Marigold Madness

20160422_160215 I bring good news! The marigolds are in. After a season of barren trees, flowerless planters and brown grass, I long to look out my kitchen window and see the cheery colorful blooms of marigolds.  You can imagine my opening the sale paper of our local nursery to find these little lovelies on the front page. My flower-loving heart was overjoyed! Well, it was. My husband once asked if we needed to plant so many marigolds.  In a word…yes!

Marigolds are a wonderful flower.  The bright orange and yellow blooms atop full, green leafy stems add a lovely burst of color to the garden and a bit of cheer to me.  They are a hardy low maintenance flower, easy to grow and can withstand the summer’s heat.  Granted, they are not the sweetest smelling flower in the garden.  Ok, they stink; but they are a beneficial flower that helps protect a variety of vegetables from hungry insects.

Taking Over

One morning while finishing the dishes, I looked out my kitchen window admiring my little garden. The marigolds planted around the cherry tomatoes were big and full and peppered with little red tomatoes just above them.  It was too inviting to just look at so I grabbed my basket and headed to the garden.

20160422_160023 (3)As much as I enjoy the flowers, I really enjoy tomatoes.  I was disappointed to find that there were not very many tomatoes though.  Just behind the flowers, I found a bunch of tiny green tomatoes shaded from the much needed sun.  I realized that something was going to be sacrificed that day and I wasn’t pleased. The solution came with the answer to one simple question, “What are you growing here?”  Since I was growing tomatoes and the marigolds became detrimental to them, the marigolds had to go.  It was that simple.

Marigold-like Madness

This same madness happens in our families, our workplaces and our ministries.  Activities, hobbies and programs once designed to enrich us gradually become so important and all-consuming that they drain the very life out of that which they were meant to enhance. In ministry, the work of man can become so important that it supersedes the will of God; making it necessary to uproot us and cast us aside as detrimental.  God forbid!

How About You

Do you find yourself struggling to keep the main thing the main thing? Have your personal goals or plans become more important than that of your company or ministry? The solution to this dilemma is to have the mind of Christ, who made himself of no reputation taking upon himself the form of a servant and to understand as John the Baptist did that ‘He (*meaning Jesus) must increase but  I must decrease’. John 3:30.  It’s that simple.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

*emphasis added

Wonderful Words

Words PicI love words. I always have. English was my favorite subject in school, with Spelling running a close second. I loved adding new words to my vocabulary. I often kept a dictionary nearby when reading and still feel compelled to look up unfamiliar words rather than settle for the gist of the sentence meaning.

My dad, in his very goofy style would often say, “Lay it down so I can…pick it up.” That sentence invokes a smile because I can still picture his gawky motions as he demonstrated his message. He said it once when I was trying out my new spelling words. He followed it with a short discourse on communication. His point being that the essence of communication is getting your message across. He said, “You can use a lot of fancy words but if people don’t understand what you’re saying, you have not communicated.”

Wonder of Words

The wonder of words is that they communicate so much and so well. Words are important. They are powerful. Much is learned about a person by the words they speak. It makes perfect sense that the God of the universe chose words to communicate Himself. He demonstrated His power when He spoke the words “Let there be” and then there was…the world. He inspired the prophets to pen and to speak His word to the world so that we could know Him; His majesty, His justice and His compassion & mercy.

When Words Aren’t Enough

As wonderful as it is to hear great flowery words, sometimes words alone just don’t cut it. We need to see them work. We need them proven. So much has been spoken about the love of God. His word is full of such messages and yet He didn’t just give us words. He demonstrated them. 1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Jesus effectively communicated the incredible love of God by laying down His own life for us. Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. What greater love can there be!

How About You

Have you heard a lot of promising words only to find them empty? Can you use some life-giving words? Are you seeking truth, the meaning of life or even life itself? John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. Many people stopped following Jesus because they didn’t like His words. Jesus asked those remaining if they would leave also. John 6:68. But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”   My dad said, “Lay it down so I can pick it up.”  Jesus did that with His very life.  John 1:12 But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: So, how about you?

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. 

https://www.biblegateway.com/

 

Defeated Foes

Brass Mousetrap il_570xN_524461584_4w11While watching a movie one evening, I saw something move behind the television. It was a mouse. To say that I was disturbed by this sighting is entirely true. It is also entirely understated. I ran to the kitchen. Standing by the counter talking to my sister, I saw it again creeping out from behind the china hutch. That mouse was running amuck in my house and terrorizing me. I screamed. My sister screamed too, though not just in sympathy for me. My scream startled her and she cut her finger, quite badly. Blood was pouring all over the place due to blood thinners she was taking so she had to get off the phone. Realizing that a shotgun would be overkill and a broom insufficient, I did what any red-blooded American girl raised in the suburbs would do. With tears in my eyes, I grabbed my jacket and purse and went shopping.

