Growth

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This is a pumpkin plant in our garden.

Jase is holding the ruler because we are charting several plant’s growth this summer.

Yet, the idea of growth prompts me to look deeper.

How am I growing?

Have I allowed the Lord to water me today with His Word?

Are there any weeds in my heart which seek to choke out the seeds God has planted?

How do I tell the difference between a baby seed and a baby weed?

In the garden it normally takes a little time.

The same it true for my heart.

I have learned when I’m unsure if something is of the Lord I need to wait and not commit myself to it.

Prayer and patience have saved me from poor choices more than once.

A few days ago I was feeling tired and sad.

The garden of my heart seemed to be wilted.

I had sought the Lord in prayer, yet something was lacking.

I felt led to read Psalms.

I read and read, yet had not found the key to my need.

Psalm 139 was it.

“O LORD, You have searched me and known me.  You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139: 1-6 NKJV

Softly the truth of God, His love, His care, His understanding, renewed my strength.

I’m still growing with the Lord each day, and at times it feels fruitful and others it just hurts.

Yet, as I tend the plants in our garden I look to Jesus.

Dear God,

   Please continue to grow me in Your word and Your plan. Help me to recognize weeds and to uproot them. Show me where I’m lacking and please guide me in growth. I want to be a fruitful vine, yet I know it can only happen through You. Thank You for Your faithfulness, love, patience, and so much more. Thank You for never giving up on me. I love You.

Amen

Blessing beyond measure

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Well,
I’m finished.

Thursday was my last day to teach at the Academy.

I wanted to hug all the kids about a dozen times.

I had to work at not crying.

I was so blessed to receive a beautiful rose bush and a gift card to our favorite restaurant.

The best gift however was this quilt and pillows

I was presented it at the 8th grade promotion.

It is made up of Bible verses and notes from my various students.

Not just this year, but from every year I’ve taught.

Wow…

My oldest daughter even got in touch with one of my students who lives in another state.

The sweet lady who was my aid this year pieced it and another of the teachers was the one who had the kids work on it, and a third lady quilted it.

To add a special touch my life chapter is the center: Psalm 23.

I asked her how she knew.

She laughed. “I was there the morning Travis asked you what your life verse was and you said, ‘It’s a life chapter, Psalm 23, because I just can’t break it up, it all fits together. ‘”

I had forgotten about that moment, but she hadn’t.

My Anne looked at me when I laid the quilt and pillows on the bed.

“Mom, you need to take a picture. You need to write a blog about how blessed you are.”

I agreed.

The beautiful quilt is only a tiny representation of the blessings I’ve had working these last 8 years.

I have been so blessed to spend many days with the most terrific people.

Each and every one of my students I have had the privilege to know and love.

The lesson were more than just reading and writing, but character and wisdom.

They have taught me so much.

I have a beautiful long list of the memories of each student.

Some I only taught a year, but each has left a blessing on my heart, even those who were a challenge.

I have been so honored  to work with so many talented gifted people.

People who ignite the imagination of the students.

I have been thrilled to watch the young adults graduate and move on, some even beginning new families.

The truth is I haven’t been working these past 8 years.

I’ve been living with the joy of doing something I love.

I’ve been drawn ever closer to Jesus.

I’ve been taught, stretched, encouraged, and loved.

It has been an absolute pleasure.

Dear Lord,
   Please hold each of the children in Your hand. Please guide each family. Continue the work You began in each heart that these young men and women will be able to fully develop into the men and women of Christ You created them to be. Watch over them and protect them. Please let them know how much they are loved. Thank You for allowing me to have a tiny part in their lives. Thank You for letting me love them!
Amen.

Humble

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I’m choosing that word instead of the one which keeps coming to mind:

IDIOT.

So, I’ll have to back up almost a week to give you the full story.

My sweetheart put up a garden fence so the dogs won’t eat my tomatoes.

( I know, I know. I live in deer country and one would think the veggies get nibbled by them. Nope. Our dogs keep them out of the back yard, however they LOVE tomatoes and I barely got any last year. )

I needed a support for my peas which my hubby simply placed by screwing two wood pieces from the main fence to stabilize the post.

I was thrilled!

The next day I was bent over and carefully tending some seedlings near my peas.

I moved along slowly making sure not to harm them or the pea seedlings on my right.

Then it happened.

I took a step while standing up.

Bang!

Before I realized what had happened I was clutching the top of my head.

I had unwisely walked underneath the support post and when standing up to leave I struck it, hard.

Ouch!

My head was sensitive for the rest of the day.

I laughed at myself and tried not to think about it more than necessary.

The following afternoon I was in the garden with our Anne.

