Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sunflowers...


“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It's what the sunflowers do.”
-Helen Keller
While riding around in my neighborhood I noticed that many yards and gardens were adorn with beautiful sunflowers. They stood tall and cheery above all the other plants and flowers with their bright yellow "faces" seemingly bathing in the summer sun...they make me smile.  So even though I did not plant any sunflowers in my yard or garden I did do a bit of decorating with some faux. (will attach pics at the end of this post.  But for now here are some facts about this cheery fun flower ...
 
•The stem of a sunflower can grow up to 10 ft tall and the flower head can be 11.8 in wide.

•Sunflowers are very fast growing plants, in the right conditions they can grow 8-12 feet tall in six months.

•As of 2012, the Guinness World Record for the tallest sunflower is 27 ft for a sunflower grown in Germany.

•Famous Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh did a series of paintings featuring and called Sunflowers.

•There are two kinds of sunflower seeds. Sunflower oil which is used in cooking and in margarines is made from black seeds and snack food is made from the striped seeds. The seeds can also be used as bird feed.

•Sunflowers can also be processed into a peanut butter substitute called Sunbutter. In Germany, sunflower seeds are mixed with rye flour to make a type of bread (Sonnenblumenkernbrot).

•The sunflower is native to the America's and was used extensively by Native American Indians for food, as oil, in bread, medical ointments, dyes and body paints.

•Kansas is often known as the Sunflower state and the flower is in fact Kansas's state flower. The sunflower is also the national flower of Ukraine.

•Sunflowers can be used to extract toxin such as lead, arsenic and uranium from contaminated soil. For example, sunflowers were used to remove toxins from a pond after the Chernobyl disaster and similar projects took place after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

While doing my fun "research" on sunflowers, it's interesting to know how popular they are. They are used in:

Clothing:

Strapless dress
 
Gown and jacket


Bowtie
 

Neck tie




Jewelry:





Handbags:
Of Course Bouquets:




Food:
 



Pottery:



And we can't forget "Sunflower" Pups!:






I'm so thankful that God made Sunflowers...hope these pictures made you smile ...

 
“Think how the flowers grow. They do not work or make cloth. Yet, I tell you, that King Solomon in all his greatness was not dressed as well as one of these flowers.” Luke 12:27
 (New Living Translation)

Here's my Sunflowers around the house:









Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fear vs Love...my story...


“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”  1 John 4:7-11

It has been a while since I have posted anything. Lots have been going on.  Even though I have retired, I still find myself busy and feeling as if there is not enough hours in the day to complete my tasks.  However after 4 weeks of not being at my job, I feel as if I am a bit more organized and have a set schedule somewhat.  And an important part of that schedule is to write, one of my most favorite things to do besides reading.
This will be a different post, I usually try to write something that I think may be uplifting to others, but this one I feel will be therapeutic to me. Bear with me as I tell my story…

Many years ago my late husband, our young son and I belong to a church. In that church we received our salvation from Christ, were baptized and became very active members. I remember us being so excited about our new lives, the people were lovely and we felt they accepted us as family. We really dedicated our lives to the ministry and felt fulfilled. This went on for many years, until one day we began to notice that we were doing things out of fear, the fear of appearing to the leadership that we were not dedicated members.

We would hear message after message about how if you were not serving in a certain capacity, then we would not be blessed of God, that God was not obligated to look out for our good if we did not do the things that was asked of us.  So, instead of serving God “cheerfully” we began to do so out of fear.  This was a slow and steady process and to our shame we began to lie.  When a show of hands were asked to be raised for all who would be a part of the work day (a day to clean and maintain the property) we would proudly raise our hands and knew in our hearts that we would sleep in on our only free day off.   Our Sundays were filled with morning and evening services with a few hours in between and sometimes there were off campus ministry events to attend.  We were busy doing the work, but had begun to do it not out of love but out of fear, fear that if we did not, God would punish us.

Now as I look back, I know that we could have left any time or simply shook ourselves and taken charge of our lives and realized that we should not have feared a man. But to our credit and most importantly God’s glory, we LOVED the Lord and really thought that we were pleasing Him.  We so wanted to do things right that…yes we followed man instead of God.

Fear is a powerful spirit, it can paralyze you and make you afraid to move forward. That is what happened to us for several years. We began to hear things that we knew were not of God, but were afraid to challenge it in any way, even though we were leaders. The intimidation began to wear on us, so much so until after the service we felt beat up…physically. I know now that it was my spirit that was being assaulted, week after week. And yet we stayed because of fear, fear that if we left something bad would happen to us. 
Finally after some time, we felt like we could no longer handle the atmosphere and temperament of the “Ministry”, we decided that we had to go. It was a very devastating and monumental decision. We would be leaving our “family”, people we had known and loved for over 20 years, we would be leaving the ministries that we had been involved with for many years…but it was too painful to stay. Still wanting to do the right thing, we scheduled a meeting with the leadership to tell them of our decision, also letting them know that we would continue giving our tithes there until we found a new church home.

