Good Steward

Someone asked me not long ago, “Why did you stop writing?” I think I gave the best answer yet- “Which excuse do you want to hear?”

So, why haven’t I written in months until recently? Do you want an excuse or the truth? I’m going to go with the truth because in the latter part of verse 32 in the book of John, chapter 8 (NKJV), Jesus says, “…the truth shall make you free.”

Truth is I haven’t been a good steward of what God has given me. Monetarily? Not necessarily. Thoughts, ideas, words? Most definitely.

A little less than a month ago, out of the blue, I received a message from a complete stranger. She told me she knew my mother-in-law, she’d actually led her to Christ many years ago. She said she’d stumbled upon my blog and that the Lord has used it to help her. I thanked her for the encouragement and for letting me know. I also told her it had been a while since I’d written due to lack of obedience. A few minutes later she sent a response:

“Yes Sis. You have a calling.. follow it closely. People are hurting…looking.. longing…”

It pierced my heart. It wasn’t this stranger, it was my Father speaking through her.

I actually started writing this particular post weeks ago and never finished it. I’ve worked on it here and there and have had to go back and change yesterdays to the other day, as days have passed by.

After I talked with a friend the other day, I decided to pick up where I left off. She told me she was enjoying reading my posts recently. I told her how it had been a long time since I’d written and how it didn’t really make sense that I wouldn’t continue doing what I love to do, which is write, but there is much more to this writing that I do. It’s obedience. It’s using a gift I’ve been given to serve the Lord.

That night as I lay in the bed, I opened up the website I use here but I couldn’t think of what to write. There are thoughts that go through my mind many times a day but a lot of times I won’t write the idea down. Again- not being a good steward of what He’s given me.

I have a radio in the kitchen and when it picks up, it’s tuned in on a station that plays Christian music. I often jot things down that I hear that seem to speak to my soul. A few mornings ago I walked into the room to fix a cup of water to take to work with me and I looked over at my dry-erase calendar hanging on the wall. There, written on the top was, “Be graceful stewards of the gift God has given you.”

1 Peter 4:10 NKJV says, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”

It was the same topic I’d began to write on a couple of weeks ago but never finished.

Please understand this. Is this something I can do apart from God? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Can I receive the glory for words I type? ABSOLUTELY NOT. It is a gift (that I just happen to love) and it is to be used for HIS glory, not my own. If I don’t use it properly, or even at all, it is taken away.

It is my prayer that these little happenings, thoughts, lessons or whatever they may be will help you draw near to Him just as it does me.

And one more time with that good advice- if you are a child of God, you have a calling.. follow it closely. People are hurting…looking.. longing…

Thank you for reading. Good night.

Air Hockey

Back when I was a teenager, my best friend and I played air hockey fairly often. No matter who won, we always had a great time. As years have passed, I haven’t played as much as I used to, but I did have the chance to play a game with my daughter and also with my stepson the other day. Leah and I had a pretty calm game, but Eric on the other hand, played, well, like a maniac.

I watched as he hit the puck off the table several times and it flew through the air. I just laughed at him, becoming even more amused afterwards as I watched him and his dad play with up to three pucks at once. I told my daughter that’s what boys become when they grow up ūüėā.

As I played that wild game with Eric he said, “You can’t just keep your paddle sitting right there the whole time.” He didn’t want me guarding my goal (or whatever you call it). He was hitting that puck and it was bouncing off my end, his end, the sides, every which a way but I stood calmly, guarding.

After a while I did give in and move my paddle around and a few times it allowed him to score. Of course there were a few other times he got one past me when I was on guard. I just wasn’t fast enough to block the puck.

As I stood there I thought of Leah.

By no means am I a Bible scholar. I’ve never even read in the New International Version (NIV) until last week but for some reason I’ve been telling my daughter lately- “Guard your heart.” As I searched, I found those words in that very version.

A few different versions of Proverbs 4:23 are listed below.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life.  (KJV)

Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. (NKJV)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)

My daughter’s heart is tender, always has been. The older she gets and the more hurt she endures, the more of an impact it could have on her character. It doesn’t mean it can’t be positive, but we all know life tends to leave scars. The choice will ultimately be hers, just as it is ours, as to how we care for those wounds.

I know I can’t save her from hurt. That is part of living. I can’t save her when hurt tries to take the defense and turn into bitterness, anger and any other negative emotions that are really just gaining the enemy points on the scoreboard.

