Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Master Gardener......


The garden this year looks great! I tried some new ideas and surprisingly they have worked! Now if we can just wait for the fruit of our labor, like tomatoes, green peppers, more tomatoes, cucumbers, more tomatoes, herbs, more tomatoes and, of course, what self respecting garden wouldn't have SUNFLOWERS! We will turn these luscious veggies into wonderful salads, salsa, sharing our bounty and beautiful summer table centerpieces. Right now we are waiting for just the right time. Gardening is something I really enjoy, not necessarily good at, but enjoy. I am looking forward to the Master Gardener program starting in August. The name might be a little deceiving in my case though, "master" gardener. Hmmm, I guess for me it should be "trying hard to be like the master" or "so it turned brown and looks dead, it's the thought that counts", well, you get the idea.

As I was gardening the other day I was deep in prayer, talking to the Master. He was reminding me of so many things through the weeding, pruning(which I dislike the most) and growing process. I was surprised about weeding.

If you haven't weeded in a while the weeds grow right along side the plants and start to look just like each other. You really have to get a closer look to distinguish between the plant and the weed. Sometimes you have to wait a while to see how it starts to grow up before you can tell for sure. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between good and evil, isn't it. Between right and wrong, even the most experienced gardener needs wisdom from the Master to know the difference. Then the weed needs to be pulled up by its root just like the sins in our lives. If not, then it comes right back up the next big rain or long dry spell. Funny thing about weeds they love heat and dryness more than water.

Then there is the pruning process. UGH! Oh, how I dislike pruning. Pruning produces so much extra refuse to pick up and dispose of. I am often tempted not to do it at all, but it is a much needed process in gardening. If not for pruning, your plants would not yield very much fruit. Especially trees, if you don't prune them they just grow out, not up. So pruning even though it is extra work it's necessary and healthy for any plant, shrub or tree, or you and me. Thankfully we don't have to do THAT very often. Pruning allows us to produce good fruit to share and bless others with.

Now growing and fruit producing that's my favorite. Waiting for the plant to grow up and produce its fruit whether flowers, shade from its branches or TOMATOES requires patience but is always worth the wait. Don't you think? Waiting for others you have deposited time and energy into in the name of the Lord because in due time your work will produce a harvest......if you don't give up. Aren't you glad the Lord didn't give up on you?

Gardening is such a parable of the Lord's goodness to us. Some are weeding, some pruning, and some growing and producing fruit. Oh and let's not forget the watering. IF we belong to the Master Gardener, Jesus Christ, we all are in some process of gardening along the journey of life.

We could park here and draw all kinds of analogies but I would love to hear from you about your "gardening experiences" and how the Lord is teaching you in your gardens.

ANY GARDENERS OUT THERE?

WOW! Look at this verse! Thought for sure this would bless you!
Isaiah 61:3b
"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Hunt



The spaniels just came and sat down on the porch to rest awhile from the "hunt". It seems the woodpile is a very good place to drive two spaniels crazy and one very smart and agile chipmunk to hide out. First in one hole and then to the next the chipmunk taunting their lack of ability to catch him. Finally discouraged and tired they come on the porch to sit and pant, I am sure all the while thinking of the chipmunk that got away. Oh well, there is always this afternoon, round 2!

In my devotional time this morning I was praying and thinking about missed opportunities and regrets from the past. I was reading Luke 22:54-62. It seems that Peter was forewarned that he would fail the Lord three times before morning. Of course, Peter didn't believe that would be possible of him. Until he heard the rooster crow and knew that three times he had denied the very Lord he said he would defend until death. But still the Lord never left Peter. The word says at the end of this passage that he was close enough to hear his words and look straight at him. That look caused Peter to see his own sin and he broke out in sad sobbing of regret.

But still the Lord never left Peter. At the end of Luke 24 we see the Lord appearing to his disciples and ascending into heaven after blessing them. Then it says that they went home with great joy. Quite a different scene than the one above, isn't it?

