Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Do I Really Know?

Trailing After God with Melinda Todd

Philippians 4:8 NIV Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
How do I know?  How does anyone really know?  We know because God took the time to tell us!  Philippians 4:8 as a sample tells us a lot of things we need to know.  That God needs us to understand.

You can read the rest of this post, and join the conversation over at Trailing After God.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Living Waters

We have rather smart cows (for cows, that is).  They know what is good, what is safe and when to seek shelter.  They also know to trust us to take care of them.

We have a few sources of water during the year.  In summer it is the usual automatic waterer, the swimming hole  and the seep water which comes up from the ground near the house.

In winter the automatic waterer is the only game in town.  It stays fresh because they use it every day and sometimes many times during the day.  In summer it is used less and it gets algae and it isn't very fresh after a day in the sun.

The swimming hole in dry years like this one, is sandy, warm and full of frogs, dragonflies and although it is fed by a deep spring the water there is hard to reach.  You have to go further out to get the fresh water and most cows won't do that.

The seep water, which may seem nasty to us, is filtered though sand and peat so it is fresh and clean, it never gets stagnant and it is easy to access.  They drink there most often.  They know where to get the best water to sustain them.

It got me thinking about the water Jesus promised at the well in John 4.  The woman couldn't reach the good, life and soul saving water until Jesus showed her!

She has choices of water from the well of society which was stagnant, confined and easily polluted.  She was married and in relationships. She was offered easy, but not clean water in life.

Samaritan woman she could not access the holy water of Jerusalem.  Being a woman and of a despised group kept her from the fresher water that was hard to get at.

She came to the well, knowing only a bucket could reach deep enough, and wondered at the man who waited there.  (You and I both know Jesus was waiting for her and had been all her life!)  His questions, her answers, His water, her thirst.

Her question - how do we reach this water? And His assurances that the way was right in front of her made an eternal difference in her life.  An eternal difference in the lives of many women since!

Jesus told her, this woman who any sane Jew would reject if not stone, that it was for her that He would bring the living waters! 

" 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

What a promise!  At the well, in the town where everyone not only knew her name but what she was, she was able to bring back to her people the message of living waters, of eternal life.  Of waters within reach. Waters for the soul. Waters to quench hell's fires. Waters to wash anyone clean, even her!

Are you standing at stagnant waters? Pushing aside algae to drink it stale and warm?

Are you wading in way too deep into waters that are so hard to reach?  Are you losing your footing and falling?

Are you willing to seek the Living Waters? Easy to find, clean and soul quenching!  Are you willing to give up your present self to become what He knows you are in Him?

Surely if some shaggy cows created by His holy Hand can figure out what is the best water, we His children should be able to find it...the Way is written down for us to follow!  There is no deep well, no buckets or ropes. No one counting our sips or gulps. No one measuring our consumption of grace.

Praying that we, you and me, because we all lose our way sometimes, can find our way to the clean, clear waters that wait for us in Jesus!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Six Years Ago

1 Corinthians 2:5 (NIV)

"so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power."

Six years ago tonight, this was my heart's foundation, this was my prayer.  After days of struggling in pain to convince nurses and doctors to listen to me I was drugged up in preparation for what they called an emergency c-section.  This little one inside of me struggling to be born needed help.  I needed help.

God listened and He brought us through.  He provided a wonderful doctor when mine was on his holidays.  He provided an amazing surgeon who saw right away our distress.  He gave me a wonderful husband and supportive friends and family. 

Six years ago tonight I surrendered my life to God and offered to Him the life I carried.  I surrendered my wishes to His power and grace.  I was able to rest.  I was able to face the morning with calm. 

God heard the secret prayer in my heart to be a Mama.  A good Mama.  To show myself, and those who doubted, that I could do it.  God blessed us with an amazing son.

Six years ago tonight, I held my husband's hand and prayed for him.  Prayed for us.  God gave us peace.  God gave us rest.  God must have smiled knowing what lay ahead.  Okay, maybe God laughed out loud!

Tonight, for the first time since he was born my husband isn't here, Daddy isn't here.  Our hearts hurt with that distance and yet again God is giving us peace. God is giving us grace.  God is asking our surrender to His will.  And we are giving it. Freely.

