Wordless Haiku: Green & Red

The prompt for this week’s Wordless Haiku Challenge from Ronovan: Green and Red. Those who know me well, will have no trouble with this. ;) Indeed, it is the very first (is there any other kind of first?) thing I thought of.  Since I’m late to the party … I’ll go ahead and leave the answer below the pictures …

 

 

Haiku Green and Red

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rich, heavy, fragrant
Candied fruit, nuts, and Sherry
Time to start baking!

Yep — Fruitcake Day is around the corner!!  And if you want a great recipe, I think mine is the best.  Free free to check it out!

 

 

Image Credits:
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commons.wikimedia.org
http://www.freecoloringsheets.net

Hmmmm … Meditation

Mature_tree_on_river-bank_-_geograph.org.uk_-_880939When you hear the word meditate, what comes to mind? Do you imagine a person sitting cross-legged, wrists on knees, saying … hummmmmmmmm.

Dictionary.com defines it this way:
** to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect.
** to engage in, transcendental meditation, devout religious contemplation, or quiescent spiritual introspection.

Quiescent means to be at rest, quiet, still, inactive or motionless. Does that remind you of any Scripture verses? How about Psalm 46:10 (NLT) “Be still and know that I am God.”

What about some synonyms?
Contemplate, brood over, cogitate, consider, deliberate, design, devise, dream, entertain idea, figure, have in mind, intend, moon, mull over, muse, plan, ponder, purpose, put on thinking cap, puzzle over, reflect, revolve, roll, ruminate, say to oneself, scheme, speculate, study, think, think deeply, think over, track, view, weigh

Antonyms?
Dismiss, ignore, neglect

I think the two most recognizable Bible verses regarding meditation are the following:

Joshua 1:8 (NLT) “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lordmeditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Often in reading the Psalms, we come across the little word, Selah. Its exact meaning is not known; but it is believed to mean: pause and think about this, or praise, or even prepare for what’s coming next. In any case, whenever you read the word, Selah–stop.

Selah.  (Yes. Stop, please.)

It’s hard to do, isn’t it?  Clearly, God expects us to meditate on His Word,  but it takes time. In our harried schedules,  slowing down is the last thing we want to do.

But meditating on God’s Word is when our roots grow deep.

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If you only have a few minutes for your quiet time, you’re better off taking 5-10 minutes meditating on a verse or two, rather than reading a whole chapter, saying a quick prayer, closing your Bible and starting your day.  It’s helpful to keep a notepad and pen handy so you can write down the insights the Holy Spirit gives you.

One way to meditate on a verse is to read a verse over and over–each time emphasizing a different word–thus gaining a new perspective each time through. My favorite way to meditate on Scripture is to use a tool in inductive study:  asking the 5 W’s and an H: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. This isn’t running to different commentaries to see what someone else said. Although it’s good to get input from trusted sources, it’s best to start first with just the words of Scripture, letting the Holy Spirit speak to your heart. Don’t do this in a hurry. Take your time.

So, for just a few minutes, let’s meditate on a couple of verses. I’m going to look at it from the perspective of a woman, so you’ll see the pronoun she throughout.

Psalm 1:2-3 “Oh, the joys of [the woman] who …”

“But [she] delights in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. [She is like a tree] planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. [Her] leaves never wither, and [she prospers] in all [she does].”

Who are we talking about?
The woman who delights in the law of the Lord

What is the law of the Lord?
God’s Word

What is significant about this woman?
She delights in the law of the Lord

Hmmm. What does it mean to delight in the law of the Lord?
To enjoy it; to want it; to be pleased with it

What else?
She meditates on the law of the Lord

What does it mean to meditate?
See our definition above!

When – is time associated with this? (When does she meditate?)
She meditates day and night.

Why? (In this case, what is the result?)
She is like a tree.

What kind of tree?
Firmly planted tree

Where is this tree planted?
By streams of water.

What (or why)  is beneficial about being planted by a stream of water?
The tree is close to its source of nutrients – always available.

What is the result of getting enough water?
Yields fruit.

What is fruit?
Fruit is what others enjoy as a result of your life faithfulness to the Lord.