Hubby to the Rescue

My husband was home when I returned and laying traps for the furry intruder. My hero had arrived and I could relax, or at least try. The next morning, we found the mouse stuck to the glue board. Running around my house, that mouse seemed gargantuan. So when I saw it, I was surprised that it was so small and pitiful. Though squeaking madly and trying desperately hard to unstick itself from the board, its fate was sealed and he would be destroyed. His reign of terror had ended and the furry, squeaky-voiced marauder would be no more.

Greater Enemy

We have an enemy, the enemy of our souls. He is running amuck in this world and terrorizing whoever he can and by whatever means he can (health, finances, children, ministry, etc.). He is not squeaking though. Our adversary goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. So we must be sober & vigilant and we must utilize the special weapons that we have been given for this fight, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4. While it is good to have people to turn to for help, we must not forget to call on God for “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

How About You

Are you struggling with battles of your own? Are you exhausted, worn, fearful that you can’t take much more? Don’t quit, you’re not alone. Consider these words of encouragement “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Remember, though Satan may be running amuck in this world and roaring like crazy, he is a defeated foe. His reign of terror will soon end and the enemy of our God and our souls will be no more. Praise the Lord!

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mousetrap photo compliments of: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StylishPiggy

Tough Stains

Laundry PicI spent this morning battling stains. Ok, not the whole morning but more of the morning than I would have preferred. One was an ink stain that resided on my husband’s finest dress shirt. He wore it for a couple hours and hung it up as soon as he got home, never seeing the ink. It would be a couple of weeks before he’d wear it again. When he saw the stain he thought to throw the shirt away, figuring it for a goner. I thought otherwise.

The other was a blood stain. A wound on his arm tore open in the middle of the night leaving a good sized spot on our brand new sheets. Our uneven work schedules left him still in bed when I left for work so it would be a few days before I saw that stain.

If you know anything about stains, you know that the sooner you deal with them the more likely they are to come out. The ink came out just fine but I was not as successful with the blood stain. The residual stain would become part of the fabric. Fortunately I could flip the sheet and the stain would be hidden from view.

Stains of the Heart

Our lives have and do get similarly stained. Weak moments and poor choices leave us spotted. We are given the opportunity to keep short accounts with God, bringing our faults and failures to Him as often as we need. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9. When we do, we find the cleansing we seek.

Like stains, we need to deal with our issues before they set in. Left unchecked our poor choices can become habits and our habits lifestyles. We may come to the place where we try to change and clean things up but the residual effects are there. The guilt, the regret and shame become part of the fabric of our lives.

Stain Fighters

While we seem fine to those looking on, the hidden heartache we dare not allow to be seen is still there. But we need not despair. There’s grace. David, the mighty king of Israel and man after God’s own heart committed adultery then murder but eventually cried out to God, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. We can do as David did as find forgiveness and restoration as well.

How About You

Do you think you’ve done too much? That your situation is hopeless?  That God wants to cast you aside like some old shirt? God invites you, Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18. It’s a great offer, don’t you think?

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Rebel Chickens and Children

Penny PortraitPenny is the sweetest little chicken. She follows me around the yard and meets me at the car when I come home from work. She found a dirt pile one day and it fast became her favorite place to be. She rolls around in it and works the dirt into her feathers. It doesn’t look appealing to me but it’s both cleansing and relaxing to her. I prefer a warm bath and candles myself, but to each chick her own I guess.

While outside one morning a storm worked its way toward us. I tried to get Penny to her coop but she wasn’t having it. She wouldn’t follow me and ran away when I tried to grab hold of her. The wind kicked up and rain began to fall. No matter what I tried she wanted nothing to do with leaving that pile of dirt. I went inside and asked God to protect my stubborn chicken.

Penny Hutch

Make-shift Shelter

Once the rain subsided I found Penny holed up in the remnants of a rabbit hutch that some animal had torn apart. “Well, have you had enough?” She stared at me. “Come on, let’s go home.” Without hesitation she crawled out of the hutch and followed close behind me to her coop. I opened the door and she stepped in without a fuss. It’s amazing what a storm will do to bring a chicken to her senses. While that hutch provided a small measure of shelter from the wind and rain, it provided no safety at all from predators.

Rebellion & Bondage

Not wanting to stay within the parameters God set for them and refusing to follow Him, the children of Israel chose to run away from God and live according to the dictates of the culture. He gave them instruction on how to live to ensure a peaceful and prosperous life and to protect them from danger but they wanted no part of it. They were taken captive by a cruel enemy, suffered great deprivation and lived in bondage. God did promise them a way out, “and they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid.” Ezekiel 34:28. It would be 70 years before they would be released but they would be ready to follow Him.