Several times I warned her about not hitting her head.

Told her my head still hurt.

Explained how I’d grown careless which led to the pain.

She was very sweet and listened carefully.

Each time she was over near the peas she was paying attention and avoiding the cross beam.

Then it happened.

I had carefully given her some instructions.

I had just finished with my last chore and went to plant some lettuce.

Just after finishing the lettuce I somehow stood up directly underneath the exact same cross bar.

This time I hit the ground before I realized what I had done.

Ouch!!

My head throbbed and I struggled to get out of the garden to where I could sit down.

Since our daughter had gone out of the garden to do what I asked she found me clutching my head and wobbling toward the house when she came back.

Upon hearing what I had done she replied, “But Mom! You were just warning me not to do that…?”

“Yes! I know.”

The day ended with me going to bed early from a severe headache.

The next day one of my students prayed for me at lunch time, because my head still hurt.

That was Wednesday and today is Monday.

I was in the utility room moving laundry from the washer to the dryer.

We have a tiny space and our stackable washer/dryer are invaluable!

I noticed I had dropped a sock when transferring the wet laundry.

I bent over to get it, stood up and…

Yup.

I hit the top of my head on the dryer door I’d left open to receive the sock.

That’s when the word came.

IDIOT!

How in the world can I possibly hit my head so often? Can’t I think before acting? What is the matter with me?!

I texted my hubby that I would be laying down for a bit on account of my own carelessness.

As I tried to get over my frustration with myself I heard the Lord softly speak to my heart.

Humble

I can’t go back and undo the damage.

But I can be humble and move forward to change the danger.

The cross beam in the garden has two ropes to keep me or anyone else from being able to stand up underneath it.

The dryer door will soon have a guard to hold it open and out of the way.

What kind of work do I need to do inside my character?

Was it pride which caused me to warn and instruct our daughter to a danger I was too busy to pay attention to for myself?

Was it my own selfish motives which drove me to hurry in a few garden tasks when I should have been inside cooking dinner?

Was it poor organization which found me trying to rush through switching laundry, because my thoughts were on the company coming tonight?

I can’t go backwards, but I can be humble and see the areas God is using my folly to teach me character.

“Dear God,

Thank You for loving me and not allowing me to hurt myself worse than I already have. Please continue to help me see the areas which need honing so I can avoid carelessness in the future. Thank You that even in moments where I’m embarrassed You can turn it to an opportunity. Let Your name be glorified Lord Jesus!

Amen!”

Wild beauty

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The sound was loud.

The air was crisp.

The moment awe inspiring.

We had stopped here, because of need.

Yet, I was surprised to hear the kids had no memory of the place.

So, I decided to take the time and walk them up to the falls.

(Actually, I watched them run up the trail, I walked!)

This photograph is one of the places we stopped.

The falls are huge, and I couldn’t get a really good picture with my phone.

As we walked back down and I listened to the thunder of the water and the comments of awe from the kids it struck me.

God did this.

The only man made thing was the trail and the bridge.

Man only saw the beauty and built a way to share it with others.

God created the wonder.

Man can only stand in awe of the power and admire He’s creation.

Our pastor taught on Psalm 8 yesterday and it is so fitting.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars,
which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?”
Psalm 8:3-4

What a great God!

He created so much beauty and majesty and yet He loves us even more.

No tree or bird or mountain can say that the very breath of God caused them to have life.

Only mankind.

What an amazing and awesome God!

“God has really blessed me.”

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This is our Bell.

She’s her own person.

She has the same brown eyes and brown hair as her older sister, but there are a number of differences.

She’s not tall.

I haven’t measured her lately, but I believe she’s 5’2″.

Don’t ask me her weight, I truly don’t know, but she’s got muscle all over.

She’s fairly quiet.

She doesn’t mind chatting with others about everyday things, but when it comes to anything deep or emotional she reserves her comments until she knows exactly what she wants to say.

She can be just a little blunt from time to time, yet it is not seasoned with malice.

Like everyone, Bell has things she’s not too happy about in herself, and works to gain control over them.

She’s an athlete.

When she was in first grade she played soccer for one year.

Then I put all the girls in dance school and said sports was on hold.

She enjoyed dance and thrived.

The year we moved back to the US she played softball and loved it.

The following year their team was undefeated the entire year.

Then she joined track and basketball.

It was much closer to home and when I had a conflict with scheduling the school ran a bus so she had to give up softball.

Yet she found a love for track and basketball.

As our family was so blessed to watch our oldest girl run at the State Track and Field our Bell spoke to me on the way home.

“Next year when I’m in high school, my goal is to make it to State.”

