Category Archives: God Fearing

The Act of Pruning

creativity is Intelligence having fun


Carl was not happy about being on the other side of the fence.  But he needed to be there as my husband cut down the grape vine that we recently discovered last summer. As Carl made himself known to us by his loud whine, we cut off the branches, pulled off the long thin climbers, and chopped the large vine down close to the ground.

Just like the grape vine, many plants need to be cut back in order to reach their full potential. Year after year, we have cut back our fig tree to see it come back with beautiful leaves and delicious fruit. So even though it looks almost impossible to believe that new vines will grow back and produce grapes, we just have to believe that they will.

It is interesting how God created plants to flourish when they are pruned back.  So why shouldn’t we think that He wants to do the same with us?

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2

The word pruning means cutting or thinning. So when you think about how God prunes us, you probably aren’t thinking of a pleasant experience but one that will include some form of suffering or pain.

No one likes suffering and the physical, emotional, spiritual, or financial hardship that comes with it. But if we read this scripture again, we know it is for our good and God’s glory.

I personally would like everything to go as I plan but in the times of suffering, I can be encouraged by the fact that God is pruning me so that I will produce more fruit. And as I reflect on my life, I do believe that the hardships have molded me into someone who relies more and more on God.

Carl has also been pruned on several occasions in his life and I do believe that it has helped him to become the sweet little fella that we all love.  Having his tail surgically removed was probably the severest pruning he has lived through. But even though it was extremely painful and he no longer has a tail, Carl has adjusted and become an inspiration to us all.

Taking a Ride with God

 

Hillary a!

I know that some of you are wondering why in the world Bee is riding in a buggy.  Well first of all, she is my baby (ba-Bee). Second, if you look closely, her snout is pressed close to her face which doesn’t give her the airway that her brother Carl has.

Lately, we have noticed that Bee, my French Bull dog, has difficulty walking the three miles that doesn’t impact Carl in the slightest. So when my husband saw a doggy stroller online for only $25.00, we thought we would give it a try.

I wish I could tell you that the first ride in the stroller went without a hitch, but I can’t. Bee couldn’t understand why she had to ride, even though she was winded.  In the first five minutes, she lunged out of the stroller and thankfully landed a couple of feet in front of the buggy.

Just like Bee, there are times that we can’t understand why our ride through life has changed up. We want to walk like we always have but God wants us to take a ride. I am sure Moses felt this way when he met up with God. For most of his adult life, Moses worked for his father-in-law as a shepherd. He was minding his own business when God turned his world upside down.

I am sure Moses didn’t see life beyond the fields that he lived in as he shepherded his flock. But God had other plans for Moses and his insecure self. Moses tried to tell God that he wasn’t the man for the job but God knew better. Instead of walking his usual walk, God had him on the ride of his life. Exodus 3

Have you ever had a time in your life that you went from walking to taking a ride with God?  Were you eager to ride or did you react like Bee and jump out of the vehicle?

Carl also took a ride at the end of the walk. He also wasn’t crazy about being confined and it was clear he only wanted to get out and strut beside his sister. We aren’t giving up on our purchase. So if you are driving down the road and see us pushing a carriage, please come over to say hello to our ba-Bee.

 

Head Held High

It was like Bee had woken one day and decided that she was going to be an empowered woman. She was not going to tolerate being pushed around by Carl or any other dog that came to the house. Every chance she thought she could take control, she did.

Instead of the docile dog that we had been accustomed to getting to know, Bee has now taken a more aggressive stance. This is clear when she sits with her head held high and stiffens her body right in front of the door waiting for Carl to even dare make his way past her.IMG_3148

How often do we stiffen up when we are faced with situations that we don’t know how to handle? I know for me, I don’t like being placed in an uncomfortable situation where I don’t feel like I have control. Particularly since getting older, I can rationalize ways to avoid the very situations that God may want me to be in.

