Spring! Planting and Weeding

gardenThere are lots of gardening plans out there for your garden – you can find them in magazines and How To books at libraries. 

Even Home Improvement stores have Do It Yourself guides for wherever you live organized by climate, growing season, water and sunlight needs, how much space you have, or what kind of plants you want – vegetable, blooming or ornamental.

I just came across one of the many Spiritual Garden Guides – perhaps this looks familiar:

Consider planting:

three rows of peas

. . . Peace of mind

. . . Peace of heart

. . . Peace of soul

close-up-cultivation-dig-169523four rows of squash

. . . Squash gossip

. . . Squash criticism

. . . Squash grumbling

. . . .Squash selfishness

three rows of lettuce

. . . Let us be faithful

. . . Let us be thankful

. . . Let us love one another

and no garden is complete without turnips

. . . Turn up for church

. . . Turn up with a smile

. . . Turn up ready to serve

It reminded me that we need to be planting purposefully in our lives as well as our gardens.  That we need to be weeding intentionally and regularly to avoid our beautiful blossoms being choked out by the weeds of the world.  So here are some fun weeds and seeds to consider!

You reap what you sow, so sow acts of kindness, encouraging words, and supportive attitudes.

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Recognize that when you smile at someone, you are planting kindness and acceptance.  When you play with them, you are cultivating fun and joy.  When you give them a hug, you are fertilizing with love and security.

 

When you help a friend or child learn a task, you are planting patience and success into their future.   When you give them encouragement, you are growing confidence.  When you share, you are seeding goodness and selflessness.

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When you pray with someone, or let them see you pray, you are sowing faithful fellowship with God.

Everything you do is a seed of some kind.  Be intentional about what you plant.

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And weeding!  There are many things that will choke the joy out of your life like weeds do to a garden.

If they’re not forcibly removed these weeds will use up all your resources – time, energy, enthusiasm.

So roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Start with something simple: weed out your family’s wardrobe.  Children grow, so every year box up clothes that don’t fit to store if you have younger children who will wear them later.  Or sell them, donate, or give them away.  Maybe you know a friend who has a younger child to pass them to.  Then pass them back if you can use them again!

That goes for your personal wardrobe too.  Box up nostalgic items you want to keep but clear out the rest that are out of style or no longer fit well.  And while you’re at it, get rid of any guilt or stress too, over bygone sizes.  Find the style and size you feel most comfortable in.  You will look more confident and attractive when you feel comfortable in your clothes.

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Weed out parenting strategies you think you should be doing, but that don’t work for you.  Parent from your strengths!  Know who you are and what things energize you so your children can see you parenting from joy, not guilt, fear or obligation.

 

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Same for relationships.  Examine the ones that are thriving, then check the conditions of the others.  Some may be in need of TLC to keep them growing and others may need to be weeded out.

 

Weed out negative talk and self-condemnation.  We all make mistakes from time to time.  Some of us tend to dwell on those; constantly reminding ourselves of past failures and possible future ones.  Stop those inner voices with a “You wouldn’t talk to a friend that way!”

Instead, plant kindness to yourself – say positive things to yourself every day.  Rephrase “Well, you blew that!” to ”From what I just learned, I’ll do better next time.”

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Ask God to show you where weeds of sin, rebellion, or unforgiveness may be hiding.  Sometimes the roots grow deep before the leaves can be seen above ground. Confess those routinely to keep your soil healthy.

Planting and weeding.  It’s a process we go thru every year.  And not just in the garden!

Every day, by your actions and choices, you are planting things into and weeding things out of your life and the lives your family and friends.

The key is to recognize it and be intentional.

Happy Gardening!  Happy Spring!

 

 

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Are you F-I-N-E?

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When my Mom died, then my Daddy, then my own breast cancer came on the heels of a challenging auto-immune disease, these were times I remember saying I was “fine” but I really wasn’t.

I don’t think it was because people didn’t want to know or weren’t willing to listen. It may just have been because I didn’t even know how to ask for help.

