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Monday, August 29, 2016

Nurturing a Dream

I remember visiting my grandmother in a nursing home when I was younger and in her sunny window, she had a host of plants growing. When I think of my grandmother, I think of her kind smile, her sweet laugh,  and her windowsill of plants.  I am told she could make
just about anything grow. I, however, do not have the natural ability to 'just make things grow'. Or keep them alive for that matter. My herb garden I started this year is doing fair, but herb season is coming to a close anyway and I'll try again earlier next spring and see if I can do better. There is a history of farmers in my family, yet somehow it must have skipped a generation. Jonathan, however (my 20 year old son), I believe, growing things would come naturally to him once he started. I just have that feeling.

When we lived in Mexico, the only thing I had planted was Morning Glories and they did well. When we moved over into El Paso, Dad had wanted some rose bushes out front. We started a vegetable garden that first year (4 years ago) and it did ok, but I think we needed more shade or something because the sun is awfully brutal here. We didn't tend to it well and now we use the area for new Crepe Myrtle trees instead. They, by the way, are doing quite well, I'm pleased to say.

One thing led to another, the roses survived, so I planted some mums out front in a big pot. Two years running strong and I'm just waiting for their purple blooms to show forth soon. Then I planted Begonias..and lo and behold, they are doing wonderfully.  Since they were doing well,  I bought a few hanging plants for outside.  They were staying alive, so Jonathan and I bought some Morning Glory seeds and went crazy planting them wherever we thought they would climb. And boy, do they climb! We are fascinated by the path they choose and how the vines curl around anything they can get around.

I post photos of my roses nearly daily now on Facebook. Friends comment on how beautiful they are and how well they are blooming. Truly, it is not my doing. They seem to be hardy plants, thankfully. I'm sure I could be 'feeding' them more, though.

There is anticipation in each new day as I peek out the front door every morning to see what's unfurling in the rose bushes. I feel amazed when I see the Morning Glories stretching their necks to bask in the sun. I'm in awe in general because I'm managing to have a bit of a dream come true of having live plants in the yard. Even in the house, I've planted some spider plants ( thanks to my friend Carolyn who promises they need little attention.) And some leafy plant--sorry, don't know the name of it, but I've learned how to make more plants by tending to off-roots of the plant and making more to share around the house in all the rooms. It's very thrilling, and now that I've started, I'm wondering what I can plant next and where -whether indoors or out. Mums do well, it seems, and I saw them at Lowe's today in all their colorful splendor--yellows, oranges, purples, reds, white...Some ideas are rattling around in my head of where to plant more.

Winter will be here before I know it and my flowers and such will be at rest for awhile. For now, I look forward to looking out the front door or the back window at what's unfolding every morning. 'Thought I'd share some dreamy roses and etc. that I've been nurturing.


Roses: These first 2 are the most recent. The second collage is of the church roses we've been tending to in Mexico.





Morning Glories:


Other Outside Plants:

Hanging plants and Crepe Myrtles

Begonias, Mums, and Herbs

The Spider Plant and the one with leaves I don't know the name for:

The bottom plants comes off of a much bigger one.










Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Out of the Wells

 "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JE-HO-VAH is my strength and my song: he also is become my salvation. Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things; this is known in all the earth." Isaiah 12: 2,3, & 5.




God is our salvation, shelter, strength, and source of supply. How often do I try to do things in my own strength? How often do I run out of joy? How often am I empty of song? When the answer is ,"Usually", I'm not doing myself any favors. My husband recently commented that I go into things headlong and with full force. 
He was concerned that I may have too many 'irons in the fire' and was gently advising me
to SLOW DOWN...or at least limit how much I'm doing at one time. He is all too aware of how tired I can become when I don't have a good balance.


A phrase in Isaiah 12: 3 jumped out at me one day during my Bible reading; "with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation." Wells of salvation. Now I know there is a historical context here, but sometimes something strikes you differently with a new meaning. One meaning of the word 'well' in noun form is, "a plentiful source or supply". Supply of what? In Philippians 4: 13, it is written, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Many times, though, I feel that God isn't meeting my need and that maybe He's not supplying wells of deliverance fast enough. "What's the hold up?", I sometimes want to ask.


I was looking on the Internet for a basic explanation and possible historical context of the phrase, 'wells of salvation' and found some things that will hinder us from 'drawing from the wells with joy'. God is the supplier of life giving water. In fact, there are references to Christ being and giving living water and has said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." John 7:37b.

Anyone who knows anything about wells, knows there is a bucket at the bottom of the well that is attached to a rope. When you need water, all you need to do is pull up on the rope and draw water from the well. When we feel limited in joy, when we feel that maybe God has quit providing, we may need to do some evaluation and figure out what's holding up the supply. Here are some things to consider.

1) Fear and Worry → It's as putting a 'lid on the bucket' indicating that our fear is bigger than our faith.

