God can and will use us again for His glory as we submit our lives to Him!

God is a God of compassion and renewal!  He wants to restore to us what the enemy of our souls has tried to steal away! Our joy, our peace, our confidence in Him and love for others and even ourselves. He wants to see us being used for His Glory! The scripture in Joel 2 is about God declaring to a people how He is going to restore them after they had suffered very much, some of which was brought on by their own disobedience. But God who is so forgiving still promises to restore them!

It is silly but true to say that I love seeing the old treasures I find, in a place where I can look at them and am happy that it is being used and admired. Well how much more is God delighted in seeing His children once again in a place in life where they are being used for His purpose and Glory! I don’t believe that He gets joy out of seeing us living out the rest of our lives sitting on the trash heap of life or the aisles of the thrift store of humanity. (I know I’m pushing it with that statement again, but I couldn’t resist  ;-)

When I started this Blog back in December 2007 while visiting in California, I said and I even posted on it that I wanted to begin “Learning from God’s Word through everyday experiences”, and it is so true…I DO!  He has been so faithful in helping me to see HIM in just plain everyday life.  I don’t need an earth shattering, open the Red Sea experience to know that He is here and loves me…and you also.  AND He wants us to know and love Him too.

So you see my quirky love for old things have a purpose, it actually has given me an insight to my calling on this earth; one of which is to have more compassion for, love, help and pray for the hurting, lost, rejected and cast off folks in this world. No one in their right mind wants to be or feel that way and I pray: Dear Jesus, wherever they are, whether in my neighborhood, or afar, whether in my daily or occasional path, make me aware of them, let me feel their heart and may I be obedient to be your Hands and Heart extended in this old world to show them that You are the Rescuer and Restorer and can make all things new!

 

 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God’s Pruning…OUCH!


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
John 15: 1-4
“Pruning is a horticultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots. Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplanting, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits. “  -Wikipedia

 I have a plant that I have had for a number of years. I bought it as a small plant and now it is in a very large pot. Through the course of those years I have pruned it because it had become scraggly and tired looking or in some cases had contracted mealy bugs which were sapping its growth. My goal was not to hurt my beloved plant, but to help it to reach its fullest potential. I am sure to my neighbors that were passing by as I sat on the front porch with my sharp scissors and was whacking away at the plant, it may have seemed cruel. One may have asked “What are you doing to that lovely plant?”  To which I would reply “Actually making it better.” 

 To the natural eye it looked like a disaster area with cut off leaves and vines strewn all over the porch and me like a mad woman going at it with my scissors! But it was not as it appeared…I actually WAS doing good. J . Each time that I pruned it, it looked pitiful after I had cut it down almost to the rim of the pot…but I always knew that it would come back, stronger and more beautiful than ever.

 
In the 14th chapter of John, Jesus is preparing the disciples for His departure that is soon to come, it carries over into the 15th chapter as He explains to them that as long as they remained in Him by following and teaching what He showed and taught them, they would be fruitful (fulfilling their purpose from God). He also added that even if they were already doing what they should, there still would be a time of pruning, so that they could do even more good.

 The pruning processes in our lives may include the following: the removal of some persons, things or habits, these persons, things or habits may be a deterrent to our spiritual growth. These things may distract us from getting to know who God is, to know His character, to know what it is that HE wants for our lives. Sometimes I believe God will remove YOU from a place and allow you to sit quietly before Him.  Doesn’t mean that you will sit alone in a house all by yourself, not going to work or anywhere! WRONG! But He allows you for a time to separate yourself so that you can learn how to hear and discern His voice.

 

If we are being honest, we all know the things in our lives that are not pleasing to God.  No one has to hold up a sign in bold letters to tell you what they are for Pete’s sake. We know…

Well those are the things God wants to remove from us, because they are hindering our growth into becoming all that He has purposed for our lives.

Some pruning is voluntary, that is when you recognize and acknowledge the things not pleasing to God and begin to allow Him to help you remove them from your life.  And then there is the involuntary pruning.  The pruning that comes when I personally believe, He has brought it to our attention over and over again and we do nothing and finally it comes bursting out of the seams of the coverage we have tried to place over it and most of the time it is to our embarrassment.  When I read headlines about someone whose secrets have been revealed, I used to walk around in disbelief for about a month thinking this can’t be true!  But now I have confidence that my Father surely had warned them over and over again until finally He let them handle what they could not and it burst from the seams.  I pray for myself that I never allow it to ever get to that point in my life.  That though it may be unpleasant and uncomfortable to see myself and my shortcomings, that I will submit to God, and allow Him to prune me…Oh God help us all.

