More of a Mess than a Manuscript

As the New Year arrives and it seems everyone is thinking resolutions,lightstock_142968_small_helena_ I am doing something completely different.  A few days ago I decided to go back and read my prayer journal for 2015.  The journal is nothing fancy… an old fashioned college rule COMPOSITION BOOK.  When I write in it I use one writing instrument exclusively… an extra fine mechanical pencil and only one brand of those is acceptable.  I guess that is part of my quirky nature that makes me a writer.  God doesn’t care what I write with or what my handwriting looks like… He is oblivious to spelling and grammar and punctuation?  But He does like it that I actually focus my attention on what I’m writing to Him… the cell phone is put down, the TV is turned off, even the dogs have to make their nests somewhere besides my lap.

Reading the journal confirmed that I do not spend time with God everyday… perfectly; never missing a day 365 days each year.  In fact it exposed a haphazard, inconsistent totally unscheduled pattern of prayer entries.  4 days, skip 1, 1 day, skip 3, 7 days, skip 2 yeah… pretty much like that all year long.  In fact I had one month that had not a single prayer entry… my silent absence screamed off the page to me when I realized that.

In the midst of my unfaithfulness I experienced His grace for me… that He wanted me to return no matter how long it had been, no matter how far I had strayed, no matter the condition I was in when I finally turned back.  Those entries began by thanking Him for always being there.  Eventually I realized that I had wandered but I was never alone in my wanderings for He would never leave me or forsake me.  Where I went, Christ went also; gently and persistently reminding me of His love, His forgiveness and His grace.  As the year progressed the absences grew shorter and less frequent.

The prayer entries varied in length as well.  A paragraph or two; four pages of anxious, scribbled slashing; two sheets of calm, neat penmanship; a page of joyful, loopy words with underlines, hearts, smiley faces and exclamation points for emphasis!  I just lay it all out there… my frustrations, my hopes, my fears all tumble onto the page in an attempt to reach His heart.  I never follow a format… at times praise happened, thankfulness happened, joy was expressed.  But my prayer journal is more of a mess than a manuscript… and in 2015 God used it tremendously in my life!

I rarely read my journal entries after I write them.  I’m usually afraid to read it… afraid of it in the same way a close look in the mirror can cause great discomfort.  All the extra pounds, gray hair, wrinkles; every imperfection shows up… how will I go on in life after seeing myself like that?  Reading my prayer journal exposed it all!

On those pages…

I trembled in anxiety and fear… for my family, my finances, my future!

God listened.

I railed at God… my heart full of anger, doubt and questioning.

God listened.

I wept in self-pity.

God listened.

I approached God as almighty, all knowing, all powerful… basically seeing Him through the eyes of an abandoned, frightened, wide-eyed little girl who crept into the room with God and hid behind a chair whispering her prayers.

God listened.

I sat before him buried in shame from my past.

God listened.

Several months into my 2015 prayer journal my focus shifted… it was less about me and more about Him.  I sampled different names for God… Almighty, Heavenly Father, Father God, Daddy God… then one day I called him Papa and our hearts connected.  I told Him all about stuff… the hurts, failures and the forgiveness I craved.  I spewed out all the lies I hear in my head, the accusations and condemnation, my vulnerability showed and so did my pride and critical spirit.  Papa came through with His truth!

I began to write a while… and then listen… write some more.

I poured out my love, concerns and desires for my family, my friends, other women I knew were hurting, confused, suffering from loss and destruction in their lives.  I searched the Word for just the right words to pray… I began to forget about me for a time and focus on them.  Breathing got easier and time seemed to fly by whenever I sat with that composition book and bible in my lap.

Flair-ups came, emotions got triggered, and old habits reappeared that are difficult to stop… it’s all there on the pages of my prayer journal.  But inside me… fear and anxiety are being replaced with peace and assurance; lies are replaced with truth; bitterness and rejection are being replaced with forgiveness and concern for others; sadness and loss are replaced with comfort and love.

Because God listened… and I listened to Him.

2016… I’m a few days into the year and I’ve missed a day or two with my prayer journal.  But it’s there… waiting for me.  And as I pour my heart out onto the pages God listens.

A Prayer

Almighty God… Heavenly Father… Papa,

In the midst of all that is happening in this world today, billions of people, political, economic and social upheaval and destruction; monumental needs… still you listen to me, Your child.  Personal, present and compassionate You sit with me every time I return to You.  You nurture, counsel, comfort and guide me with all wisdom and grace.  Your patience for me is boundless… Your love for me is everlasting! Thank you that in 2016 You will draw me… beckon me… wait for me to return to You in prayer and then You will listen. 

