Bulbs – Potential That Requires Patience

Now is the time to plant bulbs.

But you won’t see any results for four months at least. Bulbs are NOT for those who want instant gratification. Bulbs require patience. They must be planted before really cold weather so that the bulbs “harden” which allows them to bloom in spring. I waited too late one year when we lived in Cullowhee and in the spring only leaves came up – no blooms. The next year though – surprise – they did bloom. That was a test of patience.

You may look closely at a bulb, but you cannot tell what color the future bloom will be. You must have faith in the packaging, or be willing to be surprised. For those of us who love those first blooms in spring – it is worth the wait.

Bulbs are like children.

The similarity is more than the fact that parents must wait 9 months before a baby is born. Even after birth, maybe even more after birth, one must wait to see how a child or children will grow and develop. Sometimes it seems to go very fast, other times changes occur at an agonizingly slow pace.

There is a reason some of us are called “late bloomers”….

This growth process requires patience. Just as weather patterns affect the timing of bulbs blooming, children’s growth is affected by life circumstances, health, environment, a myriad of factors. Just as I can’t control the weather, I can’t control all the influences on my children’s lives. I work hard to make my garden as accommodating to the growth of the bulbs as possible, but many factors are out of my hands. Rain, temperature…

As a mother, and now as a grandmother, I work to create a nurturing environment that encourages healthy growth for our children. So Many circumstances are out of my hands.

I must be patient.

I remember our daughter Abigail telling me that she and her daughter, Rachel, had planted sunflower seeds in early summer. Rachel kept asking – “Where are the flowers?” A life lesson in patience. They did finally bloom!

In James 5: 7-8, James is encouraging the early Christians to be patient as they wait for Jesus to return. We must be patient for that glorious event as well! Patience is a fruit of Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives and a quality we must nurture and exemplify.

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return…

Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring.

They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient.

May we be examples of patience in the midst of this “instant” world.

 

# In My Garden With God – 23

 

Scattered Seeds

I was out raking up leaves and the dead parts of plants this afternoon. It was such a beautiful day! I came across the seed pods from butterfly weed and marveled again (as I do each year) how many seeds burst forth from one pod!

The silk carries the seed off in the breeze to find a resting place to germinate, if conditions are agreeable. Human intervention sometimes helps, or interferes – depending on one’s viewpoint. I usually take a handful of silk and seeds and find a sunny spot with loose soil and bury a few. I did so today.

Below is a picture of the butterfly weed in our yard when it was in bloom this summer – with the butterflies it attracts. It fascinates me when a butterfly the same color as the flower lands on one of the blooms.

Plants are finishing their growing cycle this time of year. If we weren’t familiar with this cycle it would be easy to assume that plants were dead or dying. Leaves fall off, no new blooms open up, stems turn brown and brittle.

Yet think of all the potential life there is in that small seed!

Sometimes our lives are like plants. We seem to be doing well, growing, producing flowers and fruit. Then situations and circumstances change and it seems that everything that was so full of potential and growth has now become dead and useless. The winter of life has arrived.

Jesus addresses this very issue in John 12: 24, 25. I like how the Message interprets these verses –

24-25 “Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

There are times in our lives when we must let go of things or situations – in a sense let them die. Yet, that is often the very chance God has to renew that area of our life – even reproducing many times over what we thought was dead. Letting those seeds spring to life!

Just as I rake and throw away the old dead foliage in our yard, I must allow God to enter every area of my life and get rid of the old dead attitudes and habits so NEW life can take root.

 

In My Garden With God #21

Arise, SHINE!

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Isaiah 60:1-3

Have you ever had something happen to you that seems unique? You feel like you are the very first person to experience it.

Then you share it with someone and they say “Oh, yes. I had that happen to me last week.”  – and they go on to describe JUST what you thought was a first.

Sometimes I feel God does that with me concerning spiritual truth. I will read something in Scripture and sense an illumination of understanding.

Wow! I new revelation for me! Then…

  • I am in a service and the preacher teaches on that very Scripture
  • I turn on the radio and someone shares my very insight
  • At Bible study a speaker shares in the video (which was made at least year or two previous) the very new, freshinsight I just had this week

So, I can either dismiss my excitement over “my fresh revelation” OR I can realize that

God may be trying to get my attention!

I think it is prudent to do the latter. In my over 60 years of being a Christian, God has faithfully used various means to lead me into Truth.

The fact that we Christians are the LIGHT OF THE WORLD and that we must LET OUR LIGHT SHINE  is the Truth that God is impressing me with every where I turn.

Tuesday night at our home group, God spoke to us through Janice that it is dark all around us, but we have the Light of the world.