 His goal is not to hurt us, or to hold us back, but to help us to reach our fullest potential on this earth…

After a pruning you may feel a little vulnerable, a little lost, not know what to do, where to go.  Just know that He is with you and will NEVER forsake you, come to Him. Jesus is the vine that is the source for all the sustenance we need to grow and flourish. And when God prunes, though we may look and feel pitiful, HE knows that we are coming back stronger and more beautiful than before!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Intimacy with God


My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:27

As I wrote about in my last post, I believe this is a season of healing for me. After many years of being a part of what I now see was an abusive church situation; finally leaving there and then desperately trying to “fit in” somewhere else, only to find that I never could. I see now that while I was trying to return to what I thought would please God was only a deterrent to what He was trying to do in my life…heal my wounds and get me to know Him for myself rather than what someone had portrayed for me.
In Matthew 10: 1-3 it says that Jesus called the 12 disciples and gave each of them authority to cast out demons and to do miracles.  If you’ve had some doubt as to rather or not that included Judas, read verse 3 that specifically states Judas, yes the one that betrayed Jesus was in that number also. Jesus equipped Judas with everything that the others had; the only difference was Judas’ motive of the heart.  He seemed to always want Jesus to prove Himself, instead of trusting whom He said He was.  You see when I accepted the Lord as my Savior, I don’t believe that I allowed myself to really get to know Him for myself…to really know Who He is. It was easier in a way to go by what man was telling me.  Sure I read my Bible, but my motive at the time was not to get to KNOW Him but as an act of what I thought was obedience to what a good Christian should do.  Yes, the Lord had equipped me with what I needed to be a soldier in His army, but I had submitted to man rather than first submitting to the One who had equipped me…my motive…to be accepted.

After trying to “fit in” at other churches, some of the situations were quite humorous as I look back; I finally GOT IT and sat at HIS feet.  And Oh! At His feet, He began to show me myself and it wasn’t pretty.

God never condemns us, but He does show us truth and sometimes that truth can be ugly.  When I hear folks begin to name off all the “ministry” they are involved in and how many good things they are doing as an answer to “How are you with the Lord”, I say to myself, “been there done that!”  But do you KNOW HIM? I mean REALLY? I’m not judging by any means…just sayin’.
In the last several months the Lord has encouraged me in my heart to really trust Him as He directs me into the paths of some people that have a heart to simply know God and to do HIS will.  No hidden agendas or motives, just a transparent, open love for the Lord.  I must admit my trust was shot after my experiences from years ago.  But during the time that God had me alone and I was at His feet…He began to rebuild my trust. These precious folks have been sharing about being intimate with God, getting to know Him.  How God desires for us to know Him for who He really is, not what someone else has portrayed.  Getting to know Him through His Word; spending more time in His presence. To be free in His presence and to worship Him in spirit and Truth.  This has not only blessed my heart, but I know that it is healing me from all past wounds.  I say all that to share with you a dream I had last night:

It was a beautiful dream, so beautiful that I awoke smiling.  In the dream I was doing something that my late husband and I used to do. Now before you shut me down and scream “R” rated, hear me out.  J In this dream I was in bed with my husband and we were lying in each other’s arms, we were
holding each other so tightly (like we used to do) until our heartbeats became one.  Neither of us wanted to let go and we kept squeezing each other tighter and tighter. My head was in the crook of his neck and it was as if we were customized to fit that way. Even our breathing was in sync.  So tight…so precious…I didn’t want to let go and I could tell that he did not want to let me go.  When that feeling of pure love was so overwhelming that I felt I could not contain it…I woke up…smiling.  And the Lord spoke to my heart and said “THAT is what I want with you…I want intimacy.”  No, it was not an audible voice, but I KNEW that it was Him.  Jesus told parables to the people, so that they could better understand His message; God speaks today as well…but we must have ears to listen.

In this case He spoke to me through a dream about something that I was familiar with…marital love.  He knew that I would understand what it was like to love someone so much that you  want to know every single thing about them.  And so it is with our relationship with Him.  He already knows every single thing about us (some maybe to our shame) and He STILL loves us with an everlasting love…and He is saying to us come and know me, know my love for you, I will hold you so tight and show You all that I am…

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

 

 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Time to Heal...


A Time to Heal…

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace. - Ecclesiastes

In our journey through life, there is a time for everything the Bible says. One of them being a time to heal…I have walked and continue to walk through that season and I am not ashamed to say it.  During this season you learn a lot about yourself. In spending time with the Lord these past few years, He is teaching me to not look at what I believe is the thing or person that has caused hurt or trauma in my life, but to look within me…not to be condemned (God never does that) but to get at the root cause of why my reaction to the offense or misunderstanding, is hurt, feeling rejected or just downright feeling like giving up!