What a great story about us as well. We, too, have been forewarned in the Scriptures, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of the Lord" and we have a promise that "he will never leave or forsake us". We all have been where Peter was. Wishing that we had made different decisions and wanting life to turn its tide back for a "do over" and make it the way we wanted it to be. It is hard to believe in these times that we "can go home with great joy" but with the Lord that is possible as we wait for him to bring His plan about in our lives.

Perhaps sitting on the back porch at the Master's feet is not just for dogs but for us as well. The spaniels didn't just give up and say we aren't hunting chipmunk anymore. They decided they would rest a while and try again another time. And get this, I didn't throw them out of my site because they failed. I was cheering them on for the next chase. You know, even though those spaniels didn't catch that chipmunk they still had hope that they would and there was joy in the waiting!

Now get out there and try again. Yeah, yeah, you failed we all have at some time. Yes, I know friends are upset because you didn't come through for them on the faith thing but the Lord knew this ahead of time. He prepared the plan for your life with this failing in mind. Now let it go! Go on! Get out there the time is short and great joy has your name on it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Anxiety and Fear....Double Trouble

Matthew 10:30
"And even the hairs on your head are numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."


Well, I promised you another story the next time you stopped by the Back Porch. A story about a woman who was bound by fear and anxiety. A true story of freedom! So sit down,grab a cup of tea, preferable sweet tea, and be blessed.

It happened so fast one minute I was driving, plans for the day swirling around my head and the next moment I was lying in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. What had just happened? My body and mind were grabbed with fear. I still could not piece it all together. I was driving when a faint feeling came over me. My breathing became labored and I was sure I was having a heart attack. With my heart pounding out of my chest I flagged down a driver on the interstate and asked for help. The journey began.

While at the hospital a myriad of tests were done. The diagnosis - ANXIETY. WHAT? No heart attack? No stroke? No strange unnamed disease? Just anxiety? Doubting the diagnosis, I began to search doctor after doctor to find out what this dreaded disease that had consumed me was. But each one had the same diagnosis - ANXIETY. The cure - take this pill it will calm your fears and help you relax. I just could not accept these "life threatening" symptoms were just anxiety. In the meantime my world got smaller and smaller. Every place I would have an attack I decided I shouldn't return for fear of another attack. Eventually my world became the rooms of my house and my husband was the safe person in my life. Fear was definitely controlling my every move. I continued to search the medical community for answers but all the same - anxiety. Hopeless and helpless to stop this unseen bandit I decided living was too risky, too scary and death would be a much better alternative. I was afraid to live and afraid to die.

As a young woman I had hopes and dreams far different than the life I knew growing up. I tried very hard at 24 years old to make my life as perfect as possible. No conflict, no fear, no imperfections. A peaceful home, a clean,neat and tidy home, a home free of strife. I was failing miserably on all fronts especially now since "anxiety" entered the picture. Where did it come from? After talking to many a counselor I learned it wasn't about my life today but about my life earlier. All the emotions never dealt with as a child and stuffed deep within me as an adult, triggering anxiety attacks now. Stuffing, I learned, creates no room to deal with real life. Stuffing deals only in the make-believe world, the perfect world. It is like a bucket that you keep stuffing and stuffing - soon it begins to boil over from being too full. My bucket was full and boiling over.

The many nights hearing my father abusing my mother, running downstairs to find a knife to my mother's neck, and fleeing to my grandmother's house where I cried myself to sleep wishing life could be different. We would return but walked around carefully never wanting to make my father angry or disturbing the fragile peace within our home. I learned stuffing my emotions helped me to survive, but that did not serve me well as an adult. It was time to deal with the real life I lived as a child. The anxiety attacks were forcing me to do just that. If I ever wanted to be free I had to get out of my make-believe world and look at the "stuff" I had stuffed all those years.