In Jesus Name,  Amen

 

Just As If Nothing Ever Happened

I’ve made a new friend recently.  That’s not altogether unusual… I think we all continue to acquire friendships throughout our livelightstock_181315_small_helena_s as we engage in new activities or jobs; relocate to new communities or finally have a conversation with someone we had as an acquaintance for many years.  But making this new friend is something rather special.  Something that taught me again that…

  • God’s Way Works

Several months ago I attended a ministry meeting at church.  During the meeting the group facilitator asked a question and I gave a heartfelt answer stemming from my personal experience and relationship with God.  Within moments a woman sitting next to me intervened.  She said for those in the group who had not had the “spiritual experiences” I had, she needed to restate the answer… give an answer she felt was more suitable to the group.  Her comments stung!  They felt critical, sarcastic and embarrassing.    And I was confused… this woman had never actually met me.  Why was she so critical of what I had said?  She didn’t even know me. If I could have escaped the room I would have run and hid.

I ruminated on the words the woman said for several days.  The incident had taken me by surprise.  I was also frustrated because I had been so shocked by her comments I no longer remembered what I had said that sparked them.  Had I really been so obnoxious about my “spiritual experiences” that a round “put down” was called for?  Why did someone who didn’t even know me lash out… especially at a ministry meeting in front of a group of people?

  • God’s Instructions

As I listening to God’s still small voice I wanted to ignore Him.  I felt hurt and angry.  But His instructions were so clear and direct and compelling…

“Go on interacting with her just as if nothing had ever happened.  There’s more going on than you see… trust me, forgive and treat her as a friend.”

I wondered at the time about going to her… sharing with her that her words had offended me, possibly asking what it was all about.  Doesn’t the Word instruct us to go to the other person when we are offended?  But that was not what I felt God was telling me to do in this case… he wanted forgiveness without explanation or confrontation of any kind.  His instructions said to let go of the offense and release any hard feelings I had toward this person.  He wanted me to be ready to greet her warmly, as if she had not given me any occasion to complain about her; to treat her kindly as if she had not injured me… He reminded me that is how He treats me when He forgives me.  It was a tall request God was asking… one I was not sure I could fulfill.

It was a couple of weeks before I saw the woman again at church… I thought to slip by her and act as though I never saw her… but the catch in my spirit said, “NO… go greet her!”  I complied and greeted her warmly then moved on.  Nothing happened; it didn’t fix anything.  Her words still stung but I reminded myself of God’s instructions… “Just as if nothing had ever happened… treat her as a friend!” Time went by… I refused to nurse the offense as much as I actually wanted to.  The Lord had just been so clear, so compelling and somehow at the same time comforting.  So I put the offense out of my mind… “Just as if nothing had ever happened.”

Fast forward several months…

I had occasion to spend several days in close proximity with this nice lady… and that’s exactly what she was – Nice!  We chatted and got to know each other… found we had some things in common.  In the next couple weeks I invited her to my home and we talked and prayed together… found even more common ground and I experienced the powerful ways God uses this new friend to minister to others, including me.  I asked God, “What’s up with this?  She’s really nice!  I want her as a friend for many years to come Lord!”

  • A real, biblical friendship is born…

Just a few weeks ago I finally shared with my friend the struggle I had with our first encounter.  Honest and tender feelings were talked about; prayed about; forgiveness was cemented in my heart.    I openly admitted that in the time since the incident I realized that deep down I knew my friend had not meant to be critical or in any way hurtful… it was my bruised and defensive ego that had gotten offended when it really didn’t need to be.  My friend openly admitted that sarcasm is a problem she struggles with… she was quick to ask forgiveness and I felt her deep sorrow for what had happened.   We both understood that we have a real spiritual enemy out there and from the first time we met he did not want this relationship to happen.  But now the victory was ours.  We walked away from each other full of peace and joy.

So I have a new, wonderful and precious friend.  And in my heart and in my mind… Nothing ever happened!

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Col 3:12-14

A Prayer

Father God I thank you for my precious friend and her soft and caring heart.  I thank you for your instructions… for your comfort and for your love.  Show me when my bruised and defensive ego chooses offense over forgiveness.  Continue to teach me to forgive as you have forgiven me… pure, simple forgiveness just as if nothing had ever happened.  And above all help me to put on love, which binds us together in perfect harmony.  Without You Lord just think of the friendship I would have missed. 

