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....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lent journey: LIGHT

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: 
God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all.
1 John 1:5 (NLT)

God Calling devotional:
March 19 - Courage
I am here. Fear not. Can you really trust Me? 
I am a God of Power, as well as a Man of Love, so human, yet so divine.
Just trust. I cannot, and I will not, fail you. All is well. Courage.
Many are praying for you both.

Lent journey: ENDURE

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.  Romans 5:3-5

Personal reflections:  I must admit that I wasn't happy when this word appeared on the Lent journey list...  Sometimes, I feel like the tree in the photograph (from Kayak Point County Park, Stanwood).  Finding itself with the hillside given way, it is determined to stay rooted even though there is no ground beneath it (yet, its roots are holding onto the soil available to it).  It seems impossible..., but as long as the soil remains; it too remains! 

When life is difficult and challenges come my way, there are often times when I wonder how I can endure through much. Wouldn't it just be easier to let go?  Give up?  And yet, as the verse states above - God loves us so dearly that He have given us the Holy Spirit to fill our heart with His love! He has promised never to leave us or forsake.  Ever.  Strong words of great encouragement.  I am reminded, once again, how much I am loved.  You also are loved!

Lord, I pray that I am able to endure for the whole journey You have planned for my life here on earth.  My life is in Your hands and I know I'm safe with You.  Amen.

Lent journey: BELIEVE

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Romans 15:13

Monday, March 16, 2015

Lent journey: WILDERNESS

God Calling devotional - Reflect Me
My children, I Am here beside you. Draw near in spirit to Me. Shut out the distractions of the world. I Am your Life, the very breath of your soul. Learn what it is to shut yourself in the secret place of your being, which is My secret place too.
True it is, I wait in many a heart, but so few retire into that inner place of the being to commune with Me. Wherever the soul is, I am. Man has rarely understood this. I Am actually at the center of every man's being, but, distracted with the things of the sense-life, he finds Me not.
Do you realize that I Am telling you truths, revealing them, not repeating oft-told facts. Meditate on all I say. Ponder it. Not to draw your own conclusions, but to absorb Mine.
All down the ages, men have been too eager to say what they thought about My truth, and so doing, they have grievously erred. Hear Me. Talk to Me. Reflect Me. Do not say what you think about Me. My words need none of man's explanation. I can explain to each heart.
Make Me real, and leave Me to do My own work. To lead a soul to Me is one thing, to seek to stay with it to interpret mars the first great act. So would it be with human intercourse. How much more then, when it is a question of the soul, and Me, its Maker, and only real Spirit that understands it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lent journey: SEARCH

Every young man who listens to Me and obeys My instructions will be given wisdom and good sense.  Yes, if you want better insight and discernment, and are searching for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure, then wisdom will be given you and knowledge of God Himself; you will soon learn the importance of reverence for the Lord and of trusting Him.  Proverbs 2:1-5 (Living Bible)

Personal reflections:  What a great promise and challenge to me!  

Where am I seeking wisdom?  What is my source?  Do I desire to listen to God and obey His instructions?  Is what I want most important or is it what God wants for me?  Do I have a deep respect or admiration for God?  Do I truly trust Him?

Whoa.  I have now come full circle back to what God has spoken to Blaine and I for many years and especially when we let our home go back to the bank in Burien...

"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law."  (Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as ourself - Matthew 22:39/Mark 12:31.)

I, seriously, wrestle with this on a daily basis; sometimes hourly.  Wanting so badly, almost desperately, to find a permanent home for Joy Bell Farm - I often beg/plead with God to help us find a way, so we don't grow older waiting to establish our farm...  And yet, with a firm, but gentle and clear voice, He has shared His instructions for us.

I hear You, loud and clear, Lord!  I know we must obey-  our focus cannot be on seeking farmland, but paying off ALL outstanding debt.  In the meantime, we will continue to learn and hone our skills and bless our landlords, Kenny and Jessica.  This post also connects back to the "practice" post too.  You're repeating a message, Lord, and I do hear You.