This body, that carried him when I thought it would carry no child, hugs her 'big boy' and realizes that the surrender was more than one night.  It was the surrender of not being a morning person and the surrender of nights  and it was the surrender of so many things I don't even miss!

The tears, the fears, the giggles, and endless questions bless me.  The struggles to learn, the soaring after grasping something, the little helper hands making big messes and the wonder of seeing him grow in his faith.

If there is nothing else I do that matters.  If no one reads another word I type, another poem I share.  If no one sees another photo I take or another page I scrap.  If my voice is silenced except for one thing, that he lives and loves God, then I will have done enough.

His faith encourages and inspires me.  He sees God so personally and loves Him so deeply.  He shows me how to love God as a child and in that love I find my own way to love God that way too!

Six years ago tonight I could have had no understanding of how much that baby, toddler and little boy has brought me closer to God, to my husband and to my faith.

He sleeps, the excited slumber of an 'almost 6 years old boy' and I look back, praises and wonder still, thinking of him, of his Daddy, of our family of three.  I'm awed and amazed and filled with wonder all over again.

Thank you God for this shining light You blessed us with.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Digging Up Seeds

We plant seeds in order to grow something new and in that growing we have to trust.

We have to trust what is happening we cannot see.

In the garden or flowerbed, when you plant a seed do you dig it up to see what it is doing?  No! You'd likely kill it.  We plant seeds and let them grow.  God asks us to plant seeds.  He does not ask us to rip them up to see if He is doing anything!

My life, your life, my testimony or yours - are you digging up your seeds?

Slide on over to Matthew 13 - read about sowing seeds. Read about harvesting.  Read about good soil and poor soil.  Read about weeds.  You won't read about digging up seeds!

When we share the Gospel and live God's grace we are planting seeds.  Our words, our love, our caring nurture those seeds.  The soil, the condition of the listener's heart, is God's domain

Think of it this way - where do seeds grow best?  In darkness, with water, soil, heat and patience.  Does not matter if you are planting oak trees  or seasonal grasses.  Seeds do not grow well when they are disturbed.  Neither do the spirits of people.

Plant the seeds.  Be faithful to those who need encouragement, water them with love, shine on them with grace but don't disturb their growth.  Don't dig in their dark places, where the growing is happening, leave that to God.  

Pray for discernement in your nurturing and love. Be faithful and prayerful.  Don't be high pressure, poking the ground, don't be judgemental, seeing what that seed is doing already and don't expect that just because you helped in the sowing that what you reap will resemble you!  Our witness is to glorify God.  Not us. Not a pastor. Not a faith leader.  God!

The seeds that are sown will grow into what God designed.  God loves the wildness and beauty of His creation.  What do we do?  Grow places, people and learning that looks the same, needs to be the same and rejects much that is not the same.  

We are, when we get caught up in the gotta be more like me or gotta be more like our church, creating a GMO (genetically modified organism in the plant world) version of faith.  It conforms.  It is expected to grow the same, harvest the same.  Look and sound the same.  We start ministering to ourselves because it is safer.

God never asked us to dig up His seeds!  He never promised safe.  He promised abundant, eternal, everlasting, gracefilled and redeemed.  God wants us to plant, and tend but leave the dark growing, budding and bursting through to life in His Holy Hands.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Strands of Three

9Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
10If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
11Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We are a cord of three strands this little family of mine.  We are Mama, Daddy and Lukee.  We stick together even when we are miles apart.  Our faith unites us, our love binds us together and our devotion to each other keeps us strong.  God gave us the blessing of each other. Without Him there would be no us.

We are also each individual a cord of three strands.  We are mind, body and spirit united in God.  He keeps us together, in faith, through grace.  Redeemed.  Beloved.  Cherished. Protected. Strong together in Him.

What happens to a cord when one or two strands are frayed or worn?  What happens when they lose their close connection to each other?  What happens when we stop holding together and start pulling apart?