When does it yield fruit?
In its proper season–or the right time.

=> So for the three questions above, we can say that the fruit of this tree is “the right words or actions at the right time.”

What else about the tree (or the man)?
Does not wither–instead–she prospers.

When or How does she prosper?
In whatever she does.

To summarize, we can say:  The woman who enjoys God’s Word, takes time to think deeply about what God says, reflecting on it and being spiritually nourished by it throughout the day. As a result, she is ready and equipped to handle whatever comes her way, blessing others in the process!

I can ask myself:
Am I a tree that is planted close to my source of nutrients? Am I producing fruit that blesses others?

Taking it a step further, I can ask:
Why is the word but there? What is being contrasted?

Look at the antonyms listed.
Am I neglecting the Word of God? And if I am, how does that show up in my life?

The purpose of meditation is to let God transform us into a new person by changing the ways we think, speak, and act.

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MeditationRomans 12:2 (NLT) “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” [Emphasis added.]

I hope that this simple exercise in meditating has shown you how helpful it can be to … s-l-o-w   d-o-w-n to meditate–ponder–contemplate–carefully consider–what God has written in His Word. Maybe tomorrow you can look at some of the other verses.  What will be the result? A life that is firmly planted in the Word of God–not withering, but prospering in all God calls you to do.

Let’s build a forrest!

I’ve had a lot of “life” happening this last week, so I’m a little late to today’s link-up party.  :)  But encouragement is great any time we find it. Right? So …  Tonight, I’m linking up with Holley Gerth, Meredith Bernard, and Woman 2 Woman Ministries.



Tree image by Ian Shiell [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Are You Trusting in Your Own Ability? Or Are You Trusting God with Your Inability?

ps 44 3I often find myself overly confident in my own ability. After all, I am–ME! :) I have a Type-A personality, including all of the typical characteristics that go along with that stereotype. I am determined, disciplined, driven to complete (complete well, I might add), and dependable. Those are good D-words, aren’t they?

Unfortunately, I also exhibit some of the not-so-nice D-words … demanding, domineering, dictatorial … *sigh*… I can’t bring myself to list anymore. (I asked Tim for some more negative examples.  He gave me some, but I thought they were all good qualities. Oh, well. That’s the problem with Type-A. We tend to think we have it all figured out, and then we laugh it off when others don’t agree. Clearly, I have some work to do.)

The Lord reminded me, as He often does, that my confidence is not to be in myself, but in Him, alone.

 

David

Even though he was a mighty warrior, David did not trust in his own strength, skill, or weaponry; he trusted in God for victory and salvation.

Psalm 44:4-8 (NLT)
“You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel.
Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes.
I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me.
You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us.
O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name.” [Emphasis added.]

 

Paul

In Philippians 3, Paul goes into great detail, listing all of his personal accomplishments and how he could, if he wanted to, have confidence in them. But in verses 7-8 he clarifies, “[I] put no confidence in human effort …I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ.” [Emphasis added.]

 

Us

God delights in using those who are weak so that He can show His strength and wisdom.

1 Corinthians 1:26-28, 31 (NLT)Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important … Therefore, as the Scriptures say, ‘If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.'”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)  “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

 

Instead of trusting in your own ability,
trust God to use your inability for His glory!

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When I’m feeling a little too D-ish, the Lord gently and graciously provides an opportunity for me–not–to get it right. It’s downright frustrating to be a Type-A personality and have a major fail. But God uses these times to show me that it’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

What about you? Are you trusting in your “bow or sword,” or your list of accomplishments? Or are you trusting in God alone?

Today I’m linking up some lovely ladies who offer the best in encouragement. If your soul is needing an extra dose, check them out. You won’t be disappointed. <3

           

God Doesn’t Play Hide and Seek

Hide and SeekThis morning I read Psalm 9:9-10 in the NIV, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

I keep a running list of topics or words that I want to study, and when the Lord prompts me with one of those, I jot it down so I don’t forget it. When I have time, I go back to that list and do some studying. My posts here often come from that list. Last week, I wrote the word seek on that list. Since I’m actively “seeking God’s will” in regard to subbing, every time that word pops up, my antennae start to waggle, wanting to understand what God is saying to me about seeking.