What is it about the dirt piles of this world, the lure of the forbidden that we find so appealing? We have a kind and faithful shepherd that offers green pastures and still waters yet we want dirt. He longs to gently lead us but it often takes a storm to get our attention. “But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure, without fear of evil.” Proverbs 1:33. It’s amazing what a storm will do to bring us to our senses.

How About You

Have you found yourself drawn to someone or something that you knew wasn’t right for you, only to end up in disaster? Are you there right now, holed up in a place you were never meant to be? God has offered Himself as a place of refuge. “Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; In You I take shelter.” Psalm 143:9.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Here’s To A Happy Heart

Heart WreathFebruary is awash with hearts. Valentine’s Day and National Heart Health Month make it nearly impossible to avoid those little red wonders.

Having received a frightening diagnosis, and with a difficult procedure looming ahead, I was surprised that I had felt happy. Finding out a loved one has cancer is no easy pill to swallow. I marveled at those moments and wondered how they were possible in the midst of such difficult circumstances. Like bright rays shining through thick dark clouds; the happiness, like sunshine came from other places. In this case, it was places of the heart.

Just as proper diet and exercise contribute to the health of our hearts, what I fed my soul contributed to the happiness of my heart. I was alone, facing surgery, peaceful and happy.

Benefits of a Happy Heart 

The overall condition of our hearts impacts other aspects of our lives: our attitudes, our actions, our relationships and even the things we say.Berry Wreath Door

Consider the many benefits to having a happy heart. First, it helps us feel better. “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22. Secondly, it improves our looks. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13. Thirdly, it impacts our speech and behavior. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. ” Luke 6:45.

Preparations of the Heart

While I long to be happy, peaceful and kind, I tend to base my ‘happiness’ on my ‘happenings’. Consequently my attitudes, feelings and behaviors blow with the changing winds of circumstance. The difference comes when I properly prepare my heart.

There’s an awesome heart-healthy recipe found in the book of Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8. The peace of God is promised to accompany such meditation and I have found that to be true.

How About You

Have you found your happiness driven by your circumstances? Would you like to be characterized as someone with a happy heart? Maybe you find yourself cold at times, hard-hearted and without any good feeling at all. It could be that you need a new heart. God made a promise to His people that I have requested for myself. “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 11:19. It’s a good promise and a good prayer. May God grant you the happiest of hearts.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Middle heart wreath compliments of: http://everbloomingoriginals.com.

Seeing Clearly

20160209_141431I got new glasses a couple months ago. At 50 blah-blah-blah years old, it was about time. This new pair was a double whammy for me; bi-focal & progressive lenses. They made me dizzy and nauseous. The ‘vision specialist’ said it was normal and would soon pass. This swanky pair of spectacles came with instructions; I’d have to find the sweet spot. I must say, there is something almost magical about the ‘sweet spot’. In this case, I could see clearly and didn’t require Dramamine®.

I remember my first pair of prescription glasses. I don’t mean the ones I pretended to need in Junior High (sorry mom) but the ones I needed as an adult. Putting those glasses on for the first time was amazing! I was shocked at how much and how far I could see. We drove to Santa Barbara that afternoon and I was like a child in the car. I kept taking the glasses off and putting them on, comparing my vision with and without glasses. What clarity. What beauty. What a difference! It’s as if I had been blind.

20160209_204414Clearer Vision

There’s another day that I will never forget; a day far better than when I picked up my glasses. It’s the day I began seeing with eyes of faith. All of life became clearer and more purposeful. Whereas I once saw only the masterpiece, I now perceive the hand of the Master. With broad strokes and tiny brushes He paints the detailed picture of my life. His blessed word is both a wounding and a comfort to my soul. By it I am assured that any discomfort, any crucible of pain or suffering at His hand, is as needful as a chisel in the hand of a sculptor. So, whether the colors are bright and beautiful or dark and defining, I yield to the touch of the Master’s hand. I can see clearly in the dim valley of vision because “I walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians. 5:7.

Perfect Sight

One thing remained unclear for so long; how to reconcile a perfect God with an imperfect person as myself. I stood in my own way, hindering my own view. It became clear when I found the ‘sweet spot’, the one place where justice meets mercy. It was at the cross. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9.

Someday I will lay my glasses aside, never to need them again. I can’t understand it all this side of heaven but I know this “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. Then I will at last say, “I once was blind but now I see.” -John Newton-

How About You?

Are you having trouble seeing things clearly? Need help making sense of things, of life, of loss or pain?  You might need a ‘vision specialist’. The Psalmist made a simple request of God that might be helpful for you as well, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” Psalm 119:18. 

God bless you and keep you,

R. Marie

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.