Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to make a Green Smoothie

Was so excited when I saw this post by Ali at Whole Life Nutrition today, that I just had to share it for others to enjoy too.  Just click on the photo and it will take you to their site.  ENJOY!

Lent journey: TRUTH

"I Am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch of Mine that doesn't produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.  You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.  Remain in Me, and I will remain in you.  For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me."
John 15:1-4

Personal reflection:  This is one of the ways I "make the connection" to Jesus and God the Father, in my life.  My faith connection is most often 'rooted' in Creation and I can so relate with verses, such as these above.  It makes sense.  And, it really makes sense after taking a hands-on grape pruning workshop in February.  

Grapes in Western Washington are popular to grow, but they do need some special care.  The picture above is the rough pruning cut - removing all other branches, except for the best 4 options for this year's grape crop.  Final winter pruning determines which 2 are the best choices for this year's production.  As the main life force in the grape plant comes from its trunk (or vine), those branches that are healthy and closest to the source of life/its vitality will likely produce the most fruit. A branch is chosen and wrapped around the fruiting wire in each direction, secured, and the other branches are removed.  

For best harvest, only 2 healthiest branches connected to the original vine remain!

And while the plants will put on a huge amount of growth (and have to be topped during the growing season), the fruiting only occurs at this knee high fruiting wire; needing to be close to the life source and while receiving radiant warmth from the living soil.  Our temps in Western Washington are not warm enough for fruiting to occur farther away from this source.

Now, these plants grow quite large during the season and if one left on all the branches that grew - healthy and not-so-healthy - grape production would be greatly reduced in the following season with the possibility of no production size fruit in a season or so to follow...  God's desire is for each of us to bear abundant fruit in our lives.

And yet, to wire these branches to the fruiting wire, we had to slightly bend the branches we were wrapping on the wire and each bend produced cracking in the branch "skin" (the branch was no longer smooth, but "roughed up" a little in the process). A reminder to me that this journey; this life isn't going to be easy.  To bear fruit, our lives must handle the pruning God brings to our lives.  We're not going to look fine china,  but instead, we will have some bruising; even battle scars.  Yet, we will bear more fruit, we will be fruitful, if we remain connected in the vine of Christ.  

God never promised it would be an easy life - and many times I have wanted to give up - but God's Truth never fails me and His faithfulness never ends. His mercies are new every morning....  His love endures forever.  And those, are solid reasons for me to remain connected to the vine of Christ, growing in His Truth - my life source for every day and a lifetime.  I may look old and gnarly one day from all His pruning, but I pray my life bears fruit until He calls me home.

Lent journey: MERCY

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

Definition of mercy:  compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.

From my Christian Growth Study Bible's How to Read Lamentations, an excerpt:

If you've ever suffered a significant loss, Lamentations can help bring healing and restoration.  It's a beautiful, though sober book describing the pain of a people stripped of everything but their hope in God.  It's filled wit crushing emotions; anger, desperation, fear, loneliness, hopelessness.  But in reading Lamentations, those who have been wounded may feel strangely understood and comforted.  

Personal reflection:  Is this not the most amazing news?!  How can we not begin each new day praising God and rejoicing in who He is when He has shared this Truth with us?!  Sometimes, it's really hard to wrap my head around this Truth.  If God would do this for us, it should teach us, each one, to show mercy toward others?  As we live in His faithfulness each day of this life, should we not also be faithful to Him?  

As I pondered this word mercy and God's faithfulness to us, I discovered Sara Groves and her beautiful song, He's Always Been Faithful.  I pray mercy and faithfulness grows in me daily and that it overflows from my life into the lives of others who cross my path along this journey....  God is good.  All the time.  Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy and faithfulness!

Lent journey: FORGIVE kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:32

Personal reflections:  I'd really rather not share what's on my heart.  Not that this post will contain some big confession or anything, it's just that I'd rather keep my struggle to myself.  However, this Lent journey is not about me ~ it's about Christ and what He is teaching me through this practice.  I don't want to waste anymore time being stuck in my life, so here goes... baby steps...

This is a very difficult word for me to address...  Being hurt by countless people in my lifetime, when I became a believer (accepted Jesus as my Savior), I had a really difficult time learning this biblical concept as I usually wanted (and sometimes want) justice.  People who have done wrong to me or others should be held accountable; have to pay a price.  Right?  As my years have gone on, I have learned and experienced that when someone hurts me there may be more to the story or I don't understand all the components involved in the situation, there is evil in this world and, finally, God alone is the only one who knows all the details; the whole story.  I am to leave vengeance to God and because He has forgiven me through Christ, so must I forgive others.  Afterall, do I want to be held accountable for everything I have done wrong too, whether I was intentional about my words and actions or not?  Therefore, forgiving others has become much easier for me, especially in the past few years.

