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Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

waves2ccm_edited-3Last year on the beach, as I looked for the God messages, the love letters he sends, I couldn’t take my eyes off the broken seashells, the waves that ran sliding upon the beach only to be pulled back before boundaries placed by God were overrun. The broken shards were broken souls lost without God:

“Each piece represented a broken soul
a broken soul desperate to be saved
though the soul didn’t know
it needed saving
didn’t know it could be made whole” (Like Broken Shells on a Beach)

This year, I looked out at the beach, looking with expectation, just like the crippled man begging at the Gate Beautiful looked in expectation at Peter and John – and received more than he thought possible (Acts 3:5). I looked out at the beach – a different beach, past the waves that didn’t just rush in, but bullied their way into shore, in a dangerous-rip-tide kind of bullying.

I’m learning that when I live in expectation of God, my expectation is an invitation to the one who always loves me – and He never fails. He always comes.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope [expectation] is from him” (Psalm 62:5)

I waited with confidence; He’s told me I can – wait with confidence (Hebrews 11:1, Psalm 27:14)). Confidence in God isn’t arrogance; Confidence in God is trusting God like a little child trusts in the goodness and provision of his parents.

I waited, and He met me, at the balcony.

“Look to the horizon,” He told me. I wasn’t to focus on the bullying waves. Not on the sparkling, pretty water sprays. Not on the water trying so desperately to climb up the beach, like one imprisoned seeking freedom at all costs, only to be pulled back.

For three days, our group (about 40) rarely went in the ocean, it was so dangerous. Two of my nephews saved a woman caught in the rip-tide. They barely made it out themselves. They remembered when they were spent of all within themselves to lay back a float. It was not a good time for anyone to be immersing themselves in what was right in front of us.

No, it was better to look to the horizon.

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“Look to the horizon,” He’d said – before the Supreme Court rulings, before the Charleston, S.C. shootings.

Look up, look out – fix my eyes on Him, on His ways, on the hope of Him.

Like the focal point of a laboring woman during birth, so, too, must we choose a focal point during the big and little challenges that are like contractions to our souls, contractions designed to give new life.

It’s our choice, determining our own focal point. The pain of the daily can be big enough that I want to close my eyes and block out the focal point – but that’s my choice. I chose my focal point to be El Shaddai who can handle any situation and Jehovah-Shamah –  on the horizon – even if I don’t see Him, I believe He is both on the horizon and with me at the same time – and I am determined to keep my eyes open and focused on Him.

“David said about him: “‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Acts 2:25)

Like the city under siege who receives word that salvation will arrive on the horizon at dawn, with an army of 10,000 come to save, hope burns fiercely in my soul that He saves. The world may fall apart, but He saves those who are His.

My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25: 15)

Focusing on the snares in the daily, whether they be in our home towns or in another’s – doesn’t release us from the snares designed to bring us down either individually or as a group. It’s when we take our eyes off the snares and look to Him that we are redeemed from those snares. Even when the snares are thrown off and destroyed, if we keep focused on Him still, the snares will not be remade.

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Look to the horizon with expectation! What do you expect?

“Do not be afraid—I will save you.
I have called you by name—you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you;
your troubles will not overwhelm you.
When you pass through fire, you will not be burned;
the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the holy God of Israel, who saves you. (Psalm 43: 1-3a)

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(I feel like telling a story again. If you haven’t heard it, grab a cup of just-right coffee, sit a spell and read a bit).

When Hope Grace was born, great expectations were cast forth, hearts leaping in expectation. Much was expected of Hope.

Her sister Faith Grace took to teaching her the facts of their Father and his Kingdom, and her other sister Charity Grace taught her about love.

You could find them in the cottage’s orchard: Hope looking to the goodness of God, grew strong, standing on the shoulders of her sister Faith, hands reaching to grasp hold of her other sister, Charity dangling upside down in the fruit tree.

These 3 Graces, Faith, Hope and Charity were born powerful, beautiful, full of potential, and were never seen one without the other.  They set about their Father’s business, ministering to their people. Their community welcomed them, knew them well, some more intimately than others.

