Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring in my Garden

bluebonnet in the dew

It has been a good week.  A busy week.  
Hard to believe March is drawing to a close. 
Spring has arrived at our house 
and I went out and photographed some 
of the flowers blooming in my gardens yesterday afternoon 
and again this morning with the dew. 
 Today I have decided to look back over the 
Proverbs that I have made note of in my 
prayer journal this month.  
I hope you enjoy my flowers 
and some words of wisdom today.

The words of the godly are like sterling silver; the heart of a fool is worthless.  The godly give good advice, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense. -Prov.10:20-21
Missouri Primroses

The blessing of the LORD makes a person rich 
and He adds no sorrow with it. -Prov.10:22
shrub Magnolia
                                             Doing wrong is wise for a fool,
                                                         while wise conduct is a pleasure to the wise. 
                                                                       -Prov. 10:23


                                                   The fears of the wicked will all come true;
                                                       so will the hopes of the godly.
                                                   Disaster strikes like a cyclone,
                                                      whirling the wicked away,
                                                   but the godly have a lasting foundation.
                                                       -Prov. 10:24-25
Columbine given me by dear SIL when we moved to TX.
                                                  Lazy people are a pain to their employer.
                                  They are like smoke in the eyes or vinegar that sets the teeth on edge.
One of my Hybrid tea roses
                                      Upright citizens bless a city and make it prosper. -Prov. 11:11a

Autumn Sage

                              It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.
                                                                                                                     -Prov. 11:12

sulphur paintbrush
                                               Your own soul is nourished when you are kind,   
                                                         but you destroy yourself when you are cruel. 

closed magnolia blossum

It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything.  The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. -Prov. 11:24-25

Our bluebonnet patch continues to grow

                                           To learn you must love discipline. -Prov. 12:1a

Climbing rose in dew

                                             A worthy wife is her husband's joy and crown; 
                                                 a shameful wife saps his strength. -Prov. 12:4

One of my miniature roses

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Letting Go

My time is short today and so I am sharing what I wrote on my other blog this morning as I feel it is an important message on forgiveness.

Ephesians 4:29-32
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you.

More things to put on the list of what it looks like to be renewed in the spirit of the mind, and put on the new self:
Our speech should be wholesome, is good for the building up of the body, gives grace to the hearer.
Paul reminds us that we have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, and our lives should not bring Him grief.
We need to let go of ALL bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (insistent shouting to be heard in public?), slander, and malice.
We need to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. Remember our new self is in the likeness of God (4:24) and these are His characteristics.

We can't just look good, we need to be changed from the inside out.  These are characteristics that do not come naturally to us.  What strikes me immediately is that I talk too much, and I am not a person prone to a lot of words.  I have let a lot of things slip through my lips that never should have.  How many of us grew up with the saying, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."  Oh, we often try to cover it up as simply joking around, but I know how hard those kinds of words can bite and sting, whether meant in jest or not.

I feel I should take a moment here and address that word clamor.  Webster's defines it as, "noisy shouting, a loud continuous noise, insistent public expression."  I fear that all too often we believers engage in this kind of thing in the public forum.  1 Thessalonians 4:11 says, "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you."  I am not sure but what we lose more to the enemy with our boisterous public outcries than converts to the Truth.  Just because the other side is always looking for a fight does not mean we have to give it to them.  This is one of those times when I really feel that God's way is not man's way.  Sometimes we just need to be quiet, both publicly and privately.

I read a great blog post related to this thought yesterday, "With the confidence of those who have been vindicated by the resurrection of Christ, we don't need to be vindicated by the culture.  That ought to free us to speak openly about what we believe, but with the gentleness of those who have nothing to prove.  Let's not boycott our neighbors.  Let's not picket or scream or bellow.  Let's offer a cup of cold water, or maybe a grande vanilla latted in Jesus' name."  (link to original blog post)

How easily we can be led down the path of bitterness and anger.  Somebody did us wrong.  Somebody injured our pride.  Isn't that where most of our bitterness and anger come from?  It is the old self rearing it's ugly head, the one that is focused on me, me, me.  Remember what comes at the end of these verses?  Be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving.  That forgiveness is taken even further- we are to do it just as Christ forgave us.  How many hoops did we have to jump through for His forgiveness.  Is it conditional on me never failing again?  How many times have I asked Him to forgive me for the same thing I did just yesterday?

