Sunday, August 20, 2017

Well Running Dry

"...but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."  John 4:14 (NIV)

Summer can certainly be a time of dryness.  Our other three seasons provide ways for our lawns and gardens to receive water, but the summer can be difficult for constant water.  I noticed this about a week ago when parts of our lawn were getting a bit parched.  The green was turning to brown and was very dry.  I even noticed the sign on a local fire department sharing that there was a high risk of fire.  Sure enough, a few days later, black clouds formed overhead and the heavens opened, providing some much needed relief and lots of rain.

The same thing happened to me, personally, last week.  The days were getting more and more difficult with many different situations.  By last Friday, I was parched.  I felt as if I didn't have an ounce of energy left in me.  I woke up dragging and couldn't seem to gain any relief as the day continued.  I was picturing myself in a desert with no water in sight.  To say I was frustrated was an understatement.

This can happen to all of us.  We get so caught up on getting things done, running through our chore list, making sure all the t's are crossed and i's are dotted that we forget that we need to stop to quench our thirst.  We find the items that need to get accomplished take precedent over what is truly important and what truly needs to get done - replenishing our souls.  I am very guilty of this when times get tough - I put aside what needs to get done for my soul for what needs to get done on a list.

I prayed to my Lord, looking for relief.  Just as he provided the black clouds overhead, He also provided for me.  There, in front of me, was our verse for today - one that I keep written on a small piece of paper for "just when I need some help".  God guided my eyes to this verse, helping to remind me that I will never thirst, as long as I go to God's Word for relief.  With that Word, my "today" life was restored and I was reminded that my "eternal" life was in good hands, God's hands.

I encourage all of us to focus on our souls just as much as we focus on the "list" of this world.  In doing so, the words of our Lord will fill our hearts, our minds and our souls - providing the relief we so deeply need.  God wants our eyes to be focused on Him for restoration, not the items of this world.  When we do that, we understand with more clarity that Simple Faith brings us the peace we need in this world, the peace that calms our souls and re-energizes our lives.  

Please, spend time each day in the living water of Jesus.  Let's commit to sharing time with Him who so graciously gave of Himself for us.  When we fill ourselves up with this living water, we will never be parched, and our faith will grow just as a plant who receives water during the summer.

Dearest Jesus, just as you were there for the woman at the well, I ask that you continue to be here for me.  Help me to never be thirsty as long as I immerse myself in Your Word.  Grant me the peace for my soul and the energy of your love to help grow not only me, but those around me.  In your loving name I pray.  Amen!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sweetness on the Inside

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine cloths.  Rather it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4

The simple task of husking corn.  Nothing elegant.  Just sitting on the back stoop and making sure I get all the silk off of the ear of corn before cooking them.  Yet, as I was doing that, it struck a thought with me.  On the outside, corn is pretty much the same.  Taller stalks, silk coming out of the top.  If you look at the outside of corn, you would say they are all very similar.  As you begin husking the corn, the individuality of the corn starts to shine through.  Some may be all yellow with large kernels.  Some may be yellow and white with smaller kernels.  Typically, regardless of what you see as you peel the husk back, you find great sweetness.  As you bite into an ear of corn, it's hard not to smile with delight as those kernels pop in your mouth, so sweet.  Sure, sometimes we see an ear that is not mature or has been chewed by insects, but most of the time, it is good.

It made me think, if we were to peel back the husk of our neighbors, friends, and families, what would we find?  Do we find people who are full of kindness and sweetness?  Do we find people that are fully mature or haven't fully matured yet?  Do we find people who may have been chewed up by the bitterness of their situations?  What is on the outside of people may not be what is on the inside of people.  The elaborate lifestyles or personas may not mirror what is on the inside of people.  As when we open up an ear of corn that is not "sweet", we are disappointed.  When we get to know the "inside of people" and realize they may not be "sweet", we are also disappointed.  Can we change them?  You know the answer to that.

As always, it is important to start with the sole person that you can change, YOURSELF!  As you peel back your own husk, what are people finding?  What are you finding?  Is there a person who is mature and full of sweetness and delight?  Or is there a person who is not mature, eaten up by the bitterness of past mistakes and not forgiving others.  We may share with others that we work hard to live the life that Jesus has asked us to live.  I know I try to do that.  Yet, if I'm going to be truthful, I often fall short.

On the inside, I am not always sweet (hey, just ask my family!).  I may try to be mature, but often my responses, both inside and outside, aren't always that of a mature woman.  I can get cranky and bitter and the anxiousness that I feel can many times be revealed in my emotions - the inside stuff.!  Can you relate?  I try to ensure that the sweetness and goodness that God wants me to share is there every day.  Yet, there are some days when that just doesn't happen.  So what's a girl to do?

We go to the word of God.  There, and only there, can I find true redemption for the behavior that may not be the sweetness I want on the inside.  When I ask my Savior for forgiveness and begin the healing, peace enters my heart and sweetness returns.  The simple faith of knowing God can make me sweet is such a rich blessing.  Through His goodness and His love, I know that peace and happiness will return.  That is a guarantee.  

I challenge us.  What are people seeing when they "husk" us?  Are they seeing the sweet love of Jesus or a person that has been chewing on bitterness?  We can change ourselves to grow more sweet on the inside.  We can live in the words of Jesus and have simple faith that through his love our sweetness will grow.  The next time you husk that ear of corn, take a look on the inside for the sweetness that we know only Jesus can give us.

