Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Scatter the Seed

The evergreen continues to be a source of lessons for this seeker of Jesus through Nature. I often wonder why God, through His infinite ways that He teaches me, decides to stand before me in His Creation and write on the chalkboard of the sky, soil, or anything that He says, "Grow" and it grows.  I love that it's almost taken me a month to write down all that He has taught me through the evergreens, but I know there's purpose in that as well.  By taking my time to write down what He teaches me, my heart lingers on it much longer.  Isn't that the way we desire it with Jesus?  I don't want to rush to the next thing that He's teaching me.  I want to make sure I've totally grasped the lessons in THIS moment.  

So, back to the evergreen.  

As Mike and I hiked through the hills of Breckenridge, CO, my eyes kept fixing themselves on the evergreens  
 everywhere.  All sizes.  All heights.  Some inches away from others.  Some feet away from others.  I don't begin to be able to figure out our God, but I do know a little about seed scattering, so as Mike was chattering some nonsense about gold mining or what bakery we were going to try next, my mind was thinking about seeds and how God scatters and grows them. 

Something that I have had to learn and relearn about seeds, plants, and fruit is that all I have to do is surrender to the growth, and most importantly, i am only the fruit hanger.  I never produce the fruit.  Jesus always produces it in me.

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control."  (Gal. 5:22)

"Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.  This who remains in Me and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from Me you can do nothing."  (John 15:4)

But what happens to the pinecones full of seeds?  They eventually drop to the ground and scatter to be replanted and made into something new, to grow something new.

I see our lives like I see the cones full of seeds.  We are influencers of people's lives both in positive and negative ways.  There are things in my life that I have regretted that I wished hadn't planted seeds, but they did.  But I also know that there are seeds for the gospel that each of us have that are meant to be sown, meant to be shared with the world.  We are made to make a difference wherever we are.  Never belittle your influence in this life.  You were made for wherever God has put you to be a mouthpiece, a comforter, a listener, or a friend to another.  Your pouring yourself out, allowing yourself to drop into the soil of another's life so that you can influence and be a seed that grows something new for God's Kingdom MATTERS.  You may never be present to see the growth or the change, but rest assured, the God of the universe uses vessels everyday to grow and multiply His Kingdom, and you are one of many.  Embrace the fruit that you were meant to hang, to plant, to grow, to harvest.  It matters.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I'll Carry Your Load

"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
In addition to being mesmerized all week in Colorado by the constancy of the evergreens and how they remind me of the steadfast nature of our Creator, God had a few more lessons He wanted me to grasp before I left.  It was almost as if the evergreens were screaming, "Let Me carry the load!"  I often feel like the picture above, but isn't this what we've tried to do since the Garden?  "I got this God.  I'm crushing under the weight of this, but I got it.  You're too busy worrying about the other details of life.  Mine aren't even enough to matter to You.  Hold on, let me strap something else on."

"Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you;  He shall never permit the righteous to be moved" (Isaiah 55:12).  

We all have our ideas of what a burden bearer looks like and how much weight can be held.    At times I have withheld hurt or information in fear that the load is too heavy, all the while, the weight upon my shoulders continues to deepen.  What God revealed to me in Colorado as I looked underneath trees that seemingly looked too weak to carry the weight of the snow is that I underestimate my Burden Bearer.  His Name is Jesus.

The branch in proportion to the mass of the snow that is weighing it down doesn't make sense to me.  The branch appears as if at any minute, it will collapse under the weight of the burden it's carrying.  I think we're much like the branch and we project our weakness to bear enormous weight on the One who has endless ability to bear our burdens and the weight of our lives.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


I had the most amazing experience over the last couple of weeks to travel with my man to Breckenridge, Colorado.  Any time I have the opportunity to see different ways that our Creator has crafted creation quite honestly makes me giddy with joy!  As we drove our rental car from Denver on I-70 west towards Breckenridge, I quickly realized that there would be a theme in what my heart would gravitate toward the entire time we were there.  Everywhere I looked, all I could see were evergreens.  Evergreens on the mountain.  Evergreens draped with snow.  Evergreens bending in the weight of Winter.  Every day I thought about the evergreens, took pictures of them, and asked God what He wanted to teach me through them.  I look forward to sharing with you in the next few posts what God has taught me.
I come from the South where the seasons are pronounced and plentiful in variety of trees that make bold statements with each change.  We have evergreens in the South, but if I'm honest, they weren't my favorite (except for the smell), until now.  God gave me a new perspective of Himself through the evergreens that will forever change how I look at them.