After our study Wednesday night one woman asked me about forgiveness.  How do we do it?  And are we supposed to forget?  I shared with her a little of my own experience and feel led to share with you as well.  I am a survivor of both sexual assault and a couple of sexually abusive encounters by trusted family members.  I carried around all kinds of baggage for years; anger, guilt, shame, fear.  My nights were often filled with nightmares.  All of that baggage I took with me into my marriage and it very nearly destroyed it.  I went through a healing process that started with forgiveness.  I was no longer able to confront two of the men involved, one had died and I had no clue who the other was.  They did not ever ask for my forgiveness.  But I chose to forgive them.  It was a long process and a lot of prayer for help from the Lord went into making me willing to forgive these men.  But there came a day when I knew that if they were to come to me I would be able to say to them, "I forgive you."  I couldn't wait for that day to come before I reached that point of forgiveness.  What I mean by that is, that if I had waited for them to come to me I would still be in a very dark place, because they were not coming.  For my own sake, for the sake of my marriage, my children, my family, the church, the Lord, I had to forgive.  And the Lord did a wonderful thing in that moment.  It was like being made new.  A relationship was restored.  No more nightmares, no more bitterness, no more putting upon my husband the wrongs of those other men.  And I have forgotten a lot, which really surprises me.  The face that haunted me, I no longer see.  Those moments of time in my life often feel foreign to me now.  I know they happened, but they have become rather blurry in my memory.  I had a right to be angry about what was done to me, but the choice I made about what to do with that anger for many years was sin.  Oh, there are not even words to truly convey the freedom that comes when we forgive.  Not words to convey the lifting of one's heart.  Not words to convey the changes in one's mind.   I am not here to say that the road to forgiveness is an easy one.  I am here to say that it really is true what they say; harboring unforgiveness is more harmful to us than the one who offended us.  I do want you to know that we have a Helper to see us through the process, to change our hearts, to heal our wounds, to set us free.  It is truly paradise with the Savior, and it can begin right now, today, if we will follow Him and do what He says.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wholehearted Commitment

There are days when I pick up my Bible and begin reading and the conviction that comes is very humbling.  Today was one of those days as I read these words, "And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today." Deuteronomy 6:6, NLT1.  With what I wrote on Friday about how I had struggled with my quiet time and journaling still fresh on my mind these words hit hard.  To be honest, that is the root of my problem, a lack of wholehearted commitment.  I do not yet love the Lord my God with ALL of my heart.  Can someone like me actually say that in writing?  I have lots of lesser loves that vie for my attention.
When I looked for an image to share,
my search for "wholehearted"
pulled this one up-
 I think they are pretty much focused
 on just one thing here,
and really isn't that what it is all about?
I went on to read Jesus words to the disciples of John the Baptist.  John had sent them to ask Jesus if He was the one-the Messiah they were waiting for-or if they should wait for another.  This one line caught my attention, "God blesses those who are not offended by Me."  You may wonder how that fits with my earlier thoughts.  I have gotten the impression that Jesus was not what they were expecting.  He was not coming in and overthrowing the government.  He was not restoring Israel to power.  He was busy going around healing people, He had even just raised a woman's son from the dead.  A story that is one of my favorites by the way for what did not take place.  The woman did not seek out Jesus for this miracle, she did not ask for His help.  Jesus simply noticed this woman's grief as she walked by with the funeral procession and He was moved with compassion and returned her son to her. (Luke 7:11-17)  That is the kind of God that He is.  And that is the God who wants me to be wholeheartedly committed to Him.  The things He asks me to do with my life are things that the world just does not understand.  Sometimes I do not understand them myself.  Will I be offended by what He asks of me?  Am I offended by His call for me to spend time with Him each and every day?  To lay aside my own selfish, and often times foolish desires, to follow Him with my whole heart?
After John's disciples left, Jesus then spoke to the crowd that was gathered about John the Baptist.  The NLT1 concludes that passage with these words, "When they heard this, all the people, including the unjust tax collectors, agreed that God's plan was right, for they had been baptized by John.  But the Pharisees and experts in religious law had rejected God's plan for them, for they had refused John's baptism." Luke 7:29-30.
To know what is right and not do it is to reject God's plan for me.  That is where I really feel convicted.  I started this year with the goal of becoming the woman God wants me to be.  Am I willing to accept His plan for me in that process?  Am I willing to give myself over to that plan wholeheartedly?  The very last verse i read from Luke this morning were these words from Jesus, "But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it." Luke 7:35, NLT1  A wise woman would follow the path that the Lord has laid out for her.  I am making the choice to take another step on that path today, and I intend to make the same choice again tomorrow.  I pray for a heart that will make that same choice every day for the remainder of my days on this earth.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,