Over the years as God in His love and patience reveals myself to me and “we” rectify the issue, I can be quoted as saying that “I feel like I’m being peeled like an onion, layer by layer.”  The “peeling” process was not pleasant each time, but in all honesty once the old layers were gone, I actually felt relief, lighter and even restored.

I say that I am still walking in a season of healing because with each day as I take an introspective look at myself, I always come up short of what I know God wants me to be.  Is God a hard taskmaster that stands over us with a gavel ready to bring it down in judgment?  No!  A million times No!  But as I am getting to know His character for myself, I know that He is a loving Father who wants His very best for me (and you too!).

It’s our choice on whether we want to be made whole.  I’ll admit to my shame sometimes when I am hurt or wounded, I just want justice, or what I believe to be justice.  When God is so much bigger than that!  He sees the whole picture clearly, I only see my side.  He’s not willing that anyone should perish in their sin (John 3:16), He wants to give everyone the opportunity to be made whole and fulfill His plan and purpose for them on this earth then join Him in Heaven.  So basically, “It ain’t all about you or me Honey!”

A season is just that…a season, an allotted time that will eventually pass.  This season of healing for me is progressing and will not last forever. I know that He is restoring me and building me up for a purpose, what that is I don’t know yet…but in due “season” He will let me know.

As a child when we went on our annual family vacation, it seemed like it took forever to get to our destination, in our case it was usually Buffalo, New York, which is a mighty long way from South Carolina.  My father used to tease us when we would ask how much longer and say “Oh we have about 1,000 more miles” to which we would all groan and whine. But being the loving father that he was, he knew that it was a long, arduous trip and a little uncomfortable for me and my siblings, so he would 
 
Me and my father on a "break" while on one of our trips
always make sure we would stop and take breaks. And I remember getting out of the car to stretch my cramped legs and sitting by the little brooks and streams of water in the mountains of the upper Northeast. Then we would get back in the car and continue our journey until we made it safely to our destination. And so our heavenly Father leads us: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake.” Psalms 23

Is it a season of healing for you? If it is allow God, our Father, to reveal Himself to you through His Word, the Bible; and also surrender and allow Him to show you…YOU!  The first step in any healing process is to first admit and submit…admit your weaknesses and submit to someone who has the answers.  And the One that has all the answers is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, our shepherd, our divine healer Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Growing up!


“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 gave up childish ways.”  I Corinthians 13:11

October…beautiful October!  This month has many happy memories for me: it is the month that we (my late husband, son and I) moved into our new to us home in New Jersey. We had a home in the Philadelphia area for a little over 6 years and felt that it was time to move on up. We were “The Jeffersons” of New Jersey.  J  I remember that we were so excited and planted like a hundred flower bulbs that October. I still have some flowers that come up from that planting many years ago.  What a great time that was, new home, nice neighbors and beautiful weather!

The month of October was also the month that we would make our annual trip up to what we called “Dutch country”, which is in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area.  It is so very beautiful up there this time of year when the leaves change their colors. Also lots of great places to eat the cooking made famous in that neck of the woods.  Such precious memories….

But there are some memories that are not so happy this month; two of them being it is the month of both my late Mom and husband’s birthdays.  Even though they both have been gone for several years, I still miss them when this time comes around.  To top it off, a few days ago I ran into an acquaintance that I had not seen in a while and she made a statement that shook me up pretty bad.  The rumor about me that she stated was not a good thing to say to someone.  I chose to believe that she did not say it to be mean, so I managed to smile and lovingly part our ways after a brief conversation.

The old me would still be in an uproar over that incident, even fearful.  But Glory to God! Within a few minutes I allowed the Lord to turn something negative into a positive experience!  I believe that I’m growing up! I no longer feel depressed when this month comes around. Instead I have chosen to think on the precious, good memories that God has blessed me with. 

Abie Kulynych said something very profound a few Sundays ago during his sermon. I paraphrase what he said referring to prayer : God wants us to have Child-like faith when we come to Him, not Childish faith. Childish faith demands its own way and gets upset when things don’t turn out the way we think they should .  But Child-like faith is a faith that wants only what the Father God wants. Because if we believe that Father God truly loves us, then we will have the assurance that He will only give what is best.  Now THAT is "grown-up" thinking...something we should all earnestly seek after.
I thank God for the new season. Not only is it beautiful, but it is a new beginning …an opportunity to grow up!
 
Here are some pictures of my outing on this beautiful October day!
 










 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lonely, but not alone!


“I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  Matthew 28:20b

This scripture has kept me comforted for many, many years.  Somehow knowing that God is by my side has made this life so much more livable.