Therefore, I will choose to TRUST & OBEY!  

Lent journey: PRACTICE

So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. Without these qualities you can’t see what’s right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.
2 Peter 1:5-8 (The Message)

Personal reflections:  Practice is something that is done over and over and over again to master a skill, to develop self discipline, or to create a new pattern in one's life.  Upon meditation of this word, I discovered that I am TERRIBLE at this in my life.  UGH!  This is a huge weakness for me!  I have focus at the outset of something new or regarding a project or in accomplishing a new goal, but the things that I must practice over and over and over again fall short the majority of the time - or I have to CRAM to accomplish something, which means just pushing through to get it done; no mastery of skill involved when that happens.   

Now, I have practiced making pies over and over and over again - so the expected outcome nearly always occurs.  So.....why can't I apply the skills I've learned in one situation to others?  Why is it so difficult for me to practice these things?
  • eating smaller portions and no grazing in-between meals
  • getting outside to walk a distance daily
  • starting a project and completing it in a timely manner (I've laid out all the fabric mid-January for a new bed quilt, for Blaine and I, that I started in 2007....I'm still struggling to take up the practice of making time regularly to complete this project.  And there are other projects still awaiting my attention!  I should have finished this quilt by now.  sigh.)
  • Books - I love books (and we have ALOT of them in our home), but I need to develop a practice of reading, at least, a chapter daily to make progress on my "to read" list.
  • This Lent practice - a word "each day" - post a photograph (don't even need to say anything, if I don't want to), but I struggle to post daily.  And yet, I am determined to see this practice through, as I am learning alot!
  • Bible study - I have really struggled with disciplining myself to develop a practice of participating in an organized Bible study.  Yes, I do read my Bible (not always as regularly as I should) - but I cannot seem to finish a Bible study I begin..... 
I could go on and on, for I am seeing the pattern repeated over and over in my life.  My practice is starting and not finishing.  I've watched other friends who accomplish ALOT in their day or week plus farmers who write new blog posts regularly....  Hmmmm...   Lord, please help me to develop a better practice in my life in multiple areas!  I really, really need Your help!

Today's verses have awakened my awareness that this is a BIG area of my life that needs concentrated focus and God's help to make a change - for the better!

Lent journey: STOP

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

Personal reflections: For as long as I can remember, I just wanted to fit in.  Be part of the group.  Belong.  Growing up in the Air Force was a great challenge to me.  I loved seeing alot of the United States when we moved from one base to another, but I found it difficult to make friends that would be gone from my life when we moved away again.  No matter how hard I tried, eventually we would lose contact.  And that desperate longing to belong to a group of people just grew and grew and grew....  Even when my Dad retired and my parents bought a house in the Spokane Valley and I attend Jr. High and High School in the same school district - I still never felt I totally belonged, as the majority of the kids in the school had known each other since kindergarten.  Maybe that's not really it at all - just my human longing; looking through a veil.  It seems God has called my name for as long as I can remember and I just never understood that my life was destined for nomadic living.  Even as an adult, God has moved Blaine and I - and our children - again and again and again.  We often wonder if we'll ever put down roots and stay for a long length of time in one place...

I have learned along the way that, sometimes, belonging to a certain group may compromise what I believe; who I really am - sometimes even causing me to "hide" who I am.  Maybe I've had a weakness that God did not desire to grow stronger by staying connected in a specific community.....  Never thought of that before.  Could be a possibility.  And, when I have gotten off track, God has continued to bring these verses across my path; giving me the opportunity to get back on God's path and fix my attention on Him, once again!  

