Google+ Badge

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rambling Thursdays

I love to garden. The dirt is my canvas and my paint includes vegetables and flowers. But I didn’t always love it. Growing up, the garden meant eternal hours, (at least it seemed that way) shucking corn, picking beans, pulling weeds, and hauling water. 

And then the canning and freezing! Oh glum and despair on me, (again it felt that way to me). I hated sweating in the hot, steaming kitchen cleaning beans, bagging corn, peeling fruit, and mashing tomatos. I’d rather be out playing. 

My Mom and Grandmother canned and froze anything they could get their hands on. Of course I enjoyed the fruit of our labors. I took it for granted then. 

Later after I was married and we had our own place, I slowly ventured into gardening. I found a renewed love and passion I did not expect. I eventually planted flowers and loved it even more. (We’ll leave that for another blog.) 

Canning? No it wasn’t even on my radar. Not until five years ago when I just got sick of what passed as lame, sad excuses of produce in the supermarkets. 

So I ventured into the new world of canning. It was kind of intimidating, but you know, I just dove in and was pleasantly surprised at the results. 

Thankfully no disasters and no explosions. Only hurt pride when my envisioned Vlasic style pickles turned out limp as a noodle. 

I’ve canned tomatos, peaches, and salsa. All very good. Also freezed green beans and blueberries. Again, wonderful and fresh. 

Nothing like eating the fruit of your labors in the middle of winter. Yes, it is work, don’t let me fool you. But wow, it is so worth it! 

Anyway if this has been on your radar, and you are a bit intimidated... well let me be the one to cheer you on! Go for it! If this girl can do it, you can too. 

There are plenty of online helps to guide you. Here’s the Ball guide: It is very helpful. 

Walmart carries canning stuff. If you are lucky to have a farm store, (I have a Big R) they are a great source. 

Do you can and freeze? If so, what success have you had? Any epic disasters? 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Soul Sister Series, the final chapter. The Redeemed Woman

I wrote the Soul Sister series about ten years ago. I’m so glad to share it with you. I pray that each one has spoke to your heart. Even now when I read them, I am stirred. I’ve received such wonderful responses, and I know you were ministered to. Now I want to share another woman’s story. My story. For many years I kept my story to myself, it was just too painful. Even after all this time, I still find it difficult to share it with you now. 

Yet, whenever I have shared my testimony, I was surprised to find I wasn’t the only one. There were other wounded ones. 

At the age of five, I was sexually abused by a man at the farm where my Mother worked. From that point on I was never the same child. Fear and shame were my constant companions, bullying me relentlessly. 

A stigma seemed to cleave to me from that day on. That stigma seemed to attract others who took advantage and stole more of me. I was left with a mangled spirit. I was convinced I was ugly and unworthy of love. 

Battered, I retreated inside myself. I longed to be loved, but kept away for safety. I bore my pain alone, keeping my secret from everyone, even my parents. I didn’t share that part of me with anyone till I was a young adult. 

I shudder today when I think how easily I could have spiraled out of control.  Certainly having a Godly Grandmother who was a powerful influence helped. Also parents who loved Jesus and lived it out in front of me. My church family was a shelter. The Word was planted in my heart and nurtured. I believe these powerful influences kept my heart tender toward the Lord even while I was camped in the muck of sin and despair. 

I was a miserable wretch. I needed healing and redemption so badly for my wounded spirit. I received it in the seventh grade when I responded to a altar call at my church. I poured out my heart to Jesus and He took me into His arms.

I walked out of the church a new person. For the first time in my life, fear and shame lost their grip on me. I experienced Psalm 103:12, “As far as the East is from the West, so far has He removed our transgressions from me.” 

I still faced issues in my life and relationships. A deep wound such as mine takes time to heal completely. 

The summer I graduated from High School, I heard a woman share about her struggles with deep hurts. Something stirred within me as she told of how she forgave her offenders. I knew that was my next step. 

I’ll always look on this day as a defining moment in my life. I forgave the man who abused me and everyone else who used me. I spoke this out loud to the Lord. I laid it down and let it go, never to pick it up again. This was the beginning of a new process of healing. 