2) Burdens → Burdens are heavy as rocks, aren't they? They are difficult and we tell God that it's too hard to draw from His well of redemption and rest. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Rest unto your souls...refreshment from the Life Giver.

3) Bitterness → When you fill your life with bitterness, it just makes everything taste like vinegar. And God's blessings can even taste sour.

4) Doubt → It keeps us from drawing from His supply in the first place.

5) Impatience → We don't allow God time to work and in doing so, we never feel 'filled'. We don't feel as if God is listening or that He cares.

6) Hate → Hate is like tar; it doesn't take much to spoil the water and it sticks to everyone who touches it.

7) Ignorance → When we trust in ourselves to make it through, when we don't look in His word for answers, we don't know the blessings that are available and we miss out.

8) Lust and Greed → Both are as messy as mud and certainly the weight of it all will not cause us to draw life giving water from the Source.

9) Hurt and Unforgiveness → They keep us tied up in knots and keep the rope/ lifeline/prayer line to Christ tied up as well.

10) Jealousy and Anger → They make us want to strike out and keep others from drawing from His supply..and in doing so, we hurt ourselves.

11) Pride → Pride says, "I don't need any help". And will leave you dry and alone.

12) Business → When we become too busy for God, too busy to draw daily out of His Word, we become too tired to draw from His supply of strength.

So how do we 'draw water' out of the wells of salvation that God freely gives?
→ We need to thirst after the living water and realize that only He can supply all our need.
→ It takes faith to believe that He will do for us what is best. And that what He gives us is what we need for this moment, for this day.
→ Sometimes, letting our guard down, letting go of control, letting the 'bucket' go all the way down in the well means hardship. That's where the water is deep and at it's most refreshing.

(Adapted from: http://www.wholeperson-counseling.org/encouragement/wells-joy.html)


When I feel I'm having 'trust issues' with God, when I become afraid, when I have lost my strength, when I have no song and no joy, I can go through the '12 Step Program' above and do some self examination to figure out what's holding up the 'bucket of blessings'.

Because God is my Salvation, my Confidant, my Comforter, my Strength, my Song...with joy in Who is He is, I will draw life giving blessing. Wells of salvation...God never runs out, He has more than enough for all who call on Him.

Out of the wells of salvation:
→ I have the Savior. 
→ I have a Confidant who can be trusted.
→ I have the Deliverer of fear and the Provider of comfort.
→ I have His perfect strength when my strength is gone.
→ I have a song to sing and a story to tell. His story of "the excellent things that is known in all the earth." (vs.5) I want to be a part of the 'excellent things' which can only be found out of the wells of His salvation.













Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Vantage Point

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." Isaiah 55:8-11


His thoughts, His ways, His results. His vantage point. When He gives His word that His way is best and that He has the best in mind for me, the end result is not barren. It may mean some hardship and struggle, but ultimately will lead to growth and wisdom. When I adopt His vantage point, I see a prosperous outcome.

I may not be healed, but I will know the Healer.

I may not know love from those who I wish would love me, but I will know the great Love.

I may not have all my questions answered, but I will know the great Omniscient.

His way will accomplish that which He pleases, and will prosper where He sends it.

This goes along with my last post written about comparing ourselves to others.  God created each individual with His vantage point in mind. Our talents, the way our brain works, our abilities-- all are in sync with who God created us to be. And when we become distracted by what others are doing or what they have, we get off course and miss the beauty of being an individual who is loved by God who loves us uniquely. His thoughts are not my thoughts--His ways are higher than mine. The way He looks at me and at His purpose for me are most assuredly beyond what I can comprehend. It takes faith.

"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand." -St. Augustine

His vantage point? Well, it leads to this: "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace..." Isaiah 55:12.  To go out with joy because He is in control, we can believe the end result will not be void or barren. And to be led forth with peace...Isn't this what we long for--peace? And yes, joy? His ways will prosper, He has promised. By His word, He created the rain and the snow that waters the earth and which gives us sustenance of seed and bread. If His word is enough to fill our physical beings, is His word not enough to feed our souls, to provide our needs, to guide us in this life? We get impatient when He does not answer us according to our will. We get confused when He doesn't reveal what He's working on in us. In order to understand that His thoughts, ways, and words are worthy, we must believe. Simply.  His vantage point --we may not always be able to see it, but we must believe that He has an angle on things. Looking through our own lenses, our life can seem warped. Looking through His lenses provides a view of purpose, of glory, and more importantly, of redemption.

"Waiting for the vision that tarries is the test of our loyalty to God." -Oswald Chambers

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Comparison Equals Distraction


I believe that it is accurate to say that I've spent most of my teen years and a lot of my adult years living in comparison. Being raised a missionary kid, I didn't seem to have what everyone else had. God took care of us, I see this now, but looking through the eyes of a
then-impressionable-me, I was blinded by what I did not have. My mom sewed a lot of our dresses. Even some of my brother's ties! And with great pride in her work. We shopped for school clothes and shoes at the J.C. Penney Outlet every year and had a budget that we stuck to. We didn't have the latest and greatest in clothing or personal items. And many times, I wish I was like someone else who was more outgoing, or who was pretty, or who just seemed to have 'it' all together. How many hours, days, years did I waste foolishly by simply not being grateful? Too many.