Tarnished Reality… Glorious Light

Its Christmas time and I am struggling with a bruised and battered heart.  As the season unfolds; my thinking bounces around… from the hurts of my past – to my inadequacy in the present – to the uncertainty of my future.  I run a gauntlet of thoughts that recount my failures… point out my broken relationships… remind me of all that is lost.

I’m struck by how our culture’s “Christmas decorum” is entrenched in my thinking. Images of Christmas perfection are projected unto the screen in my head.  While I cower among shadowy accusers… fingers point at me and then at the screen; voices call out and compare my tarnished reality with the angelic rejoicing I see there. I find myself trying to inject sparkle, glimmer and glitz in an effort to oust the darkness that has settled in my heart.

The battle is real… it rages quietly under the surface as I plan our family gathering, shop for presents and decorate my home.  It’s not new… or profound… or uncommon.  That’s why, in the middle of this season of joy I’m sharing with you the struggle within.

Because…

This Christmas, God is doing what God does… sending Jesus time and time again into my life to be the light that pierces the darkness of my thinking. He sends Jesus through my precious husband and son and daughters and through sisters in Christ who listen… and pray with me and for mBright lights with mangere.  He sends Jesus through his Word that speaks the truth I need to hear.

What do I need to hear in the midst of this Christmas struggle?

Jesus comes to me even when I am cowering in the darkness.  He shows me that tenderness and love overcomes offense and failure every time.  His poverty and frailty exposes the ugly pride and gaudy excesses that the devil uses to destroy me.  There is nothing more tender and helpless than a newborn baby.  He doesn’t point to a false perfection… He gently and tenderly heals and reshapes my broken heart.  God uses the birth of a baby to scatter my accusers and bring me into His glorious light!

A Prayer

Thank you Father for the gift of your son Jesus. You have fought the devils lies and accusations with the mighty force of a frail and tiny baby.  His light defeats the darkness… His comfort heals my broken heart… His love restores my soul.  All Glory to the newborn King!

Goodness

I crack my eyes open to the dusty light… stretch beneath the comforter and yawn, filling my lungs with the cool, crisp air of an early morning.  Slowly, I become aware of the creaking, murmuring noises my husband makes as he brews coffee and tends our wood-burning stove.  I’m not alone… glancing at my canine companion I see her stretch… and roll… stretch again in her own fleece lined dog bed.  I’d like to remain there… snuggled in sweetness and warmth.  Thank you Jesus, for the goodness of the morning!

Not all my days begin with sweetness.  The alarm clangs; the dogs whine and bark; the phone shatters the stillness or the door slams shut as my husband exists for work.  Instead of the gradual stirring of thankfulness, my thoughts assault me with expectations.  The day looms with tasks to be completed, frustrations to be faced, and temptations to be resisted.  I must rise and sort out all the “what’s next… what if… why does it have to be this way” questions that din around in my head.  I’d like to bury my head beneath the covers and shut out the day… sometimes my heart prefers darkness to light, foolishly thinking I’ll find refuge there. Help me Jesus, to face this morning!

  • The goodness of Jesus prevails

No matter how I experience the morning, God promises His childlightstock_251401_small_helena_

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6)

God’s goodness is simple and awesome; majestic and comforting all at the same time.  God’s goodness has poured out of Him from the beginning of time; His goodness is the essence of all creation.  Goodness inhabits the starry sky, towering mountains and massive seas… all because He called them good.  Overcoming our sin, Jesus is the redemption of that good.  Bright sunshine and moonlit nights proclaim… the goodness of the Lord will prevail.

  • Goodness is intentional… not accidental or natural

Too often I forget the goodness of Jesus living within me.  My view of Him is clouded and distorted by… well, by me!  I’m focused on my past failures or my present circumstances.  I remember the false excuse I gave, the food I couldn’t resist and the anger I unleashed… it’s easy to see I’ve been anything but good.  The moment I forget about His goodness and begin relying on my own I’m in trouble… there is only one who is good, Jesus.  His goodness and His love are intentional and he demonstrates them to us every moment of every day.  No failure or disappointment will cause Jesus to remove it.

  • God’s goodness leads us to repentance.

It’s easy to see the turmoil in every part of the world today… it’s all over the news.  I experience fear and uncertainty, anger and frustration, greed and lust splattered everywhere around me.  Sometimes I want to tuck my head under whatever is handy and shut out the day… maybe I can find refuge in food, drink or Facebook… only to have my heavy heart get heavier and my dim spirit struggle against the darkness.  But Jesus is light.  If instead I focus on Jesus goodness He warms my heart and comforts my soul.

