Stubborn Weeds

It was a beautiful mid spring day in New Hampshire, a totally different atmosphere from the snow of just a week ago. I was itching to get to my flower beds as it looked like weeds were taking over. I got my gloves and pruning shears and started to work.

On my hands and knees, I began pulling up plants and grasses that I did not want in my garden. Some came out with very little effort, while others I struggled to remove.

Smaller vine that is everywhere in my yard!

One vine in particular gave me a lot of grief. It seemed the more I pulled on it, the harder it held on and the root system went several inches under the soil and ran in more than one direction.

As I continued to pull, I noticed the vine had several off-shoots that I was eliminating as I pulled on this main root.

I’m not sure if the vine is bittersweet or Japanese hops, but I do know that it grows over everything, creating a barrier so sunlight cannot get through to the plants trying to grow in its’ shadow. It intertwines with other plants, climbing up their branches, and choking the life out of them.

After several hours, I had removed most of the plants I did not want to grow. I was amazed at how that one main vine looked like individual plants, but the root system underneath was actually attached to many plants growing on the surface.

Sin in our life is like that, a thought or group of thoughts within us that leads us to say or do things contrary to God and His Word. Groups of thoughts or behavior that stem from one main sin. They may look like it is only one “problem” area, but others are attached to it. We think they are helping us grow, but they are strangling us.

Choking out other plants as it entangles and grows over them

I think of how God must feel when He is pulling the roots out of the sins I am carrying, thoughts about myself & feelings that I don’t want to let go of.

I am sometimes uncomfortable when God is pulling the weeds out of my heart. I think I need them, and what harm can a little weed here or there do? 

They are strangling the Kingdom fruit He wants to produce in and through my life.

Some of the roots of continued sin in our lives can be very deep, similar to the vine I was describing.

Let’s look at pride as an example. The dictionary definition of pride is “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”

“The Bible defines pride as arrogance, haughtiness and conceit. Pride emphasizes self over others, and it rejects God’s greatness. It leads to destruction.

Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride leads to destruction and arrogance to downfall.”

Root System

Pride is a big “weed” with deep roots that sprawl across our lives and grow other weeds on the surface. It is hard to uproot and does not like to be disturbed or pulled out. If we are to walk in the ways of Jesus, pride has to go and take along with it, the off -shoots that hide within its root system.

What other weeds grow along or stem from pride, you may ask? How about lack of empathy or indifference, wanting control or manipulating others, stubbornness (just like those weeds I was trying to pull out) and defiance, to name a few.

When God starts His “weeding” process, it can be quite painful. sometimes when He starts with one sin, He pulls out others that grow from it. But it is worth it, He is shaping us to be like Jesus, our perfect example.

When I was done with my weeding, my plants were standing tall, unencumbered, and free from the life-choking tentacles that were killing them. Just like you and I, as God continues to weed away our sin, we can be free to grow as He leads, and bear fruit.

Today is a Gift

SMILE!

Today. This 24 hour block of time, will not come again. Like sand through the hourglass, the clock is ticking. I have heard it said that today is a gift, that is why it is called the present. I agree, time is a precious commodity and we are each allotted by our Creator God, a certain amount of time on earth. So, it is a gift. No matter what is happening in our life. We can’t afford to let anything steal the joy out of today.

We need to live each day as if it were our last. It puts life in perspective and we can see more clearly where to focus our time and it teaches us to not sweat the small stuff. We are in this life together. How about if we find ways to encourage each other and in turn, it lifts us too. We need no special equipment to make someone’s day.

Smile. We can share a smile. It lifts your spirit, as well as those around you who receive that beautiful smile of yours! It makes a difference in our attitude and in turn, benefits our health. It is impossible to wear a smile and a frown at the same time. Try smiling right now, the action of smiling always makes me feel better.

Laugh. Learn to laugh with life. Laughing is good for you. Laughter triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body by releasing endorphins. It strengthens the immune system, and protects us from the damaging effects of stress. It seems to ease our cares and inspires hope. It can also help us release anger.

Study’s have shown that children laugh hundreds of times a day.

As adults, it is much less, as life gives us responsibilities and challenges. Find something funny and go ahead, let go a good, belly laugh! Laughter is contagious too and it is one thing that is catchy and we don’t need to be quarantined!

I am not trying to make light of your situation, I don’t know the trials you are facing, but I do know that troubles come to pass. Thank God they do not stay, which leads me to my next point.

Pray to God and give Him praise. Be thankful. Be thankful for today, for all you have right at this moment. To not want for more. To be satisfied.