That happened this morning with verse 10. “You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” I may have even read it aloud. Because I started to think about two words … seek … and forsake.

Seek means to look for something with extra effort, or to explore.

Forsake is kind of an old word. You find it a lot in the Old Testament, especially in older translations. It means to leave or abandon.

Immediately I thought of Hide & Seek–a game my teenagers still play. Their youth group has a very complicated version of this that they play at their lock-ins.

But have you ever played Hide & Seek and been the one left alone after everyone else ran away?

God is not like that! He does not abandon us–ever! Especially when we are diligently looking for Him! He promises us that when we seek Him, we will find Him!

Proverbs 8:17 (NIV) I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”

Jeremiah 29:13-14 (NIV) You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.”

Matthew 7:7 (NIV) “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Hebrews 13:5 (NIV) Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

… and Another Thing!

One ThingThis week I’m focused on what my priorities are–relative to my ministry. But I set my ministry priorities below a lot of other things.

A lot of “stuff” is going on in my life, and as it does, right now I find myself asking, how does this fit into my priorities overall?

My ministry is One Thing, but it is not my life.

If people guessed my one thing based on my activity, they would probably say my one thing is Guard. After all, I spend a lot of time at football games, competitions, volunteering with parents, working with other Guard moms on special gifts for the girls, etc. But Guard is not my life. It pretty much is for my girls, and I love having a hand in it. But it is not my one thing.

From the outset,  my relationship with the Lord is my first priority.  Then my husband, then my children. Ministry activities come after all of that. Family trumps ministry in my world. For me, that is the right call. Even when my “family thing” is doing something for Guard. That’s the order of things for me.

Still, I have to know what my one thing–overall–is. As usual, the Bible tells us how things should line up.

One day, a young rich man asked Jesus what to do in order to have eternal life. With great compassion, He told him, There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me,” (Mark 10:21, NLT). [Emphasis added.]

This young man had high character; he had obeyed all of the commandments since childhood. But he wanted to know what other actions he needed to do. Jesus addressed his heart, and when He did, the young man walked away sad. He loved his wealth more than the Lord.

Although I say that the Lord is my first priority, I must ask, Is there one thing, I haven’t done that is keeping me from my real one thing? Or, how do I spend my chunks of time? 

How much TV am I watching? How much time do I spend putting together a jigsaw puzzle on my iPad? How much time do I spend reading? Certainly these are ok to some degree. But have they become my time-wasters? Does the amount of time I spend on those indicate that I am not truly focused on my one thing?

Mary had it right.   Jesus told Martha …

Luke 10:41-42 (NLT) “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” [Emphasis added.]

Paul had it right. 

Philippians 3:8,13-14 (NLT) “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” [Emphasis added.]

In Trusting in the Names of God, Catherine Martin quotes F. B. Meyer, “‘One thing’ people are irresistible.”

Who do you know who is a one thing person? What’s it like being around them? Those who I know are passionate about their one thing. They talk about it a lot! And when they do, instead of annoying you with their jibber-jabber, they draw you into their excitement, making you want to be a part of it. They are magnetic.

I want to be like that!
I want people to be irresistibly drawn to Christ in me! But that means, my one thing … must … be … Christ!

My other thing is writing. How that works out in my schedule depends on what is going on in my life in the priorities that come before it. But I do know that Jesus gave me a key.

Matthew 6:31-34 (NIV) “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

When I am seeking the Lord with my whole heart, even in the midst of chaos, He will ensure that I have time for the ministry He has given me. It will take some planning and discipline on my part; it won’t happen magically. But He will see to it that it can happen. And when I mess up and get too busy, He gives second chances.  :)

How about you? How would others describe your one thing based on how you spend/invest your large chunks of time?
Are you like the young man who went away sad because He loved something better than Jesus? Or are you like Mary, who discovered the most important thing?

 

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Today I am linking up with a few groups. Holly Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, the sweet ladies at Woman to Woman Ministries, and Meredith Bernard! Click on the buttons below to be encouraged by other faith-filled women!