Evergreens are constant, just like God.  No matter what the season, they are constant and green.  They are hardy through the seasons and don't sway in the winter.  They continue to grow even under the weight of snow and cold.  In comparison to other trees that bloom, fill with leaves, lose leaves, and then are dormant through winter, the evergreen isn't. The evergreen is just like God...EVER present, EVER constant.  God doesn't tire of being God.  He just is.  When I look at other trees, oftentimes in the winter I am unable to figure out what kind of tree it is when it's leaves and fruit are not present, but with the evergreen you always know because for the most part, it's unchanging, just like our God.

Many suffer from seasonal depression in the
winter.  So many things appear dead in the winter.  The evergreen is an exception.  As we hiked, the evergreens were a shield and comfort from the howling winds of the cold, just like our God.  If I were alone, cold and needed shelter in the winter, I would take refuge under the comfort of a evergreen, not an oak.  The evergreen is a protector, just like Jesus.  It is vibrant with LIFE, just like Jesus.

I am thankful for the diversity of our God and how He is our constancy when seasons seem lonely, dark or even lifeless.  He is LIFE and life abundant.  So thankful for the evergreen, but most of all for Jesus.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Things Aren't Always As They Seem

 My heart has been preoccupied today.  I just received word that a couple that I have admired over the last years is divorcing.  My initial reaction was "NO!  I thought their marriage was so strong, that they had a good balance of work, home, kids, and LIFE!"  I didn't want to believe it.  I never want to believe it.  It makes my heart sad to watch people's lives and families be torn apart by divorce.  I needed to talk to Jesus about it, well, pretty rant about it!  I get pretty fired up when I watch the enemy ransack people's lives.  

So, I headed to one of my favorite places to get lost in my thoughts and chat with the only One who has all the details, knows all the truth, and all the wisdom to what I'm feeling.  This tree was in my path.  I love the beauty that winter gives.  No pretense, just bare beauty waiting to be seen.  What was interesting about this sight was that one side appeared healthy and whole, but when I looked on the other side, it was hollowed out by fire. It's crazy, but I think  
 that's how our lives are perceived by others.  We gauge the "okayness" of marriages, families, and lives by "InstaImages".  We see a family on vacation, a couple celebrating a date night, laughter and fun, sports events and concerts, and assume that all is well with their lives.  The outside shell may look pretty, the snap stories hilarious, but the inside may be hollow and burnt.  We are deluded by the thinking  that we are the most connected generation ever, but I believe we're one of the most lonely, isolated, and unfulfilled generation.  We have replaced face to face connection with snap chats throughout the day or the perfect picture with the best filter that captures the best light so what is hidden won't be found out.  So a question I have to ask myself is "Do I have a group of people in my life that I connect with on
a deep level, who truly know me, who know Mike and me, who know when we struggle, who know the hollowed places, the burnt places, and care about us enough to talk to us about blind spots they see or truth of what they see that we may be immune to?  I know that the InstaImages we portray could honestly be a vice used to make us feel more isolated, because I couldn't possibly admit that my marriage is suffering after I just posted that beautiful picture of us watching that sunset!  

I want to know and be known by people who love me and are for what is the very best for me and my family.  Do you have a quiver of people, both men and women who know you as an individual and you and your spouse as a couple?  Ones who know the ugly beautiful that sometimes characterizes life?  If you don't have anyone, I encourage you to start by engaging one person, one couple to walk real life with you.  It's so important.  We need one another. We need the community of one another.  We need heart connection that go beyond kid talk and sleeping patterns.  "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)

Our marriages are so worth it.  They take a ton of work, and even more so when you've been married almost 28 years, because the temptation is that you know all about the other and you shouldn't have to work as hard.  Not true.  Just as we continue to nurture our relationship with Christ until we go to live with Him forever, we have to make nurturing our relationships here on earth the same way.  If we don't, they will become hollow, burned out and of little use to us and more easy to discard.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Your Name

"But the True Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who He is, he opens the gate to let Him in.  And the sheep recognize the voice of the True Shepherd, for He calls his own by name and leads them out, for they belong to Him." (John 10:2-3 TPT)

I have read this scripture more times than I can count, but today when I read it, something different jumped off the page.  The words "…for He calls His own by name and leads them out…" resonated deep, because I'm a person of words.