Together, they cared for people who faced big and little challenges. No person was too insignificant, no problem too little for their ministering hands and feet. One reason was because of their Father who provided unlimited resources. The people knew their Father, the King, through the Graces.

But as the days grew in number, and as Faith, Hope and Charity went out into the world, the world snapped and snarled at them, wearing away at them, trying to diminish them, to topple them.

Hope wobbled, on the shoulders of Faith, threatening to let go of Charity.

Year after Year, the community who had relied on the 3 Graces, started taking them for granted, stopped visiting with them, refused welcome in their homes. Some no longer believed in the Father because they couldn’t see Him.

Where Faith had strengthened them with the promises of their Father through hard times, people now wanted evidence. They no longer wanted to believe without seeing first. The words of the Father held nothing for them, and so Faith faded.

As their belief in the Faith waned, so, too, did their Hope wane.

Hope’s belief in the provision and protection of her Father during life’s challenges was discredited by some people who said things like, “I hope the water comes for the green beans, the potatoes and the wheat, but I don’t believe it” they’d say in a hope-isn’t-really-real way, scoffing.

Some would say, “I’d like to hope his fever will break and all will be well – but, well, that isn’t how I believe.”

Sometimes, they would slander Hope saying, “Hope? If you believe in fairies – but that isn’t real life – they have no Father that can help me.”

And, in many hearts, Hope was cast out.

Without Faith and Hope, the spontaneous goodness of Charity’s unconditional love and kindness was no longer trusted – and they stopped inviting her into their homes, tried to put a price on her, to sell her.

Though many cast aside Faith, Hope and Charity – the 3 Graces did not leave them or abandon them.

They continually returned, calling to the people in the streets, knocking on doors, whispering on the night winds.

Faith would call out, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).

For you see, Faith, Hope and Charity are “not frail and perishable” but live “perennially” (O.E.D., 1 Peter 1:3). Rejection is just a starting place.

Charity’s heart so loved the world, that she could not give up pursuing The Father’s people.

Ever steadfast and determined, many invited them back into the cottage of their hearts, sat with them to know them. Faith taught truth about the Father and what He wanted to do in their lives. Hope focused their minds and hearts on the goodness of God, and Charity showed God’s abundant love and the need to share that love with others.

When the rains didn’t come, or sickness fell, or financial famine came, Faith said, “The Father will take care of you. He said so” reminding them with His words:

 ”The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it”
(Psalm 65: 9b).

And Hope showed them how to trust, to wait with hearts leaping in expectation:

“May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope” (Romans 15: 13)

Charity loved them with the Father’s love, showing them how to love during challenges:

“Love[Charity] never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up” (1 Cor. 13:7)

If you look closely into the garden of a neighbor’s cottage, you might just see the 3 Graces: Hope standing on the shoulders of Faith, hands reaching up to grasp Charity’s bounty and pass it down.

Maybe you have discredited Hope, Faith and Charity. Said you don’t believe them about their Father. Maybe you need a heart-to-heart with the 3 Graces. Invite them into the cottage of your heart to live perennially.

Maybe they are already in the cottage garden of your heart, Hope standing on the shoulders of walking Faith. Hope encouraging your Faith to keep on walking, keep on standing, to not give up, Faith keeping hope grounded in truth, while hope reachings toward a comforting, God filled with His kind of loving Charity.

I Believe
I trust
My heart leaps in expectation
of His Great love

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springredbud_edited-1“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Spring, like morning reaching red-bud blossom tops, has come. After grey sky days spraying mists, spilling water from clouds too full, the sun came out, splashing colors across my world.

The dove sat on the electric lines, the robins, sparrows, mockingbirds, cardinals, tanagers, jays and blue birds are opening up nests, calling across the yard to each other – and the cat, Miss Kitty, stretches in the sunshine, watching, welcoming.

Sadie sniffs the moles waking up, moving under the grass – digging a golf course in our back yard.

