Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Hopping Good Time

Right after Jerry and I turned in to bed tonight, my oldest son, Carter, came to our door.  "Could you guys come help me?  There is a baby rabbit in my room and I am having trouble catching it."  

I need to pause here in the story to let you know that we do have baby bunnies right now, but they are not inside.  They are not big enough to hop and have not even opened their eyes yet.  So, while many of you might be thinking that this could be a normal announcement at the Custer house, this is a first!

We have caught many things in our funny farmhouse.  Mice are pretty normal around here.  We have found a couple of little snakes in the basement.  One time I was walking through the hall downstairs, and there was a great big toad just sitting there looking at me.  I yelled for the kids and they said, "Oh yeah, we found him in our window well and we were playing with him.  We just forgot to put him back!"

I guess the most plausible explanation for the little rabbit we found is that the cats probably brought him in to play with him.  He must have gotten away from them and was hiding out in the basement.  Either that, or there is a mother rabbit hiding out down there as well!  This is regular life here on the funny farm!  Never a dull moment - not even at bedtime.

Just so you know, we caught the bunny and placed him safely outside, away from the house.  Hopefully, he avoids the cats and finds his mother.  It was the best I could when catching a wild rabbit in my house at 10:30 on a Sunday evening.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Real Cup of Encouragement

Jerry and I spent the day traveling from thing to thing.  From ball games to parking lot pig conversations to parties, we hit it all today.  And along the way, we enjoyed lots of family, friends, and even some new folks.  It was a delightful way to spend a Saturday!

At our last stop of the evening, as I sat on the back deck under the stars talking with the other guests, I was served "tea and ice cream sundaes" by the cutest waitresses ever, one of whom was wearing pink fairy wings.  The tea was light and airy, and the sundaes were visually delicious, especially with the pink play dough cherry on top!  It was a fun game and my friend and I were happy to play along, but when our servers came around again with an actual, edible dessert, we dove right in.  My conversational companion accepted the treat from the tray and remarked, "Oh please, especially since it is real!"

One of my favorite things is to offer encouragement to people who are feeling discouraged.  I have even sometimes offered it, like my winged waitress, in the form of some delectable treat (though I'd like to think mine were more edible.). But I am careful to offer more than just what is pretty and nice to look upon.  If my encouragement is only meant for show, and not based on truth, then it will not really be encouraging at all.

It is good and right for little girls to play dress up and tea party, but when we grow up, we must do more than that!  We need to make sure that the "Cup of Encouragement" that we offer is brimming full with the richness of truth and the warmth of Love that can only come from God.  As we serve up that kind of encouragement, those that we are serving will say, "Oh yes, especially since it is real!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life Lessons I Learned in the Garden

Lesson # 3 Setting Boundaries

I walked into my garden today to find one of my chickens digging up my freshly planted lettuce.  That was just the motivation I needed to finish painting the pickets for my garden fence.  I love my chickens, but they are wreaking havoc in my garden!  I am happy to say that these mess makers  are finally fenced out of my produce.

Since I will be speaking on relationships soon, I have been studying the Romans 12 passage that outlines how to do relationships God's way.  Verse 16 says, "Live in harmony with one another.”  So often, we have trouble living in harmony with others because we fail to have boundaries in place.  God never says that we should just open every part of our lives to each person we come in contact with, nor does He say we should be willing to let anyone trample over us.  

It is wise to set boundaries, even with the ones we love.  Just as my chickens are an important part of my life, many people are important to me.  But also like my chickens, I shouldn't let everyone free range in all parts of my life.  I have found this to be especially true with my students.  Though I consider them like my children, is not wise or appropriate for me to allow them open access to my personal life. My own children mean the world to me, but there are times and places that are reserved for just Jerry and I.  My husband and I are one, but even that relationship should not overshadow my time with God.

I found myself becoming angry with my chickens when they made a mess in my garden, but I realized that this wasn't fair since I had not set proper boundaries for them.  Without a fence in place, I couldn't expect my feathered friends to know what was acceptable to me.  Likewise, I can't expect the people in my life to know my boundaries if I do not make them clear.  

Boundaries help others to know and understand our expectations and limitations.  They are not just fences meant to exclude people, they are borders set to protect us and the people we love from trampling our tender growth and the vine that produces our fruit.