I am (and you are) uniquely created by God - for His glory and that He has given me skills, abilities and giftings that He desires I develop for His purposes while I dwell on this earth.  Over the years, I have embraced my uniqueness and I've proven to myself that it is nearly impossible to try and become someone I am not!  I would suggest not doing it and save yourself the wasted time and suffering....  I did teach our children growing up to embrace who God made them to be and not to conform to who or what 'everyone' else might want them to be.  It brings me joy to see our children living their lives being who they are!

Now, I'm not the same person I was 10 years ago, nor 20 or 30 or last month, perhaps - but my heart's desire is to offer my life to God that He may change me and bless me to become who He desires I be; the best me!  How I pray that on the day when I meet Him face-to-face, I am welcomed into heaven with "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Lent journey: WISE

(found this picture on and traced it to its owner - click on photo)

These are the wise sayings of Solomon,
David's Son, Israel's King -
Written down so we'll know how to live well and right,
to understand what life means and where it's going;
A manual for living,
for learning what's right and just and fair;
To teach the inexperienced the ropes
and give our young people a grasp on reality.
There's something here also for the seasoned men and women,
still a thing or two for the experienced to learn -
Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,
the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.
Start with God - the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.
Proverbs 1:1-7 (The Message)

Personal reflections:  Sometimes, just when I think I might be wise regarding various subjects that I feel passionate about or have varying levels of experience .....only then, do I realize that it's truly not good to "know a little about a bunch of things and be master of no specific thing."  Sigh.  Thankful to be reminded that God desires me to grow in wisdom, even as I grow older.  God's Word is never out-dated, no matter what stage in life we're in!  Be humbled in this Lent practice is a really wonderful gift.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lent journey: KNOWLEDGE

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.  2 Peter 3:18 (NIV)

Personal reflections:  Over the years, I felt like I knew alot of stuff.  My knowledge on many subjects was growing and I had experienced much, but through this Lent practice I have discovered I have SO MUCH TO LEARN!  This verse is a great comfort and encouragement to me...  Even though I thought I knew alot, God says, "It's okay.  No worries.  You're finding you're way.  My grace is sufficient."  Make a note of this though:  BUT - now is the time for you to GROW in GRACE and KNOWLEDGE!

God's Word is providing the seed to be planted into me and my life, so I can grow in Christ's grace and knowledge for my life and in receiving His blessings that I may bless others. My hope is that my life does bring glory to His amazing and wonderful name.  I pray His love is shared through my life to all who cross my path. May my life bear abundant fruit for His glory and purposes!  

I am also reminded that what I 'plant' in the garden of my life must be carefully chosen.  My seed choice affects what I have to offer when it's time to harvest and share the bounty for myself, Blaine, our family and others ~ in quality, in quantity, in the nutritional benefit that harvest is to others and in the beauty that others experience.  Will the harvest provide the sustenance needed by all who partake of it?  But even in those thoughts I get ahead of myself, as what may not be so obvious, but is of critical importance, is the health and vitality of the soil into which the seeds are planted.  The soil is foundational and its rich fertility is what feeds the plants I grow in the garden.  If its fertility is lacking or imbalanced, it will greatly affect everything growing in the soil of my life.  And finally, it's God's 'living water' that will hydrate the seeds, causing them to germinate and grow in my life.  It's not about one specific thing, but how the whole system works together to create life in me.  And, life in you too!

In the midst of living life each day, in a crazy-paced culture, my priority needs to be learning more to enrich the soil of my life and seeking good seed to plant in me!    

Thank you, Lord, for Your faithfulness!  May I be open and available to allow You to work in and through my life.....daily.  Thank You for Your amazing Word and for grace and knowledge to continually grow in me.  Amen. 

Grace and Knowledge bring Freedom into our lives!

Lent journey: SABBATH

Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17 (NASB)

Personal reflections:  Even as I struggle with the discipline of this daily Lent practice (taking time to post my photo for the day and wanting to record scripture and my thoughts), God is teaching me so much!  As a child, I was taught to "follow the rules."  There were no other options.  When I became a believer, once again, that pattern was established in my faith life.  I was taught everything is 'black and white,' but as I continue my journey it becomes more and more apparent that most things are actual in the "various gray tones!"  