She has been working hard all track season in an effort to keep her goal.

She’s well aware of the stiff competition.

I’ve told her Freshman rarely make State.

Yet everything hung on the District meet in Bend.

If she could get 1st or 2nd in either of her races she’d go.

And she did.

Despite her being ranked at 4th place before the race she took 2nd.

I was surprised to hear from her coach the next day.

He called to let me know she’d made it to State in the long jump!

I was surprised.

She had jumped her best jump ever at the meet, but I didn’t think it was good enough.

So after yesterday’s meet where she jumped in the long jump and ran the preliminary race in the 400 she turned to me.

“God has really blessed me.”

I smiled and reached over to place my hand on her.

“Yes He certainly has.”

Her next words surprised me.

“How do I let people know that I’m just a vessel God is using?  After I race people say, ‘Good job!’ and all I can do is say thanks between breaths.”

“Honey, you tell people about God’s blessing in the other times, those moments when people say, ‘I read your name in the paper.'”

She nodded.

It wasn’t until this morning I began to see another side of the whole affair.

She was able to make the cut and will be running today in the 400, but she didn’t say much about her poor turn out in the long jump. She didn’t even jump a personal record.

She was nervous and her footing off the board wasn’t the best.

Yet as she spoke of the long jump it was the joy of friends she’s made who were also jumping.

In her reflections at the end of the day she didn’t show the least bit of disappointment or discouragement.

She was simply thankful to God for His blessing her with the ability to get this far.

This humility in our Bell has prompted me to look closer at my own heart.

Am I thankful for the blessings or just eager to attain more?

Am I thoughtful as to how to give glory back to God for His gifts or simply smug in the face of those around me?

God forbid that I ever take the credit for His hand in my life.

As I spend my morning in prayer for our day I smile.

What a blessing to have such a humble daughter.

What a gift to be able to watch our daughter compete at any level.

What a joy to hear her praise God for His gifts!

I can say it:

“God has really blessed me!”

Joyful

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Yup!

I’m joyful.

So is our daughter who recently became engaged.

Yes, they are young.

Yes, they have so much to learn.

Yes, they are beginning a journey they really do not understand.

Life has taught me there is very little I can do to make things go the way I think they should.

After living through almost 20 years of marriage I can testify that I’m glad.

God’s plan is so much better than mine.

God’s will is so much richer than what I can see.

I’m joyful He has been guiding and directing our family all along.

Will they have trouble?

Undoubtedly.

Yet I have peace knowing they are following the Lord as a couple and as individuals.

Will they have heartache?

More than likely.

Yet I’m trusting God to guide and comfort them through whatever lies ahead.

Will they have love?

Yes!

We love them.

They love each other.

More importantly, Jesus loves them.

So I’m joyful.

“Dear Papa,

Thank You for our recent addition to our family. Please help them to love You more than anything else and to love each other more than anyone else. Show them how to walk in each day as unto You. Let their lives be a blessing to those around them. Let their future be centered on living daily with You. No matter what storms of life may come, help them to find shelter in You and to walk hand in hand throughout. Thank You!”

Inspired

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That’s our girl in the black and white.

She took 1st in both her races today.

I  was very proud of her.

Especially since she was throwing up between races.

Yet, I was inspired by another race.

As I stood waiting for our girl to run, the boy’s 800 began.

I cheered for the boys from our school.

Then I noticed a boy from the school I graduated from, Douglas high.

He was running the 800.

Well, most of the time he was running.

As he came around my corner his pace was slow.

Several of his teammates shouted encouragement.

He kept going.

I watched him slow to a walk twice before he began approach my corner again.

He was walking.

Many of his teammates were yelling encouragement.

Told him to keep it up.

Said to finish strong.

Shouted, “You got this!”

Just as he rounded the mark for the last 100 meters a loud male voice came across the field.

He was simply shouting the runner’s name.

He ran across the field and up along side his teammate.

He stayed in the grass, but kept yelling his team mate’s name.

By this time the boy was running.

They ran the last 100 meters side by side.

One on the track the other in the grass.

It brought tears to my eyes as I watched and listened.

The boy in the grass called his friend’s name the whole way.

I was inspired.

***

How often we find the race of life a struggle.

Yet just one person to run alongside and call encouragement can make all the difference.

I want to be like that young man.

As I run towards Christ, I want to run alongside those who are also running towards Him with all their strength.

I want to call encouragement to those He has placed in my life, words bolster their run, to watch them run as fast as they can.

And frankly, I want some people running alongside me, shouting my name.

So, I’m inspired.

I hope this story inspires you.

Run the race.

Run with all you have.

And look for those who need to hear their name, calling them to run as well.