Thankfully our guide book, the Bible, offers the most sound advice we can possibly receive. We can freely ask our Father for assistance in guarding our hearts from those pucks that are coming towards our goal, whether aimed straight at it or ricocheting off of something else. It doesn’t mean they won’t get through from time to time, but if we are guarding our hearts we’ll be able to respond in a healthy manner and better deal with the issues of life before they cause us to throw our hands up and leave the table.

Thank you for reading. Good night.

But When?

Sunday before last Leah and I went to a morning worship service. The preacher kept saying how important fellowship was. That familiar hungering in my heart could not be satisfied any other way. I knew what I needed so I went up to a peaceful spot I’ve gone to for years and had fellowship with my Father.

My daughter went somewhere with a friend and my husband slept in so I knew the time alone was allotted for just this. The wind was blowing quite a bit, the sun was shining down. The humidity was low and the temperature was comfortable. It was a beautiful day.

I pulled up and put the car in park, got out and hopped up on the hood. I sat there looking out over the hills at His creation. Then I looked down and about 2 1/2 feet from me was a snake. I hopped down off the hood of the car and jumped inside (super fast).When I see a snake I immediately think of the ole serpent in the book of Genesis. I sat there for a moment and debated on leaving. I mean I could talk to the Lord anywhere, right? Sure I could have but there’s always been something about that place. We’ve worked through many things there so I decided to stay.

I focused on Him and not what the devil wanted but then I caught myself looking back at the enemy and what he was doing. I’d focus again, the wind would blow and I’d become consumed once again with His Spirit and then I heard, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 KJV)

I watched the tall grass blow in the wind right past the snake. I didn’t even worry about him. I was in awe of my Father and His creation. How He made the wind blow. How the leaves shook. The beautiful hills covered with grass. The gift of senses. The beauty of that fellowship with Him. The love and patience He has for me and my honesty towards Him.

After a few minutes I looked down and the snake was gone. I thanked the Lord and continued to sit with my head propped on my arm out the window. “That was quick,” I thought.

I stayed for a while, talked and listened, read in His Word and was grateful for all that had happened there.

I guess it was about a week or so after this and I’d stepped out onto the porch. I was talking to my mom on the phone and actually heard some leaves rustling around the porch. The thought crossed my mind that I should look but I didn’t. After a few minutes I looked down and there was a snake about 4 feet from me on the ground. My dad came to my rescue as soon as my mom told him what was going on.We didn’t know if he’d stay close until my dad got to my house but he did. He saw him and told me it was a chicken snake. He let him go because he posed no danger. The snake slithered right under my dad’s arm when he’d crouched down looking at him.

This snake didn’t go away as fast as the last one I’d seen.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a Christian sister, my mother-in-law, early in my walk with Christ. I remember quoting James 4:7 followed by a question- “but when?” She said “bless your heart” and that’s all I remember.

I realized that sometimes it takes time for the devil to flee and sometimes he goes away just as quickly as he came. He’s always busy trying to get at someone. We have to remember- “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 KJV [b])

God bless and good night.

The Perfect Shot

When I see a beautiful sight, I always grab for my cell phone in hopes to get that perfect shot. What makes it perfect to me? To not have anything obstructing my view.

I’ve missed numerous sunrises due to the fact that I’m not a morning person but I’ve chased many a rainbow, ran to see a sunset¬†and, of course, walked around with my head in the clouds.

It’s God’s creation and it always amazes me. It’s perfection at it’s finest: raw, unfiltered beauty.

Do you ever think that God looks upon His creation in this way? In the beginning, the book of Genesis, the Bible says God saw that it was good.

When I see a beautiful sight, I always grab for my cell phone in hopes to get that perfect shot. What makes it perfect to me? To not have anything obstructing my view.

I live in rural America, nice place, not a lot of buildings to get in the way but there are plenty of powerlines. Numerous times I’ve had to crop these things out of my photos before being satisfied- and some aren’t able to be cropped out. They are right in the way.

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I don’t want to have to look past these man made things to see the beauty but sometimes I have no choice. It may not make for the perfect shot but it doesn’t take away the beauty that exists past it all.

Sometimes we have to look past those “power lines”- those things in our lives that tend to have so much power that they distract us from the beauty beyond.

Do we see the beauty past the chaos? Are we looking at what’s going on¬†OR are we seeing what’s happening? Although I’ve used both of these phrases in italics as an informal greeting,¬† I realize they are actually very different.

It is possible to become so tuned in to the Father that we can still see that raw, unfiltered beauty in even the toughest of situations in our lives.

We must desire to look through God’s eyes. We must have faith in Him and in His Word, remembering His unfailing love and promises to His children that He will¬†keep. He is where that power lies.

*Application*
Ask the Lord to help us look past what’s obstructing our view: to see through His eyes.