The peonies purple stalks, lavender spider’s knots, volunteer pansies, irises and lilies are stretching upward, past the almost spent buttercups.

Like winter promises spring, storms promise blue skies, challenges promise refreshing. Saturday, as the rain washed clean my schedule, I thought how beautiful the Sunday skies would be – washed clean through to blue and white.

Challenges do that, from gentle mistings to torrential power-washings designed to wash or break off what doesn’t belong, potentially revealing more of who He designed us to be – one stormy challenge at a time.

After spending so many months introspective, inward, inside, wrapped in blankets, hibernating from the cold winter,  I’m ready, ready to give up my wish for snow (it always missed us). I’m like that with challenges sometimes – they become so familiar that I’m not always ready to let go when it’s time.

It’s time now to let this winter go. I’m throwing open my doors and windows, cleaning off the porch, scratching away dead leaf quilts that covered flower beds.

Spring has woken with a joy-comes-in-the-morning vibrance. I am eager to greet it – aren’t you?

 

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Radical Christianity doesn’t intercede because sin is so ugly; Radical Christianity intercedes because it knows there is something beautiful to redeem beneath the sin.

Radical Christianity doesn’t beat the sin out; Radical Christianity loves the sin out.

Radical Christianity believes nothing is too big or too broken for our God to restore.

Radical Christianity doesn’t give lip-service to negative-Nancy platitudes; Radical Christianity speaks faith and hope words that empower to stand in the gap, interceding through the Holy Spirit.

Radical Christianity intercedes not just  for our friends, our family, our church. Radical Christianity intercedes for our schools, our cities and our country, regardless of political beliefs.

 Reading the news for the past few months leaves me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in a way I never imagined feeling in America. I’ve felt disquieted before – and have learned that disquieted feeling is a call to prayer, for intercession.

Abraham interceded boldly for Sodom. Please do not interpret that to mean that I am saying our country is comparable to Sodom. I believe there are many righteous men and women in our nation. I believe there is a heart for the great I Am .

Abraham didn’t bash Sodom. He begged for Sodom, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 – down to 1 faithful man. He interceded. He ASKED boldly, daringly. Abraham interceded with hope and faith, not finger pointing and sin cataloging. He didn’t bash Sodom as sin-city. Rather, he focused on the righteous man.

I am asking you to intercede, to pray for our country, for God to move in our country, to save it – for the righteous men and women who pray with you, who minister to you in the grocery store, in the pulpit, in the blogahood – even the righteous boys and girls whom you have taught to pray, to walk in faith, to trust in the great I Am who says “I AM” able to save a country, yes – for even one righteous man. I do not doubt that we have 1, 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,00 – even 1 million righteous men, women and children in our country. That just WOWS me.

Let us become interceders for our country like Abraham was for Sodom. Right now, I think we have much hope. Abraham’s story tells us we do.

For my personal journaling, I kept the post below in tact(written after the November 2012 election). However, please read #886 for scriptural support – and become to our country, an interceder like Abraham for whom God was willing to bargain to save a country.

857) Last week was a lot of sitting across the table, living big and little things. Election night found friends, neighbors and family at our table discussing the future of our country over bowls of Deer Chili or Shrimp Creole jambalaya and celebration chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache.

858) All 5 sons, a lovely daughter-in-law and grandbaby girl joined in the watching, the talking, the coming together

859) In the swirl of election nights, grandbaby girl pointed to the fan, whispering, “Ffffff.” We sat on the floor together, being together, pulling out toys, books, and continually looking up, pointing to the fan. Grandbaby girl has loved fans since she was itty bitty – much more itty bitty than nine months. She looks for them everywhere she goes.

860) My boys, big and small, even small, didn’t want to go to bed until the election results were in – even at 12, at 14, 17, 20 and 26 – these boys understand the definition of words like Freedom, Capitalism, Socialism, taxes, the constitution, one nation under God, in God we trust – and our history – like when Plymouth was founded under a socialist-type charter which failed until a capitalist charter motivated all members of the community to work hard for a good, solid life.