Now, what does that mean? I know this message is not just for me, (although I sense I am certainly being held accountable) since I am hearing it in church, on the radio, at the Community Women’s Bible Study, our Home Group, and in my personal time with God.

I must respond.

I must let the Light of Jesus shine in all my interactions with others, starting at home. Then I must let my Light shine wherever I go – every day, every place I go.

I also know that my small Light is greatly multiplied in its effect when it is joined with other Lights. We saw this clearly illustrated at the lighthouses we recently visited on the Outer Banks. There was one light, but many lenses that reflected and multiplied the amount of light so that the effect could be viewed for many miles. That greater light had saved many lives over the years!

When we Christians arise and let our Light shine together – the effect will be so much greater!

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising.

Let us arise, and shine the Light together!

Heart Condition

I took my mother to her heart doctor today as a follow up to having her pace maker replaced last week. She is doing well, the incision is healing nicely, and the data from the pace maker indicates that her heart is doing what it is designed to do.

We are thankful.

We then visited her family practice doctor to ask about some slight swelling in Mother’s legs. He asked her several questions, questions designed to reveal if  there is anything going on in the rest of her body that might signal a heart condition. The answers indicated that mother has been more active since I have been visiting with her, and that the extreme heat here in Chicagoland is causing that bit of swelling.

Nothing to be concerned about.

We were glad we went to the doctor and it got me to thinking about the questions doctors ask. Questions designed to reveal information about conditions that may not show up on the surface, but could be of grave concern. Those questions could reveal heart conditions that are hidden from view.

The questions we ask reveal much about who we are, don’t they?

I remember being in the hospital with my father right before he passed away. His condition was a mystery at first, and five different specialists were consulted to try to determine what was wrong.

Each specialist came to talk to my mother, my brother and sister-in-law, and myself. We listened to their preliminary diagnosis, and then were asked if we had any questions.

My brother would ask a question, and immediately you could see a change in the specialist’s deminor. They would ask, “Are you a medical person?” They knew immediately, without my brother saying so, that he had medical knowledge by the vocabulary he used, by the insight he had into what the specialists shared. My brother is a family practice physician and had been on the other end of these conversations countless times. His questions revealed who he is.

Jesus did the same thing when people came to Him seeking help. Jesus asked questiones to determine the condition of their hearts.

In Matthew 19:3-6 Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees. Jesus asks them a question to test their hearts.

Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Jesus knew they were trying to trap him, but instead Jesus revealed the condition of their hearts.

We must guard our hearts that they do not become hard. Our words reveal the condition of our hearts, don’t they?

Jesus says in Matthew 12:34b

For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart,

I pray that our hearts are in good condition.

Be an Ambassador

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My daughter Hannah and I had the privilege of staying two nights in the home of the Ambassador of the Republic of Haiti in 2006 when we were visiting Washington, DC.

We had a lovely visit and even went to a celebration of Nigeria’s Independence Day at the Nigerian Embassy with our host and hostess. I saw the most beautiful dresses there that I have ever seen!

How did we happen to have this amazing opportunity?

Well, the story starts in 1956 when I was 5 years old.

I grew up in an old farmhouse that evolved into a house in a neighborhood four blocks from Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois. My parents housed students from Wheaton College to help pay their mortgage.

One of those students was a brilliant young man, Raymond Joseph, from Haiti. He was studying at the college and would always greet us in the mornings and evenings in French as he passed by us to his room upstairs. He had the most beautiful smile and was always interested in what my brothers and I were doing.

Raymond Joseph went on to study at the University of Chicago and later worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal and worked as a leader in the Haitian opposition movement of then dictator, Francois Duvalier.

You can imagine my surprise when I got a telephone call 55 years later from Raymond Joseph!

He was calling from Washington, DC where he was living and serving as Ambassador to the United States from Haiti. Raymond had been in touch with my mother and she had given him my phone number. We talked for a long time catching up and reminiscing.

He said that if we ever came to Washington, DC we were welcome to stay with him.

Don’t ever say that to the Woodys – we will come!!!

We had the most delightful visit. Ambassador Joseph had his limo pick us up and drop us off for a tour of the Haitian Embassy. We talked at length about the issues facing his homeland and his efforts to work for progress and real change for his people. His love for Haiti and his people was evident in his home, his office, and all he shared with us.

The definition of ambassador is – an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign county.

Raymond Joseph was an excellent ambassador. He represented Haiti well from 2005 to 2010.

The recent appointments of ambassadors for our new administration has prompted the above memories and also started me thinking of our role as ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 5:20-21 says –

20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,  so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

What a beautiful message of reconciliation!

We, God’s children, should be representing our Heavenly Father in such a way as to make others who aren’t Christians desire to become part of God’s kingdom.

Are we being good ambassadors?