Now that my fence is in place, my chickens can wander around the yard, enjoying their freedom, but staying out of my garden!  Now, if I could just keep the birds out of my blackberries!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


It really is exciting to see my plants coming up.  My sugar snap peas look really healthy, and I added some of the lettuce I grew from seeds in the milk cartons to those beds today as well.  I am covering everything with chicken wire until my fencing is complete, so I am limited in the beds I can use.

I also have lettuce and spinach growing in one of my small raised beds.  I keep this one covered by an old wire chicken tractor.  I also grew these from seed in the milk cartons.

Here are a few of the other successes.  Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, and some more loose leaf and romaine mix lettuce.  These will get planted once the fence is finished.

Our little Uriah has a hurt leg.  He caught it in some pallets while he was playing and had it stuck for a while before we found him.  We were happy to learn that it is only a sprain, and he is well on his way to recovery!

I spent some time this evening looking around Cornercopia and planning some things in my head.  I see flower beds that need redone, plants that need to be moved, things that need to be built.  But most of all, I see progress!  I am starting to see what this place might become.  Like Agnes always reminds me - Rome wasn't built in a day - neither was Cornercopia!  We sure are having fun building it though!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Along for the Ride

When I was a little girl, riding in the back seat of my parents' car, I never paid attention to where we were going or how we got there.  Even as I began to drive, I only learned the way if I was the one driving.  In college, my friends and I ventured to the town where my Grandparents had lived all my life, but I could not find my way there without calling for directions.  Everyone made fun of me because the route that I had traveled for years was still not familiar to me.

Recently, I attended an event that I would not have normally chosen to attend.  For some reason, I spontaneously accepted, and I found myself spending the evening with a young woman who was also surprised to find herself there.  After an hour in the car together and a chat over dinner, we both recognized the evening as a divine appointment.  With little in common other than our faith, neither of us would have likely sought conversation with the other, but what we discovered was a new friendship and an evening of encouragement.

Early in my spiritual life, I may have treated this occurrence just like riding with my parents.  With little thought to where I was going and how I got there, I would not have recognized the divine appointment.  But with spiritual maturity, I have learned the importance of recognizing God's leading in my life.  I no longer go along for the ride with no thought to he journey, but instead, I look for opportunities to join in on whatever God has place me in the midst of.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Question

I have recently received some really good feedback on the "Linking Our Story With His Story" conference. A few people have also inquired about having me do the conference again for other churches. Since this is the vision I have had from the beginning, these requests have made me realize that I need to continue working in that direction.

I spent a good bit of time today revising the booklet that goes along with the conference.  I am planning to have it printed in full color as well.  I am also thinking about combining the booklet with the other information to make a full study.  

I am really looking forward to sitting down with my team next week and making plans about how to go forward!  In the meantime, I am writing new conference material on relationships from Romans 12 for the women's conference in Buckingham in June. I have been looking back over some of my previous writing on this topic and I am getting really excited. 

As I plan, I have a question for you:  When you attend a conference or seminar, do you prefer to just listen to lecture, or would you prefer some interaction/activity as well?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Search

I was very busy the other day, so when I needed the phone book from the other room, I sent one of the kids to get it for me.  “The phone book is on the third shelf down, on the bookshelf in the office,” I instructed.  It wasn’t but a moment later when he came back to report that he couldn’t find it.  “Are you sure,” I asked, puzzled.  “I am sure that I saw it there.  

“Nope,” he replied, “Couldn’t find it.”  I hopped up quickly to check for myself and, sure enough, there was the phone book, exactly as I had described.  “Oh,” he said sheepishly, “I didn’t see it”
Why is it that two people can look in the same place for the same thing, and one can see it while the other seems hopelessly blind?  Could it be that the success of the search depends upon the heart of the one searching?  Is it possible that motive can actually determine the outcome of a hunt?
Perhaps this is the very reason that many people can read the very same passage of Scripture, yet only a few come away with a valuable nugget of wisdom that changes the path of their lives.  Though the words were the same, those that read the passage with a heart that was truly searching for the wisdom, found a treasure that went unseen by others.  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Wild and Wonderful Day!

It has been a wild and wonderful day!  It started out last night when we saw one of the frogs hanging out in the pond.  This is the first time we have seen him since the fall.  He likes to come out at night and sit on the rocks with just his head out of the water.  

Today, our friend Betz and her dad brought over their rooster, Curious.  We hatched Curious and Betz's other chickens a couple of springs ago.  Unfortunately, Curios has not been playing nice lately, so he is coming back to live here for now.  We have him hanging out in his own private coop until he learns his surroundings.  Later this week, we are hoping to get some new laying hens, so we will probably give them to Curious to take care of.

