The Mustard Seed

As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

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Luke 17:5-6 NKJV    5) And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” 6) So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

I never knew what a mustard seed looked like when I first read this verse  long ago, but could only assume it was a very small seed. It never seemed to affect my understanding until years later when I actually saw one. It was quite an encouragement to see how small a mustard seed really is and know, if I have at least that much faith, big things can happen.

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A lady I used to clean for once a week never had me doing the same thing as I did the previous week. One day she wanted me to help her clean her spice cabinet out. As I reached and retrieved different bottles and containers, I handed them down to her. When we got to the container of mustard seed she said it needed to be thrown away. I quickly spoke up and asked if I could have it. Of course she didn’t care and I gladly brought the jar home.

Since I spend a great deal of my time in my own kitchen, I decided I’d put it on the counter beside my stove. It would be a good reminder for me.

Reminders can sometimes be overlooked when we see them day after day, but when we see them in places other than our own kitchen, they remind us, as well as revive us, in a special kind of way. The reminders we’re blessed with seem to come along just at the right time.

It was the night before Christmas (just kidding, but it was close!) and my husband and I were out doing some last minute shopping. We decided to eat at a restaurant close by that we’d never been to (Outback Steakhouse).

As we sat at the table, we talked about some things that were heavy on our hearts at that time. As I looked off to try to pull myself together, I just so happened to look to my right and there on a shelf was a nice, shiny glass jar full of mustard seeds!

The shelves weren’t near every table but they were by ours at a perfect time: a time when all the faith I had was surely as much as at least one tiny seed in that large jar.

I believe He hears our hearts say to Him, “Increase our faith.”

Can you think of a time when He gave you a reminder?

 

Messy Monday

I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, once again, the house is quiet: everyone is back at work and school and I am home alone. The only noise I hear is the sound of raindrops lightly beating on the rooftop.

Mondays always make me feel a little detached from the world, but with the much needed rain falling today, that feeling is magnified a bit more. I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, in the quietness, I have no choice but to recognize this reality. The issues I can pinpoint, even try to justify, yet I know the loneliness I feel is the result of separation from my Father.

Today, as I wander around the house aimlessly, I remember something I’d once written many years ago. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be song lyrics or a poem, but nothing else came to my mind to go along with it. Those words, much like me today, stand alone:

“I only come to You when it’s raining outside; I only run to You when there’s nowhere else to hide.”

So often I’ve been known to call on others instead of first communing with my Father.

As it so happens, our home phone has been having problems for quite a while now and seems to worsen with any sort of moisture, so with the constant rain, a conversation with anyone today is not a viable option.

One thing I have learned is when it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing anyone can say or do to change it’s condition except my Father.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 KJV  12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

On a day like today, He leaves me no choice but to commune with Him, and for that I am grateful. 

Now, please excuse me as I prepare for freedom once again.

Thank you for reading.

 

The Dryer

There seemed to be no escape, no matter how hard or fast I ran, He was still there, walking. And then there I was- bent over, holding my side, barely able to catch my breath.

As I lie here in bed, the clothes in the dryer are nearly approaching their last tumble. I’m tired, but earlier this evening I heard a terrible racket. I tracked it down and found it to be the dryer. Something is causing a horrible sound. It’s a little scary and I’m not sure what exactly is going on in there but work clothes need to be dried for the workday ahead.

I figured I need to stay close, stay awake and stay aware to make sure all will be well, so again, I am last at getting in the bed. This wasn’t my plan at all. Early on I asked everyone to get their clothes ready to wash and told my daughter to get her shower and get in bed at a decent time so I could be in the bed before 10 p.m.

Instead, I find myself playing the role of the watchman: watching for anything that may harm my family so I can call out to them if (or when) danger comes.

I am once again reminded of the conversation I had with my brother-in-law not long ago. It’s rare I talk to him through the week, but I was stuck at home waiting for that package that never came (Click here for the related story) so I know our meeting was a divine appointment.

We talked about the Lord with tears in our eyes and as he told me one particular thing, my eyelids gave way and the tears began to roll down my cheeks. He said, “If your family is ever going to be saved, it will be because of you.” (Meaning my obedience to the Lord.) Click here for the related story

That was a lot to take in, but it wasn’t as much of a shock as it was the first time it had been revealed to me. It was, however, a heavy weight on my arthritic shoulders. But what about the role of a watchman? That word alone is enough to bring me to my arthritic knees.

As with so many topics, there are many, many verses but I will only post a chosen few:

Ezekiel 33:6-7  NKJV  6) ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ 7) “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.

Ezekiel 33:11 NKJV  “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the LORD GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Any time I have felt the Lord speak to me about being a watchman I have been driven not only to my knees, but to my knees weeping and sobbing. So much so that my husband once thought there had been a death.

The truth of the matter is that it scared me, but even more, it pained my flesh. It was a death- a death to myself and I just wasn’t willing to pass away.

Not long ago I ended up running from the position and the One who seems to want me to have it, only to have Him gently walk alongside me. There seemed to be no escape, no matter how hard or fast I ran, He was still there, walking. And then there I was- bent over, holding my side, barely able to catch my breath. Even with something as calm as a gentle breeze blowing the last of the leaves on a big oak tree I would hear Him simply say, “It’s up to you.”

