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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Triumph over struggles

January ornamental pear branch triumph after November leader limb loss

This week with “el NiƱo” temperatures rising into the 60’s, I decided to get outside to push the plants’ and my own boundaries, inspired also by a short 20 minute movie sent via RSS from Michael Hyatt, “The Butterfly Circus.”

1.Cleaning up garden: The sunny, spring-like day shows off a host of problems: windows streaked and dirty, twigs and branches scattered on ground from storms, plastic parts and garbage spewed around from workers. I cleaned up the former and cut dead plants to the ground, placing plant debris in a compost bin, hired some window washers.
Clean me: Jesus, show me my blind spots that only your light can make visible. By your grace let me see those around me that need your words of truth and hope spoken to them.
”Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:15-16
2.Pruning: I usually leave spent flowers with seeds on the plants through the winter for the birds, but since I am feeding them more regularly this winter, I tidied up the garden, pruning plants that the frost killed.
Prune me: I ask you Lord to take from me anything that is dead wood, spent blossoms, unproductive time-taking activities so I may be of use to you. So instead of social media we did the real social and invited influential people who have never been to our home before (another reason to clean up the garden)
“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.” John 15:1-2
3.Moving out of the box: We moved a windmill palm from the walkway to the hot border to fill in for the cut back melianthus major.

 Move me: I pray that the Lord might take me out of the box, my safe place. No matter how stuck I feel, God has a different plan.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God…” Ephesians 6:12-13a

 One line in the movie stands out, “The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.” I hope you take the time to view it, bookmark it, or download to watch it later.


 Are you willing to go to the places where God seems missing and to see with His eyes those without hope and speak His truth?

Can you trust God’s plan for you is closer than ever in the struggles?
What is the next step to where God wants you? I will pray for you.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Four Frustrations Turning to Encouragement

Blog originally published January 17, 2010  edited

Cement for footing finally delivered. (click video link)
 Pump waiting 20 years for hook up and trough 3 months.

If all things work for good for those who love the Lord, here are some frustrations experienced and how God used these 4 frustrations to encourage.

God also often uses our frustrations to point out a new view of ourselves.

1.     The frustration of navigating holes and piles of dirt while waiting three months for workmen to show up and finish the work.  In the end it was worth the wait.                                                       
    God’s Point: “Why are you frustrated with others, when you have not finished   what I asked of you.”                                                                                                      Encouragement: “Just show up and get to work.” The wall workers arrived the day after I started back to write.  

2.     The well water comes out of the kitchen faucet in a slow trickle. When the plumber shows up, he removed the sediment blocking the line.                                               
God’s Point: “You have much sediment in your life that blocks the flow of what I   want to do through you.”                                                                                            Encouragement: “Bring to Me the sediment of life that prevents you from doing my work and I will set you free.”                                                                                 

3.     The paths are muddied by the rain, making trips to the laundry room difficult.
I heard about someone who needed work, asked her and she helped me the next day to complete the gravel path.                                                                                         
Point: “You need a God-sized covering so you don’t become so stuck.”                  Encouragement: “I will continue to send what is needed to keep you from being  stuck, if you just ask.”                                                                                              

4.     Heavy rain found a way through the sun room glass roof, landing on the hatch door and dripping down to the wine cellar. I put two buckets out and use them for collecting rain water for the plants stored there for the winter.
Point: “The overflow of my Holy Spirit is available, you need to know that.”
Encouragement: “Capture regular time too, to fill the bucket with a flow of writing to nourish others.”

Paul tells us we are not alone.

“I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time....Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real questions? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” Romans 7:18-20; 24b-25 The Message

What are the frustrations in your life? Where might they point? How is God trying to change you?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Lions in our midst trying to destroy peace

"Daniel in the Lion's Den" by Briton Riviere 1892 (depicting Daniel 6:16-24)
picture in our home bought in Florida antique shop years ago
What is your reaction to this picture?
“The Lord is near. Be not anxious about anything, but in
everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:5b-7
The messiness of the garden brings me no peace. A bank has been cut in preparation for another rock wall. Island time waits for everyone, but in the meantime there are piles of dirt everywhere and plumbing parts. Someone came yesterday to prepare forms for the footing. Other projects in the yard, waiting for help, are also unfinished. I have no peace when outside is a mess. I handle larger problems better but don't recognize the lions hiding behind anxiety in everyday life.
Although I have not experienced great persecution as believers elsewhere in the world who are suffering because of their faith, I have had a taste of what it might feel like. When regularly radiated for cancer, the technicians, because of my frozen shoulder, had to strap my arm to a post and move the post back . Every day for 8 weeks I experienced torture-like pain. I prayed silently for help. The Lord said, "turn your eyes on me, I care for you." So I sang to myself while the machine hummed. Soon, "the things of this earth became strangely dim." The lion of cancer did not destroy my peace here.
I ask Jesus,
  •  "Why do I have such anxiety, lack of peace about the outside mess?"He says, "You're looking too much at the earth."
  • What in my life are You pointing to? Where else have I experienced this lack of peace?" It is usually linked to a past difficult time. "Where Jesus were you then?" 
Listen closely to what he has to say. What truth do you hear from him?."You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." John 8:32

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Best 10 Blogs of 2009 to help in 2010

At the Dawn of a New Year
It is only helpful to look back upon an old year to remember God's faithfulness: His grace where we have failed and/or His many faceted provision in need. So I'm posting a few of last year's clips (click on highlighted words) in hopes to encourage you as well for this coming year.

1. "Your faithfulness continue to all generations." Psalm 119:90

3. " Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the earth."Matthew 28:20

4. "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.." Romans 7:18

5. "I desire to do your will, O my God" Psalm 40:8

6. "Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees... he displays his glory." Isaiah 44:23

7. Considering the storms in our lives , Jesus says, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Mark 4:3-41

8. "I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is still day: the night cometh, when no man can work." John 9:4

9. "...the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."

10. “No matter how black the clouds over our heads may be, we are to hold on until the day breaks – and it will eventually break.”

"We are not skilled to understand, what God has willed what God has planned."

With 8760 hours next year minus 2920 hopefully sleeping, I pray you might know God's will for you in the 5840 remaining. How is He encouraging you?

1 Tabletalk Dec 2009, p.65 "our Blessed Struggle" Guy M Richard