 

Wordless Haiku–with ANSWER

It’s been a while since I participated in Ronovan’s Wordless Haiku Challenge. But his prompt today fits with what is going on my life today.  So here it is!  (There are a couple of “articles” not included in the images.) Answer will be posted on Thursday!  Feel free to post your guesses.

 

 

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 7.50.35 AM

 

October 9 — ANSWER:

Abundant harvest
Seems best, but even our souls
Need a time of rest

 

 

Image credits:

http://www.sweetclipart.com
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commons.wikimedia.org
http://www.freeclipartnow.com
http://www.clipartpanda.com
http://www.christart.com
http://www.clker.com

My One Thing

CurlyParaphrased from Curly: The secret of life is this: One thing.  Just … one … thing. You stick to that, and the rest doesn’t matter.

I am evaluating one of my activities–in light of my ministry.

Very often God uses my husband to communicate truth to me. I trust him, and I listen to him; I’m not offended by his insight into my life. He knows me very well. Lately, Tim has been telling me that my subbing is getting in the way of my writing.

So I find myself asking a difficult question, Why do I love subbing? I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it’s because the teachers like me. They know that I can manage their class well and actually teach their material. As an added benefit, my “blonde nature” adds light-heartedness that the students love. They are precious, and I like them! I love bringing a break in their routine. That’s a good thing, right? It can be a ministry, right?

But is it my ministry? Is it my passion?

My ministry passion is to help women know and fall in love with God’s Word and to hear His voice clearly through Scripture.

When we love God’s Word and we’ve heard His voice …
… we spend more time there …
… we get to know The Author, and …
… we fall in love with Him.

All of this leads to a life that is filled with purpose and meaning–not perfection, but fulfilled and meaningful.

Usually, I am leading a Bible study. This year, however, I am a student and enjoying being a part of the group. The break is supposed to give me time to focus on writing–for my blog, but mostly to get a Bible study I wrote several years ago, ready for publication. I have not spent much time on this–in reality, I’ve spent half of one day, which only happened because–yes–I scheduled it into my calendar. My focus is clouded. Getting my Bible ready doesn’t require tons of time every week. But I have a full schedule with my teenagers, and I have parents who need special attention, too. When I add subbing into the mixture, my very limited time for this is almost nonexistent.

In my quiet times this week, a fairly clear pattern is emerging. I love how God takes a little from “this over here,” a little from “that over there,” and then drives home the truth He has been whispering in my ear.

To begin with, there are Mary and Martha.

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT) “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details. There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.'”   [Emphasis added.]

Previously when I read this passage, I always thought of busy-ness. But the other day, I thought, Am I choosing anything that is less than the best?

Psalm 27:4 (NIV)One thing I ask from the Lordthis only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”   [Emphasis added.]

Hmmmmm … Then …
1 Corinthians 9:23-27 (NIV) “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

I began to consider how how subbing fit into my big picture compared to the passion God gave me.

What is my prize? (Or my One thing?)
In my “strict training,” am I eliminating the things that get in the way?
Am I running aimlessly?

When I’m subbing, I am sprinkling salt and light, certainly. But I’m only there for a short time. The teachers who are there, day in and day out, have the significant impact.

It’s fitting that a good friend encouraged me to read The Best Yes, by Lysa TerKeurst. I already have the book. I’ve read the first three chapters. I need to finish it. But when? If I can’t answer that question, I have a problem!

There is a lot of good in subbing. I am not a school teacher by trade. I can teach, and I enjoy it; but not enough to make it a career. Teaching students is far different than teaching women’s Bible studies. I have deep respect for school teachers.

I have to know that I am investing my limited time how God wants me to invest it. And right now, I’m questioning. I will miss some of my teacher friends. And … admittedly … I’m a little afraid about what some people will thing about this decision, especially those who are not ministry focused. But I also know that I am to please God and honor Him–not man.

I have a few commitments for this month. Beyond that, I will not accept anymore assignments until I am 100% sure.

What about you? Maybe you aren’t overwhelmed with a busy schedule, but are you investing your time the way God wants you to?

What is your one thing? Are you focused on it?

What needs to change so that you are? Will it be a difficult decision to make?

 

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Image Credit: Property of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., City Slickers, 1991.