I didn't know where to turn or what to do next. I only knew I wanted this awful anxiety to just go away -to wake up and feel "normal" again. Anxiety led to agoraphobia and while being housebound I watched plenty of TV. It was back in the beginning days of Christian television. You had something called an UHF antenna(this was before cable, for all you youngins'). It hooked to the back of the TV and if you wrapped it in aluminum foil and held it just the right way, the program would come in. The picture was always snowy but at least it had sound. The early days of the 700 Club peaked my curiosity. They always talked about Jesus,the testimonies of people who had given their lives to Him and how lives had changed. I listened as Ben Kinchlow said this man, Jesus, knew the number of hairs that were on my head and how He loved me and wanted to change my life into something good. He talked of a healing Jesus, an approachable God who cared about every detail of my life. The days went by and I heard more and more. I realized that this same Jesus could heal me of anxiety attacks. He could make my life worth living again, worth the effort to get up and face the day.

The strange thing is I went to church, I sang the hymns, taught Sunday School class and never heard about this Jesus. I heard about being good and doing right. Never once heard about reading the Bible or knowing Jesus as personal Savior and Lord. I didn't rob a bank, cheat, lie or talk bad so I was good to go as a "Christian". Right? Wrong! There was more, A LOT MORE! I couldn't do enough things right. So that my right column outweighed the wrong. Jesus had given His life for my sins. A free gift, the only way to pay for my sins was through the blood of Jesus on the cross. When you are at the end of yourself and there is no more you are able to do, you know there has to be more.

I knelt in front of my TV and gave my life to Jesus Christ that day. I wish I could say that I was instantly healed and never had another attack and never had a bad day since. That would not be the truth. I don't understand everything that has come my way but I can tell you it was worth and I have never desired the old life. That day was my first day of freedom! I would walk two years before I would be completely free from anxiety attacks. It would be harder to trust the Lord to get out of my house and drive. But indeed I did and my life has never been the same. The day I drove myself to Bible Study Fellowship was the sweetest day of my life!

I am thankful for the things the Lord allowed in my life because I can tell you I am authentic, the real deal, valid, because of what He did in, around and through me.

What about you? Where are you today? Are you battling anxiety and fear? These days it's easy to have some of both, isn't it? Maybe you are like me, growing up in an abusive home, wondering what your worth really is. Perhaps you didn't know the Lord has a plan for your life or that He really loves you? I mean, how could He, the way you grew up? Please know that one day you will have to trust someone. Would you consider today trusting the One who created you and has your good in mind? Would you simply ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you of your sins and come into your life. Accept the free gift of forgiveness and a new life with Jesus. Oh, you may wake up tomorrow with all the same problems, but now you will have someone to walk along beside you and help you, a future and a hope. You will now have the promise of heaven when you pass from this earth. It wasn't easy to give up control and trust, but once I did it was more than worth it and I have never regretted a day.

Now I have something else on my mind: Perhaps you are a Christian who gave your life to Jesus at a young age. No dramatic testimony of abuse or sadness. Your family life was "normal" and nothing outstanding in your past. You hesitate to share your testimony because of that. Well, your testimony is what the Lord kept you from. I have a friend who grew up without a dad. She sometimes laments about not having a father growing up. But what she is missing is what the Lord spared her from. Now don't get me wrong, of course, we all want great parents and good families to grow up and have memories with. But this is the real world, and sometimes that just doesn't happen. The Lord can show His great love for us by what He spares us from or rescues us out of. We won't know fully until we are with Him. Until then we are to trust Him and testify to what He is doing in our lives. Forget the "cute" and go for real. It will serve your good and His glory. Love you, dear ones. Until we hear the shout!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hello Friends!

Hello to my Canadian friends. Great job in the Olympics!

Hello to my friends in the UK. We have prayed for you often.

Keep reading and let us know what you think of this blog. We will be anxious to hear your remarks.

