A Lifetime of Chocolates

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I love a new box of chocolates – surprise waits in every bite. When I was a child it took a long time to decide which was the very best one and that choice would bring delight to my taste buds – most of the time. My mom’s rule was “if you take it – you eat it.” When it was that “gooey” Caramel I was in heaven but then there were those ones – you know those ones that ruin the whole chocolate experience. The only name I had was “nastiness.” When I was the unfortunate recipient of that choice, my only focus had to be on the fact that it was wrapped in chocolate and I would will my mind to think of that. Soon I found a trick – at least until I was found out – if I stuck my fingernail in the bottom I could know what was inside, and avoid a “nastiness” experience.

Well, “life is like a box of chocolates” and we wish we could use that fingernail trick to check inside. However, just like my moms response to my great idea; life’s response is the same – “no peeking allowed”.

We receive those “yummy gooey” Caramel’s, those “ok” cream centers and those “nastiness” unknowns – in our lifetime box of chocolates. Each filling is wrapped in chocolate. The chocolate is the ultimate focus. When we get the “yummy gooey” and the “ok” ones we often miss the chocolate so lovingly covering it. But, without that covering layer those “nastiness” ones just wouldn’t make it down.

Jesus has lovingly covered each of life’s fillings with chocolate – giving us a gift of the Holy Spirit. He is always there covering us with that sweet layer as we enjoy the “yummy gooey” and the “ok” fillings of life. But when we get a bite of the “nastiness” fillings, the reality of His presence – His very taste – is our comfort and focus to get us through.

Our box of chocolates comes pre-sorted just for us from the Father’s hand and we don’t get to peek. Whatever each piece brings into our lives, we can depend on that sweet chocolate taste to get us through. As we focus on the chocolate, not the filling, we will find the surprises He has planned for us – even in the midst of the “nastiness”. Our box takes a lifetime to complete so allow each piece to produce its effect in your life – and don’t forget the chocolate.

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness, have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)

 

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Speak Life

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Life is full of the “ good, the bad and the ugly” along with many more expletives. But today I desire to focus on the fact that the first in that well-known quote is “the GOOD”. Life IS full of good – it is all around us if we look.

Unfortunately we are inundated with the negative. We hear and see it everywhere. The news visually captivates the worst of the worst, as it pours in through our televisions and the radio screams it in our ears, while we scroll through an endless social media feed.

Somewhere within our senses we become callused and obsessed with the bad – forgetting that there is good. That callousness easily fuels and changes our hearts. Soon we have become bitter and continually negative – everything is tainted by that bend in our thinking.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (ESV)

Choosing to do as this scripture encourages, means a concerted effort to turn off that “bad and ugly” input – to look around and find the “good”.  Join me today in an effort that will renew your life – an effort to find the “good” everywhere you look and go. Begin by speaking life to those around you and watch the transformation happen.

A New Day of Hope!

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I woke this morning to an explosive sunrise, one that filled the entire sky with all shades of oranges, reds and yellows. It was literally – breathtaking and it surrounded me. Not a typical sunrise from one side of the horizon but one that seemed to be full circle, full of brilliance and fire . There are no words or photograph that can really express its phenomenal presence.

Breathing in a new day that begins like this sets a hope and a joy deep within.

In the midst of pain and suffering all around us it is easy to become wrapped up in a spirit of despondency, hopelessness and fear. These become clouds that stifle and destroy any sense or ability to move forward, to care, to love – they captivate our lives.

Nature’s transition from storm clouds to brilliant sunrise gives hope for a new glorious today. If storm clouds have kept you captive – realize it and move forward into the arms of Jesus. His presence is waiting with open arms to bring freedom to the captive. Step out of the clouds into the hope of a sunrise bursting with joy.

Psalm 30:5b Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Photo courtesy of Sherry Phinisey

It’s ALL in the Waiting!

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“It’s a waiting game.” We hear that all the time when something we are hoping for, expecting, desiring or needing doesn’t come about in “our” set time frame. Waiting requires something from us – patience. Yes – patience – a dirty word we don’t like to think about. But patience is required whenever we find ourselves in the “waiting game” – where prayers have been lifted over and over with what seems to be no answer. But the waiting process is not in our control but His.

In my garden I plant tulips and daffodils in the fall and then I wait. They need to “chill out” in the deep cold soil – waiting for the right time. That waiting time is necessary for them just as it often is for us.

