Sweet or Sour Grapes?

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The sweet burst of flavor is anticipated as you hold a cluster of grapes in the palm of your hand. We have grown accustom to enjoying this late summer fruit uninterrupted by the hard, woody appearance of the dreaded “seed”, within our mouth. My preference is always “seedless” – how about you?

Spiritually, your fruitful growth, comes by laying down your past at the feet of Jesus. You grow as you walk through trials with your eyes focused on His face. Faith then says to persevere – your persistence builds a trust that He has a specific plan for your life.  Ultimately the growth of sweet seedless grapes comes from a place where your faith – your trust in Jesus only – has been built over time.

Over the last decade my husband and I have tried our hand at growing grapes; at one time having seven vines containing five different varieties. All have grown prolifically but we found that even those who were tagged as “seedless” still touted that woody seed. So, several years ago with chainsaw in hand, we took them to the ground.

Each year we have fought with those roots that have continued to shoot up. This year, three finally conceded and died, two only produced leaves but two, again took off. Our diligence lapsed and those two suddenly had clusters growing. “Oh well, two wouldn’t be too bad to clean up after.”

To our great surprise – they matured and the desire to “taste and see” outweighed the dreaded seed. The sweet burst of flavor was an unexpected experience but the joy came when we found them “seedless”. How did that happen?

As we learn to walk with our eyes focused on Jesus, not our circumstances or our past; amazing transformations occur in and around our lives. Our internal and external environments shift and to our great joy our sour grapes become sweet and our woody seeds disappear. These changes come from persistence to sit in His presence, allowing His transformation to occur. He does all the cultivating, He feeds, sends the sun and the rain; we say “YES”, receive and grow. And suddenly we taste the sweet burst of flavor and with great joy we find that we are “seedless” and full of His sweetness.

Join me by laying down your past and your current trials. Let’s persistently pursue the presence of Holy Spirit at the feet of Jesus. The transformation will be sweet!

II Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there if fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (ESV)

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Stuck in the Brush?

He desires to free you! You can never get so far away from Him that His great love will not find you. You can never hide from Him where His love and persistence won’t search for you. Your anger at Him, can not separate you from the love He has for you.

Landscape Water *JKSLW047 (Quiet Resting Place)

The darkness is filled with silence as the chill of the night causes him to pull a woolen blanket close around his shoulders. Tonight, his awareness of creatures quietly waiting and watching is heightened. The stones piled high make a quasi-safe barrier encircling his flock but experience warns him that hidden danger waits all around – hungering to make a meal of his little ones.

The open entrance gives access not only to those who are permitted but to those who would steal and kill; so here is where he sits on this dark night, here is where he will lay down across this entrance to rest, as the night wears on.

His mind wonders to the afternoon’s activities. As he had begun taking stalk of his sheep, readying for his evening gathering – one was missing. He thought of nothing but that one lost sheep. He searched through the brush, down the mountain side, by the river, and anywhere this little one might have gone. He never once thought of the ninety-nine others that he had left behind as he searched for his lost one. He knows each sheep personally – its looks, characteristics, habits, and movements – to this shepherd, each sheep is as individual as a human. Each one holds a special place in his heart. This has happened many times to him and each time the love he has for that lost one overwhelms him as he persistently traverses dangerous terrain, never thinking of himself – only that one.

Thankfully, today the lost one was found. It had wondered off, all alone and soon had become tangled under brush and was unable to free itself. The shepherd called it by name and with loving hands reached down and set it free. He lifted this tired little one out of the entrapment, drew the quivering body close and with joy, placed it over his shoulders to carry it back to a place of safety within the flock. 

Just like that little sheep, we can find ourselves tangled under many different entrapment’s, unable to free ourselves. We wonder off – away from the safety of the flock; or even worse, are snatched from the flock by claws and jaws desiring to steal and kill us. But look up, for you have a good, good shepherd. He knows you by name and without hesitation; with great love, He will leave all the rest, just for you. He desires to free you! You can never get so far away from Him that His great love will not find you. You can never hide from Him where His love and persistence won’t search for you. Your anger at Him cannot separate you from the love He has for you.

If you find yourself stuck in a lost empty place – listen and look up – you will find Him calling your name and He will be right there to free you, draw you close and with great joy He will place you over His shoulders and triumphantly carry you to safety.

Luke 15:4-6 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was last.’ (ESV)

God’s Today Assignment

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     As the cool of early morning covers my yard I see activity in my filbert tree. Every year there comes a harvesting time for the local squirrels. We have grown to expect and joyfully watch when these few days each year arrive. It is fascinating to watch the acrobatics and diligent work that begins at sunrise and continues to sunset for several days in a row. Every nut is gathered, checked, shelled and tucked away for future use.

