Bloom Where You Are Planted

This past week I was so happy to see the dogwood trees blooming. Each day on my way to work and back I saw beautiful white and pink trees in full bloom. They were beautiful and brought a smile to my face and joy to my heart. As I thought about them I remembered how God caused Aaron’s staff Aarons staff buddedto bud and bloom (Numbers 17:8) and thought that God can make something beautiful out of anything – even my life. Just like I looked at those trees each day, people are watching us. I wonder what people see in my life. Is it something beautiful or does it more resemble a barren branch with no beauty at all?

I had some post-it notes once that said “Bloom Where You Are Planted”.  No matter what stage of life we are in or what is going on in or lives, we can still “bloom” and produce Godly fruit that will hopefully point others to Jesus. But, we have to give ourselves over to The Gardener’s hands. Connected to God through Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit in us which empowers and guides us. We are connected to the life-giving vine that will nourish our souls and produce visible fruit (or beautiful blooms).

(Isaiah 35)   “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it. No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

Enjoying those dogwood trees dogwood trees.jpgalso reminded me to enjoy the blessings as I receive them. They come and go all the time but if we don’t take the time to enjoy them and thank God for them, we are missing out on one of the greatest blessings of all – a loving and thankful relationship with The Creator of the Universe, our Loving Father in Heaven. I don’t know why He showers us with blessings as fickle as we are but I am truly thankful. He has been more than patient with me. His blessings are new every day! I try not to take His blessings for granted.

Ephesians 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Well, this weekend we had lots of rain and wind with some thunderstorms thrown in. I’m sure when I drive to work tomorrow most of those blooms will be on the ground. But, new blessings will come in their place. I’m going to make a point to look for them and then thank God for eyes to see and a heart to appreciate.  Then, I’m going to do my best to “Bloom Where I Am Planted.” How about you?

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What Does Easter Mean to You?

My Easter memories as a child are of many things. Before Easter the department stores in the town where my Grandma lived sold baby chickens and ducks. I don’t really remember about the ducks but yes, the baby chicks were dyed Easter egg colors. The rumors are true. I am sure it did not harm them though because our baby chicks grew up before us with no known ill effects. baby chicksI still can’t hardly believe it but one year our parents allowed us to bring the baby chicks home to our house in town. They lived in a box in the laundry room until they got so big they could get out. Then they were taken to our great grandparent’s farm. It wasn’t until years later that the realization set in that one of those fried chicken dinners was quite possibly our pet chickens.

Other things that said ‘Easter” back then were new a Easter bonnet, dress, white patent leather shoes and white gloves (Yes – that was a very long time ago). It was a special day and I have a memory of going to church all dressed up. Then it was off to Grandma’s house where we colored eggs and then began the process of hiding and finding them. Rain or shine, we colored eggs and had an Easter Egg Hunt. Of course if it was in the house, it was critical to count the eggs before hiding them. You never want to find an Easter egg later by following the smell.

And, just like Labor Day marked the day we put away our white shoes and purses, Easter was when we brought them out again. I don’t think many people observe those customs any longer but it was like a  rule when I grew up. Of course there were always Easter baskets filled with candy and goodies. Sadly though, I don’t remember any mention of Jesus during our Easter celebrations. That’s not to say I never heard about Him but I don’t remember it if I did. It wasn’t until years later that I found out the true reason Easter is celebrated. It’s not just Easter (a time for family dinners, Easer baskets and egg hunts), it’s “Resurrection Sunday” – the day we celebrate the loving gift God gave to humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ.Easter - Love.jpg

What Easter means to me now is love, sacrifice, hope, a future, and eternal life in heaven with God.

These days we don’t find colored baby chicks or ducks for sale in our stores. Easter bonnets, white gloves and patent leather shoes are a thing of the past. But, we still get caught up in the worldly celebrations of Easter rather than focusing on the true reality of what Easter is really all about. It’s about a person, Jesus Christ, who gave himself up out of love for The Father and for all of us. He was our perfect sin sacrifice. The white we can see in Easter now is that our sins can be washed clean and we can be made pure before our God because of Jesus – IF we accept His free gift and follow Him.Resurrection and Life

So, as we celebrate Easter this year, let’s reflect on what Easter really means to us and get our focus in the proper place. We can still share chocolates and hunt eggs but let’s remember that day so very long ago when the stone was rolled away and the Savior had risen.

Luke 14:1-8: “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen! He is RisenRemember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

 

 

Planting Seeds for the Harvest {4.4.17}

Two weeks ago my grandson and I planted some radish seeds in our garden. The soil had been well prepared. It was fed, tilled and ready for seed. The seeds were pretty small and we had to be careful not to let several fall into one spot. God brought the rain shortly after but I didn’t even think to check on the seeds until my husband asked about them. He’s the vegetable gardener in the family but because of a recent injury, I’m the backup plan. Anyway, sure enough – those little seeds had sprouted through the ground. Those tiny leaves were a beautiful sight. Only problem is that there are huge weeds mixed right in there with the seeds. It’s frustrating that the weeds grow so much quicker and larger than the plants! The dilemma…do I pull the weeds and the plants along with them since they are so fragile, or wait a bit. It made me think of God’s Word (seeds planted into our hearts) and the weeds that come in to crowd it out. radish plants

Matthew 13:3-8 “Then he (Jesus) told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Then Jesus explains the parable…

Matthew 13:18-23 “Listen to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

God’s Word and God’s Love are seeds that we should plant into our lives and the lives of others. I’m sure most of us have been recipients of seeds planted by others. The question is, what have we done to bring those seeds to harvest? While God will provide all we need to make those seeds grow correctly, we still have to do our part. Just like planting the seeds in the ground, we must plant God’s Word in our hearts.

Back to our vegetable garden – We also planted several rows of onions. Those were not seeds at all, they were what look like dried up onion bulbs. Those have not sprouted leaves yet. They are still soaking in the nutrients of that well fed soil. That’s what we need to do with God’s Word isn’t it? Soak it up, immerse ourselves in it so that it’s in our hearts and minds. Then the Holy Spirit will bring it to our remembrance when we need it in our daily lives. About those onion sets though…I realized as we were covering them up with dirt that some of them had been planted upside down. So, we had to go back and plant them correctly. Another reminder to treat God’s Word correctly. We can’t pull something out of it to make it fit what we want. It doesn’t work that way and we certainly won’t produce a good harvest. God tells us not to add to or subtract from His Word. We are also not to twist it around. The one who does that will be thrown into the pit of fire at the end. You can find that truth in God’s Word. Read it through to the end. It’s the greatest story ever told – a true story – a promise we can trust in – GOD IS FAITHFUL AND TRUE. He will produce a good harvest if we plant correctly.

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Now, I think I’ll go pull up those weeds – very carefully.