God healed my warped view of sex and men. I honestly had no desire to marry because my only experience of men was they were out to hurt and use me. I couldn’t imagine being intimate with a man, physically or intimately.  After I forgave, He healed my distorted image. He blessed me with a wonderful, gentle, humble man whom I married. 

I have found that my Jesus is so tender, His grace so sweet. He proved His faithfulness to me over and over again. I have plunged into the depths of His love. He surrounds and covers me. He truly is the Lover of my soul. 

Satan’s purpose was to destroy me, but God, (oh how I love those words, but God...) took a broken vessel, made it whole and useful again. I have a message of hope and it’s centered in Jesus. He has sustained me each step on the long road toward healing. He gave me strength in my weakness to let go and forgive, courage to open up and enjoy sweet intimacy. 

Joel 2:25-26 says, “I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten...You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.” 

Restoration-what a sweet word. I have often felt I was cheated of something precious, but God worked wonders for me! He restored what the locusts have eaten. He has given Himself to me. And He more than satisfies. He has worked such a transformation that when I look at the person I used to be, I feel I’m seeing a stranger. 

I have scars on my hands and fingers from past mishaps with knives. One small patch from a hot glue accident. But the pain has been long forgotten. 

I have inward scars you can’t see. The pain is long gone. The wounds have healed completely. Now my painful past has been transformed into a testimony of God’s transforming power. 

I want to encourage you that If you have suffered, turn from your past and fix your eyes upon Him. You will find that His grace is sufficient. Abundant life, freedom, and restoration can be yours. He will heal your wounds. He has the power to transform your life. 

He Himself was wounded. He suffered. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses”. He has scars of His own. He bore the wounds for your healing. He is quite familiar with your pain, your hurts. Beloved, don’t hold back, run to His everlasting, tender arms. 

Find your healing.
Monday's Musings
Mama Moments
Sharing His Beauty
Testimony Tuesday
Purposeful Faith
Intentional Tuesday
A Little R and R
Mom's Morning Coffee
From House to Home
Live Free Thursdays
Thoughtful Thursdays
Beloved Brews
Grace and Truth
The Weekend Brew
Recommandation Saturday
Still Saturday

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Rambling Thursdays

Welcome to a new addition to my blog. A midweek pick-me -up. Nothing serious. Just light reading today. Be sure to stop by and join in. 

I am a trucker’s wife. My husband drove a big rig for about seven years now. I learned quickly to say yes to any invitations to ride along. 

Of course it’s wonderful to ride next to my man, but there are other delights along the way. I’m talking Epicurean delights. Wisconsin is one such place.

It is the cheese capital of the world. There are cheese houses everywhere. Mousehouse is one such place.  Full of cheese, sausages and all sorts of goodies. There are even cheeseheads for Packer fans. It was a "must stop" when we traveled to the cheesy state.

It got out of hand though one day. The day began in the wee hours of the morning. Our first stop was at a truck stop that happened to have a Subway. I love Subway, however it wasn’t remotely close to breakfast time, but hey it smelled so good, my hunger was stirred and weakened by lack of sleep, I buckled under. 

A few hours later we arrived in Wisconsin. My husband had previously made mention of a roadside cafe that he tried and liked. We were running ahead of schedule, so we stopped to have breakfast. Yes, it is now breakfast. I suppose we’ll call Subway a midnight snack? 

I waddled back to the truck. Needless to say, I was filled to capacity. I was done for the day! But there was more to come. 

We delivered our load and turned around to head for home. We took another route home. Why? Because of the aforementioned Mousehouse. And also next door stood a A & W root beer stand. 

We bought a few goodies and then my husband suggested we do lunch. Yea, I know. I hadn’t had a hint of a hunger pain since the wee hours of the morning. I should have stood my ground and said thanks but no thanks. But hey, it's A&W! We really don't have them anymore around our area. It's A&W and I may never come this way again! So I said "Sure", but my gut said, "Don't you dare!" 