Him never leaving my side, I returned to Him knowing the people I love, the people in my life- they have souls. The weight doesn’t seem as heavy now because He’s proven to this “doubting Thomas” that He’ll never leave my side on the watchtower.

So tonight, and every other hour, it is a privilege that I must take seriously, for the sake of my family- physically, at times (such as tonight), but also, more importantly- spiritually. I love them, and since I do, I will watch for them. The concern is always: but will they still love me? That is the reason for the tears but I have to love them to life, not love them to death.

Have you ever been called for a position in which your response was nothing short of begging and pleading for Him to accept a simple “no thank You”?

I’m sure you’ve found the Lord is adamant when it comes to His will being done. If not yet, just wait. The good thing is, you’ll never “go it” alone: He will be with you.

Do you happen to be running like I was? Take just a second and look beside you. Yep, there He is.

Thank you for reading and may God bless you and yours.

 

The Speeding Ticket Part II

I’ve been to court with people and was treated as if I were the one that was guilty; I certainly didn’t want to go knowing I was.

Once I acknowledged and admitted to myself, and others, that I was guilty of the offense, I had no choice but to move forward.

I’ve heard some say, “They’re only sorry because they got busted.” I say maybe sometimes we need to get busted. What better way to bring us to our senses?

Regardless, I now had to deal with the consequences of my actions- how I regretted them.

Not only the possible increase in insurance premiums, but having a mark on my driving record, as well as pay an almost $200 ticket was quite a price.

Since I wasn’t given the option for driving (traffic) school on the citation, I called the city clerk’s office. They said I could go before the judge and ask for the option. Would that also mean paying court costs? And to stand before the judge? That doesn’t even sound good to me. And to volunteer to do it? Court really isn’t a place I want to be. I’ve been to court with people and was treated as if I were the one that was guilty; I certainly didn’t want to go knowing I was.

As time went by, I would occasionally contemplate my choices with my husband. At first he made jokes and laughed because he had warned me time and time again about going too fast. When time drew near he said, “Oh Cill, don’t worry about it. I’m going to pay the ticket for you.”

The thing is, I’ve been with him the majority of my adult life and he has paid for whatever the majority of my adult life. This time it just seemed different. Maybe I’m not as immature as I seem but I just couldn’t think of him paying for this, especially after he’d warned me many times to slow down. It wasn’t his wrong; why should he pay for what I did.

Out of love he was willing to pay the cost.

Hmmm. You see where I’m going with this?

Isaiah 53 tells of Jesus giving His life for us. I encourage you to read the whole chapter, but I will pull out verse 5. It says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

There is no way I could ever pay for my sin as I did my ticket, instead God sent His Son in my place to pay that price. I was the guilty one, yet the Innocent One took my punishment.

This ticket is a lesson for me. I now watch my speed. I don’t want to pay a hefty fee for doing wrong. I work hard for the money I make.

As far as the debt that was paid for my sin, it’s not something I would never be able to afford, nor is it something I can work off by my good works. The only payment method accepted is the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed on the cross.

HE worked hard. HE carried that cross- the same one HE died on. HE knew HE had to suffer the persecution, yet HE did it out of love and obedience so that we could join Him and the Father when our time is over here on earth.

He gives much grace, yet He wants us to learn here. To realize the things in our lives tie in spiritually. He doesn’t enforce the law, but gives grace time and time again.

At the closing of Part I, I had to admit I was guilty. Spiritually speaking, to be able to come to the my Father through Jesus Christ, I had to admit I was guilty of being a sinner. I had to drop that pride and rebellion and humble myself in the sight of the Lord. In Part II,  I see mercy and grace offered out to me even during the consequences from my rebellion and my poor choices. I see He paid the ultimate cost for me, yet through all parts, He continually loves me and is patient with me.

What a wonderful and forgiving Father He is to love even me, in spite of me, and He loves you too!

Thank you for reading!

The Speeding Ticket Part I

In a desperate attempt to escape the inevitable, I said, “This is my first ticket in 9 years.” Unimpressed, he handed me the clipboard and an ink pen and asked me to sign the ticket.

Last school year, the day before the last day of school, I was in a hurry.(Imagine that!) I had to get my daughter to school on time, then had to be somewhere else, somewhat of a distance away, with very little time to spare.

The speed limit was 45. I saw a policeman coming towards me from the opposite direction and I knew I was busted. Somehow I had gotten away with going the speed of however far down my foot pushed on the pedal for quite a few years. Nothing outrageous but nonetheless, breaking the law. I began to think maybe they couldn’t clock me, or in my own little mind, that they just wouldn’t pull me over.

I so often justify my actions regarding my miles per hour by debating why the speed is posted as it is, what think it should be posted and why. I actually even see myself take my fingers off the keys as I’m typing this. It seems I just can’t completely shake the feeling of needing to justify my argument. In reality, it doesn’t really matter. In the words of so many these days: It is what it is. It surely was what it was: I was pulled over.