This Lent practice brought the discovery that in Latin, the Bible is actually the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.  It has really changed how I am looking at God's Word and my eyes have been opened in a new way.  So, when Sabbath was the word-of-the-day, I winced (as I have been struggling with observing the Sabbath for many, many years).  I decided to see what the New Testament said and the verse above was revealed. Whoa.  Oh. my. goodness. Caught in a religious way of thinking.  Raised our children and struggled with activities on Sundays.  Oh, to be able to go back and have a DO OVER again...., but alas I can only learn and move forward and allow God's grace to heal and soften past mistakes.  And, to walk in this newly discovered FREEDOM!

I do think taking Sabbath rest is important.  I get worn out if I go, go, go, go.....  And I, personally, need to step away from the busyness of life and quiet all around me to better hear what God is saying to me, to pray and learn at His feet.  But now, I do have a new understanding regarding Sabbath according to the New Testament; grace and freedom.  

God's amazing grace!

This girl is always up for getting away and meandering about the pasture....

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lent journey: CELEBRATE

Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 (Living Bible)

Personal reflections:  God did it again!  Blew me away with His grace and love and blessing!  When we foreclosed on our house in Burien and gave away our urban farm, we also "sold" one of my most loved tools (a Mother's Day gift years ago) to our neighbors and friends, Brian and Mike.  I did feel really good about them having it.  Well, on Saturday, I decided to reach out to them and sent them a text to inquire if I could borrow my old mantis rototiller to begin working on the new garden space at our rental place in Enumclaw.  OR, if they weren't really using it, could I buy it back from them?

Sunday morning, as I drove Blaine to the airport, I received a reply - yes, I could borrow it or have it back, if I wanted it.  After dropping Blaine off, I headed over to Brian and Mike's house and spent a wonderful 3 hours with them (as if we'd never moved away - boy, do I so miss them).  They weren't willing to accept any money from me and said the $25 they paid was a rental price for having it last year...  I let my tiller go and God gave it back to me through very special friends!  Wow!  Isn't God amazing?

It feels like I've brought a long lost friend back home again!  I was so excited that when I arrived home several hours later, I didn't even unload the car...  I got my Mantis tiller out, let Coco out of the house and then started the tiller.  She started right away and purred.  Oh, how I love that familiar sound.  I tilled 2 rows of the garden space; enough to get reacquainted and feel her in my hands and her vibration throughout my body.  Thrilled beyond measure.  Rejoicing and thanking God for His wonderful provision!

 Coco is very familiar with what happens when the tiller is running....

After all these years, she is still beautiful and has great power!

I just cannot believe she's back.  Thank you, Jesus!

Joy!  Pure JOY!!!

Lent journey: SPEAK

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.
“When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.
“Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you”—God’s Decree—“bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 (The Message)

Personal reflections:  Some days, I feel like I cannot wait one more day.  I need to know!  Will we ever be delivered from this difficult path.  Will Joy Bell Farm be a real place; a permanent place for us to put down roots and stay for a season (many seasons)?  I pondered this word as the sun rose and then, I looked down and saw this planter stake; a gift from a far-away friend, and I was reminded again that God is in our midst and He is guiding and directing our path.  It may not be what I want when I want it, but He faithfully reassures me that He is at work all around us and He's asking me to press into Him, His Word and to bless others while we dwell in this place (Enumclaw and on Kenny and Jessica's property).

When I truly seek God, His Word will speak to me and His promises are true and will be carried out for His glory and purposes and for our encouragement to keep to His path and be open to His provision.  We will be blessed to be a blessing to others and life will be more amazing than we could have ever imagined.....  

Looking again, I see His message and the beauty all around!

He is the Creator of new life!

.....and blesses us with JOY we cannot even imagine.

God is good.  All the time.