But nevertheless, I forced down more food to my harassed stomach. By now I was in a food coma

My gut felt like a rock, distended and bloated. I felt like Adam Richman after one of his crazy Man vs Food challenges. 

I hardly ate the next day. Probably didn't need to eat the rest of the week!

Lets just say I ate my way through Wisconsin that day. 

Anyway, next time you are in the cheesy state, pace yourself. Yours truly, "Glutton for punishment"

Monday, April 20, 2015

Soul Sister Series #11, The Empty Woman

She awoke to the now familiar dread. It had tormented her unceasingly for weeks. She knew what this day would bring. Another day to face the hounding creditors, to flinch at the knock of the door. Another gut wrenching disappointment when the expected money did not arrive. 

She rose and gazed at her two sons. Denial had not allowed the painful reality to linger in her mind. She shoved the unwelcome intruder away again and again. 

It came forcefully this time. She allowed it to stay, and bravely looked at it full in the face. It was time to accept what she had to do. 

Her husband left many debts when he died. Everything she could live without was sold. Yet it was not enough. There was only one thing left to sell.

As she gazed at her sons, a sob began to overtake her. The creditors would be coming any day now to take them away. The debt would be paid by their slavery. 

She had done all that she could do, and still it wasn’t enough. She was exhausted to the bone, yet not ready to concede the struggle to save her family. 

It would take a miracle. Certainly she was familiar with the moving of God. Her husband was a prophet. She’d witnessed the awesome power of God at work through his life. This was a desperate situation, only Divine intervention could save her family now. 

She thought of Elisha, the greatest of the prophets. She decided then to go and find him. Like a death grip she clung to this hope. It was her last chance to save her family. 

Yet when she found him and told her story, his question perplexed her. 

“What do you have in your house?” 

“I have nothing there at all.”

Indeed she had nothing. There was nothing valuable left. She was bankrupt. 

Have you ever felt like this woman? Bone dry empty, with nothing left to give. Nothing in your house, nothing in your life of any significance or of any value. 

I have certainly been there. Many times when I minister to others I feel my weaknesses and inadequacies so strongly; it feels almost foolish to try. I truly feel that I have nothing to give. It seems much safer to keep what I do have, rather than give it away. 

I have felt drained to the core. One more demand, one more pull at my vessel will surely take me over the edge. Just place me back on the shelf, thank you. 

So I remain on the shelf, collecting dust, growing stale and sour. Pour myself out? Impossible when you have nothing to begin with. Yet are we truly as empty as we feel? Or is it a matter of hoarding what we do have? Is there something there that goes beyond our inadequacies? 

“What do you have in your house?”

“I have nothing except a little oil.”

“Then you have enough. We’ll start with that.”

What Elisha told her to do seemed quite foolish. Gather all the empty jars she could and pour out her precious oil? Oh, she could have talked herself right out of this blessing. She needed this oil for herself. Besides she can’t bug her neighbors for their empty jars. How would that look? 

She could have frittered away the hours wondering is this truly was God, if perhaps Elisha misunderstood…or maybe she heard wrong. But she didn’t waver or hesitate. She instantly obeyed. 

After gathering all the jars she could, she and her two sons went into the house and closed the door. Was there a moment of uncertainty when she held up her precious jar of oil and gazed at all the empty jars? Any lingering doubt was overtaken by her bold faith, as she began to pour the oil. 

Three heads stooped to watch as the oil reached the brim. Yet the jar in her hand still had oil. 

“Bring me another one, quickly.” 

She kept pouring and pouring, and the oil kept flowing. “Is there another one?” 

“No there isn’t anymore.” Only then did it stop its miraculous flow. 

Perhaps she regretted not gathering more jars. Yet she had enough to pay off her debts and keep her beloved sons. There was income left over to live on. 

This woman had an incredible faith, pouring out of her need, her emptiness. She thought she had nothing in the house, but God, the All-Sufficient One proved otherwise. It doesn’t matter what you start with, if God is in the equation, you’ll always have more than enough. Many empty jars will be filled from one little pot of oil. 

What do you have in your house?”

“I have nothing…except a little oil.”

“Then you have enough, we’ll start with that.”