861) My bed-time chronicle boy understanding my disappointment and we settled for hugs, not words

862) Waking up to a faith-filled morning, where God reminded me that for 50 righteous, he would save a city

Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

and if there weren’t 50 righteous, he would save a city for 45 righteous men and women:

Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.”

The great I AM, who created the universe, the intricacies of the reproduction system, amoebas, humor, tear ducts, love – He was willing to be talked down finding only 40 righteous men out of an entire city.

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.”

How much He must have wanted to save all those men, women and children – Even for only 30 righteous men and women would he save a city.

He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”

For 20 righteous men and women, he would save an entire city.

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it” (Genesis 18: 28-32)

Even for as little as 10 – and He filled me with hope – because our country still has righteous men and women who love the Lord our God with all their hearts and minds and souls.

Even one righteous man can save a city – just one. Are you willing to be the one when others fail?

“Go up and down the streets of Jerusalem, look around and consider, search through her squares. If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city”(Jeremiah 5:1)

Are you willing to stand in the gap on behalf of our country, to build up a protective wall of faith?

“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ezekiel 22:30)

50, 40, 30, 20, 10, 1 – don’t despair – for even one faithful man, He would save a city, a country.

863) Later in the week, I met my National Guard son for lunch – and thanked him for serving my country
864) As we moved into the weekend, evidence of the journey of prayers and answered prayers continued.
865) God was still outside my window at work, pointing out His squirrels scavenging nuts
866) In the vibrant corn-silk yellow leaves veined in fuchsia fired in orange gold.
867) In swirls of leaves dancing and dipping in mid-air, across roads, on the way to work, to church, to home
868) In the morning phone calls with my mom and my aunt
869) That maybe this week we took maybe 6 steps forward and only 2 steps back, instead of 6 steps backward in those prayer journeys
870) He was in the praise as I stood with 4 sons at Sunday Worship
871) He was in the prayer as all my boys stood ready to minister to a house full of boys – even if the ministering was just making them feel at home while the adults participated in a small group meeting to learn more about Unconditional Love.
872) Hugs from my 2 little guys.
873) My husband’s sense of humor
874) That God cherishes us, that my husband and I cherish each other, that we cherish our children:
875) Cherish: To hold as dear; to embrace with affection; to foster, and encourage;
876) To treat in a manner to encourage growth, by protection, aid, attendance, or supplying nourishment; as, to cherish tender plants
877) To treat with tenderness and affection; to give warmth, ease or comfort to.
878) He was in the morning prayer, the prayer for friends, for new life in babies born
879) God is still restoring, souls still need saving – and I am reminded that a righteous man continues Jesus loving his family, his neighbor, the prodigal young man or woman sitting in the pew, the person ordering their coffee ahead of me.If you’re willing to stand before Him in the gap – election results are replaced with hope, with city-saving power.

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We just returned from vacation – week of refreshing, of contented family time, an aaaaAAAAHHHH soaking R&R – to return to unexpected challenges, challenges I thought long taken care of. Is it a life lesson – that every refreshing moment is followed by a challenge? It is moments like these, that the blessings outside myself soothe my soul – but I am left wondering why? Why cannot I be consistently strong inside?

Why exists the need to find the blessings outside of ourselves?

Why sometimes cannot my soul provide the song that lifts, instead of the cardinals, the robins, the fluttery creatures that nest in the pear and oak trees?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit rest as easily as a cat upon a favorite cushion when storms brew about?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit bloom beauty like the orange, deep fuschias and yellow zinnias in my garden?

Or my spirit give off the sweet aroma of the roses, the fresh cut grass or a fistful of violets, lemon balm and lavender?

Why sometimes cannot I reseed myself, burrow deeply into the black earth or red clay for winter – and just be comforted that now is not the time to bloom but to grow roots, to grow strong – and not feel behind, out of place or insufficient?

Why sometimes cannot my spirit find not only fulfillment in those moments when everything goes right, like the burst of dazzling bloom, but why must my heart struggle when, the new stage is a journey is like when the petals fade to replace the seed that falls – and it all starts back over again, the growth to bloom, why do I feel like I’ve failed because I couldn’t maintain the bloom – when the whole process, the falling, burrowing and regrowing are just as important, just as vital, just as fulfilling.