     However, that tree has now grown to be nearing 20 feet tall and this morning I found myself holding my breath as my little woodland critters began this tenacious dance. They teeter on thin branches pulling and shelling nuts, then as if the height doesn’t matter; they jump and swing from branches high in the air to reach the next tiny treasure.

     They have no fear and nothing distracts them – even my yapping dachshunds who circle the base of the tree. Their eyes are focused on the assignment at hand.

            Prov. 4:25 Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. (ESV)

     We can learn a spiritual lesson from these little squirrels.

     They woke to have one assignment today and that has been their job – and only job – all day long. Nothing distracted them from that purpose.

     Jesus walked with so many needs and expectations circling him every day but He chose to focus on the voice of His Father. Only doing what He was called to do – thus when His short three years of ministry was complete, He could say “I glorified you on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do.”

     We allow everyday expectations and needs to pull us, run our lives and distract us into exhaustion. We must choose to listen and obey the Spirits voice. When we say no, begin to manage our own expectations-as well as realign others expectations; we are then allowed to joyfully pick up His specific assignments, stay on task and with joy have plenty of strength to accomplish what He desires for us.

     Just as my little squirrels focus only on the prize – the tiny nut treasure – our forward focus on God’s assignment for TODAY will bring an eternal treasure and allow us to rejoice with the words that Jesus spoke – “I glorified you on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do”.

     Join me today in a choice to jump and swing from the highest branches – reaching for the next treasure – HIS assignment set up just for you to complete. Willingly lay down those urgent things that distract and open your eyes to His eternal plans for your TODAY.

Philippians 3:13-14 Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

Three – Two – One – BLASTOFF!

All in all, building a rocket takes many, many, many more months then a baby. So, with great excitement my rocket is launched out into the world. Though the building of and launching of my rocket, may appear to be no more than another book in the midst of millions, it goes forth into the world carrying my heart; the heart of a new mother for her baby, believing for its impact on the lives of others.

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Reading has been a passion in my life from as early as I can remember. In my life-time I have spent hours walking, browsing, and touching books as I have perused many libraries and bookstores. Finding me with a book in my hands, buried in a corner somewhere as I travel off to a faraway place with imaginary friends has become a normal expected part of me.

Books themselves fascinate and draw me. They hold so much life between each cover. From colored picture and story books to technical books; we depend on them. However, like most things we depend on, we take them for granted. 

As I have embarked on writing and publishing I have found an even greater appreciation of the physical book as well as the authors who have poured out their heart to bring them to life. I have often heard the analogy of a book being like giving birth – and it did make sense to me – until now. Having had three wonderful children each of them required only 9 months to bring to birth. I now believe a better analogy is like the launching of a rocket, which often requires years.

The idea, thoughts, and dream of creating this rocket – our book – begins months or years before one single sentence is composed. Then the drawings, technical research, and engineering step in with many more months. Finally, the writing begins – the actual process of accumulating all the needed physical parts of your rocket – many more months.

Then one exciting morning comes when the construction phase begins and you start to see pages upon pages linking together creating something real, right before your eyes. In your mind you think “this is it” but there are still more weeks and months of intense research, writing and detail adjustments. But, slowly your rocket begins to materialize.

Eventually the cover, title and content look as if they are getting close; now comes testing its flight readiness. Oh no, it is nowhere near ready. Detail, detail, and more detail – proofing and editing that takes way more time than ever was imagined. You can’t believe how many errors seem to pop up every time you read and re-read what has already been read by five others. Each nut and bolt must flow together in this rocket; thus, continual adjustments are made.  

Then just as it looks like you’re close to launch, you realize that no one knows anything about your rocket. If no one knows, then no one will get to watch and be part of the launch of this spectacular rocket – now what? One more phase begins of many more months – marketing – letting everyone know what is coming.

Time rolls on and it is time to do the final pre-launch testing – heading to the publisher – it’s ready “this should be quick” runs through your thoughts. Haha, one more thing to learn – if you think you are ready, you probably really aren’t. The next process begins of finding more details, small and large that are definitely a surprise, while another month slips by as fixes are made and adjusted.

Finally, one morning a shiny truck arrives to open up the hanger your rocket has been stored in. The box carrying your completed book arrives and with anticipation you touch and hold it; the launch is ready to be made.

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All in all, building a rocket takes many, many, many more months then a baby. So, with great excitement my rocket is launched out into the world. Though the building of and launching of my rocket, may appear to be no more than another book in the midst of millions, it goes forth into the world carrying my heart; the heart of a new mother for her baby, believing for its impact on the lives of others.

I hope you are able to watch and be part of the launch of my new rocket!