Pour out what you have and watch God bless and multiply it. Empty lives will be filled and ministered to. 

A boy with a box lunch of five barley loaves and two fish…How far will that go among so many? It is enough, we’ll start with that. His box lunch fed over five thousand people. He could have looked at his lunch and thought, why even bother? It is so insignificant. What can Jesus do with this? 

Isn’t that the point? Not I don’t know what He can do with this? But, wow, watch what He does with this! Stand aside and watch the miraculous happen. What we by faith take our oil and start pouring, He in turn pours back into us. It is a continual flow. And He gives extravagantly. 

It’s the gift that keeps giving. Our own needs are supplied, and those we have poured into overflow into praise to God. 

There are many empty jars around you. Don’t close yourself up. Don’t be satisfied with a shelf life. You have something valuable to give. It’s the anointing, the presence of Almighty God. Fill those empty lives.

 Link your blog to: Monday's Musings
Mama Moment's Monday
Testimony Tuesday
Intentional Tuesday
A Little R and R
Mom's Morning Coffee
From House to Home
Thoughtful Thursdays
Live Free Thursdays
Faith Barista
Recommendation Saturday
Weekend Brew

Monday, April 13, 2015

Soul Sister's Series, # 10, The Resolute Woman

The decision to move the family to Moab seem logical. After all they surely would starve if they remained in the famine ravaged land of Israel. They intended to stay just for a short time, until the famine ended.

Yet the short time quickly turned into ten years. They settled easily into the pagan land. Eventually Naomi’s two sons married Moabite women, which Jewish law forbid. Life appeared to go smoothly. Naomi looked forward to Grandchildren. Then her life changed forever. Like unwelcome intruders, tragedy after tragedy came and pillaged all that was precious to her. 

First her husband died. Then her two sons died. She came to Moab full, now she is empty and barren. The regrets haunted her day and night. If only we had stayed in Israel. Wouldn’t Jehovah Jireh provide for their needs in spite of the famine? 

This could have been the end of Naomi’s story. A life full of hope now crushed by the bitter consequences of bad decisions. Life had passed her by and left her in the dust. Is there no redemption for one such as her? Is she destined to live out her desolate life in the land of regrets? 

Do you feel as though life is over for you? Has bitter consequences quenched those dreams you used to have? Are you on the sidelines looking on as others participate in the game of life? Why even try? The game is over for me. My opportunity has come and gone. 

Do regrets haunt and taunt you? You blew it; you are getting what you deserve. So get comfortable, you’ll be here the rest of your life. Does this sum up your life at present? Certainly Naomi felt just this way. 

“The Lord Almighty has made my life very bitter. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty.” 

Do you feel as though God Himself is even against you? 

Naomi felt the raw emotions of despair, regret, disillusionment and yes even anger. Yet what Naomi chose to do in spite of her feelings and circumstances inspires us today. 

Naomi chose not to continue in the land of Moab. She packed up the remnants of her shattered life and returned to Israel. Her bold decision affected not only her own life, but the life of her daughter-in-law Ruth. Both of their lives would be forever changed. Ruth was so inspired by Naomi’s courage that she refused to stay also. 
Never underestimate the impact your faith has on others around you. What Naomi did determined Ruth’s destiny. There is a Ruth somewhere in your life and their lives will be affected by your bold acts of faith. 

Things didn’t go well in Israel at first. Naomi and Ruth lived in poverty. She had nothing; no husband, no sons to take care of her. A woman in her condition didn’t have a lot of options. In order to survive she would have to sell houses or land. If she became desperate enough she may have to sell herself into slavery. 

Perhaps she wondered if coming back was a good thing. Yet behind the scenes God was at work. He led Ruth to a field that happened to belong to Boaz, a close relative of Naomi’s former husband. She gathered the grain left on the ground after the reapers had harvested the wheat. 

When Boaz came to the field that morning, he spotted Ruth right away. “Who is that woman working in my field?” When he found out who she was, he showered favor on her, letting her drink from the water jars, telling his workers to drop handfuls on purpose, and inviting her to eat lunch with him. She even took a doggie bag home to Naomi. 