Until we hear the shout,
Darla

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

F-E-A-R (false evidence appearing real)

Last night I knitted my way through Paris, Italy and Santorini. OK, so it was on the Travel Channel. I love the Travel Channel! I note the sights and especially the shopping. My husband likes to watch it too but instead of shopping he sees adventure. The next thing I know he is booking our next trip. If my husband and I wrote a book together it would be called, The Adventurer and the Chicken". I am no adventurer! I qualify fair and square as the chicken! I am like our spaniels when they visit the vet. They sit on their bottoms with all fours straight out refusing to budge. That is exactly the way I feel when it is "adventure time". But I go because I don't want to miss anything.

I am not a fan of flying so that is always the first challenge. I have hyperventilated through more airports than I care to remember! Packing is the next major hurdle. I wouldn't want to need that cute top that only goes with the pants I brought and it be 4,000 miles away! But, of course, the destination is always, always the scary part!

I have found myself in a mawambo boat floating down the Amazon River where crocodiles line the shore sunning themselves. Howler monkeys jumping from mango tree to mango tree chasing after one another and trying to scare off their enemies sounding more like gorillas instead of small monkeys.

I have hiked in Alaska next to a glacier all the while yelling "woo hoo" and shaking the bushes like crazy every 10 seconds just in case a grisly bear is nearby. Not surprising a bear being the major goal.

One time while climbing a mountain path the air was getting thinner. I stopped to catch my breath thinking for sure I would be medivaced off of that mountain. But there was a couple coming down the path and they said, "oh, keep going the view is absolutely breathtaking" (poor choice of words). I kept going. I had to stop along the way a few times but I got to the top. The couple was right the view was absolutely beautiful and yes, breathtaking!

I have snorkeled in the Caribbean along side sea turtles and barracudas. I have rafted down the Snake River (now that was a story). I have walked through rain forests and been carried above tree lines of jungles. This chicken has had some adventures. My mantra always being, "I am not sure I can do this". And my husband's mantra, "Come on D.J., sure you can! Just keep putting one foot in front of another!"

In our travels I have often watched the animals. For instance, howler monkeys. They are just a little monkey but when you hear them in the jungle their voices boom like large gorillas. They do this to protect themselves and their family groups from cougars and other prey.

I was surprised to find out that bears "usually" will not approach humans if they give the illusion of appearing bigger. Hence shaking the bushes and calling out "woo hoo". The premise being the bear is more afraid of you than you are of them. (which is not possible in my personal view)

Well, it seems to work in both situations most of the time. But the reality is they are just small monkeys and a person trying to appear like a large bear. I've known a few of those, haven't you? In both cases the first reaction I have is fear. I mean ....F-E-A-R!

I have fought fear my whole life. I used to think that fear was a sin. But I have come to realize that fear is a normal life emotion. What you do with fear is important. Fear can stop you from stepping out for the Lord. You know, He calls you to a hard place or "out of your comfort zone" and you don't go because you are afraid the Lord won't do what he promised. Then there is "what will people think", caring more about our image than being obedient to the Lord. Let me give you a very small but significant example of this. Sitting in church one day our pastor said, "turn to the person beside you and pray with them". I was by myself that day and I looked to find the only other person sitting in my row was a young lady I didn't know. I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me and tell me to go over and pray for her. I didn't because I wasn't sure what she would think, even though I could feel the Holy Spirit urging me to do so. I will never know what opportunity or what difference that could have made in her life because I was afraid of what she would think. Sad, but true.

Fear and anxiety once led me into agoraphobia(fear of open places) which I will tell you about the next time we meet on the Back Porch.

Some of you have believed the illusion of fear. You been trying to climb that mountain but you are out of breath and you've sat down. You have even been thinking about changing direction, maybe going back another way or just camping there. You have believed the lie that howler monkeys are gorillas and humans are bigger than bears. I want to encourage you today to believe the Lord's word when it says in Isaiah 41:10..."I have chosen you and not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand".

Like David, we are to step out there and face the giant of fear. What would the Israelites missed if David would have believed his fear instead of the God he served?

What are you missing?