A couple of years ago, I was under investigation by the school system that I worked in. Talk about an uncomfortable situation. Not knowing what my crime was, I literally had no control over my fate.  How could I defend myself when I had no idea why I was being investigated?

I felt like there had been a major injustice brought against me and I had no way to rise above it.  So why did God allow these circumstances to happen in my life? I will probably never really know until I meet my Maker but I can tell you what I learned from it.

When I was down, with my head bowed and heart wide open, God’s presence was more real to me than at any other time of my life. I felt like I had to hold tightly onto my relationship with God. I was determined that I was not going to become bitter but better!

“Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”

Psalm 32:10-11.

I wish I could convince my dog Bee that life is much better with her head held down to God and not held high. But given that she is a dog, only time and experiences will help change her stance. As for me, I hope that all the bumps that appear in my journey will serve as times to pause and remember the love that surrounds me.img_2050.jpg

A Carl Pop

Carl refused to move. It was clear that he was cold because his entire body shook but never the less, he wouldn’t budge. This was a particularly cold day with temperatures in the low 20’s and I didn’t want to stand there and argue with my little bull headed bully.

Being hard headed is one attribute of my little dog that hasn’t changed for the three years that Carl has lived with us. No matter my strategy, he will not budge unless he can see the treat that he desires.

I have to admit that I can also be hard headed in certain areas of my life. And I have also noted that the older I get, these areas have extended to other parts that were earlier unoccupied. Age and experience can give us wisdom but it can also increase our pride if we are not careful.

I am sure Jesus’ disciples thought they knew everything they needed to know about God and what they had to do in order to enter His kingdom. Peter is a perfect example of this. He seemed to be the kind of person that spoke before thinking through what he should say. This makes him very relatable.

In Matthew 16, Jesus is telling his disciple how he has to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things. Even after being with Jesus for years, Peter just doesn’t get it. He thinks he knows more than Jesus and even has the audacity to pull him aside and rebuke him.

Well you can guess that this doesn’t go well. Jesus turns to Peter and tells him to his face, “Get behind me Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23

How often do we set our mind on the things of man without thinking about the long term implications?  It can be so easy to think we know what is best for ourselves and leave God out of decision making process. If only we would consider what has eternal value and not the things of man.

As for Carl, once he saw the treat in my hand, he took a step inside the porch door, grabbed the treat and raced inside to recover from the cold. All I could do was shake my head and follow him inside. Will he ever change? Probably not. But I am going to love him anyway. As I looked over, Carl was still shaking and I had to laugh. He reminded me of a freeze pop on a stick.  A Carl pop.img_3032.jpg

Overcoming our Feelings

I am not sure how Carl is feeling about being back under our roof. For the first two days upon returning from a house full of children, he seemed depressed. He basically laid on the couch and slept for the majority of the time. After several days, he now seems to be more content about his present situation.  I am not sure why I care so much about how he feels.

Why should how a person feels be so important to all of us?  I will never forget taking my father in law to the doctors after being diagnosed with lung cancer.  Every time we were approached by a nurse as she escorted us into the examination room we would always be asked the same question. “How are you doing?” Which could be interpreted as “How are you feeling about life?”

I am sure this is just a way to greet people, but in reality, what should we be asking people when we encounter them? Should a person’s feelings be the most important aspect of their being?

I just finished listening to a message by Joyce Myers that really challenged me. She explained that humans are made up of three different parts, the physical body, the soul, and the spirit. A person’s feelings fall under the category of soul along with the mind and will. Deeper into who we are is our spirit that should be dictated by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures.

She explained that if we live by how we feel or our emotions, than we are not going to experience the joy that comes from living by the Spirit.  Jesus even addresses this in John 15: 11. Since He created us, He knows what will complete us emotionally.

If I remain in Him, I can have joy no matter the circumstances. Even when it involves something as devastating as lung cancer. So how do I remain in Him? By reading the Scriptures when I don’t FEEL like it. It is only through the Scriptures that the Holy Spirit can push through our soul (feelings, mind, and will) and motivate our physical body to do the Will of God.