Comparison has robbed so many of fulfillment and joy. When we think others have it better, we feel empty and are left wanting. We strive to be content with who we are and what we have, but sometimes it's hard not to want more. More things, more personality, more talent...But comparison is Satan's way of distracting us from who God made us as individuals to be. He loves one and all in a unique way because He created us with different gifts and abilities. When we compare to others, we tell God that His creation wasn't good enough. When we compare our stuff (houses, clothing, cars) to others, we tell God that His financial blessings are not plentiful enough. When we compare our talents to others, we tell God that what He instilled in us isn't enough to serve Him. And oh, how Satan laughs at our calamity. It's especially a shame when we do this amongst ourselves who claim to be part of the body of Christ. When we cry that life isn't fair, we've missed the message. God has provided salvation and a home in Heaven for ALL who call on His name. We don't even deserve that. Comparison equals distraction. Comparison causes anxiety, adds confusion, and ultimately diverts us from the glory of God.

This is something I've come across recently in a Bible study and it's been on my heart this past week.  It is quite the distraction when I compare myself to others when God has already made me pretty amazing. Ha! It's when we 'tap into' what God wants us to do as an individual --aside from what someone else is doing-- that we truly shine and give honor and glory to our Creator. It's insulting, I think, when we waste our time and energy telling God that what He created just isn't good enough or important enough. That's rough, I know. We
don't all have to be musicians. We don't all have to be teachers. We don't all have to be super talented in sewing, painting, creating, ..whatever. I'm reminded of a past blog post which discusses the measure of faith that each Christian has received upon salvation. (http://arecordofgraces.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-measure-of-faith.html) As we have received our own measure of faith in the body of Christ to fulfill God's purpose in our lives, I think we've each received our own measure of talent, ability, personality, appearance to serve Him in our own unique individual way. What a gift! What freedom to realize I don't need to be like anyone else because really, I am who I am by the grace of God and for God.


"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2 Corinthians 10:12

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sheltered Safe


A few weeks ago, our "Sunday Song Selection" from our mix of music we listen to on our way to church was an 'oldie but a goodie'; Sheltered in the Arms of God written by Dottie Rambo, sung by the Daybreak Quartet. Always there is one song that we play 3 or 4 times and crank up the volume. Each week, it's a different song that the Lord uses to speak to us and it becomes a theme of sorts for the week. Sometimes, we just go back to the old songs that we grew up with as they are some of the greatest. And what a fitting song to start a new week going forward with this much needed reminder. God knows where we are, what we need. He has His hand on us leading the way, calming our fears. We are sheltered. We are safe. 


Sheltered in the Arms of God

I feel the touch of hands so kind and gentle,
They're leading me in paths that I must trod;
I have no fear when Jesus walks beside me,
For I'm sheltered in the arms of God.

So let the storms rage high, the dark clouds rise,
They won't worry me for I'm sheltered safe within the arms of God;
He walks with me and naught of Earth can harm me,
Sheltered safe within the arms of God.

Soon I shall hear the call from Heaven's portals,
Come home my child, it's the last mile you must trod;
I'll fall asleep and wake in God's new Heaven,
Sheltered safe within the arms of God.

So let the storms rage high, the dark clouds rise,
They won't worry me for I'm sheltered safe within the arms of God;
He walks with me and naught of Earth can harm me,
Sheltered safe within the arms of God.




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

2,857 Tabs

I love having a creative outlet, even if I'm squeezing it in between doctor appointments with my dad, housecleaning, homeschooling, and pondering over what's for dinner. Now that there's not much to do with my herb garden project but cut them to use, water them, and basically keep them alive (I have no 'green thumb'),  I'm on to another 'tab' on the computer screen of my brain.


-OR-




{That's exactly how my brain works. It's rough sometimes deciding which tab to 'click' on.}

I love having a nice background (or "wallpaper") on my computer screen and I have a ton of beautiful photos from our trips on deputation and from around here in the El Paso, TX area. I've been playing around with making my own background and here's my first one I'm sharing.

If you would like to use it, 'right click' on the photo and save it to your computer. After it's on your computer, right click again on the photo, look for and click on, "Set as desktop background". And there you go! I'll post the first one here, but will also be making a separate 'page' on my blog so you see only the photos and not a blog post. I'll have to figure this out as I go. I've created a few more that I will include on a separate 'page' on the blog and will add as I create more.

And now that I'm posting this, I only have 2, 856 tabs open.



Guadalupe Mountains: Photo taken in 2015