At the age of about 10 or 11 with the arrival of my beloved baby sister I was no longer the star of the family, there were times that I would withdraw and climb up my favorite tree.  Being a tomboy of sorts, I was usually found in a pair of cutoff jeans climbing some kind of tree, which besides reading was one of my favorite pastimes.  But there was a special tree, a Chinaberry tree that grew on the left side of our driveway near the backyard that I would climb when I wanted to “fly away”.  When I would climb that tree and finally get to the highest branch, I can remember now like it was yesterday, I felt like I was on top of the world…my little world anyway.  With the warm breeze blowing in my face, I felt as close to God as I could get.

Though I did not know at the time that is what I was seeking, I believe God knew I was seeking for my purpose.  Who am I? Where do I fit in? Are you there? I’m sure were some of the things going through my 10 year old mind.  And now when I look back, I realize that He spoke to me on my level.  A bird stopping to sing a beautiful song:  “You are my creation, even more important than this bird.“
My Mom or Dad would call my name checking to see where I was:  “You fit in to this family that I have given you.”  The soft wind blowing in and caressing my face:  “Yes, I am here.”  He spoke to me even back then reassuring me that He is ALWAYS there.

Since that time, and through my life’s journey God has escorted me through some things that if I’d had a choice I would not have wanted to take that route, but never the less, He has proven Himself so very faithful to me. He has truly never left my side. Sometimes He is silent, but I know that He is there, encouraging me to continue to go forward.

Sometimes it can get very lonely, but I am learning that I am never alone. When I can sit on my back porch in the early morning hours and say nothing but wait in His presence and begin to feel His peace that passes all understanding come over me, I know He is there.  When I don’t know what to
do and He seems silent, I am learning that He is still there and as I trust Him He will show the way in His time.

 

Since my adventures in my favorite tree, God is teaching me Who I am: I am His child, and though I had wonderful parents who loved me with all their hearts, they were only examples of His love for me, a love so deep I cannot fathom.  Where I fit in: I fit in wherever His love directs me to go, because as I am obedient He will use my gifts and talents to be a blessing to someone.  And Is He there:  Yes! Yes! He is ALWAYS there, to love, to chastise, to comfort, to encourage, directing, to listen and the list goes on and on!

 

So yes I get lonely at times, but I KNOW that I am NEVER alone!  He will never leave me, in that I can trust!
 
Thank You Lord for Wisdom and Understanding!
 
On another note I took a trip to a gigantic Thrift store the other day and here are some things I saw:
 
A tea set on a Teapot, how lovely!

Precious Moments anyone?

Something for everyone!

Oh Tinker Bell how lovely!

These pillows were so luxurious and so cheap!

Patriot Teapot!

Cow jump over the moon teapot!


I say that Bunny is chasing down those veggies

So cute just right for the spring!

Mickey!

Humpty Dumpy and Book Teapot!

I was very good and these were my only purchases!

Do I need this?  LOL

A brass Monkey!

Sunflower mirror!
 

Monday, September 1, 2014

September already!

Wow how time seems to be flying!  I guess that it's true what they say "The older you get, the faster time seems to fly." I am just so grateful to be here and be able to enjoy the changing of the seasons.

Fall is my most favorite time of the year. The weather is usually moderate in temperature here in New Jersey With cool mornings and evenings and slightly warmer mid days. The leaves generally begin to change in colors around mid to late October. You will also see lots of signs for Apple and Pumpkin picking around that time. The geese will begin to fly south, so there is a lot of honkin' going on and the Mums (Chrysanthemums) are huge and gorgeous, and shouting at me on each farm or road stand to stop and buy a couple for the front porch.

I don't think that I will do as much decorating this year as I have in the past, simply because it's WORK to take it all down.  Oh I'll still sip my warm Apple cider and light my new Autumn scented candle when I bring out my plastic tub of Fall decorations, but fewer things are going up.

My Crockpot will be put to more use too.  There is something about cooler weather that makes me want to pull out the larger of my crockpots and simmer a good chili, soup or a new recipe, like "Chicken Cheese Steak"  YES in the crockpot!  It's nice when you go outside and work in the yard a bit then come back in to the scent of something yummy cooking in the old crockpot.

Here's a tip: I like seasonal scented candles, so I get them at the end of each season at places like Kohl's and Ross.  Kohl's especially have their candles marked down sometimes to 80% off after season.  Store them in a cool dry place until that season returns and voila', you don't have to pay those high prices when they first come out. I'm already set for this year, it is a Chesapeake Bay Candle scented "Caramel Pecan." Nothing better than the house smelling like warm Pecan pie on a cool autumn day.

 
 


So thankful to God for giving us different seasons to experience. That is one good thing about living in the northeast of the country we get 4 definite seasons to enjoy.  I won't decorate until around October 1st, but here are some things I did in previous years.  Glad I have the pictures, because there will be certainly less this year!  Happy September!