As we were getting prepared for Carter's birthday celebration today, I found a little milk snake in the backyard.  Jerry loves snakes!  He played with him for a few minutes and then moved him out of the yard.

Today was Carter's 17th birthday!  That is wild enough all on its own!

We had a cookout with some family and friends.  The big tree in our backyard makes a great dining room.  It's my favorite room in (or out) of the whole house!  I absolutely LOVE a big table filled with people I love!

After the party, I was in the backyard and heard yelling from Ms. Agnes's house.  I went running over, thinking she may have fallen.  My mom had stopped by to visit and they were trying to chase the cow who always gets out of the pasture behind Agnes house.  Agnes worries that it may get in the road.  As they followed the cow into the backyard, they came upon a 5 foot black snake.  That is when they yelled for help.  I used Ms. Agnes's garden rake to pin him down and tossed him over into the cow pasture.  

Soon, we had a whole gathering at Agnes's house, including the snake who decide to return.  He seemed bent on going up the deck steps, probably looking for a birds nest.  

Another neighbor stopped over to share some fresh turkey breast from his hunt Saturday, and he and Carter caught the snake.  After we let all the kids get a good look at the snake, Carter took it down the street to the woods.  Even some of us (I won't name names) who don't care for snakes joined in the adventure.

I was proud of my Mom.  She chased a cow AND stared down a snake today!  What a wild and wonderful day!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Pain

As I said goodnight to my oldest child tonight, I reminded him that, in about a half an hour, seventeen years ago, he woke me up with a very awful pain!  My back labor began at midnight and didn't stop until I had an epidural.  Carter wasn't born until my c-section at 5:45 PM the next evening!

It really is amazing how I can remember all the details of that event with certain clarity, but I cannot conjure up the feeling of the pain I experienced.  As a matter of fact, I remember the story quite fondly. How is it possible that the most (physically) painful experience of my life could be one of my most favorite memories?  I'm sure it has something to do with the prize at the end - my baby!  But I also think that the idea of coming through such a difficult experience and surviving, and recovering, makes the whole ordeal something I want to talk about.  Perhaps that is why most women like to share their labor stories.

Just like a group of moms at a baby shower, I also like to share other painful experiences I have had with others going through something similar.  I have endured some other things that have been the most (emotionally) painful experiences of my life.  When I come upon someone going through a difficult time, I tell them bits of my story so that they know that they are not alone.  The best part of that storytelling though, is sharing how I survived and recovered!  When I can say, "I have been through that and look where I am now," it gives people hope!

I can hardly believe that boy is going to be 17 years old tomorrow!  What a challenge - what a gift - he has been!  I wouldn't trade a second of it (well maybe a second).  But I have also enjoyed the privilege of watching him become such an amazing young man.  God has blessed him and grown him through so many things already.  I am excited to see where this life takes him.

Friday, April 11, 2014

On the Corner

After several weeks of Ipad trouble, (I've been blogging from Jerry's) I am now using my new Ipad Mini.  I didn't go in to the Apple store planning on the mini, but it fits very comfortably in my hands, and it weighs practically nothing!  I am testing it out and will decide if it's a keeper in the next couple of days.

I was just scrolling through Facebook, and I noticed a picture of some of my friends' kids playing on my hammock!  The picture was taken last month, but it made me smile and realize how much joy it brings me when people have fun at my home.  Jerry and I love to share the animals, the garden, and the various projects on which we are working.  It seems very fitting that God placed us on this corner (hence the name "Cornercopia") where people frequently pass by.  It is not unusual for people to stop in just to see what is going on.

We have been working pretty hard at the Funny Farm lately.  We borrowed a friend's tractor to help us spread the wood chips that our local tree guy has been dropping off faithfully since last Fall.  These chips cover the black plastic around our raised beds in the vegetable garden, in the blackberry patch, under the big tree by the house, and around the chicken and rabbit coops.  The tractor was helpful, but also fun!

The black plastic helps cut down on our weeding time and blocks our biggest garden enemy - wire grass!

The blackberries are finally all pinned up!  Isn't it beautiful?  And just in time - we are just starting to see leaves!

Here is the current view of the garden.  It may seem empty now, but we have just doubled our space!  Now we are ready to begin adding raised beds.  Soon, this garden will be full of green plants and yummy veggies.