BUT, there is one person that I struggle greatly in forgiving:  MYSELF!  I remind myself that  if my sins are forgiven (and forgotten) through Christ, why am I still hanging onto them?  Why do I continually beat myself up over what is done?  Why can't I just "let it go?"  

Sometimes the environment we grow up in has "behavioral expectations" that we can't meet.  There are people 'wired' differently than most who choose an evil path and allow themselves to be consumed for the 'sense of power' it gives them.  Some people hear that they are "stupid and a failure" and they can't get past that, so when things do go wrong - whether in their control or beyond their human control - they blame themselves for the bad stuff that happens.  Others are broken and hurting themselves and they see the world with skewed vision.  Longing for love, desperate to be heard, hopelessness...  I could go on, but I think you get the idea of what I am sharing.  I am not placing blame on anyone for anything that has occurred in my life, for as I grow older, I realize there is "more to the story" in each of our lives than what we see on the surface.  It's no different for me either - the majority of people who know me, only know me on the surface.  We are all broken and hurting in some way (even if we don't admit it) and it is Christ alone who is ABLE to heal every one of us, if we let Him.  

There is much I don't forgive myself for.... things, people, choices and events in my life, to name a few broad topics.  This is about me and my journey; my issues - not others.  I am learning to let go of pain from wounds I received at the hands of others; forgiving them.  I am taking baby steps in letting go of the things I don't forgive myself for, as my Savior has already forgiven my sins (that I have confessed to Him).   Some of my sins may have consequences that I must deal with, even though I am forgiven.   And I am believing that others I have hurt in my lifetime that I may not realize, God is able to exceedingly, abundantly more than I can ask or imagine ~ bless them, heal them and provide for their every need... He is truly an amazing God.

When I fully embrace who I am in Christ, I can LET IT GO!  And then, I will truly walk in forgiveness for others and myself. I am free to be the child of God He created me to be!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lent journey: CELEBRATE

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.  Then it was said among the nations, "The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."  

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.  He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.  Psalm 126

Personal reflections:  This Lent season has been an amazing journey, thus far, and I celebrate who our awesome Lord is today!  I began this Sunday reading today's devotional from God Calling:

A Bud opened

To Me, your intimate Friend, all Power is given.  It is given Me of My Father, and have not My intimate friends a right to ask it?

You cannot have a need I cannot supply.  A flower or one thousand pounds (or dollars) - one is no more difficult than the other.

Your need is a spiritual need to carry on My work.  All spiritual supply is fashioned from Love.  The flower and the thousand pounds - both fashioned from Love to those who need it.  Do you not see this?

I thought of you, a bud opened, you converted that into a cheer for one you love or a smile.  That cheer meant increased health.  Increased health means work for Me, and that means souls for Me.

And so it goes on, a constant supply, but only if the need is a spiritual one.

Blaine and I talked about this devotional for some time at breakfast and we both determined we each have what we believe is a "spiritual need" in our lives; needing Jesus' healing power to continue on in the spiritual work that our Lord has for our lives on this earth.  We spent time in prayer lifting our needs to Jesus.  We are continuing to pray. We believe our Lord is able and will provide for our spiritual needs; each one.  And, we are reminded again of Psalm 126:3 (which not only represents who we know God to be, but also the verse that is Joy Bell Farm for us).  God is our Provider.  We believe we will see His provision and be able to give testimony to others; declaring it among the nations.  

A powerful, powerful devotional today.  It's not only for us, but also for you.  Seek after the Lord with all your heart and He will faithfully show you what holds you back; desiring to supply for that spiritual need...  God is good.  All the time.  Even today, we are filled with JOY!

My hope is you will take a couple minutes to watch this beautiful video by Louie Schwartzberg and see the beauty God created in each of these flowers and may it be revealed to you that He wants the same for your life; enabling you to share His love with others.  

Abundant blessings upon you today.  You are loved.

Lent journey: STILL

You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by Your power, having armed Yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.  Those living far away fear Your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades You call forth songs of joy.  
Psalm 65:5-8

Personal reflections:  I stand in awe of the great power of our God and the beauty of His Creation all around me.  I've walked the beach many times in my life and each time I approach, whether walking up and over a sand dune or driving through one, I am leaning in and listening for that familiar sound....the roar of waves crashing onto the beach; hitting the beige gray sand.  I know the strength of the water's power; feel its undertow that pulls the sand out from under my bare feet...  Feel the mist, as water droplets are sent flying when water meets sand.  The ocean; the sea must be respected by all who enter into it for its power can overwhelm a mighty ship when it's angry during a storm.  Even on a calm day, dangers exist and its beauty quickly catches people off-guard.  Yet, the scriptures tell us that God's power is far greater; far greater indeed!  He can "still" the roaring of the seas.  Indeed, nothing can overtake God's power.  And, His great power causes His children to sing for joy...