 

In saying “FINE” to others, on the inside I was really saying:

“F: Frankly

 I: I

N: Need

E: Everything

but don’t know how to ask.”

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Once a pastor pointed out that when wheat grows, the topmost part of the stalk called the head, becomes larger and heavier as it matures and ripens.  When the head of the stalk is so heavy it is bowed down, it is ready for harvest.

 

People grow and mature also.  But what makes their heads bow down is when they have a lot on their mind or on their heart.  Just looking for that prompts me to ask how they’re doing.

Then when they look up, I can see in their face if they look tired, worn out or discouraged.  Often their posture and face will give away what their words do not. So now when someone tells me “I’m fine,” I take time to go deeper.

I may offer something specific, like bringing a meal, or babysitting, or going out together for a cup of coffee.  But even if none of those seem to be a good fit, I can call on God to meet their needs in ways I cannot.  So I always ask “How can I pray for you?”

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And then I do. 

You could too.

“Carry each other’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2

Live in the Light

Spring is coming!

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This is my favorite time of the year.  Maybe because the First day of Spring is my birthday!

But also because it brings me out of the cold and dark time of year and into the warmth and light.

Especially this year, I am ready to be delivered out of the darkness of this last year and into the light of new promise.

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Last year saw much illness: the diagnosis of an auto-immune disease that came with unkind medications and breast cancer, and my father’s last battle with lung disease and then his death.  It saw diminishing energy, fatigue, and discouragement over many losses.

God was good to give me some bright spots. Two sons’ weddings and a trip to Hawaii were very joyful.

But I am ready for life in the full sun.  Just as teachers and kids everywhere are enthusiastically counting the weeks till school is out, I am ready and eager for being done with cancer, and medication’s side effects.

2 Peter 1:4 tells me “I have given you very great and precious promises.” So, I am ready to draw my strength from God and those promises.

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The first thing that gives me strength is my identity in Christ.

 

Contrary to that little voice I sometimes hear reminding me how stupid I’ve been and how worthless I am, I know that in truth, I am a daughter of the King of the universe!

Among other things, Scripture tells me:

I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved.  Colossians 3:12

I am a daughter/son of light and not darkness.  I Thessalonians 5:5

I have been made righteous.  2 Corinthians 5:21

I am free forever from condemnation.  Romans 8:1

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Next I need to know His promises.

 

Some promises are for all Believers, so I can draw strength from knowing that:

I may approach God with boldness, freedom and confidence.   Ephesians 3:12

I have been given the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7

I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do the work, which He has prepared in advance for me.  Ephesians 2:10

To know His personal promises to me, I need to be in His Word so I can hear Him speak them.  Sometimes a new meaning becomes evident in a scripture I haven’t noticed or understood before. Or maybe a familiar passage suddenly has a unique application to something in my life.  Sometimes I feel a conviction telling me to pay attention, that this is for me.

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And finally, I need to live and act as if I believe those promises.

So since I believe I am a daughter of the King, I need to think and behave that way.  Because I believe I have been given a spirit of power and love then I will act in love and be empowered when I come up against a challenge.

Knowing that I am God’s handiwork gives me confidence to step boldly into the light this Spring.  And like Paul, be ready to “take hold of that for which God has taken hold of me.”  Philippians 3:12

I pray that you too will be energized and empowered by the light that Spring brings.  And will live and walk in the light of your true identity from God and in His promises.

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Where do your tracks lead?

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Walking around the lake in winter is very different.  Things that are easily noticeable in most seasons may be covered in snow.  The plant life that is visible looks barren.  There are fewer types of wildlife, and those that remain behave differently.

Circling the lake today, I was amazed at how many tracks were clear in the freshly fallen snow.  Mine were the only human footprints, but there were many solitary and group trails that led in one direction: toward the water.

The path the ducks and geese took to get to the water was made plain in the snow.   I had never wondered about the specific route these birds take to the water, but with tracks in the snow, it was easy to follow their exact steps.