Why sometimes cannot my spirit weave things hoped for when all I am hangs by a thread of hope, why can I not innately weave something beautiful out of the thread it hangs by but must be reminded by the web of a spider’s thread in a forgotten corner that much can be made of that thread?

Why sometimes must I be reminded of the charity of all these, reminded through the blessings outside myself?

These blessings outside myself are the half-time rallying cries, illustrated disquisitions, a chorus of communiqués, love letters from the Father reminding me not to give up in those faltering moments when life happens in unpleasant, unwanted, unplanned for ways – and that is why I search them out, count them thank Him for giving me them.

In these outside-myself blessings, He tells me,
“Remember when I opened up the hollow place in Lehi for Samson – and water came out to rebuild his strength and revive him? (Judges 15:10) – so also I do with you with the bird song, the squirrels outside your window, the spider webs – these are messages and gifts I send to give you strength and revive you in midst of the challenge.”
“‘You’re my servant, serving on my side.
Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you”

(Isaiah 41: 9b-10)

These outside-myself blessings remind me of His firm grip, that He holds me steady, that help is on the way. He reminds me that through Him, I can.

Blessings:

790) spending time with 4 of 5 sons without outside distractions
791) quiet mornings, watching the ocean, reading the book of Joshua
792) little grey fish trimmed in yellow following my innertube
793) Time bobbing about the ocean and the lazy river with my husband
794) dolphins flying out of the ocean and diving back in
795) Time to get lost in a book that’s been sitting on my bedside table for months
796) my mom joining us for a few days
797) Sun-rise on the beach, watching with my husband the dark pink sun spilling across the grey sky
798) Leaving the white shores and the lazy river – crossed through the Misty Mountains and made our way to our Homely House – and, yes, I was reading The Hobbit the entire way home!
799) A chirp-fest from my backyard birds, as though they were rushing to tell me all the things that happened while we were on Holiday
800) Pink, orange, fuschia, burnt red zinnias still blooming
801) A Blustery Happy Windsday on Sunday, Winnie the Pooh’s birthday – so appropriate
802) The clouds closer to my patch of living, as if I could reach out and touch them
803) The hope of rain coming
804) That when challenges seemingly enlarge, knowing my God is bigger
805) Chili and chicken noodle soups on the stove
806) Brownies the boys baked
807) God coaxing me to let go of things that need let-going

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In March, we transplanted one butterfly bush that turned into two, one beautiful blue hydrangea, a knock-out rose bush – not to mention a trunk full of thinned out gifts from my aunt: yellow, white, purple, yellow with purple irises, yellow evening primroses, some little red/pink ground cover, bergamot and a rain tree from my cousin.

Every evening, I water and walk, checking on my 15 baby burning bush root-balls. For the longest time, 3 didn’t look like they were going to make it. Two of those 3 finally have green spouts. I’m not giving up hope for that last one, though.

Around the first of May, the knock out rose bush finally sprouted a few green leaves – and, oh, my how those green leaves are multiplying and growing.

The butterfly bushes and hydrangea, though, didn’t seem to be responding to my vigilance, my hope and my determination – the planting, the watering.

Until, one morning before work, as I was snapping off dead branches of one butterfly bush, I saw an itty, bitty spot of green. One spot of green made all the difference to my heart.

Hope blooming! Dancing in my backyard at 7 a.m.? Well, only the cardinals, neighborhood birds and I know the truth there!

How that hope fired up my day.

The other two bushes? The other butterfly bush in the shade. My husband says to wait. It needs more time.

The hydrangea that brought me such joy with its blue but had outgrown the little spot it lived – the garden specialist at my very favorite garden store told me if it didn’t do anything by the June 1, then it was probably lost.

Tonight, though, we found bits of hydrangea green in places unexpected, not quite where we’d planted. The root system had reached elsewhere by about 12 inches. Not where we expected. Not where we’d planned. But it is growing, growing to the sun.