Naomi was astounded at the large amount Ruth had gleaned. “Where did you glean today? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!” 

After Ruth told her about Boaz, she said, “The Lord bless him! He has not stopped showing His kindness to the living and the dead. That man is our close relative; he is one of our kinsman-redeemers.” 

Do you notice a difference in her response here and earlier, when she even thought God was against her? Hope awakened within her for the first time and brightened her countenance. Boaz was a kinsman-redeemer. A kinsman-redeemer looked after needy and helpless family members. He could marry a childless widow and provide an heir. He bought back land that had been sold. He redeemed family members sold into slavery. 

Naomi had no hope for anything better. She lost everything and was powerless to change her situation. She was dependent on a kinsman-redeemer who had the power to restore what had been pillaged from her. 

Boaz did just that. He married Ruth and she had a son named Obed who would become Grandfather to Israel’s greatest king, David. Ruth is also in the lineage of Christ. 

In the beginning of the book of Ruth, Naomi had nothing. Now she is abundantly full. The book closes with her precious Grandson in her lap. This transformation began with her decision to leave Moab. If she had stayed in the land of regrets, she would have remained barren and empty. Ruth never would have known God’s plan for her life. There wouldn’t be a book of Ruth in the Bible. 

It took a bold, reckless faith to turn her back on the awful circumstances, the bitter consequences, the nagging regrets and return to Israel. Naomi had to place herself in a position where God could do His mighty work. Her faith resulted in restoration. 

Will you remain in your personal Moab? Sometimes we would rather continue in our comfortable misery than to leave it all behind to go after what God has for us. If you choose to linger in Moab, you will remain in barrenness. You cannot stay where you are and expect a turnaround in your life. You must position yourself in a place where God can work. 

Turn your back on the regrets and the bitter consequences. Put them far behind you and move toward your God. He is your Kinsman-Redeemer. He alone has the power to bring restoration to your life. Restoration…what a sweet word, what a miracle it is! 

Your Kinsman-Redeemer can restore what has been pillaged. There is redemption for the bad choices. Your life will be full again; you will be a useful vessel in His hands. There is always hope, because you have a precious Kinsman-Redeemer who looks after you. 

He’s already paid the ultimate price on the cross to redeem you from the land of bondage. Rise up and move toward your God. Restoration is just ahead.

 Link your blog to: Monday's Musings
Mama Moments
Testimony Tuesday
Intentional Tuesday
Tell His Story
A Little R and R
Coffee and Conservation
Weekend Brew
Recommendation Saturday
Still Saturday

Monday, April 6, 2015

Soul Sister Series # 9, The Seeking Woman

The screaming disturbed Rahab’s midday nap. Stumbling to her feet, she frantically ran to the window. The normal bustling street had turned into utter chaos. One shrill voice rang out above the commotion, “They’re here! At the river! Millions of them! They’ll be at the walls anytime now.” The people ran wildly, shoving each other in their mad rush to get away. 

Rahab’s heart pounded as the terror unfolded before her. She quickly slammed the shutters and ran to the window in the wall. The scarlet cord hung limp in the window. Never had a simple piece of clothing have so much relevance. Making sure it remained tied securely; she pondered her encounter with the Hebrew spies. 

Did she imagine it? Did it really happen?

Yesterday she was so confident, her faith soared. Her situation looked much different now. The bold statements she’d made seemed quite audacious, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you.” “The Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” 

And then her insistence that she and her family be spared from destruction. Of course the spies agreed. What else would they say? They didn’t want to risk exposure. 

Why would they spare her and crazier still, allow her to become one of them? Surely her bold confidence of yesterday could be nothing more than a wild fantasy. Why would their God Jehovah spare her? He was a Holy God who demanded holy lives. He surely wouldn’t accept a prostitute and an idol worshiper? She deserved to die with the rest of her wicked people. Doubts and fear bullied her, looming over and daring her to believe. 

Yet Jehovah was nothing like their capricious angry Canaanite gods. This God was a deeply personal God. She’d heard the astonishing stories. He delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, and even more amazing, dried up the Red Sea so they could escape the pursuing Egyptians. He fought for them, protected them, and provided food and water in the wilderness. This was a God who reached down to the outcast, the despised of society and brought redemption. 