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I wondered if the snow was a hardship for the birds.  Were their feet cold as they stepped through the wet, frigid moisture?  Did they hurry to get to their destination?

 

 

Did the slips I could see on the steep slope into the water upset them?  Did they squawk when they slipped?

Many people would agree that regarding weather, cold and snow are a hardship.  In our lives though, there are many kinds of trials to be endured.

Oddly enough, like those ducks leaving footprints in the snow, we leave the most visible trails when our paths take us through hardship.  Others can see our actions and our path more clearly when they trail through hard times.

It presents a challenge to be more careful of our steps.  As a Christian, my real help comes from God.  But is that the first place I go in difficult times? Or do my footprints show confusion, heading in many different directions?

Like the ducks, in fair weather, we can do many things that don’t leave a trace.  But in difficult times, our every step leaves a clear trail for all to see.

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What do your steps show?  Where does your trail lead?  If others follow it, will it lead them to God?

Whatever your hardship, God is your very present help.  Turn your steps heavenward.  And lead on!

Googling God part 3

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I believe God is speaking all the time. Are you willing to listen?

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When you have tuned into God’s frequency, (see last 2 posts) and invited the Holy Spirit to silence other noise and lead you into hearing Him; be prepared to be blown away!

I also believe when He says something, it’s important enough to write down.  First, so you don’t forget it.  Next, to check to be sure what you heard is really from God.

hand-453220_640How can you know if what you hear IS from God or some other voice?

When you believe you have heard from God regarding a situation in your life, or direction you should take, or a decision you have to make, put the answer to these 3 tests:

question-mark-40876__3401 – Does it agree with what God has already said in His Word?

question-mark-40876__3402 – Will it produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life and those around you?

question-mark-40876__3403 – Will it draw you closer to God in your relationship with Him?

 

You are looking for 3 yes answers to confirm what you have heard is from God.

If you hit a no, I would urge you to go back to God and ask again, making sure you have invited the Holy Spirit to guide you into truth.

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Do you know what God already has said on the subject, and does it agree with what you think you are hearing?  God will not contradict Himself.

For instance, if you know that God has said “do not steal” then you can be sure that the voice telling you to steal what you need is not from God.

solution-2480514_640So, look in the Bible.  Again, God will never tell you something contrary to what He has already said in His Word.  You can use a Concordance – a list of words used in the Bible and where they are found.  There’s one in the back of many Bibles, or online.

If you need help, a Christian friend or pastor can help you find scripture dealing with your topic. Be sure you find what the Bible says, not just what you think it says.  For instance, “God helps those who help themselves” is NOT in the Bible.   Neither is “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”

If there is nothing on your topic, or you are unsure, ask God to reveal the truth of your matter to you.

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it shall be given.”

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Is the anticipated result in the situation the Fruit of the Spirit?

 

James 3:14-17 tells us the wisdom of the flesh will produce envy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice.  And that the wisdom from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy and good fruit.

Galatians 5:19-23 also outlines what is produced.  The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness and self-control.

solution-2480514_640You are looking for how it will affect your situation, the people around you, your relationships. Of course, you can’t predict the future, but you can usually be reasonably sure which way the outcome is leaning.

So, what will be produced by you following what you believe God is telling you to do?

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Will it draw you closer to God asks about the condition of your heart.

 

I believe EVERYTHING we do either benefits your relationship with God, or weakens it.

solution-2480514_640Ask yourself:  Does this benefit my relationship with God?

Will it help me become more like Jesus?

If the answer is No, pray for the strength to say “No” to whatever you have heard.  It is not from God.

Philippians 4:13 God has promised “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

If all 3 are “Yes” then commit your way to the Lord and thank Him for direction.

 

YIELD  sheet

Here’s a worksheet to get your thoughts down on paper and see how what you are hearing lines up with scripture, what it will produce, and how it will affect your relationship with God.

 

 

My concern

 

 

What I think God is telling me

 

 

What Scripture says

 

 

What will it produce

 

Will it benefit my walk with God?