I rolled my window down as he approached my car. “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?” “Uhhh…. 50 something???” I said. After all, once I saw him and slowed down, that was what I was going.  “61!” He replied.

I was irritated, to say the least. I’d already grabbed my license and proof of insurance and handed them to him when he asked for them. I told him I didn’t have my registration with me but he only said “ok”. He took what I had and walked back to his vehicle behind me- you know, the one with the bright blue lights flashing.

My stepson and daughter were with me. My daughter in the back seat saying, “This is great. I’m going to be late.” And my stepson sitting beside me, shaking his head, saying something about accepting the consequences of my actions. I, of course, didn’t want to hear it.

When the cop came back to my car, he had his little clipboard with a bright pink piece of paper on it. In a desperate attempt to escape the inevitable, I said, “This is my first ticket in 9 years.” Unimpressed, he handed me the clipboard and an ink pen and asked me to sign the ticket. The $187.25 ticket!

If my low fuel light would’ve been on, I still think I would’ve made it many more miles on just fumes because I was fuming mad! Me, the kids and my attitude pulled back out onto the highway. I dropped my daughter out at school and went on towards my next destination. I spent half the day blaming this on whoever, or whatever, I could. (Yes, I’m 38.) It’s almost as if I had to go through different stages of emotions before I reached the point of admitting it was nobody’s fault but my own.

Let’s go ahead and face the truth. Rebellion is not a good thing. Me being a Christian makes it even more not a good thing. 

So many times I talk to the kids, and whoever else as it may come up, about our own actions. How on the day of judgment we won’t be able to point fingers at anyone else for what we do. That will be unacceptable.

2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV says- For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

So, did I deserve the ticket?

(Just kidding! No hesitation there.)

YES! I acknowledge that I deserved the ticket.

There is a statement on this citation in all caps right above the line where I had to sign that says:

I UNDERSTAND THE ABOVE NOTICE, AND THAT MY SIGNATURE IS NOT AN ADMISSION OF GUILT.

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The thing is, to me it was an admission of guilt. My signature clearly shows my attitude of pride and rebellion against authority, yet I really had no other choice but to admit that I WAS GUILTY.

Thank you for reading!

Stay tuned for Part II of “The Speeding Ticket”.

 

 

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!

Carry Me

As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within.

My youngest brother (of the 3) is a little over two and a half years older than me so we were pretty close growing up. He may have inflicted much pain into my life but he would also stand up to anyone that tried to hurt me. From early on, any time I got hurt, I remember him carrying me home.

I had to have been about 4 years old because our grandmother passed away when I was 5. We were playing down by the creek and my brother, Keith, picked up a big round rock. I always wanted to do what he did so I decided to pick it up too, only I wasn’t as strong as he was. I dropped it on my knee and I began to bleed. Thirty-four years later and the scar is still there. Keith was not only strong enough to pick up the rock; he was strong enough to carry me all the way to our grandparent’s house. When we arrived, my grandmother cleaned my knee and put a bandage on it.

One day we were riding the school bus home on our bumpy dirt road. I was sitting in the back and let me tell you, skinny kids don’t belong in the back of the bus when you’re on a road with potholes. The bus driver showed no mercy and hit a few of them in a row. I bounced up off the seat and the breath was knocked right out of me. Thankfully it happened about a minute away from our house. Again, Keith carried me home from the bus stop.

Another time I recall is when my brother built a ramp to jump his bicycle. I watched him fly through the air, carefree. I decided I was going to do it too, only I didn’t go near as fast. After the fact, he told me I didn’t go fast enough. I rode my bike slowly up the ramp, singing a song from a perfume commercial (yes, I still remember the song haha). I flipped right over the handlebars of my bike. Guess who carried me home. Yep, Keith.

It is not often I see my brother anymore but I remain grateful for all the times he took care of me. As the years passed and I grew older, it occurred to me that I was no longer that little kid that could easily be carried. I was in a place where I realized I needed Someone stronger. No human could carry me with all the heaviness I had found within. It was no longer my brother that I needed- it was my Father.

Isaiah 46:4 NKJV says- Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.

In life there are still times when I pick something up that’s too heavy for me to hold. Just because He (God) is big enough to lift it doesn’t mean I am. I end up dropping it and scrape myself up, yet He’s still there. He picks me up and carries me.

When the bumps along the road of life knock the breath right out of me, He picks me up and carries me.

When I try to do things my way, the wrong way, I flip right over the handlebars and land in the gravel. Still, the Lord is there. He picks me up and carries me.

Although I have some scars from life, and although I’ve endured pain, I’ve always been picked up and carried. I believe He was giving my brother the strength to carry me until I figured out I needed more than he could offer. What I needed was a Savior- I still do.

So if you’re reading this and you feel something lacking in your life- you need someone to carry you- reach out to the Lord. He will fill that void that none other can fill. He is strong enough. It doesn’t mean you won’t cry while He is carrying you in this life, but His Word is true. One sweet day, He will carry you home to be with Him: a place where there is no more sadness, no more suffering, no more pain and your tears will be wiped away.

Revelation 21:4-5 NKJV- 4) And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. 5) Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

Thank you for reading. May God bless you, for He will help you through.