If you are near our corner, stop by for a visit!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beautiful Day!

It was a beautiful day and I spent most of it outdoors!  I took my creative writing class outside and then I came home and planted lettuce.  I let the goats out and watched them enjoy the grass that really was greener on the other side.  I talked to a neighbor and another neighbor - oh, and another one too!  Everyone was out enjoying the beautiful day.  Then, this evening, I hung out at the baseball field - more outside time!

Jerry and I spent a little time today discussing our funny farm plans.  We are contemplating fencing a portion of the front yard.  About half of our property is in the front and is completely unused.  That's a lot of grass to mow when it could be feeding the goats.  We are trying to think of the best use for our little 2 acres.

Baby rabbits should be born this weekend.  Chicks arrive Wednesday.  Pigs should be here within the next week or two.  Exciting times at Cornercopia!  You should come for a visit!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Good Way

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16

I cleaned (some of) my house today.  I think someone should call the paper!  

All joking aside, I have really been praying about my struggle for organization and focus lately.  After Jason's sermon on Sunday and my post about God maintaining the world, I also went to Scripture to try to search for answers.  I felt directed to the creation story in Genesis, and I was hopeful as I began to read.  I felt a little like Carter, "Just give me a list - tell me what to do."

I did find a list in Genesis, even if it wasn't exactly the kind of list I was looking for.  This list described God's daily activity while setting up the order of the world.  Try as I might, I couldn't connect "Let there be light" with cleaning my bathroom or organizing the pantry, but after meditating on God's creation, I did find wisdom that applies to my issue.  The funny thing is that I have heard this wisdom before.

The thought that struck me this morning, as I was thinking about the creation, was that God did one thing at a time.  Not only did He not try to do too many things at once, He only did one big thing each day.  When He completed each task, He sat back and enjoyed His work.  His tasks were planned out, well ordered, completed, and when He was finished - He rested!

These words were interesting to me, because I have been given the advice to approach my home in this very same way by my dear friend and neighbor, Agnes.  She always says to me, "You can only do one thing at a time."  She also tells me that she plans one project for each day.  She certainly does other things every day, but she always tries to have one special task.  This has always puzzled me, because I feel like I need to cram many things into my days.

My Mom and I were just discussing gardening the other day as we stood and watched while a neighbor plowed up a friend's garden.  We were reminiscing about my grandaddy's garden and how it was that he was able to keep such a large garden weed free.  My mom noted that, while Grandaddy worked full time, he did not have other activities vying for his time and attention.  Gardening was his activity, therefore he was able to give it the attention it needed.  

Today, we are busy with so many things that we feel like we have an attention deficit, when in fact, we actually have a peace deficit.  We try to do too many things at once, and too many things in a day.  We should slow down and look back.  We should talk to the people that remember how to slow down.  We should learn from them and from God.  Then we will not feel rushed, overwhelmed, distracted, and stressed.  Instead, we will feel satisfied, accomplished, and rested!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Creating Order

Today's sermon was interesting.  It was like a super fast roller coaster ride through the book of Job.  The point was that God knows what He is doing, and I think the point was made well.  There was one part that jumped right out at me, and it hit me as revelation, but probably not at all in the way our pastor, Jason, had intended.  I love the way God's Word can speak to each individual in just the way they need it at the time!

Jason read a part of Job where God was explaining how He maintains the world.  Since I have been struggling with maintaining my little part of the world lately, my ears really perked up at this statement!  God knows what it's like to have a lot going on.  He is an expert on multitasking.  He understands how challenging it is to have lots of children, animals to care for, the desire to create, and the passion to help others.  He gets it because that is what He does!

It shouldn't have taken me this long to come to this conclusion, but here was my revelation:  if God understands my struggle because He is the King of running the world, shouldn't I be asking Him for help?  Is it possible that the very One who created me with all of my quirks, just might be the One to help me figure out how to do this life?  Perhaps, the Creator of order might be able to help me create some order in my own life? Duh!

“Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
Do you count the months till they bear?
Do you know the time they give birth?”
Job 39:1-2

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Family Name

We just finished watching a couple of the early episodes of Undercover Boss.  One in particular was the episode where the CEO of a popular restaurant chain does some undercover public opinion polling about the popularity of his company.  He was surprised to learn that many people did not view his restaurant favorably.  