All around me are messages to not give up hope.

Watching a demolition crew tear up a sidewalk outside my window at work, digging holes and dumping dirt on the bushes outside my window that had been pruned back, those bushes that gave me so much joy with the living things that came by. Then one morning, the destruction crew pulled my bushes out, huge rootballs and all, shaking the dirt from their root system – leaving nothing.

A squirrel happened by later, looking bewildered, probably chattering mad about what they’d done to his nuts in all their hiding places.

But someone dared to ask, dared to ask about those bushes.

“They have a plan,” came the answer. Probably for the bush with the huge root system and for the emptiness left behind – the plan wills probably start with bits of green.

All around, are these messages – to not give up. There’s a plan, both original and contingency plans.

I saw it this week in the lives of my teens – little bits of growth. I knew the root systems were there. It’s just the waiting, the waiting for the bits of growth to reveal itself.

A Facebook message from a son thanking God for something nice that happened to him.  That’s one of those green specks on the root of his soul.

Another son realizing a wrong and taking the initiative to make it right – that’s a green speck on a soul root!

Watching someone you love build a dream – a branch snapped off – but those little specks of green keep showing up. That’s hope. That’s a message from God to not give up!

And, so I danced in joy at hope revealed in words, actions and bits of green.

As I danced with joy over the green, I considered a soul, a soul many thought empty, no growth and no one cared to hope.

I considered a soul people walked by, excluded because there was no godliness to detect, nothing beautiful to ooohhh and aaahhhh about, nothing redeemable seen.

How like my butterfly bush was this soul – and so many other souls.

Given up on by so many people.

“Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders” (Matthew 9: 10-13)

We are called to pour Holy Spirit water on the seemingly dead souls like butterfly bushes transplanted and struggling for survival.

We are called to continually walk beside the seemingly dead souls like butterfly bushes, ministering hope and faith for God’s plan for life.

We are called to unconditionally love on those who do not live like we live, make choices like we make, who cannot grasp for some reason a Hope and Faith God because one  day some green specks of life might just sprout.

A Hope and Faith people should believe green things will grow from a seemingly worthless soul, like a butterfly bush thought dead.

“Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working” (1 Cor 3:6, The Message)

The above post includes 429-435 Vintaged Blessings.

436) Weeding my new garden with my husband. Sitting on my garden stool, pulling too hard, I tipped backwards, falling
437) and we laughed,
438) laughed through him grabbing my hands to heft me up out of the garden dirt
439) showing my sons sweet friend how to make my garlic bread from biscuit dough, butter, garlic and salt
440) laughing as my littlest one came outside with a biscuit in his mouth, talking about how his brother’s sweet friend made tastier biscuits than I did
441) yellow flowers on green tomato plants
442) high school soccer on May evenings
443) hanging out with my oldest on and his friend before a soccer game
444) family roots in a community that saw your children grow up, graduate and come back to see a sibling on the same soccer field they played on. Good roots are a blessing
445) sitting outside with my husband in the evenings, listening to him make dove bird calls – and listening to them answer.
446) the joy in a school year ending
447) hot and spice chinese soup for a son with a cold, along with eggs rolls and hot mustard sauce
448) knowing that even when I feel lost in the current of life, unsure of where I am going, knowing that God has the plan. I like that!
449) orange mango, papaya and carrot juice smoothies
450) green celery and green grapes in chicken salad
451) green broccoli salad with crunchy bacon and brown raisins seasons just right
452) GaPow to go on Friday night along with 2 pizzas and bread sticks
453) ome on a Friday night
454) God with me, every day, every minute, every breath and in every prayer this past week, during the laughter, the challenges and my soldier son’s stitches

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Blueberry picking – it was something I wanted to do. The boys balked – maybe because it was a melting hot July day or because they didn’t care about blueberries.

But blueberry picking we went. The farther away from town we ventured (a whole 6 miles), the more distrusting they became – like I would drop them off in the middle of nowhere for a family of grizzly’s to devour them.