Isaiah 41:10
I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Memory

Yesterday I went to a dear friend's memorial. It isn't the first in the last few months. Actually it was the third one of my dear friends who went to be with the Lord. These three women I have known for many years. I have laughed until I cried, cried until I laughed, walked along side long enough to see the realness of their lives and loved them as my own family. We prayed through births, marriages, children's decisions, deaths of parents and too many birthdays to count. We have shared our faith and what the Lord is doing in our lives countless times. In all of this they have taught me many, many lessons through their lives.

Caroline was the prayer warrior. She loved the Lord's word, the Bible, and loved talking to Jesus. She also loved singing hymns. It comforted her in the last few days of her life to hear those old hymns. Her concern was that she finish well for the Lord. She wanted to stay faithful to the end. Gentle and faithful woman of God.
"Let's keep praying for each other" ....Caroline Lippert

Daisy was the second to leave. Now there was what my mom used to call, a house "afire". Translation, "house of fire". A strong women of God! She wouldn't have backed down if the devil himself had stood before her. She knew her place in the Kingdom. The Lord just had to tell her once and she believed it. She stood because God told her so. Not caring to hear what man had to say but listening intently on what the Lord was saying. Prophet some would say. Transformed into his likeness was her desire.
"We are being transformed into his likeness and Christians act as though they don't know what is happening" .....Daisy Ross

Marty was the last to leave. She was a combination of strength and gentleness. A great love for her family and her Savior gave her courage beyond her own. Traveling outside her comfort zone into other lands and culture, loving people and extending hospitality to all who came across her path. Seeing others come and grow in Christ was the desire of her heart.
"The Lord wants you to trust Him" and "I am resting in Jesus arms while He fights this battle for me" ......Marty Jarrett

Trust, faith, courage, strength, believing God's word, gentleness, witnessing. I have been taught well. Lessons of their lives will not be wasted on me. I have treasured them in my heart and have applied these great gifts the Lord gave me to my own life.

Thank you, Lord, that you have provided pieces of your heart in the lives of these women. You have taught me more about you in the testimony of their lives. I pray, Lord, that when you whisper my name, I will leave lessons behind to other women who I have opened my heart to as well. Thank you for their lives, their willingness to love unconditionally, and be faithful to the end. And Lord, would you just mend this heart that has been tattered by grief and events in the last few months. Use it for your glory and my good.

Caroline, Daisy, Marty, I love y'all and I'll see you later. Now save some of that chocolate for me! No peeking at my mansion either!

II Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Get your prayin' on!

This morning I was up early to pick up my little grandson and take him to school and then off to start my usual swim and exercise class at the Y. Sometimes I jump out of bed to go and other times I drag out of bed and talk myself into going. Today was a "drag myself day". When I got there I looked for my friend, she arrives early and usually has lifted her weights and done a few laps before I even get out of the locker room. She is always ready and today was no exception.

Another friend seemed down about her weight, she asked us to pray for her. Well, she actually said, "would you girlfriends get your prayin' on about me". My friend looked at me and suddenly burst out, "hey, that's a great idea, let's pray right now for each other". Before I knew it there we were in the middle of the YMCA pool holding hands and praying that the Lord would make our bodies strong for His service, not a Madison/5th Avenue magazine look but for the Lord's service. Asking that He would bless us and add strength to our bodies to continue the good work He had for us. Now please get the full picture I don't mean some little sweet demeanor prayer, I mean a full AMEN, THANK YOU, JESUS PRAYER! This women meant business and she didn't care who was around. She was unashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the word of God was living and thriving in her!

We finished praying and continued to swim and exercise. We continued as if nothing out of the ordinary happened. Like we always stand in the pool, hold hands and pray. Like that was part of our routine of exercises. When we finished praying she didn't look around to see if anyone was looking she just said, "now there we go we ask Him and He will do it". I mean completely normal. Do you understand? As I swam my heart was smiling as to what had just happened. Her words rang in my ears, "now there we go, we ask Him and He will do it". She was getting her prayin' on!