Others do not necessarily see us as we see ourselves.  I have experienced this in several ways today.  I was talking to friend who had a difficult relationship with her employer.  While her boss claimed to be religious, and even encouraged my friend to read Scripture, she did not treat her employee fairly or with kindness.  My friend expressed dismay that this person would consider herself a Christian.

I talked with another person today who was told that Christians are judgmental and legalistic.  Public opinion polls for Christians seem to be revealing why Christianity is not popular.  I recently saw a church marquee sign that said something like, "If all Christians acted like you, would you want to become a Christian?"  

I once had an experience like that in Walmart.  I was standing in line behind a woman I recognized from church when she became very ugly with the sales lady.  God revealed to me that I had often acted very much like that woman.  It was a shock to see myself in that light, and it changed the way I behave.  I realized that if I acted that way and people knew I was a Christian, I would be giving my Christian family a bad name. 

Christians are human and will therefore sin and make mistakes, but we also have access to the power of God, through Jesus Christ, that enables us to live in a different way.  As for the feeling that Christians are judgmental and legalistic, we ought to pay closer attention to James 2:12-13.

"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment."

And for those Christians who think they can preach it but not live it, Jesus tells it differently!

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:35

Friday, April 4, 2014

To Change or Not to Change

She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
Proverbs 31:14

The first of the month is somewhat stressful for me.  We live on a super slim grocery budget and I strive to do the bulk of my shopping at the beginning of the month.  While it may seem to be more work to do it that way, it does take all of the burden off of the meal planning for the rest of the month.  I have a system that I use to plan my menu and grocery list.  This system includes a complete inventory of what I already have.  It usually works well.

This month, the first fell during our Spring Break.  We don't normally take kids along for our big shopping trip and Jerry and I typically do it together all in one day.  This time however, we have done the shopping in three different small trips.  Jerry did one, we took the kids for another, and I will complete the third by myself.  I also did inventory quickly and in between other activities.

The shopping itself was not bad today, especially since we only went to a couple of stores.  I was disappointed to see that many of the prices on items I buy regularly (like cheese) have gone up significantly.  I still have a third of my shopping to do and I have spent more than 2/3 of my budget.  I was also disappointed when I returned home to discover that I had missed some things in my inventory - which meant that I had bought several unnecessary items.

There is nothing I can do about the raised prices.  Grocery prices will continue to rise.  I also cannot change the amount of my grocery budget.  The only thing I can change is to be more organized.  Those of you that know me well can probably imagine that I am rolling my eyes right about now and letting out a huge sigh!  

Need to change - discouraged - overwhelmed!

All throughout my day, I have been noticing the places where I fall short.  House is a mess, body is out of shape, work needs to be complete, need to make more money, need to get organized, should be doing this, should be doing that, ugh!  How is that for transparency?

But here is the thing that really needs to change in my life - it's time to stop beating myself up and chasing my tail in the same old circle!  I know that I need to improve in a lot of areas - most of us probably feel that way.  I don't want to pick up a new habit, I want to change in ways that are significant and real.  The only way to really change my actions is to change my mind.  And the only way to change my mind is to renew it!

Romans 12:2 tells us, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  This verse tells me exactly how to be changed or transformed - by renewing my mind.  But it also shows me that a key to that transformation is not conforming to the pattern of the world!  This verse follows another verse that talks about sacrifice and it reminds me of a speaker we heard at a recent youth rally.  He said that the difference between potential and actual is sacrifice!

So - I have the potential to be more organized, but if I want to actually be organized, I need to sacrifice something (time).  My house has the potential to be clean (long shot), but in order to actually be clean, I must sacrifice something (another activity).  I have the potential to get my body into better shape, but to actually get it into shape, I must sacrifice something (lemon pound cake).  I get the picture.  I know what I need to do.

Ugh!  So hard!  But, I am no longer discouraged.  There is hope.  We all have hope.  We can all change!  I just need to choose where to begin.  How about you?  Where will you begin?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life Lessons I Learned in the Garden

Lesson # 2 Training New Growth

Every spring, our blackberries look like a jungle!  The new growth from last year has fallen all over the place, and has rooted in the mulch and on the ground.  Last years canes have died and need to be cut away, and the new growth must be trained to grow along the trellis.

It's always fun to figure out how to arrange the canes.  Jerry is the master vine artist here!

I love the way the vines look after they have been pinned up!

The ends of the canes love to root in the wood chips we have under the vines.  Thankfully, we have plastic under the chips, so the new plants are easy to pull up.

