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Archive for August, 2012

I am not much of a gardener. In fact I don’t like to garden. I have two rose bushes on our back patio. Roses are my favorite flower. When the coral bush first started, I was surprised by how many blossoms there were. The bush produced two clumps of three and four flowers. It was beautiful. I was so proud of it (the fact I hadn’t killed it yet).

Before

Then several weeks later it seemed to have suddenly died. I thought maybe if I pruned off the dead branches it would grow again. Two weeks later nothing wanted to grow. I gave up. My husband on the other hand, didn’t. He chopped more off to the point there were only bear stems.

One day I walked out and noticed green sprouts and today there are more blossoms then I had at first.
It reminds me of the passage in John fifteen which talks about the vine and branches. When I became one of God’s children I made a decision to be a part of Christ and His work. In order for me to grow in my walk and faith I must eat and drink (prayer and read the word) so that I can grow.

But there are times when life seems to be stale and growth is little or non-existent. Those are the times I must be vulnerable to the perfect Gardener.   He needs to prune me. He will show me the things in my life that are dead and non effective. Growth may be inhibited by a habit, doubt, fear or something I don’t even know exists. He wants to cut it off to allow new growth. He also uses hardships in my life to prune me as well so I can see myself and the area I require trust.

Other times He will prune “good” things out of my life in order for the best to occur. There were some branches of the rose bush I left because there was still some green leaves, but that didn’t help. It wasn’t until my husband cut the bush down to almost nothing did the new growth occur.

After Pruning

I have been involved in ministries or projects that were good but I had not listened to God’s prompting to stop. It wasn’t until I listened and allowed God to cut those activities off when my growth, and focus took off. Did it hurt? More than anyone can know. I wasn’t happy but I did have peace and I was able to bloom.

Are there areas of your life God is asking to cut off? Is there resistance on your part? Why?

Ask Him today to give you the strength to allow Him to prune you. If  He is allowed, it may hurt but the beauty that will come through the process is nothing compared to what you had.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes  so that it will be even more fruitful.”    (John 15:2  NIV 1984)

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The fog is so thick; I can hardly see the hand in front of me. I know the spot I am in, yet I don’t know which way to go or what to do. I don’t want to take the wrong path so I stand confused, frustrated and frozen.

This is the feeling I get some days when I’m not feeling confident in who I am, what I’m doing, what God has called me to do, or overwhelmed with life in general.

When I started my second year as our church’s MOPS (Mother of preschoolers) Discussion Group Coordinator, I was given a DVD about my position. The longer I watched, the more my stomach turned into knots. I wasn’t doing anything they were saying to do. Did I mention I’m a rule-follower and love outlines?

As I walked to the mail box, I begged God’s forgiveness for being a lousy Coordinator; and for ill-equipping them to do their jobs. I also told Him I was overwhelmed with all the information and there was no way I would be able to implement all they said in two weeks.

Flipping through the mail I found a small card from one of the discussion group leaders. “I’m really not interested in going to a candle party, or a pampered chief party.”  I said to myself.

But it wasn’t an invitation. One of my leaders had written a “Thank You” note stating how much she appreciated the time I took to make sure that everyone was ready to serve.

Sobbing, I quickly went to email her to tell her what the note meant to me. Then she said the most amazing thing. “I kept forgetting to send it. I wanted to send it to you four days ago.”

God’s timing is everything. He knew I needed that note, that day. I learned a powerful. When I am in “fog” ask the ultimate encouragement-giver and He will send it.

I like to think of these as God’s hugs to me.

We all need encouragement from time to time. When I solicit encouragement from people, many times it leaves me emptier. I need to allow God to bring His encouragement, in His timing, in the means He chooses.

Warning: you may not receive it right away, but His timing is perfect.

But it goes both ways. As I listen to Him, many times I send a card or e-mail that another person needed just at that time it was received.

I have prayed that through writing — whether it be devotionals, blog posts or articles — all who read the words would feel as if God were giving them a hug of encouragement.

Are you in a “foggy”, overwhelming time?

Ask God to send you an encouraging hug. Then be patient. He may not send it right away but wait expectantly to feel His loving arms embrace you.

 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  I Thessalonians 5:11

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Last year I attended the Experiencing God Bible Study at our church. I would highly recommend it to anyone. One of the exercises was to do a “God walk”.  We were to go to a park or beach and talk to Him and listen for His voice. By the way, listening is hard.

While I walked and prayed I met up with my niece and her third grade class. I had forgotten that they would be there. My niece had asked if I would go and I told her no. The leaders asked if I wanted to join them and again I said no, that I was there for a Bible Study assignment, a prayer walk. The leaders were gracious. One even said, “Tell Him I will talk to Him later.”

I didn’t get more than a few yards, and guilt overwhelmed me. I felt God prodding me back to the group. I didn’t want to. He reminded me that I had asked a few minutes prior why I was doing this. What did He want me to do or say? I gave in and turned back. In the end I apologized to my Father and the leaders for my prideful response. I also made my niece’s day.

I tried to do a “God Walk” every month. Needless to say it went by the way side.

Fast forward a year. A few months ago, I was struggling in every area of my life; my priorities, being  a mother, a wife and as a writer. I felt in my spirit I needed to take a “God Walk”. Strange how God works, the day I made the decision, I started a new Bible study entitled “The Circle Maker”. That night the assignment was to find a place, and time to pray every day for twenty-one days and pray for one situation or person (my personality won’t let me do that so there were several people/issues I chose).  Through this study we learned how to pray hard (persistence), bold (asking for the impossible) and pray for God’s sovereign will.

I chose seven in the morning and to walk around the block (less likely to be distracted). It reminded me of Genesis, and how God walked with Adam and Eve and the intimacy they had with the Father. The first time I poured my heart out. When I got back I felt renewed and excited to see how the Father would answer in unexpected ways.

The “God Walk” is becoming a new habit. When I don’t do it, I find that my day is miserable. It has provided me a new way of connecting with God. I am beginning to recognize His voice, praying scripture and trusting My Father will answer even if it is the impossible.

Do you spend time just praying and listening? He desires time with us to grow our relationship with Him.

Set up a time or place (it doesn’t have to be a walk) to just talk to the Father.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
Ephesians 6:18

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