Jesus was focused and intentional when He suffered and died for the everyday sins that I commit.  The mark of His life within me is His goodness.  Goodness deliberately, intentionally prefers right and resists wrong.  There is always the opportunity for wrong… goodness is the choice to reject wrong in favor of good.  An easy example… it’s my choice to reject the hurtful words I want to say in favor of good, uplifting or forgiving ones.  When I focus on all the ways Jesus has been good to me today I have the opportunity to allow the goodness of Christ to reign in my heart.

  • The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble…

Without a sense of God’s goodness I struggle to experience His love – that’s why the devil uses my bad to convince me how unlovable I am.  It is the realization that even when I’m not good enough… “Jesus in me” is my good enough.

Every evening we have a routine… my little, aging Chihuahua needs to be placed in her spot to sleep.  It has to happen or she will wander, whine and create a fuss.  For a tiny dog her yowl can be ear piercing.  She demands our attention, refuses to settle herself and shows no appreciation for anything we have provided that day.  No one is going to rest in the house until she is tucked securely in her spot.  First we lay a polar fleece baby blanket at the foot of the bed, place her gently on top of one half and fold the other half over her.  Then, a second fleece is laid over her to form a cave… a refuge from the night air… a place she can burrow and tuck her nose for warmth.  Quiet and goodness rest there all night.

That is the picture of God’s goodness caring for you.  It is goodness and love coming together in you… to create your relationship with Jesus.  He is your refuge… your goodness… and every day you can trust in Him.  In the midst of your busyness, frustration or pain; God’s goodness and love will follow you all the days of your life, and you will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Scripture: Psalm 23:6; Nahum 1:7; 2 Peter 1:5

A Prayer

 Thank you Father, that your goodness and love truly follow me all the days of my life.  In Christ I find refuge from the struggles of life; His goodness reigns in my heart.  You pour out your love and comfort; you quiet me and give good gifts to me.  Help me open my eyes to see you are the source of all good things… every morning.  Help me rest in the power of your great love forever.

Please feel free to contact me by completing the “prayer request” form or the “contact me” form.  Both are confidential and are not posted on the webpage but are emailed directly to me.  You may indicate if you would like an email response from me.  Or… you can simply add a public comment below and post it to this blog.

 

Stepping Stones… Revealing God’s Plan

“Lord, your word says you have a plan for me… a good plan… for my good and to give me a hope for my future.  Lord, what is that plan?  What does it look like exactly and how and when will I see it fulfilled in my life?  I want to know Lord!  I thought I knew Lord… I thought when I stepped out and started that business, or when I got involved in that ministry, or when I married my husband and we started our family that I was doing what you planned and that it would definitely lead me to a future filled with hope and joy.  But God, now I’m not so sure.  I look around and my current life doesn’t look like what I expected… we’ve lost the business, the gift and talent you placed in me hasn’t been fulfilled in ministry; my husband and I are uncertain about our future.  What is happening God?  How can I know I’m following your path… your plan?”

I recently said a prayer that sounded very much like this.  It was closely followed by several conversations with women who were asking themselves and God the exact same questions… each of us struggling with uncertainty; struggling with the pain of disappointment over the past; struggling with big questions about our future.  God’s grace and His word speak truth in response to our heart felt questions…

The struggle happens when I view God’s plan as a specific role, position or achievement in life that, once reached, will somehow secure my future.  I want an “X marks the spot” and a map of how to get there.  I want God to specify my job or my ministry, where I live, who I marry or how many children I have.  Now, I know absolutely that God knew all those specifics about my life long before I was born… but still, they do not constitute God’s plan.

  • From the moment I turn my back on my old life God’s plan is for me to participate in the life of Jesus.

God’s plan is to renew my mind; mold my heart and transform my life into the glory of His son… Jesus Christ.  God’s plan is not a destination but a moment by moment journey.  Are there specifics along the way?  Sure there are… but they are not the goal or the thing by which God brings us into His kingdom.  The picture here is of Jesus leading and directing me on His path; where He goes… I go.  What He does… I do.

  • Jesus lives in me… I want to build on what I have been given.