Be joyful. Take joy in the everyday things…a sweet & sticky kiss, beautiful little toddler fingers covering you with chocolate hugs, reading a favorite book outside on a warm, sunny day, savoring a rainy day, curled up in a warm blanket watching the raindrops on the window pane…truly finding joy in each blessing that we have. Grabbing each moment and squeezing all the life and love out of it.

My final thought, don’t hold a grudge. Forgive, and that includes forgiving yourself. None of us are perfect. Let go of past pains and hurts. It frees you to enjoy today. We can’t control what other people do or say to us but we can control how we react.

I am reminded of the saying, “Let go and let God.” Give it over to Him. Tomorrow is not promised, so make the most of today. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Hold them close. Squeeze the most out of every minute!

Saturday of Life

What does Saturday make you think of? I usually say a day off, end of the workweek, a time to go out and enjoy life. Maybe even a day to party.
But I was listening to a sermon on Good Friday by author & Pastor Max Lucado and he talked about looking at Saturday in a different way. He said not to overlook the Saturday after Jesus was crucified. Many of us jump right to the Resurrection Sunday, which is an awesome day, but what about what was happening or not looking like anything was happening on Saturday. A time of waiting when Heaven seemed to be silent. Silence as the disciples scattered, devastated by the death of Jesus and all hope seemed to be gone.

It got me to thinking about waiting. If you think about it, we spend most of our life waiting, waiting for big things, like:

  • Waiting for the right person to marry
  • Waiting to buy a house
  • Waiting to have children
  • Waiting for the perfect job or to get promoted
  • Waiting for test results can be a big & scary thing to wait for

Some smaller things we wait for could be and we wait on a daily basis for most of these:

  • Waiting in line, at the checkout, at the bank, at the movies, at the drive thru
  • Waiting in traffic or at a light
  • Waiting for others to speak and then we can respond
  • Waiting at an appointment
  • Waiting for the commercial to finish to get back to our favorite show
  • Waiting for our dog to do his business so we can go back inside
  • Waiting for the coffee to brew
  • Wait, wait, wait

We are not very patient at waiting it seems. We want things fast.
Society has changed much over the last few years, it seems we can have things in our hands or done for us faster & faster.

Quick meals via the microwave and now instapot, Meals delivered to our door with a few clicks online, online banking where we can take a picture of a check and it is quickly deposited into our account, fast internet to connect and have a group chat, Skype or other video chats, or look up information, self-diagnose or order products, We have overnight delivery of mail because we need it now! We don’t like to wait.

God tells us we need to know how to wait. But how do we act while we wait? How do we react when God isn’t answering our prayers, when we have asked & asked, even pleaded, knocked & knocked, yet Heaven is silent? When the wait is stealing our joy for today.

Are you in a time of your life where you are waiting? Waiting for this COVID-19 virus to be over, waiting for test results, waiting to go back to work, waiting for the children to go back to school, waiting for money to come in, waiting for a phone call from a loved one, waiting to see & hold your loved ones again.

Waiting can make us weary, like maybe life will never be back to normal or what is was. To be honest, this day number whatever of self-quarantine was leading me to a slump.
How can I encourage you if I am discouraged? The answer is to look to God for my strength. I sometimes want to rush God to get Him to fix areas of my life. I can get anxious when He is not working in ways that I want Him to or ways that I can see or in my time frame. Is He working?

I was recently working on a Bible study and these verses on waiting came up at the perfect time in my life. I needed this encouragement from the LORD today.
“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; In the morning I lay my requests before you and WAIT in expectation.” (Ps. 5:3)                                                                            He hears our voice and we should be waiting expectantly for how He answers!

“We WAIT in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” (ps. 33:20)                        We wait in hope that He will help us and protect us.

“WAIT for the LORD and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land.” (Ps. 37:34) We shall receive all that He promises if we wait and follow His ways.

“I will WAIT for you, O LORD; you will answer, O LORD my God.” (Ps. 38:15)                     We can wait without getting anxious.

“They that WAIT upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isa. 40:31, KJV)
We can wait without getting weary, even though time seems to drag as we wait. He will give us strength. We can run and continue with our life, continue with His plan for us while we wait for answers.
Through everything God is working. He is working all things out according to His purpose. Think back to Good Friday and that Saturday in between, after Jesus died on the cross, Mary waited, Peter waited, James & John waited, the rest of the disciples waited, perhaps even all of creation waited. They did not know that Sunday was coming!

They waited through Friday and that hopelessness dragged into Saturday, but on Sunday morning Jesus rose from the dead! He did what He said He would do! God was still very much at work between Friday & Sunday! I am thankful for the reminder. I am in a Saturday of life right now, maybe you are too…waiting, waiting…most of the world can probably say they are waiting with the Corona virus and the shutdown of life as we know it…we don’t know what is going to happen, what the future holds but God does.

So hold on—Sunday is coming!