Friday, March 23, 2012

Honest Reflection

It has been awhile since I have reported about how I am doing with my goals.  It is a mixed report heading in the end of three months.

Progress has been slower than I would like on my quilt projects, but I have made some progress I can share with you as I scatter photos throughout the blog today.

Baby quilt I have been designing

The slow part of this quilt has been doing the drawings for each block
It has been fun to call on some not often used talent

These last two blocks are ready for the embroidery work now

I am right on track for reading through the Bible this year.  It continues to amaze me that no matter how many times I read it there is always something new for me to see.

Blocks from the redwork quilt

I am thoroughly enjoying the Bible study I am leading.  It has been a good challenge for me to study, write, and prepare lessons each week.  I have even come to the point where I am not a bit nervous leading the group discussions, which have been such a blessing to me each week.  I just love hanging out with these wonderful women every Wednesday night.  The only problem: an hour is just not long enough.  They do keep me on my toes!

I have kept up pretty well with my prayer journal-though it was completely ignored over spring break last week.  That was okay with me, I don't want to get hung up about it when my family is around.  I could have gotten myself up earlier and taken care of it, but you know how that goes.  Even I need a week of rest from my labors now and then.  What's not okay is that I have been very lax about writing in it this week.  Pure laziness on my part.

A sweet friend handed me a new book to read yesterday- I did finish Blogger Beware last month so I think this will be my next read.  Blogger Beware was a really helpful read if you are a blog writer- check out my page on Books I am Reading if you want to learn more about it.

I had put a stop to my running awhile back as I was having some foot issues.  That has all cleared up, but I have yet to put my running shoes on again.  Time to get this body moving again.  O, motivation, where art thou?!

Nearly done- two blocks left the I can start
putting it all together with the fabric I have picked out

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Don't Tell Anyone?

In one of the villages Jesus met a man with and advanced case of leprosy.  When the man saw Jesus, he fell to the ground, face down in the dust, begging to be healed.  "Lord," he said, "If you want to, you can make me well again."  
Jesus reached out and touched the man, "I want to," He said.  "Be healed."
And instantly the leprosy disappeared.  Then Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone what had happened. -Luke 5: 12-14a, NLT1

I took a look at some images of men with leprosy, I cannot bring myself to post one here.  I've read this story so many times and never given much thought to the man before.  Many questions come to mind today.  I wonder if perhaps this man was somewhere in the village away from the crowds of people.   I wonder how he knew that the man before him was Jesus?  His picture was not posted all over the internet, how did he recognize the Lord?  Yet somehow he knew.
I've always loved this man's words- "If You want to, You can make me well again."  Other translations render it, "Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean."  And I've always loved even more Jesus response to this man, "I want to."  "I am willing."  "Be healed."  "Be clean."  For the first time I noticed that before He even spoke these words though, He reached out and touched the man.  I wonder how it felt to have Jesus actually stretch out His hand and touch him?  How long had it been since he had felt the touch of another human being?   Having looked at those images this morning I am quite literally moved to tears.  The Lord is not afraid to break with convention and touch the most disturbing and unapproachable among us.  I wonder if there were any people around to witness this?  Where were the pharisees who always seemed present and ready to pounce; who followed Jesus around looking for ways to condemn Him?  Can you imagine how repulsed they would be by this act of Jesus'?
I wonder why He told this man not to tell anyone what had happened?  How could he not?!  With what jubilation and wonder he must have walked away from this encounter with the Lord.  Reading on, we learn that the man did not stay silent as Jesus had instructed, and I wonder if the Lord was disappointed by this.  Often we are called to do things that seem counter to our nature.  I struggle at times to be obedient, to live and walk and talk as God has instructed me.  The very next encounter Jesus has, with the man who was paralyzed, is a remarkable healing that takes place in front of many people, including the Pharisees who were full of criticism.  It seems there is just something different about this man with leprosy.  Something that leads Jesus to desire he keep silent, lead a quiet life fulfilling the law.  I wonder if sometimes that is what He wants from us?  How do we know when it is time to "shout it from the rooftops" and when it is time to quietly go about a life of obedience?

