Sunday, October 14, 2018

Cut It Out: How can we walk out God’s good plans when our foot is caught in a web of destruction?

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
—John 15:1-2

“Oh, no!” I gasped when I caught sight of my beloved lilac bush covered with webs. “The webworms are taking over,” I groaned. Already they had consumed my black walnut tree and another at the edge of the pasture. Why did they have to choose my lilac to chew on next?

Lilacs are special to me, a sweet reminder of my loving grandmother, who shared my childhood home. Her lilac bush graced the corner of our screened back porch and bloomed just once a year, in April, her birth month. I can still see the lavender-colored cuttings arranged in a Mason jar in the center of the kitchen table. The fragrant aroma filled the room like the gentle spirit of Grandmama's presence.

Now the insects had draped their deadly cloaks over my lilac bush, covering it from top to bottom, killing every green leaf and causing sadness to drape over me at the mere thought of my lilac never returning.

Was there anything I could do? The niggling thought plagued me each time I rounded the corner of my house. Nah, it’s hopeless, I returned.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Paced for the Weekend: How are you moving?

O God, you cause abundant showers to fall on your chosen people.
When they are tired, you sustain them.

It’s one of those mornings when I walk around with marshmallow feet. I dare not make a sound that would disturb the love-tones, lulling my spirit. The rhythm of rain, splashing on broad leaves of canna lilies. Hummingbirds, humming in key. And the hushed whisper of God, telling me I am right where I’m supposed to be. The quiet answer to prayer.

It had been a hard week, one that started with sickness and ended with exhaustion, as I pressed through to order my classroom for the start of school. And then I wondered how I should spend the three-day weekend. Travel to be with family to celebrate birthdays and the last official hurrah of summer? I deserved that, didn’t I? I missed my family. But I would have to contend with busy holiday weekend traffic and the expense. Or should I stay home to rest and prepare for the upcoming week and save money in so doing?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

As a Man Thinketh...What are you thinking of Today?

Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.

Every time I go outside and look at the zinnias beside the house, my eyes go straight to the dirty siding instead.

When I look at those that line my sidewalk, my eyes go to the dead leaves that flank the bottom of the flowers. It is not a pleasing sight. 

However, when I sit at my kitchen table with my window open wide, the sight of those same flowers, their faces looking up at me, takes my breath away. 

The difference is in my perspective.

Our view on life, or even ourselves, can be much the same way. We can focus on the negative and miss the beauty before us, or we can zoom in on the good things and be awed by how blessed we truly are.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

London Bridge is Falling Down: How can we be sure that what we trust in is safe?

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
—Deuteronomy 31:8

I cringe (and pray!) every time I have to drive through the arch created when a March wind storm blew one tree over to rest in the limbs of another. But sometimes I make light of the situation, saying the trees are playing London Bridge.

Are you familiar with the children’s singing game? Two children join hands high to form an arch while others march through, each holding onto the waist of the one in front of them. Either the bridge makers or all the children sing:

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

At the last word, the children forming the bridge quickly lower their arms to capture a prisoner. The song continues with more stanzas like “Get the key and lock her up.”

I have fond memories of playing the game with my siblings and cousins, laughing when I was part of the fallen bridge that captured a prisoner. Now when I approach the foreboding tree arch, I shudder at the thought of being captured. I breathe a quick prayer and accelerate my way through.