Anchored In Him Bible study

I apologize for not posting lately. Exciting things have been happening! I was busy writing a Bible study called, Anchored In Him. It was recently published and is scheduled for release on January 9 wherever you purchase your favorite books!

Here is a little bit about the study:

You can rarely avoid them; the storms of life show up to blow you off course, suck you into a vortex of wavering faith and make you doubt the direction you are going. Storms can drown you, devastate you, and cause you to fall into despair on ever finding your destination safely.

However, there is hope for peace and direction in the storms of life, and that is through GOD.

This Bible study consists of twelve chapters reflecting on aspects
of God’s provision and love that create “anchors” for us to hold
onto when the storms of life batter us relentlessly. I wrote this during
a difficult storm in my own life. I will pass on to you what God revealed to me during quiet times spent in His Word. I pray that you will find this study helpful to you as an individual or to use in a small group…to everyone trying to find refuge in life’s storms.

Let me know what you think at anchoredinhim7@gmail.com

He is my GOD

“This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety: He is my God and I trust Him.” Psalm 91:2

This I declare, some definitions are “to say in a solemn and emphatic manner, to state without hesitation, to swear. My favorite definition is “to broadcast.”

This I broadcast

“about the LORD”: The LORD —Master or Ruler

He alone is my refuge.” Refuge—a condition of being safe & sheltered from danger. The place that I run to when the storm or trial is hitting. The place I can go for shelter from pursuit, danger or trouble. A place of security.

“my place of safety.” safety—the condition of being protected from risk, injury or harm. A place where I am protected from harm. A place I can be at ease because I trust where I am.

“He is my GOD.” GOD—The Creator & Ruler of the universe. The Supreme Being. He is worthy to be worshiped. There is no one above Him. my GOD—I am claiming Him as my GOD, belonging to me. I have a personal relationship with Him.

“And I trust Him.” Trust—firm belief in the reliability, truth, strength or ability of someone or something. To be certain, assured, and convinced. To know that He can be relied upon. That He is my protector and I am His charge. He keeps me & cares for me. He has full custody and I know I can depend on Him.

So my version of Psalm 91:2 is:

I broadcast this about the LORD: He alone is my security and my place where I am protected from harm. Where I can go to cry and laugh, to be myself. I will run to no one else. He is my GOD, The Creator of all & is above all things. He has sole custody of me. He lovingly cares for & protects me as His charge, as His child. I have firm belief that He is not only able but He is willing and is always in the process of caring for me. I rely on Him. I am certain that my hope & trust is in the right place. In my GOD.

He is your GOD too when you believe in His Son Jesus. Some helpful verses to learn more—John 3:16, Romans 3:23, 6:23-24, 5:8, Romans 10:9-13, Acts 16:30-31

No Condemnation

“There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but walk according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:1(NKJV)

It is damaging when others condemn us. I think even more harmful is when we condemn ourselves. We are our harshest critics and we need to know that our heavenly Father does not condemn us.

It is okay to be genuinely sorry or upset with ourselves about something we have done wrong. We need to ask for forgiveness from the person and from God. Genuine sorrow for sin is always given forgiveness from our gracious Heavenly Father. You are set free. Let it go.

“So if the Son sets free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

There is no condemnation for you. Jesus paid our debt when He shed His blood on the cross. The cross took care of ALL our wrong doings once and for all.

Jesus did not come to condemn us, but to save us, to bring us back to a right relationship with God. (John 3:17)

This broken, sinful world may condemn us if we stand up for Jesus and what is right. Don’t allow criticism to sway you or take you off the “right” path. The path the LORD has laid out for you.

We may be condemned if we aren’t a certain weight, look or act a certain way or reach a certain status. That somehow, if we don’t measure up to the worlds measuring stick…we may be of less value. Not true. That is not how God, our Creator, sees us. God loves you. John 3:16

Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you have done wrong, confess and don’t do it again. Jesus clearly tells the woman caught in adultery…

“She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:11

When Jesus set us free, He set us free from ALL the tentacles of sin that try to strangle us, to steal our joy, to get us to doubt our value. That freedom includes being free from self condemnation too. You and I are free my friend! We have a brand new chance. “Neither do I condemn you…” What a wonderful Savior!

Monarch caterpillar 1 day old

God and His stunning creation always amazes and inspires me. I am especially fond of the Monarch butterfly and their life cycle! This Monarch recently hatched and we can already see the signature black, white & yellow strips. It is the size of a fat grain of rice today at one day old.

Check out milkweed plants on your property…hopefully you don’t mow them down! It is the ONLY source of food for the Monarch caterpillars.

Look for little circle nibble marks and it is usually a Monarch caterpillar happily munching!

#IAMHIZ IAMHIZ.blog