We become weak, we lose our strength and we lose each other.  When we get pulled apart, those are the times we need to stick together.  When I, or he or all of us feel like we are being ignored or we are not being heard, that is our signal to stop.  Pray. Pull together.  We each have an equally important role to play.   Equal but not the same.

Mind, body and spirit are the very same.  When our bodies and our minds draw away from God and our spirit we can lose that focus, that pull that keeps us together.  When it feels like I'm falling apart I know something is out of balance.  That one of my strands is not holding together with the others. 

Ropes can be fixed. They can be spliced, braided and repaired.   Sometimes when a rope is broken you can weave a new rope into it and create something brand new.  God is the Master weaver, and can bring us into a bigger rope, a stronger place.  He is without limit, if we can let go and give to Him the strands which are His already to weave into His will. 

In a rescue rope or a climbing rope each strand has a special job.  Some strands lend strength, others are the ones who provide unity to the other strands and some surround the entire rope protecting it.  We each have a role to play in the ropes God has woven us into.  What wonderful grace! What a grounding thought!

God wove this rope, He brought these strands together.  Each strand, alone, is weak. It cannot carry much or give much.  Together, however, together we are so much more!

It pains me deeply when I see sisters and brothers in Christ gnawing away, cutting and chopping at the ropes which God weaves.  It hurts my heart when people can't put the false gods of this world behind to stick together as children of the Living God.  I feel so sad when I see people crying for someone to help them and find that they are turned away for not being the right kind.  When the cords of community, the strands of grace are cut in the name of status, celebrity or anything else of this world.

Together we are so much more. Who are your strands?  Who has God woven you together with?  How can you stay strong, become strong again and resist being cut at by the world?  By grace, through prayer and with great love.  It takes more love to stay strong together than it does to fall away and fall apart.  How do you stay strong together?  What strands are in your rope that God has woven?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Berries, frogs and bird song

Watering my plants tonight, the rains we got were not enough. The lawn is crispy and brown, the plants wilt waiting for a drink.  I let the water flow, sprinkle on them.  Let them drink it up.  I start to think about watering our lives and the blessings we can miss by looking for easy fruit.

My raspberries are thorny and tangled and hide beneath their leaves wonderful, blood red fruit.  The best berries are not out waiting in the open for picking!  They hide, among the thorns, under leaves and in the back by the warm stucco wall.  Looking for them takes patience and along the way  there are other wonders to behold!  A snake, hunting, in their branches, pauses by my hand.  The bees, checking for the last sweetness, buzz by. The ants feast on the final fruit of an older cane.  The birds rustle in their nest and a fledgling tests her wings near by.

Blessings are like this too!  How many blessings do we miss being busy with the busy of life?  How many do we think we are going to find waiting for us?  How many are in line for coffee or flying outside our window or playing in the next room?

I was feeling really frustrated and low about some things someone said, feeling they said them in love, and I didn't understand.  I felt I was being judged and found lacking in some human, social, people person thing.  I really confused and hurt.

Fleeing to my garden I started to water, first with the hose and then while the sprinkler ratcheted it's way around the garden I reached into the almost empty rain barrel and pulled my watering can.  Waters sloshed around the bottom weakly and I went to toss it on the lawn.  What slipped out was a very tired little tree frog!  I picked it up and let it rest in my hand.  When I went to let it go, it crawled up my arm and held on.  Have you ever seen the perfection in the toes of a frog?  We spent a few moments together, and I could feel God smile!  If He made me okay for His creation then I was okay!

Good enough for God and the critters!  Knowing in my heart that this frog was my blessing in the moment I let the hurt go, I let the confusion go, I let it all go.  I held on to God.  I held on to the bird song, the trusting frog, the rescued dogs and the waddling pregnant cat who showed up.  I held on to my loving husband and precious son.  I held on to Him who blessed me with wildflowers, bird song and love.

Don't miss your blessings by looking for them in easy to access packages!  There are eagles flying over head, are you watching?  There are hummingbirds following you, can you hear them?  There are tickles and giggles to share, are you ready to let loose?  Remember past the thorns, stiff canes and sneaky leaves are the bright, sweet fruit of blessings!  They aren't meant to be easy, but they are meant to be found!