Let me just interject that many folks did not understand my late husband, he was a quiet man, but let me just say that he loved the Lord with all his heart, soul and mind and he always wanted to do things decent and in order. I must confess that if it was just me, I would have simply walked away and not be seen there again (though I know that was wrong), but even though my husband was afraid, even had his integrity questioned and his godly authority challenged from time to time, he said to me “Roni, we have to do it the way I believe God wants us to do it” and I agreed.  So we did it… scared, shaking in our boots.

I wish that I could tell you that the meeting went lovely and they sent us off with a hug and a blessing, but that would be false.  All I will say is, when we left we felt wounded and fearful as if we had been turned over for the enemy of our souls to have a heyday.  I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I am not. After feeling like we were wandering around in the desert for some weeks, with God’s help and healing we learned that God is a God of Love not fear. My husband and I sent letters and notes to the leadership to express that we held no bitterness or un-forgiveness and loved them still.
It has taken some time, with the Lord peeling and removing one layer at a time to get me to the place to REALLY understand that He REALLY loves me and that I must serve Him in love not fear. Even during my husband’s illness and subsequent passing, God finally convinced us that the sickness was not a result of us leaving that church. That in this life things happen, some we will never understand on this earth, but one thing for sure He LOVES us and does NOT want us to Fear Him, He’s our Father.

Why am I saying all this? Sometimes you just have to get it all out!  This was our experience and God has used it to make us stronger and closer to Him ( I say US because my late husband learned all this before he went Home).  Back then we thought we knew God, but instead we only knew what man told us He was. We were going by their portrayal instead of getting to know God for Himself, by reading His Word and spending quiet time with Him so that, yes you can give Him your request, but then He can speak back to you.   Understanding His Word so that we won’t let the misuse of scriptures like “Touch not God’s anointed…” be a fear tactic to silence opposition of wrong doing.
God is love, we cannot operate in fear and say that it is of God.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”  John 8:36

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"Prepared for a Purpose"

Though I read a lot, I seldom recommend books.  The reason being that I may have thoroughly enjoyed it, but it could very well not be someone else's enjoyment.  A little fear of rejection thing going on here? Dr. Phil where are youuuuu  :-) ... HOWEVER when I DO come across a book that I believe is worth reading, you better believe I will shout it from the housetops.  I make no bones of complimenting my favorite authors and spreading the news about their books.

Now even though I have not read this book yet (ordered it this morning), I have a good feeling about it.  It's non fiction and I heard the author's testimony this morning on TV.  This is the woman that through great courage with God's help was able to talk a gunman that had walked into an elementary school , fully armed, to surrender to police. I liked her spunk and her admission of her total reliance on God not only in her personal life, but even in the midst of a crisis of this magnitude.

So I recommend that you get this book, because I believe that it will encourage us all to:

"Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching."  2Timothy 4:2

Click link below to hear a snippet of her testimony:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3xIRlUlTSY

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Retirement...


“Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”  Psalms 71:17-18 (NIV)
I just recently retired from my job after 17 years.  It was a great job and I enjoyed it.  Of course it was not perfect and there were days that I resisted getting up to go (especially this past winter) but all in all it was a good job. My first 11 years were spent having more direct contact with students, which I loved, the past 6 years were more staff contact; however as I allowed God to enter into my heart that I should “bloom where I’m planted”, I met some awesome people and have made some lifelong friendships that have enriched my life greatly.  It was the classic example of resisting change…opposing something that God had ordained for my good.  Why do we do that?  We resist even without giving change a try, when just over the horizon of doubt, fear and maybe feelings of rejection, is a bright and wonderful experience.

I wrestled for about a year with the decision of retiring. Being a widow, I first went through the “But I’m alone and have no one to support me”.  I think I “heard” the Lord laugh at that one…He said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Plus I checked my track record for the past 12 years and reminded myself how He has taken care of me thus far.  THEN I had a round with “Suppose I give up this job and find out later that I need it back.” Then it dawned on me that if I trusted God to get me this job , surely if I for some reason needed to get another one, He can do that too…DUUUHHH YEAH!

I had already felt impressed about the date that I should retire, but after listening to the nightly news about the economy, I started to extend that date further and further from the original one. I was a WRECK!  Couldn’t sleep or eat with doubt and fear trying to overtake me.  Until one day in conversation with a faithful friend of mine and lamenting over when or if I should retire, she simply said “Well, if someone told you that you HAD to stay would you be happy about that?”  I immediately said “NO”!  That made me weigh the balance between lamenting over whether to stay or having the freedom to leave and feeling happy! A no-brainer. When I asked the Lord about the date to retire again, was that a sigh I “heard” this time?  Anyway in all of His never-ending patience He impressed on me again the original date! I went through so many changes when I could have saved my self the grief and just did what He impressed me to do in the first place!  LOL
So here I am, retired and in a new season of my life. I am excited about what He has next for me. Is everything the way I want it to be? No. My late husband and I talked about retiring together and traveling.  I, myself would LOVE to have that be the case, but God in His sovereign will had other plans. I have the comfort of knowing without a doubt that he is with the Lord and in no more pain or suffering, cheering me on to enjoy this life that God has given me; and to fulfill my purpose here on earth so that I can one day experience all of the pleasures in heaven that he is experiencing right now. Until then...