Writing on the Wall

I turned the car around so I could go by once more and read what was written.

Not long ago as I was taking my nephew home, we drove past a house with words spray painted on the outside. I’m sure it was the talk of the small town soon after it happened but since I don’t go by there often, it was old news by the time I saw it. It’s not often we see this sort of thing in our county.

I turned the car around so I could go by once more and read what was written.¬† The words “thief”, “liar” and “you stole our home” screamed out in burgundy letters on the side of the house for all to see.

This immediately took me back to a certain day back in 1986. My brother, our parents and I went to look at a vacant brick house close to where we were living at the time that was for sale.

It seemed nice on the outside. At least I don’t remember anything out of the ordinary, but when we went inside I saw words spray painted on the walls.

I remember someone explaining to me that the people had to move and didn’t want to so they spray painted words on the walls of the home. I recall feeling overwhelmed by the emotions within those walls. I’d never seen anything like that in my life. I know I was only 6 years old but still, to this day, I can hear the writing on those walls.¬†I guess that was the painter’s point: to be heard.

Over the years I’ve gone to big cities and have seen words painted on walls,¬† railroad cars and various other places- some out of boredom- I think, some out of hurt turned to hate and some possibly before that point, yet still simply wanting their message to be heard.

I must say, all the places I’ve been in or by over the years, I’ve never felt the way I felt way back in 1986 until recently when I saw this house.

I thought about this while deep cleaning a house some old friends recently moved out of after they sold it. As I wiped the door facings, I thought of my own home. Just a few days before I had purchased a box of magic erasers and wiped a few door facings of my own. I thought of one in particular that I didn’t wipe down. It has markings where we’ve measured our daughter over the years. We didn’t start it until 3 years ago but I thought I’d sure be sad to have to leave that or have to scrub it off one day.

As I worked my way through the house I was cleaning, wiping walls and baseboards, I came upon a piece of trim with measurements of my friends’ little boy. That “writing on the wall” made me a little sad that they were having to leave this behind, but thankfully by choice.

Later, as I spoke with the boy’s dad, he said they had made markings of their son’s measurements on something else to take with them.

As I made my way past the measurement markings I thought- how different are my memories of those harsh words as opposed to these good markings. I guess the difference is some choose to leave and some have to. In some instances, it is our poor choices that result in us having to leave a place we once called home.

When I began writing this months ago I wasn’t sure of the scripture I’d be using, yet I couldn’t seem to shake this memory of long ago. As I began to search, it didn’t take long to find what I needed. It was interesting to find that the phrase “the writing on the wall” actually stems from the Bible in the book of Daniel, chapter 5.

The writing on the wall was written by the Lord. It scared King Belshazzar to see only a hand writing words he didn’t understand right before him, and it very well should have.

Daniel was called in to interpret the writing on the wall. It was a warning to the king (Belshazzar) of what was to come as the result of not humbling himself before the Lord even though he knew what had happened to his own dad, King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 5:18-21). Daniel went on to say:

Daniel 5:22-28 KJV And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this; But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified: Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written. And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

Daniel 5:30 KJV  In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.

It is up to me to choose whether or not I leave the mansion that is being prepared for me before I have even arrived. So oft I fail, yet I come to the realization of knowing I need to read the writing in the Bible, His holy Word, and obey so that I will not be reading His writing on my own wall.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Nailed It

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago. 

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Over a year and a half ago we had a little run-in with some unwelcome guests: termites.¬†When we found those unwanted intruders, we called pest control to come spray and assess the damage they’d done.

Since our house is an “antique”, when we bought it we had to replace almost every floor down to the joists. We even brought shovels, wheelbarrows and the teenage boys in the family in as reinforcements to help us dig up dirt close to the floor that had caused the wood to rot.

One room we didn’t dig much of the dirt down and haul out was the kitchen. The pest guy said we’d have to dig down so his worker could crawl underneath to treat for the termites.

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago.

If you’ve ever had your kitchen floor replaced, you know it is a dreaded job that is only done when necessary. The refrigerator, stove, cabinets and anything else on the floor must come out.

After the area was treated the floor was rebuilt but had a weak spot in it and was unlevel. We lived with it like that for quite a while… until this past weekend. I decided I was ready and it was time! My refrigerator has actually been in my dining room all this time because I wasn’t taking the doors off and moving it back in until the floor was completely fixed.

I pulled everything out of the kitchen Saturday morning. I put my daughter and niece to work and later, my husband too. When I found out the guy wasn’t going to be able to work on the floor until Monday or Tuesday of the coming week, I told my husband it was up to us and I couldn’t wait that long to get started.