It was interesting, because just as I was writing this, I had the urge to go over and check on Carl and was tempted to turn the television set on. As I looked down at the dozing dog, I was reminded that I needed to return to what I believe is God’s Will (writing this blog) and dismiss my feelings.

Now that I have completed this entry and getting ready to send it off, I am filled with a sense of contentment that can only come from digging past my soul and pulling out what is of true spiritual value.

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Who is in Your Boat?

Carl continues to live in a state of anxiety. He just can’t shake it.  No matter how often my husband and I come to his rescue, he still believes that his sister will cause him harm. Every night, we have to use our bodies as a wall that gives Carl the courage to scoot past his sister and jump up into his bed.IMG_2799

No matter how often we come to his rescue, Carl can’t believe that we can be powerful enough to protect him. I was doing a lesson in Matthew 15 and was asked how the disciples must have felt when the storm came up and Jesus walked across the water to the boat.

Earlier in the day, the disciples had been a part of one of the greatest miracles they had witnessed since Jesus began his ministry. They had taken the bread from Jesus and handed it out to over ten thousand people. It was through their very hands that the five loaves of bread and two fish fed the multitudes.

Then why couldn’t they believe that Jesus, who could heal the sick and feed the multitudes, rescue them from the raging waters of the sea? When I thought about it, I had to confess that my faith can be just like these men. I can see and even be a part of incredible miracles one moment and then question the power of God in my own life.

It is easy to believe that God can do great things for others but when it comes to the uncertainties of my life, I have to pause. Just like the disciples, my faith can be limited.

The extremely cool thing about this passage is that Jesus didn’t just calm the winds. He also didn’t leave Peter in the water when his faith wavered. Jesus did something that I need to always remember. He got in the boat with these men. And He will get in my boat too.

Carl has made it back to his bed to sleep the morning away by himself. I went back to be with him and sit on the edge of the chair and stroke his head. As I ran my fingers across his head and onto his back, I couldn’t help but visualize how Jesus sits with us when we go through the rough storms in our lives.

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Front Row Seat

I have to make a confession. Neither Carl nor I like the night time. I don’t like driving in the dark and you won’t see Carl or I walking after the sun has set. But if there was to be an exception, it would have to be during the Christmas season when many have their houses lit up with glowing lights.

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My distaste for the darkness of night gives me more respect for the shepherds that spent night after night tending to their sheep. Instead of being nestled in their beds they were out in the fields protecting their livestock from the dangers of the dark.

As we all have probably experienced in the darkness, shadows take on a life of their own. We can think we see something but in the light, it ends up being nothing but an overblown imagination.

But this was different. Instead of a shadow, an angel surrounded by a brilliant light appeared among the shepherds. Their initial reaction was a deep seated fear of this heavenly being. But as quickly as the fear set in, the angel comforted them with words that would be remembered for the rest of time.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12.

As the shepherds were digesting these words, what happened next sealed their belief that this was truly from God. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14.

And sure enough, the shepherds left the field and found the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. After seeing the baby, they were so filled with joy that they couldn’t stop talking about the child and what the angel had told them.

Why did God have his angels appear to these shepherds? What was it about these men that gave them a front row seat to the most incredible event of mankind? Weren’t shepherds considered unreliable and on the bottom of the social ladder? Weren’t shepherds unable to enter the temple because they were considered unclean?

Humble hearts. These men were chosen for their humble hearts. Even today, God doesn’t choose the prideful man with everything this world can offer. Instead He seeks out the ordinary. The ones that have a hunger in their hearts for the truth.

Just the other night, I was driving through a neighborhood with all the lights of Christmas all around me. As I rode in awe of the lights that portrayed different interpretations of Christmas, I couldn’t help but think how pale it all was compared to the brilliance of the glory of God that lit up the skies on that night so many years ago.