As I continue to settle in to my true identity in Christ, my heart is more sensitive to the words spoken over me and within me.  Words and phrases like "worthless", "not enough", "too much", "too loud", "Nobody really listens or even cares what you say", "You're not a good mom, writer, singer", "Why can't you focus?", "You're not smart enough", "You can't read" were like a boomerang video that continued to play over and over in my mind.  If you're like me, sometimes the voices vying for the attention in your mind are much louder than the ones right in front of you.

But the phrase "…for He calls His own by name and leads them out…" sparked a beautiful new thought in me this morning.  The names that Jesus calls me are "beloved", "beautiful", "enough", "worthy", "just right", "intelligent", "redeemed", "forgiven", "wonderfully made", "steadfast", "conqueror", "warrior", "overcomer", "saint", "accepted".  

In a given day, I had to ask myself, am I really recognizing the voice of the Shepherd (Jesus)?  He is calling me by Name, all the names He has for me, but in a day, how often am I listening to another voice, the voice that seeks to kill and destroy me? How often do I settle on words, names that Jesus would NEVER speak over me?   

What words and names will you allow to lead you out into this day?  We have one True Shepherd, the only One truly worthy of following, and the only One who knows the TRUTH of who we are.  So I challenge you to listen to the names spoken over you, and make sure you are following the True Shepherd.  He will never lead you astray.  His plans for you are always good and pure.    He wants us to embrace our true identity in Him rather than some counterfeit that the enemy tries to plant deep within.  

The sheep know the Shepherd's voice and come to Him.  Do you think that sheep would come readily to a shepherd they knew would beat them?  No, they come because the Shepherd is safe and wants the very best for them.  He feeds them, cares for them, helps them when they are hurt and carries them when they can't make it any longer.  That's Jesus.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Falling Grace

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound.
Amazing Love, now flowing down.
With Hands and Feet, that were nailed to the tree.
As grace flows down and covers me.”  (Christy Nockels)

I LOVE SNOW!  Yes, I am a teacher at heart, and even though I have not taught in almost 20 years, I get so excited to check the radar and watch for the chance that schools are closed.  When I was awakened, not once, but twice by the school system letting me know that my boy/man sleeping upstairs would have a snow day, my heart wasn’t annoyed, it was elated!

Something I love more about the snow are the lessons that Jesus teaches me through it.  For many years, I was addicted to shame.  I knew of grace for the sake of knowledge, but felt like there was a road block leading to grace that would penetrate my heart and transform me from the inside out.  As I began to heal from my shame addiction, I realized that I could have all the knowledge in the world about what grace is, but I had to begin to know WHO grace is.  Grace’s Name is Jesus.

As I look outside my full length window into my backyard, and watch grace fall down in the form of snow, it always makes me think of Jesus.  If I were to walk outside right now, every part of me would have snow falling on it.  The ground is completely covered.  No dirt is showing, grass is covered, driveway unrecognizable…heck, even the dog poop is concealed!  That’s WHO grace is and what grace does.  It covers, makes new, washes white, and makes who I was unrecognizable because He has made me a new creation.

Grace is not intrusive or forceful. The snow falling this morning has no sound to it.  Just like grace, snow falls quiet and serene almost like you wouldn’t know it was there unless you saw it and felt it.  Jesus will never force you to believe that His grace covers you or that His death and resurrection is enough to secure your standing with Him. 

I see grace everywhere.  It’s God’s reminder to me that He is ever present, He is for me, and He is cheering me on in whatever season I am in.  I see grace in the laughter of children, cardinal’s red with the blood of Jesus, music that sings in my heart every day, my changed life and heart, leaves that magically turn from green to fiery red and blazing yellow, a marriage that has not just survived but is thriving, forgiveness in action, sweet heart connection with people, the metamorphosis I see in lives changed by Jesus, the process of a baby growing in a momma, restoration in relationship, and hearts singing their guts out in worship.  I also see grace embodied in the simple, often overlooked things like a crock pot full of hot soup, little things that make the heart smile, my big comfy gray couch, candles flickering, Smart Wool socks warm, and the hum of a quiet and warm house. 

Grace is flowing down.  It’s flowing down on you.  Just as the snowflakes are too many to count and each flake has its own unique shape and size, Jesus’ grace for you is unique, too many to count, and all encompassing.  There is no “poop” on you that is not covered.  To Jesus, you are unrecognizable as who you were.  In His grace, you stand spotless, blameless, shameless, and pure like the snow that is falling outside.

So head outside, put your face to the sky and let His grace fall down on you!