Something stirred deep in her spirit as she thought about Jehovah. She yearned to belong to Him. This God actually loved and had compassion. Real love was a stranger she’d never met. The many men she knew desired nothing more than her body, there was no love, no intimacy. She felt used up and wrung out. 

Would He love and accept her? Would she be spared from death? Was there a new beginning for a woman such as her? 

She touched the scarlet cloth again. “I know Jehovah is God in heaven above and the earth below,” she whispered. Her simple confession seemed to quiet the fear and doubt. 

She gazed at the scarlet cord, now flapping in the wind. “Give me a sure sign”, she urged the spies. This piece of clothing was her sure sign that her life would be spared. It was her sure sign her life would forever be changed. 

The city of Jericho was gripped in a maelstrom of terror. Yet in this house, peace resided. A prostitute woman dared to believe, she held nothing back to seek after the Living God. And she was richly rewarded. Not only was she spared, she became one of God’s people. Greater still, she is in the lineage of Christ. 

The scarlet cord was enough to save Rahab and her family from destruction. She wasn’t good enough. She couldn’t earn acceptance from a Holy God. A pagan woman was accepted and made righteous, simply because of her bold, reckless faith. 

This goes beyond human reason and logic. God did it because He desired to do so. Even her faith was birthed from God’s Spirit. 

“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

Do you struggle with feelings of insecurity when it comes to God’s love for you? Do doubts and fear loom over you, daring you to believe? “Sure He loves Sister Sue; she has a lot to offer Him. She has talent, beauty and a perfect family. But I am different. I have nothing to offer. I have ugly skeletons in the closet. My circumstances cannot be changed. Love will remain a stranger, so why try? I will surely be rejected.” 

Is this what hell hisses in your ear? Do you hold back from God and all that He has for you? Wouldn’t it be safer to remain here where I feel comfortable? Why take a risk? 

A similar question was asked when the Israelites stood at the river Jordan. The Promised Land lay just beyond. “Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 

What madness is this? A people fresh out of bondage, destitute and wretched, was chosen by Almighty God to be His own. He called them His treasured possession, a holy people, and a kingdom of priests. A people without a land, now will become a kingdom. All this was in their grasp, yet they would never even reach out for it. 

It’s safer to remain in familiar Egypt, yes, even in its misery rather than take a risk into unknown territory. 

Their choice caused them to wander aimlessly for forty years in the wilderness, and then to fall dead never experiencing all that God promised them. He never intended for them to end their lives in such a way. 

This is what makes Rahab so inspiring. She was an object of wrath, deserving of judgment. She had nothing going for her. She never saw the cloud or the pillar of fire. 

She never saw manna, or water gushing from a rock. She never saw the glory of God encircling Mt. Sinai Yet this prostitute; heathen woman had more faith than the Israelites who witnessed all of this. 

She resisted the doubts and fears that hissed, “Who are you that this God would love and accept you?” She pushed the doubt and fear away and ran after her destiny, to know and love the Almighty God.

This is your destiny. God desires this much more than you do. So much so that He would take drastic action to make this possible. Yes, you were an object of wrath, deserving of judgment. Jesus became that object of wrath and took your punishment. 

Do doubts and fears dare you to believe? Need proof that you are accepted and loved, yes just the way you are? Do you hold back wondering if this is another rejection among many you have encountered? Is this love powerful enough to overcome your failures and weaknesses? Look at your scarlet cord and know that your God has always and will always love and accept you. Know that you are His beloved. Gaze on the scarlet cord, the cross. This is all the proof you’ll need. 

Leave your personal Egypt behind, yes even though its misery seems safe and familiar. Go hard after God and into a new adventure. Your bold reckless faith will surely be rewarded.

 Link your blog to:Monday's Musings
Testimony Tuesday
Titus 2 Tuesdays
Intentional Tuesday
A Little R and R
Mom's morning coffee
House to Home
Faith Barista
Weekend Brew