Now I have buckets of new plants to share.  This year, I have 4 buckets full of new blackberry plants!

As I grow, I also need to prune away the old and train the new growth.  Just like our blackberry plants, my new growth that is not trained can become like a jungle.  I have a tendency to be enthusiastic, and sometimes all over the place!  It is only by staying in the Word and making sure that my new growth lines up with Truth, that I can be sure to become a beautiful piece of garden art, woven into the plan by the Master Vine Artist.  If my new growth is trained correctly, I will not only be beautiful, I will also produce good fruit!  Often, where my new growth touches down in fertile soil, it will take root in the lives of others!  How exciting to be a part of creating new life!

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:9-10

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Life Lessons Learned in the Garden - Part One

Lesson #1 - Patience

I have been contemplating planting Asparagus this year.  It is a hard decision because I will need to devote a whole bed to this plant, and I will not be rewarded with a crop this year.  Actually, I won't even get much of a crop next year.  It will be three whole years before I will get a return on my investment of planting Asparagus.  In the meantime, one of my beds will be useless and will yield nothing.

I don't have a lot of raised beds.  I could be planting more vegetables that will feed my family this year. So why would I even consider planting Asparagus?  First of all, it is a nutritious, yummy vegetable that is expensive to buy.  I probably won't get to eat much Asparagus if I do not grow it myself. Second, though I will have to wait to wait three years to harvest a good crop, Asparagus will continue to produce from the same plants for more than 20 years!  That is an incredibly good return and highly unusual for a garden vegetable.

We live in a culture of instaneous response.  We want to do as little work as possible, with a fast return.  Unfortunately, things that are truly worth our time are rarely that easy.  Relationships are very much this way.  If we want to have a worthwhile, meaningful relationship, we must be willing to do the work without the expectation of instant gratification.  While we may see a few sprouts of unconditional good works here and there, it takes years to build the kind of trust and intimacy that results in a solid relationship.  We have to be willing to plant our own heart and designate our valuable time without the expectation of a return from the other person.

This is even more difficult in an injured relationship.  We may want to pull out, use our time and energy for something that feels good, but if we can be patient and feed the relationship without asking to reap anything for a time, eventually the harvest could provide a yield that will produce good fruit for a lifetime.  Just think, if we choose not to invest the time and energy, we will never get to taste the fruit of our labor!

God does this for us. He plants His love and His Word within us, constantly reaching out with his grace and mercy, but never forcing us to respond.  He hopes we will choose to be in relationship with Him, but if we do not, I don't think he ever feels he has wasted His time.  

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  2 Peter 3:8-9

I think I will plant those Asparagus.  It will be hard to wait, but I will try to keep the end result in mind.  After all, what is three years compared to the goodness of 20?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The God of Peace

I met with a couple of friends tonight, and as we were talking, it seemed that we had a theme of anxiety and disappointment.  It was good to be able to talk through those things, but even better was the fact that we were meeting to discuss Philippians 3 and 4. We wove the Scripture through our conversation, and it was amazing how much it applied to the very things that are going on in our lives!

I have really been struggling through my day.  I am tired and emotionally spent.  It's really curious, considering the fact that I spent most of my day in the warmth of the sun working in the garden, something I love to do.  As I talked with Jerry about it this evening, I realized that it is really anxiety about all I have to do.  I feel overwhelmed and that causes me to shut down.  

Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."  When I allow anxiety to take over, I have not given the situation to God.  By the time I get to shut down mode, I have already been trying to figure it all out on my own.  I must learn to turn my situations over to him before that happens.

The very next verse (Philpippians 4:7) tells us the result of going to God with everything that makes us anxious. "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." That peace is what I need!  I love the thought of peace standing guard between my heart and my mind, turning away the thoughts that trouble me.

Philippians 4:8 tells us just what we need to do with those thoughts.  "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."  As peace is turning away the troubling thoughts, we are to generate new thoughts - godly thoughts - thoughts that will not cause us to dwell on the things that are making us anxious.

Finally, Paul finishes with this direction, "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice."  Paul doesn't leave us thinking that all of this happens magically.  He knows that we are human like him, therefore we will continue to have thoughts and situations that will make us anxious.  The only way to overcome this is by the grace of God AND practice.  We must be intentional about following these directions.  And if we do, Paul tells us what will happen, "And the God of peace will be with you."