Thankfully some friends came and spent their Saturday night helping pull up our floor, jack up floor joists and cut plywood subflooring and piece it together.

Sunday rolled around and me being determined to get the house back in order ASAP (Thanksgiving dinner will be at my house next week!), we spent time cutting, measuring, suffering.

When time came to lay what is called underlay that the vinyl will lay on, it called for staples. I’m a cheapskate and refused to buy a staple gun so we opted for nails.

My poor husband is constantly on call for work so when he was frustrated with the hammering and the phone, I grabbed my trusty leather gloves, the nails and hammer and decided to bend a few myself.

The night before, I’d hammered screws in to get them started and my friend (and reinforcement), Brandy, followed behind and screwed the plywood to the floor joists with the drill. I’d hit my fingers several times with the hammer so using my gloves the following night was a stroke of genius.

I’ve never been good at hammering so as I hit my thumb a few times I was thankful for the bit of cushion. I was bending nails left and right and throwing them across the floor (with an attitude). Suddenly I thought, “Why don’t I just ask for help?”

A simple “Lord, please help me,” and what do you know- the nail went straight through. I started saying “please” and “thank you” and found myself moving right along. Of course I bent some more nails along the way but as I started thinking about this I thought of how bad it must’ve hurt to have those nails driven into Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross. My attitude began to change.

As I hammered and the nails went straight on through, I thought of myself- my sins, causing those nails He had to feel. I began to struggle with hitting them as hard as I had to hit them. I am grateful for that act of love that was done for us.

I then thought of Jesus and how in Mark 6:3 it is written, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

It says He was a carpenter. How He could actually give me some tips on where to hammer those nails and how to get that nail in right every time, so I began to ask for that too.

It was quite the time I had down on that floor in the kitchen with Jesus. He was there helping me out while helping me remember what He did for me and how He continues to do for me.

When my husband came back to the kitchen he said “woah”. I’m not sure if he was talking about all the bent nails thrown across the floor or how much work I’d gotten done. He knelt down on the floor and asked me if I was ready for him to hammer for a while. Of course I had saved him some edges I couldn’t seem to get.

As I went for one more nail I reminded him that Jesus was a carpenter. I told him a few of my thoughts I’d been thinking and how I’d been seeking His help in there and had received it.

It turned out to be a good time, just me and the Lord. My time knelt down on the floor changed my whole way of thinking. It always does.

Thanks for reading!

That Plant

There are times I end up letting that certain plant die. She then gives me a piece of the plant I had first given her.

Years ago I bought a houseplant from a lady at a yard sale. She told me if you broke off a piece of this vine-type plan and stuck it in water it would root and you could replant it. Of course as I would care for it, pieces would break off so I’d do as she said. One day my mom came over to my house and commented on my thriving plant, so I gave her the ones I had rooting in water to start her own.

Over time her plant became huge. It was beautiful and full, so full that she had started another one in a different pot. I told her my plant had died. I would forget to care for it and all I had was just a glass with a few pieces rooting.

One day when I pulled in to my driveway, I saw a beautiful plant on my front porch. Mom came by and dropped off one of those plants from the few I’d given her years ago. I took good care of it for a while, then I didn’t. I pulled the green off and once again rooted them in a cup water.

The other day, when she had time, my mom repotted some of her plants and moved them indoors before the cold creeps up on us once again. She said her plant that we’d passed pieces of back and forth over the years had died. She said she’d just been too busy and tired to take care of all of them lately.

The supply has dwindled down quite a bit, but if she’s interested, I plan to give her half of what I have. This has almost become a tradition between the two of us and this plant, only I’m the one that usually kills mine.

As I washed dishes tonight after supper I had to move a piece of the vine hanging from a shelf above my dish drying rack where my plant sits. The remnant of that plant that still sits rooted in water. I thought about how a mom helps a daughter, and how a daughter helps a mom.

As I continued to ponder on this thought, I began to think of my daughter- how there are times I teach her certain truths about the Lord and life, and then there are times she often reminds me of those same certain truths I seem to forget. There are times I end up letting that certain plant die. She then gives me a piece of the plant I had first given her. I always relate plants to life, therefore we pass life back and forth to one another as needed.

My daughter teaches me a lot. I know there are times I disappoint her or even shock her with the realness of my mistakes. I can see that, but I know she understands that mom is a human being that messes up just like anyone else. It’s not my daughter trying to condemn me, instead it’s the Holy Spirit convicting me. It is the Lord working through her and that is a beautiful thing. How could I despise that?

Hebrews 13:16 NKJV But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

Thank you for reading and God bless!