Dearest Jesus, we ask that you help us to self-reflect what is in our hearts.  May we find the sweetness and goodness that we can share with others.  If we find bitterness Lord, we ask that you change our hearts and fill us up with the words of saving grace that only YOU can provide.  In your saving name we pray.  Amen."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Test of Patience

Then he said, "Listen now, O house of David! Is it too slight a thing for you to try the patience of men, that you will try the patience of my God as well?  Isaiah 7:13

I want to believe that in my old age I have gotten wiser and my ability to be patient has gotten better.  To be honest, I'm not sure I'm succeeding in either!  This past weekend brought to life the part of the verse above "...try the patience of men".  It started off well,;I had a half day on Friday and I was going to get my car inspected.  

I went.  It failed.  I was appalled.  The car is in great condition.  Yet, the paint was chipping off my plates, so they needed to be replaced.  Oh, and I need two tires in the rear of the car.  WOW - not what I was expecting.  Well, I had the 1/2 day off, so off to Town Hall I went for new plates.  Yep, wrong spot, needed to go to Dept of Motor Vehicles (a 1/2 hour away).  I'm not sure how your Dept of Motor Vehicles works.  Let's just say that ours is a test of patience.  I was glad that my husband joined me for some "quality" time and off we went.  Two hours later, I had two new plates.

Off to the tire store we go.  Got there just as it was closing.  They didn't have my tires in stock.  All could be resolved on Saturday, though.  Saturday at 10:30, the car was dropped off.  By that time I had already completed the normal Saturday chores, so, after making some meatballs and doing a couple of other things, I thought I deserved a pedicure.  I called for a 12:15 appointment.  By 12:17 my toes had dipped in the water.  Someone didn't come over to start my pedicure until 12:55.  Yep - another test of patience.  Didn't they already know what kind of weekend I was having?  I did finally get my toes painted and just in time, my husband called to tell me my car was ready.

Yea, pick up the car, go back to where I had it inspected for a "re-inspect".  I get there, they can't take me for 1.5 hours.  Really?  Are you kidding?  I did what they asked and all they have to do is put on an inspection sticker.  Nope, that was the deal.  Fine.  I went home, did a few more things around the house, and was off to get my sticker 1.5 hours later.  Got there and the guy came out.  "Not sure we will be able to do it today?"  Are you kidding?  While I was gone, two other people came and dropped off their cars, so they got a "spot" in front of me.  

That was it!  My patience, that I tried so hard to keep all day long, was gone.  This was going to be a relaxing, filled with family time, type of weekend.  No, we didn't have any specific plans, just to "be" with each other.  It had turned into a test of patience.  I don't lose my patience often, but when I do, I can be a bit indignant.  My voice was raising and I needed to talk to the technician, the asst. manager and the manager.  Yes, EVERYONE needed to hear my pain.  I was mad.  They can see I have new plates, and the tires are new!!!

That went well for me, until the manager checked and said, "Yes, you have two new tires, but they are on the FRONT!!  The back ones are still bad."  Are you kidding me?  Really?  After a "wonderful"call to my husband, I was on my way back to the tire place.  Meanwhile he called there and found out they had closed.  Done.  All this work and I still won't have my car inspected this weekend.  

As I was driving to dinner with my family, in a car that had yet to be inspected, I started chatting with my best friend, God.  "Really God, all of this and nothing?  My patience is being tested beyond belief.  What are you trying to tell me?"  I realized, He was sharing much with me.  
  • Maybe my patience wasn't as good as I thought.  I obviously have some work to do in this area and ensuring I don't take out my frustrations on others.
  • Check and re-check.  There are many times throughout this scenario I could have checked something to ensure it would be smooth - like checking to make sure the new tires were on the back!
  • Be in the moment.  As my husband and I left the Dept of Motor Vehicles on Friday, we laughed that although we waited two hours, we were together.  We laughed and chatted during that time.  Maybe God wanted that for us.  While I waited for my toes, I was sitting in a wonderful massage chair.  
  • Deal with the deck.  Just deal with the cards you have been given.  Maybe the "cards" I had this weekend weren't a winning hand, but I got to play.  I was here, among family, enjoying some rainy days with them.
Yet, all of this made me think of how patient God has to be with me.  With all the sins I commit, the lack of initiative to share His word, the times when I don't do HIS will, He is still patient with me.  He still loves me.  He still embraces me in His wonderful arms.  He NEVER takes away my eternal life.  Now THAT is patience.  For as much as we try to endure in situations that don't go perfectly (a crying child in a grocery store, a friend/family member who lashes out, best laid plans going array), our Heavenly Father has endured so much more, and we still come out on the winning side.  

So, the next time our patience is tested, remember.  God's patience is tested every day, and He still loves us.  When our patience is being tested, let's check and re-check our behavior.  Be in the moment, is there something good that can come of this?  After all that, we just need to deal the cards we've been given.  With God on our side we will always come out with a winning hand!!

Dearest Lord, how our patience runs thin sometimes!  With the day to day frustrations, our patience to handle situations can be difficult.  Let us remember that when those times arise, you are there with us.  Provide us with the patience we need and may we show our Christian hearts in the process.  Your patience of us is immeasurable.  Thank you for always loving us and never leaving us.  In your name I pray.  Amen.

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Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope we can share how God's grace has been life changing and that SIMPLE FAITH, getting back to a life that is rooted in the basics, can truly set us free to achieve so much in our lives.