Everything that goes into God’s plan for my life; into pleasing God, is given to me as I get to know Gargrave_stepping_stonesJesus personally and intimately.   God has laid stepping stones that clearly show me His path.  Jesus leads me… one step at a time.  And as He shows me what to do He also shows me how to do it… what my heart attitude needs to be.  As I walk along with Jesus I imitate Him… honesty – displayed in my business dealings, gentleness and patience – shared with my family, strength – shown to the doctors in the hospital, trust – when I lose my job, my retirement and my home.  Jesus teaches me to add to my faith… the qualities that enhance my effectiveness in sharing Him with those around me.  God’s plan for me starts the moment I surrender my life to Jesus and continues as I increasingly participate in His life and in His character.

  • Looking at my circumstances… focusing on my feelings… hanging on to what I expect or want life to look like means I lose sight of God’s direction for today.

It’s easy for me to blindly go through my day oblivious to the fact that Jesus wiped all my sins off the books and that he holds nothing against me that will separate me from heaven.  My perspective becomes narrow and my focus is on me… no rejoicing in my salvation, no thankfulness for Jesus… sometimes I just want what I want, when I want it.  That’s why it is so important that I commit my day to the Lord in prayer first… early in the morning… before I start anything else.  He gently reminds me of His presence and His everlasting love for me.  He infuses my spirit with His Spirit through His Word.  Jesus takes up His position… He leads, I follow.

  • Do what God sets before me to do today.

What I do today is not insignificant, not good enough or a waste of time. It is where God has me for today.  God doesn’t waste anything!  The way I conduct myself with my family, in my job and out in the community is important!  Jesus is always teaching me something… warm friendliness, passionate patience, sure determination, gentle acceptance, and generous love… these are the character traits that lead to excellence and integrity.  They are what I learn from Jesus when I participate in His life in and through me.

  • Find joy in the moment… no day will pass without my experiencing the life of Jesus within me.

I realize that with each moment comes an opportunity to take my time with what I am doing, time to explore and get the most out of whatever it is.  It is all important, and the joy of seeking and hearing the voice of the Lord in the moment fills me.  In Christ I avoid the trap of thinking that what I do today is the only thing that determines where I will be down the road.  It is “a” step… not “the” step.  Sometimes I put so much focus on individual situations that I either try too hard to do it perfectly or I get overwhelmed at its importance, get discouraged and quit.

  • Jesus keeps moving forward… He doesn’t stop and He doesn’t look back.

Do what God sets before me to do tomorrow and each day thereafter. When I look back I focus on my failures or miss-steps.  Jesus says, “Keep going.”  If I stop I guarantee much time will be wasted… He tells me to stick with Him.  I’m on firm footing, solid ground; a path leading through my circumstances, no matter what they are.  With these qualities growing in my life, He will use them to mature and complete me… according to His plan.

 Scripture: 2 Peter 1: 3-10

 A Prayer

 Father thank you that your plan for my life is for me to fully participate in the life of Jesus!  You have given me everything I need for a godly life through Jesus when He called me by his own glory and goodness.  My hearts desire is to increasingly walk in His character.  Every step I take with Jesus is an opportunity to add to my faith… goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love in increasing measure.  These are the things that bring peace and joy in the midst of my days, despite my trails and oblivious to my failures.  I thank you Father, the in Jesus I will not stumble on your path… I see your plan for my life fulfilled!

 

God Showed Me a Fig Tree…

Autumn is my favorite time of year, the magnificent amber, crimson and gold show the glory of God’s creation and I am reminded of His goodness.  However autumn is coming to an end in North Iowa… the wind coming from the west/northwest has a bite to it.  The air is colder with the Sunset at the hay fielddamp pungent smell of turned earth and dried leaves.  The sky is deep blue with clouds tinged red beneath heavy gray, giving immense beauty to the harvested countryside while reminding me that winter coming on.

Personally, I am not a typical winter enthusiast.  I don’t relish snow or participate in cold, snowy adventures building snowmen or flying down hills on planks of wood.  I’m more the “curl up by the fire” sort of person.  I love to wrap myself in a cocoon of blankets with a good book.  I’m half Italian; my mother’s family all first generation immigrants from that temperate Mediterranean country so I often think I was mistakenly transplanted in life… I was really supposed to live only in a warm climate.  But obviously that was never God’s plan for my life… I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in snowy, cold climates with the firm and clear direction from the Lord to bloom where I am planted.  “But God,” I say, “I’m not supposed to be here… in this place of frigid temperatures and biting winds.  How will I survive?”