It is with joy that I grow old because God says:
 “I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” Isaiah 46:3-4 NLT

And I am excited for the journey because:
 “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing. ” Psalm 92:12-14
Amen!
On another note here are some summer blue and white changes to the homestead:
 






 
 
 
 


Sunday, June 15, 2014

What the World needs is Love, sweet love...

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."  John 3:16

Such a simple truth, "For God SO LOVED..."  Love is the foundation of our very beings.  Just think God loves us so much that He allowed us to be born and have a life on this earth. While some may see it as a curse, shame on them!  I know that this life is not perfect, it is filled with sadness, pain and grief and hurt, BUT STILL, if you are living and breathing, you have a chance to change that.  Do I live in a world where there is always pink clouds and fairy tales? No! I have tasted the affects this world has to offer and believe me it ain't pretty.  But I also know that if you have hope, there is always a chance to make things better.  But many of us have lost the Love; whether if it has been through the bitter trials of life or some may have never experienced the true, pure love that God has ordained from the foundations of the earth.

The "World" through various media has distorted the true meaning of love, so much until whenever the word "Love" is mentioned many folks conjure up sexual "love" in there understanding.  But true love is so much deeper than 15 minutes of sexual gratification.  God's love which is the highest form of love, and then there is a mother or father's love for a child, a child's love for a parent, the love of siblings, family members and friends. We all need it and we all should be giving that love.  Even love for our pets, they need it!  My newest addition to my household is a 6 month old, all of 4 pounds Chihuahua and when he needs love, he knows how to make such a precious noise until I just have to pick him up and give him some love. 

One of the saddest things to hear is someone tell you that they have never felt loved. Sometimes folks may not know how to receive love, but regardless, to have never felt love is a tragedy. I get so upset when I visit places of worship and there is no warmth or love shown to the folks that walk through the doors. They go about "Church" business and in the process have forgotten about who is walking through those doors....the broken, the hurting, the lonely.  We have a work to do!
I have heard many stories of the unloved.  After 18 years of Prison ministry, 10 years of teen ministry and 17 years working in a high school, you better believe I've heard some doozies and they all break my heart.  I used to ask God "How are we going to fix this?  There are so many that need to know your love." and He answered, "You love them one at a time."  And that is what I am learning to do, as they come across my path or I theirs, I pray that God shows me how to LOVE the occupants of this old broken down love-less world.  Sometimes it may be tough love, but I pray that God will direct me each day.

God loves us so much that He was willing to die for us through His son Jesus, there is no greater sacrifice. All He is asking us to do is to love one another.  We may not all agree, but we must respectively disagree and continue to love.  Love does not mean that we compromise our beliefs, nor should we accept things that do not line up with the Word of God.  But we must love the loveable and the un-lovely as well.


Dear God, I pray right now that you teach us to love like You do.  Not just our family and friends, but those that we come in contact with everyday.  None of us are perfect, as You know Lord, but help us to love even through our imperfection.  That those around us that see our lives, will see a life that loves and have a heart for people. Thank You God for sending the most perfect example of love through Jesus Christ...Amen!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

His Joy is my Strength...

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye." Psalms 32:8

Oh! how I needed to read this word from the Bible!  Lots of decisions and so much on my mind. Trying to figure things out and unnecessary concerns about things that were none of my business. Plus I'm retiring the end of this month...lots of changes...

John 21:20-24 talks about Jesus giving Peter the assignment of "Feed my sheep" and Peter asking Him what about that disciple, meaning John, and Jesus basically telling him "What is that to do with you?" In other words "Peter don't be distracted by how I use anyone else, but concentrate on what I ask you to do."  I think that was part of my problem plus I had heard some sad news about some folks that I love very much. It threw me into a tailspin of anxiety, but thank God for family and dear friends that talked me through it.  Have you guessed? I'm not perfect.  :-)  I'm just someone walking this life's journey that has to be reminded at times that I'm not alone in this.

What a blessing it is to have the joy of the Lord, I think I sometimes take it for granted, because when I don't have it I feel just awful.   His Joy is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). 

Through my late husband's long illness and passing, I think I learned how to put a cap on my joy because I did not know what each day would bring.  If I allowed myself to get too joyful, how could I be prepared to handle what may be sad? Sounds crazy, but very real. I am learning how to allow God's joy to be limitless in my life... to be happy and that's okay.  To not let things that I cannot change bother me so very much.

I have a painting on my wall with the inscription "To believe is to know that everyday is a new
beginning."  I love that...I may blow it today, but at least tomorrow as God wills, I get the chance to start over again with Him and by faith I WILL succeed! That I WILL enjoy this life that He has so blessed me with and allow His JOY to permeate my life!  Thank You Jesus for giving me a new chance, thank You for not giving up on me, thank you for loving me unconditionally!  Amen!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Spring around the House...

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven..." Ecclesiastes 3:1



Front doors
Dining room
Kitchen

Front porch
Foyer