There wasn't a concern about what the outward look was. She just wanted to make sure we had strong, able bodies to carry out the Lord's work he had prepared for us. The only way she knew was to go to the one who made our bodies and ask Him. Then she entrusted the outcome to Him. She knew he would act, she knew he had heard...she knew Him.

She had her prayin' on! What about you girlfriend, "you got your prayin' on?"

I Thessalonians 5:24
The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Isolation

I Peter 5:8-9
Be self controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Today I was flipping through some of my teaching material and came across a National Geographic magazine from years ago. It was an article about Isle Royale, a small island just off the Michigan coastline. A primitive, well some would argue this point, island filled with wolves,moose and an inn for non campers like me. After visiting I can understand why only moose and wolves would find comfort there. Beautiful, scenic, quiet, quiet, quiet and isolated. It takes about eight hours to get there by ferry, a little shorter by seaplane. So it is a place you intentionally go. Not somewhere you just stop on your way somewhere.

Anyway, in this particular issue of National Geographic it showed a herd of moose with one of the moose not quite keeping up. Maybe he was injured or just having a bad day but for whatever reason he was separated from the rest of the herd, isolated from the others. The next picture reveals a pack of wolves in the distance apparently waiting for a chance to take down just one moose. The herd got further and further away and the pack of wolves got closer and closer to the isolated moose. The moose began to panic and before long we see the moose is down and being devoured by the pack of wolves. They didn't have to do much. The pack didn't take on the whole herd because that would have risked being trampled to death. But one, alone, isolated, away from the others, NOW that was a sure thing. They would just have to wait for the right moment,circle the target and make their move.

It reminded me of our lives. We isolate ourselves from others too, just like that moose. Memories from our past, hurt feelings, resentment, pain of our circumstances, our own sin - all of these things can isolate us. Oh we may not be home with the drapes drawn, however that is my personal favorite, but we isolate ourselves just the same. Does this sound familiar? You are at church, you didn't stay home. And when asked how you are the answer is "fine". Even though inside you are falling apart. There is no one there you trust because of the past hurts in your life. So you go home just as you came...isolated. Oh it all looked perfectly "fine" but still isolated.

Jealousy of relationships and resentment begins to build? Unconfessed and isolated. The devil has convinced us that no one else could possibly understand our trials or our past. No one except us has had to endure such hellish things done to us or said to us. You are alone and no one will understand. Of course, if anyone knew they might reject you and that is a chance you can't take.

You have passed up ministering to your sisters in Christ because you would have to be real, and if they knew it would mean giving up the pain, rejection, fear and hurt. Somehow it has become safer to hold onto than to give up. It has become a familiar place. The devil has lied to you telling you this is a place of safety, when in reality it is a place of destruction and deeper pain.

I am sure that moose thought that day it was ok to stray from the others. To just lag behind and see if anyone really cared he was gone. But it didn't end well for him that day and it won't for us either. The word of the Lord in 1Peter 5:8 says, "that our enemy is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour". Not to comfort us or calm us but destroy us. And this dear sister, is just the way it starts....ISOLATION.

We can get away from it all to pray and seek the Lord but what I am referring to is not a quiet time but a painful and lonely time. Now there may be some seasons in our lives where it is just the Lord and us, but isolation is feeling like even the God who made you doesn't care and can't help you. You know the difference, don't you. Isolation is place just like Isle Royale that you intentionally go. If that is so then you can intentionally leave, by the blood of Jesus and the power of God. Don't wait for your enemy to come to you like those wolves. Get into the Word, pray and seek fellowship with others. Ask the Lord to show you a someone who needs ministering to and maybe even a prayer partner. Ask Him, go ahead, ask Him. There are others who are crying out for the Lord to send someone their way. Is that someone you? Come on, live fearless, live free and live with the knowledge that the Lord is waiting and watching for you. It will cost you something but I promise the exchange will be worth it! So get with the herd and do great things in the Lord! And watch out for those wolves they're bad dudes!