  • God showed me a fig tree…

Several years ago Steve and I went to visit my Aunt and Uncle in Brooklyn, NY.  It was several days of hearty Italian meals and loud, boisterous crowds of extended family.  Compared to our quiet, subdued lifestyle we felt transplanted to another world while we were there.  One morning we rose to find my Uncle Paul outside in the back yard wrapping heavy brown burlap around a tree.  He cocooned the tree from bottom to top, gently bending the branches upwards as he went.  Then, he twinned rope around the now skinny tree and tied it off at the top.  What was he doing?  What kind of tree was that?13jpFIGTREE1-master315

My uncle was wrapping a fig tree for the winter.  Fig trees grow in the Mediterranean… especially Italy.  My uncle had imported his prized tree from Italy and bragged about the delicious fruit he harvested from it.  But for it to survive a New York winter, he wrapped it up and kept it protected… warm and dry.  He told us that he would leave it wrapped up like that deep into the spring, until the ground and air temperature actually made the tree seem to sweat in its winter coat.  When he removes the wrapping, he told us there would already be fruit on the branches… ready to ripen through the summer, sweet and moist.

  • God created us for the garden… we live in the world

God’s perfect plan for us was to live in the garden… walking beside Him in His sweet, fragrant presence.  Always cared for… always secure.  His plan was lost… but His care and provision for each one of us is still exactly what we need to thrive.  We are like the fig tree in my uncle’s backyard… meant to live one place but transplanted to another.  In summer… when the sun is shining and the air is hot and humid we feel right at home.  Winter can be a different story…

  • God wraps us up…

Winter can be tough… sometimes even devastating.  A fig tree left unprotected in a frigid climate will surely die.  But wrapped in burlap, secured with rope and the fig tree not only survives, it thrives.  So it is the same with us.  Seasons change in our lives as well.  The warmth of summer when we are excited about what God is doing in our lives and anxious to share his love and grace to our loved ones, friends and co-workers is a wonderful time.  But when the tough times come… when struggles and doubts blow us about like dried leaves it is time to recognize that we need to draw back and wrap ourselves against winter.

  • Wrapped in the Word and Prayer

When it turns cold… I love to wrap myself in a cocoon of blankets with a good book.  There is no book more important in my life than the Bible.  God’s word gently bends my barren thoughts and pushes them towards Him.  When I’m sure I’m right he shows me that my way of thinking will leave me exposed to the elements… sure to be stung with frost and beaten by the wind.  At times the Lord wraps me in His arms, comforting the hurt and encouraging me to trust… Only He can bring that kind of warmth in the dead of winter.  God’s word teaches, corrects and trains me as I am wrapped against the onslaught of life.  I share my heart with Him in prayer and He listens… then responds, encouraging me to return time and time again to cocoon myself in His word.

  • Emerging to bear fruit…

Amazingly a winter wrapped fig tree, while wrapped in the burlap, has groFig_Tree_(Ficus_Carica)_-_detail_-_geograph.org.uk_-_562736wn new leaves and comes out of the wrapping with fruit already on it.  Most of the work to produce happens while it is in its winter cocoon.  A tree that was intended for mild, sunny days is not hindered or defeated by its harsh environment.  Nor are we… our time wrapped in the presence of God will produce in us the fruit of the Spirit of God… that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  We emerge into our life, our family, or jobs… transformed by the renewing of our mind and hearts… bearing fruit.

The fig tree doesn’t live its entire life in a cocoon… it is meant to live in my Uncle’s backyard.  It provides figs and also shades the patio and gives refuge for the many birds that visit his feeders.  We don’t live our lives constantly in a cocoon.  We are meant for this world… bringing kindness to our neighbors, a listening ear to the hurting, lending a hand where it is needed.  We are to be like the Mediterranean fig tree growing in Brooklyn New York… in this world but not of it… thriving in our environment for the glory of God and His Son Jesus.

A Prayer

Father God, thank you for the warm, sunny days of my life when I breeze through life full of joy and peace.  Thank you also for the change of seasons… and the opportunity those changes bring.  In the cold and blustery times in my life you are there Lord… wrapping my in your love, grace and wisdom.  I will seek you in your Word and find you when I seek you with all my heat.  I will submit to your bending and wrapping me Father… so the fruit of Your Spirit will be produced. 

Please feel free to contact me by completing the “prayer request” form or the “contact me” form.  Both are confidential and are not posted on the webpage but are emailed directly to me.  You may indicate if you would like an email response from me.  Or… you can simply add a public comment below and post it to this blog.