Off the paved road, onto a gravel road, moving to seeming nothingness I drove;.

When we arrived, they were almost glad to pour out of the van, out of the air-conditioning into the hotness. As I handed out buckets the blueberry lady handed out advice, “Find the paths that lead into the blueberry bushes. There’s not much on the outside bushes. The good ones are deeper in.”

For a moment, I followed her advice a bit like my boys would follow mine. I saw the blueberries hanging on the peripheral bushes,  and thought, “Wow! What was she talking about? These look mighty fine to me.”

I picked like that for a little while, my mind ping-ponging back and forth between the blueberries my fingers reached for and the blueberry ladies words.

Reminding me of a time someone shared a closer relationship with Jesus with me that I brushed off with a smile –The Hope of a Seed planted in Faith.

“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)

I had great hopes for my blueberries, what I would make with them, expectations of a bit of Spring Time in a winter storm. In the quiet of the blueberry patch, with the occasional murmur of voices from more than just our group of pickers, the silence sounded different than town silence. The birds in their 10 a.m. routine called back and forth – there were more of them than us. My mind kept returning to the blueberry lady’s words and my blueberry expectations. Could there really be better blueberries?

The voice of seeds planted murmur to your heart if you are truly seeking that relationship. Those seeds don’t give up.

“Oh God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water”(Psalm 63:1)

Sweat rolled down my back, and I wondered how long before the boys would be clamoring for a drink. In an instant, I decided that if there were better blueberries, I wanted them. Taking the blueberry lady’s guiding words, I moved away from my outside bush, ready to try to step onto a path that took me deeper. It wasn’t much of a path. I had to push a bunch of blueberry branches out of my way, pushing to see if the berries deeper in the path were really that different. Would my expectations be redefined?

Curiosity got the best of me. Curiosity about more of God. Was there more? Was there better? Did I really know the best God had to offer? Or was it just the best of what I knew? Easy to get to, easy to see. I was willing to see if I knew it all – willing to admit I didn’t know it all, part of me secretly wanting there to be more of God.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you”(James 4:8).

I shoved my fears aside, tic fears, chigger fears, creepy-crawly fears – The deeper I moved, the more surrounded by a Holy silence, heralding something wonderful to be revealed. Blueberry picking deeper in the patch, I pulled the outside of the bush aside, and delved even deeper – and found the most beautiful of the blueberries. My ignorance almost kept me from the best.

As I picked those blueberries, I thought how like our relationship with God this is. At first, we are satisfied with the exterior relationship but as the relationship grows from God to follower, Savior to saved, Father to daughter, Groom to bride – the intimacy grows as we draw nearer and nearer.

“I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
My lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands” (Psalm 63: 2-4)

I popped outside the blueberry deepness and called to the boys, showing them what they would find if they went deeper into the blueberry patch.

I don’t think they really appreciated it – not today, not at this moment – but that is my job, to show them how to delve deeper into blueberry things, into God things.

Sometimes my boys respond to me like I did to someone sharing a closer relationship to God with me, when I brushed them off with a smile. But she pointed the way, just like I point the way – to a deeper relationship. And those words just sink in, in a Faith and Hope way, like seeds, that will whisper to them, murmur to the, “Draw closer. There is more. More than your knowledge knows.”

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

“My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
When I remember you upon my bed,

and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
For you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me” (Psalm 63: 6-8)

A faith seed planted, resting and growing in the Hope that it would lead me into intimacy with Him. I heard the murmurings of Hope and Faith, and I pressed in, drew closer, sought Him in places I wasn’t sure existed and reached out to Him.

In that blueberry path, that hot July day, I thought how faith grows when one realizes the possibility that we do not know it all, when we concede there might be more to God than we know – and we are willing to step into those paths that speak of a closer relationship with God – believing what Faith said about God, leaping in expectation, focusing on the goodness of God, trusting, having confidence that there is more to God though we may not know that more truly is.

In that Hope, we humble our selves when we realize we do not know it all – but are willing to get uncomfortable just to redefine our expectations of our relationship with the Father.

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