Sometimes the answer we are asking God for may not be – no – but – wait. His time is perfect. Our job is to “chill out” and allow His perfect work to develop within us, and that perfect work may require times of growing underground in the deep character areas of our lives.

This process of waiting develops many attributes that can’t come to completion any other way. Our faith is fortified – patience brings about strength, perseverance, hope, long-suffering, joy, kindness, gentleness and peace to mention just a few of the beautiful bulbs that are down there just waiting to bloom in the midst of your waiting.

Rest today in the “waiting game” that you find yourself in; trust that God has beauty planted deep within and your joy will bloom at just the right time.

Romans 5:3-5 This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles. Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us. Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us. (Phillips)

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (ESV)

 

Up from the Ashes

In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

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I often ponder the parallels found in the truths of scripture shown through the natural and spiritual. Many such, have been in the forefront this year.

As last spring began, the lush tall forest trees of the west coast stood strong and vibrant, never knowing what the next season would bring. Spring soon led into a scorching summer as flames consumed over 8 million acres that now lay in ashes – those same lush forests destroyed.

An interesting fact occurs in the midst of forest fires – the seeds of life are spared, hidden and protected – they are surrounded by a hard safe shell that allows them to spread, land and in the midst of the nutrient ash – in time – they will bring forth life. Seedlings of life will begin to turn the black and gray colored hills and mountains into soft green life.

These last 6 months have left much in ashes across our country. Thousands of lives will never be the same due to floods, fires, and hurricanes but also from accidents, drugs, suicides and disease. They too, never expected to have their lives lay at their feet in ashes.

However, strength and new life will arise. If the ash lies at your feet it doesn’t look or feel possible, but somewhere deep inside faith stirs, then rises up to keep moving forward. Somehow that seed of faith has been hidden and protected. In the midst of the pain and loss a seed is found – life will move forward, life will spring forth, life will be green again as it rises up from the ashes.

In the midst of the ashes believe that Jesus has a plan – a protected, hidden seed within you. Your story is not over – trust in your Heavenly Father. He loves you, never leaves you, walks with you, is faithful and good all the time. Trust Him to bring life up from the ashes.

Is 61:2b-3 He has sent me to comfort those who are sad, those in Zion who mourn. I will take away the ashes on their head, and I will give them a crown. I will take away their sadness, and I will give them the oil of happiness. I will take away their sorrow, and I will give them celebration clothes. He sent me to name them ‘Good Trees’ and ‘The Lord’s Wonderful Plant.’(ERV)

Psalm 30:11 Then he turned my sorrow into joy! He took away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. (TLB)

Out of Love

The desire for the “best of the best” directly from our Fathers hand is available and stretched out to us. He wants to be a Father, to welcome us and dwell with us.

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From the moment we feel the first flutter of life, excitement stirs to see this little life filled with all the “best of the best”. We protect and provide but most of all we love! There is a place within us that is so full of love for this precious one, that it often overwhelms us. As they grow and become adults – well, it NEVER changes – that love grows too. As parents we always want to see the best for our children and that desire comes directly from Heaven.

Our Heavenly Father desires the “best of the best” for us – He protects and provides but most of all He loves, loves and loves. He promises us He will dwell with us, He will receive (welcome) us and He will be a Father to us.

Just as we try to warn our children from making life-impacting mistakes, so does He. The desire is not to manipulate, control or be harsh but is poured out – out of love!

The words “unequally yoked” strike many feelings in us – most eliciting thoughts from our past; but in truth this passage is written to us out of love – great love. The desire for the “best of the best” directly from our Fathers hand is available and stretched out to us. He wants to be a Father, to welcome us and dwell with us. The HOWEVER – is our choice. That HOWEVER says light and darkness cannot share the same room – that’s our choice. If we walk unequally yoked – it is a place that “daddy” just can’t come into to visit.

Yes – there is His unmerited favor and grace extended to us through Christ – that’s a gift – given to us. BUT the “best of the best” that your Father desires to give to you is available for those who walk purely in the light. So take a minute and “reformat” your brain around this scripture – seeing what He is giving you in exchange for that choice of not being unequally yoked (those who you choose to intimately fold into your closest circle).

Daddy has the “best of the best” waiting for you – the however – is up to you.

IICorinthians 6:14 You are not the same as those who don’t believe. So don’t join yourselves to them. Good and evil don’t belong together. Light and darkness cannot share the same room.(ERV)