Do our children, grandchildren, friends, co-workers, anyone we come in contact with – do they see a Jesus in us who loves them so much He died for them?

  • Do others see grace or condemnation?
  • Do they see joy or sadness?
  • Do they see faith or fear?

God is making His appeal through us!

May we be faithful ambassadors of the kingdom of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Plugged In

 

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“I always check first to see if the computer is plugged in, or if the power source is on.”

Our tech guy was explaining to me why he was checking the power source and connection of my classroom computer.

“You would be surprised how many times folks contact us for tech help and their computer isn’t plugged in or the power strip is turned off.”

I breathed a sigh of relief when my computer was in fact on.

I did spend about 20 minutes one day because my computer wouldn’t take my password. A co-worker came by and noticed that the computer was logged in to the substitute I had while attending a workshop. I logged myself in and AMAZING – it took my password! SO GLAD I hadn’t called the tech guy!

Do we do this as Christians? Do we run to someone for help, when we aren’t even connected to the Power Source?

Yes.

We do this more often than we realize. Sometimes we just wallow in our worry, despair, or confusion wondering why we feel so “disconnected” or so “drained.”

As a Christian, my source of power is the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in Romans 15:13 –

13 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.

No matter what we are facing in life, we can have hope, joy, and peace if we are connected to the source of power.

How do we get connected? Peter preaches his famous sermon in Acts chapter 2 on what we call the day of Pentecost. The crowd asked Peter after his message how they could respond. Acts 2:38 -39

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

This promise is for each of us – and for our children!

Later in this chapter, we are told how to STAY connected. Acts 2:42.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

These four disciplines will assure that we stay connected to the source of power.

  • Biblical teaching
  • Fellowship
  • Eating together
  • Prayer

Attending a women’s Bible study addresses each of these disciplines for me.

  • Biblical Teaching – We study God’s word together. I am always blessed by insight from God’s word that various women share, often truth that I see in a new light.
  • Fellowship  – The fellowship is encouraging and such a blessing! Women of various ages and different churches and backgrounds attend. I have met women I would never have met apart from this fellowship.
  • We share food once in a while, which is always nice, nourishing our bodies and souls.
  • Prayer – we pray for each other after sharing requests each session and also pray during the week.

If you are not connected to the Source of Power, consider attending a Bible study. There is often child care available for mothers of young children.

Let’s get plugged in and stay plugged in to Jesus, the source.

 

Brokenhearted

 Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times

How do I respond to the horrific, senseless violence that is sweeping the world?

Is it getting worse, or do I just hear about it more frequently because of the 24/7 media coverage that sends an unending stream of information and images from throughout the world?

How do I help my children and grandchildren process these events without causing them to live crippled by fear?

  • the killing of police officers in Dallas
  • the shooting of unarmed black youth in several US cities
  • the massacre of 41 innocent civilians in Turkey
  • the gunning down of 49 people in a night club in Orlando
  • 14 are shot dead in San Bernardino, California

and yet more personal …

  • the senseless murder of a dear young mother’s husband in Atlanta

This lovely young woman, a long time friend of our family, has been working tirelessly to eradicate human trafficking as an Assistant to the Attorney General of Georgia. She is now faced with raising her precious little girl without the loving support of a father.

I must respond with genuine concern and compassion to all those involved.

Jesus did that.

Right before he was crucified, on the Mount of Olives, Roman soldiers (the despised oppressors of the Jews in Jerusalem) approached Jesus to arrest him. Peter responded with violence – cutting off the ear of the High Priest’s servant.

Mark 22:51 – But Jesus said, “No more of this.” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

NO MORE OF THIS!

Our response to the violence and suffering around us must be an example to our children and grandchildren.

No more of this. We are brokenhearted.

If we  – for one moment – we think “maybe they deserved this” we are WRONG!

We MUST respond with compassion. If we do not feel compassion for the those shot and their suffering loved ones, regardless of the situation, we must repent.

Psalm 34:18-19 (NLT)

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.

Our children and grandchildren will form their understanding of suffering from the way they hear and see us respond.

  • if we express fear – they will fear
  • if we express hatred – they will learn to hate
  • if we seek revenge – they will seek revenge
  • if we express compassion – they will learn compassion
  • if we trust God for justice – they will learn to trust God

I heard an inspiring message Sunday from Rev. Reggie Screen of Atlanta. This Godly black man challenged us to have compassionate hearts in light of the violence all around us. He challenged us to be like Jesus. Reggie encouraged us that as things are darkest – the light of Jesus shines brightest.

We must be brokenhearted like Jesus.

We must have compassion.

We must love others and demonstrate that love at every opportunity.

We must seek justice and love mercy.

Oh, God, heal our land….