This Psalm goes on to share more of who God is in verses 9-13:

You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.  The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so You have ordained it.  You drench its furrows and level its ridges; You soften it with showers and bless its crops.  You crown the year with Your bounty, and Your carts overflow with abundance.  The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.  The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled wit grain; they should for joy and sing.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lent journey: PLACE

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:14-16 (NLT)

Personal reflections:  Blaine and I live a semi-nomadic life with Christ.  We once had a pastor tell us that our life was similar to Abraham's in that God "showed us where to go and we would go."  

As a child, I grew up in the Air Force.  Every 2-3 years (it seemed), my Dad would get 'orders' to go to a new base and we would move again and again....  England, Tacoma (WA), Sacramento (CA), Fairbanks (AK),  Goldsboro (NC), Spokane (WA), Tucson (AZ), Fairchild (WA) and finally retiring in the Spokane Valley, (WA). 

I was determined not to live that lifestyle while raising children and decided I would not marry someone who was in the military.  Blaine definitely did not want to go into the military.  I was safe!  Yet, as an adult, Blaine and I ended up continuing the same pattern (just all in WA state); and with him mostly working for the same company! Spokane Valley, Federal Way, Crown Hill, between homes for several months, Crown Hill, Lynnwood, Bothell, Marysville, Burien, Greenwood/Phinney, and now.... Enumclaw.  I don't know how many times I searched (and continue searching) for "our farm" without ever being able to secure a place....  In high school, I told Blaine that I wanted to "run away and live off the land."  I wanted a place to be rooted and stay for many seasons ~ you know ~ generations of our family establishing in a place; being active members in a community.  The children grew up and are now scattered across the U.S. with two in the midwest and one remaining in Seattle.  But then, we did commit then to God from birth and prayed that He would enable them to spread their wings and fly for His glory and purpose for their lives.  And, I have prayed over and over, "Here I am, Lord.  Take and use me.  Where You go, Lord, I will follow."  You'd think I'd learn by now....  And, I have prayed for years and years and years for 'our farm.'  Our urban farm in Burien (for 7 years) is the closest we've come to reaching our dream.  Oh, to have a PLACE to call home; permanently.

Just this week, God reminded me of my calling:  Encouraging others!  Yes, Lord, I know - but my passion is farming; specifically biodynamic farming and wanting to share Joy Bell Farm with others.  That is my heart's desire!  And, You bless us so that we may bless others.  Right?!

Yesterday afternoon, Blaine and I talked outside in the area where the new garden is to be established.  While talking, I said that I realize my calling in this life is to 'encourage others,' but my personal passion/heart's desire is farming.  What God has created me to do though, is ENCOURAGE.  So, I've asked God's forgiveness in being distracted for so many years chasing a dream instead of making Him my #1 priority and focusing on my gift/calling.  Now, I realize what an incredible blessing it would be for God to provide Joy Bell Farm for us ~ but more importantly I desire to do His will for my life and be available to ENCOURAGE others whenever He desires me to do so, for He leads me to people, to places ~ with what I need to say or share or bless others with.  And, I am so thankful for the privilege of doing so, as He works through me and my life.

Today, I am taking the first step in walking a new path; the path of encouragement.  There have been so many times over the years when I have told God I don't want to encourage others, that I need encouragement too and that I'm worn out and tired and just done with it all.  But, even when I don't want to share encouragement, it just flows through me and I am compelled to share with others.  Now, I am finally fully embracing it and giving thanks to God for His amazing grace and patience with me.  I say anew, "Here I am, Lord.  Take and use me."  Be glorified today, Lord.  Blaine and I will continue to live our "Joy Bell Farm" lifestyle, but will not actively search for property moving forward.  If it is to be, God will bring the farm to us - if not, we will make wherever we are our Joy Bell Farm; even if it only is alive in our hearts.  It's not that we are giving up our dream, because we're not.  We are choosing to focus on God's calling for our lives for we have much to learn still!

Blaine and I may stay in Enumclaw the rest of our lives or God may move us on to a new place when He is finished working through me/us here.  I am so thankful for the beauty of this place where we live right now.  And, I'm thankful for the ways in which God is also showing us and enabling us to bless others.  Even as we create a garden at the rental property, we will enjoy the blessing now with the likelihood that others will follow....

This place where we are is our home, but our permanent home for all eternity is with God.  Wherever God desires for us to be, that is where we also desire to be.

God is good.  All the time.  

Please know ~ you are so loved.  May our amazing Lord bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you; providing for your every need today and always....