Grace, Peace, and Mercy, Deb

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sound of His Voice

What a wonderful time we had last week.  My beloved spoiled me with some of my favorite things as we celebrated 28 years of marriage on March 17th.  He let me stop many times and take photos of the wildflowers blooming along the roadside.

It's bluebonnet time in Texas

He let me make a stop at my favorite garden center in Fredericksburg and even purchase some things for my garden.

Wildseed Farms

 He patiently waited for me to take photos of all sorts of things.  Can you see his reflection in the ball, standing by while I am lost in the colors around me?

It's a birdbath!

He spent a day with me taking in the history of the area as we toured the mission trail.

Mission San Jose

Still in use- we could not go inside as they were preparing for a service

Mission Espada
One of the monks living here was quite the gardener
 I did not take a photo of the three men on guitars serenading everyone as they arrived.  They were there for the arrival of wedding guests.
Mission Concepcion

Remember the Alamo

Inside the Alamo courtyard 

He let me wander the King William historic district.

This is a little spot along the river walk that goes through this district 

He took me to the Botanical Gardens.

Rubber ducks in the fountain- what fun!

the orchid house

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks

Native Texas Trail

Ideas for my container garden

We got back to our Mini to find a family taking photos of "the twins."

He took me to the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center.

American White Pelican

Great Egret

not sure which sandpiper this is

American Coot

Pretty large snapping turtle in a deep hole

Northern Shoveler

new bird for me- Loggerhead Shrike

He took me out to dinner each night for some of my favorite foods.
And he even let me photograph him as we enjoyed dinner at a Thai restuarant.

And as we strolled along the river walk one night, taking it all in, I was reminded again how blessed I am to have a husband who is willing to listen to the sound of his wife's voice.  He hears me when I express what I like and don't like.  He even listens when I tell him which way to turn, even when it goes against his own instincts.  And I have to insert here that this provided a lot of humor to our time in San Antonio because for a change I was not the one constantly getting turned around.  We don't know how it happened, but I was spot on with directional challenges this trip.  (Which felt really good, by the way!)

One of the cds we had with us on this trip was Fernando Ortega's This Bright Hour.  I love that one and it got a lot of play time.  The last song is titled O Thou, In Whose Presence which has a line that got me to thinking: "Dear Shepherd, I hear, and will follow Thy call- I know the sweet sound of Your voice."  I have spent years trying to tune my heart to hear the dear Shepherd's voice.  Sometimes I think I am really just starting to be able to say, "I know the sweet sound of Your voice."  I thought about that a lot as we were driving along.  This morning as I did my daily Bible reading I was caught by the story of King Balak in the book of Numbers.  He was the king who called upon Balaam to curse Israel for him.  Time and time again though, Balaam only delivered blessings to Israel and this was really frustrating King Balak.  He was not hearing what he wanted to hear, while Balaam on the other hand kept saying, "This is the prophecy of Balaam son of Beor, the prophecy of the man whose eyes see clearly, who hears the words of God."  Balaam kept reminding the king that he would only speak what he heard from God and nothing else.  It made me wonder again about how well I listen, especially when I do no hear what I want to hear.

Grace, Peace, and Mercy,