This Flower…

This flower is growing in my mother’s driveway. It sprouted earlier this summer when she scattered birdseed that was too large to fit in her bird feeder. My mom has flowers growing all over her yard. Flowers that she never really planted. She just scattered a few seeds here and there and waited for the beauty.

Out of all her flowers, this one wins the prize. My mom specifically asked me and my sister to park carefully when we visited, so as not to run over the sunflower that had begun to grow in her driveway. We followed her instructions, but failed to mention the flower to our children.

The flower was a source of joy for Mom, who can’t get out as much as she would like. She could view the flower from her sunroom and watch the beauty of its growth. A flower gracing the gravel with its glory.

Enter two young boys with light sabers. My son, Benjamin, and my sister’s son, Andrew were playing outside at Nana’s house when they discovered the large “weed” growing in the driveway. It did not yet have blooms and could easily have been mistaken for a weed. These boys know their Nana doesn’t like weeds in her yard and decided to take care of the problem. A few moments later, the flower had been whacked with Jedi force.

My sister, Kristi discovered how the young Jedi had tackled the “weed” and explained to them it was a flower. They quickly apologized to Nana and of course, she forgave. However, I knew the sight of the wilting flower would make her sad.

I visited a few days later and used scissors to trim everything that was dead. My hopes weren’t very high for recovery, but I reminded myself that it was in my mother’s yard, where everything grows.

By now you know the rest of the story. The flower has fully recovered and proudly shares its blooms with the world.

This story immediately turns my mind to the amazing things that God can do. My mom scattered several seeds at the beginning of the summer, but only one grew into a beautiful, blooming flower. We too are called to scatter the seeds of our faith to the world around us. Some of those seeds will never take root and grow, but some will grow and become the most beautiful children of God. Followers of Christ, forever changed for His glory.

Even those who begin to grow in the faith can be knocked down by the evil one. They can be torn apart because Satan doesn’t want them to bloom and grow and point others to the Savior. In these times of attack, it’s God our Father to the rescue. He is the One who gives life and gives it abundantly. He prunes those injured, dead places from our lives. He removes the weight of those burdens and restores us to a place where we can grow in His goodness. Praise be to God, the giver of all good things.

Father, help me to grow in your goodness and bloom radiantly for You. Help me to scatter the seeds of my faith so that others may know You and live for Your glory.

“Think about how the wildflowers grow. They don’t work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that even Solomon, the great and rich king, was not dressed as beautifully as one of these flowers. If God makes what grows in the field so beautiful, what do you think he will do for you? That’s just grass—one day it’s alive, and the next day someone throws it into a fire. But God cares enough to make it beautiful. Surely he will do much more for you. Your faith is so small! Luke 12:27-28 (ERV)

In His Love,

Karen 🌻

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Worn Out

My 15 year old son, Jonathan recently began playing tennis. When he plays a sport, he plays hard and he never gives up.

Jonathan played in his first tournament today. It was a last minute opening and we weren’t as prepared as we could have been. We haven’t purchased a racquet that best suits his style of play and we haven’t purchased “tennis” shoes specifically made for the sport.

Jonathan has been wearing regular athletic shoes for practice and has already demolished two pairs. He was down to his last pair of athletic shoes for the tournament today. The shoes he began the day with were not new, but certainly were not falling apart.

Jonathan played three matches and by the time the third match began we jokingly mentioned the use of duct tape to keep his shoes intact. With every slide to reach the ball, I wondered how much longer they would last.

Jonathan’s shoes did last, but are now only suitable for the trash. He even accomplished making holes in his socks with his quick movements to the ball. Just like I said, he plays hard and never gives up.

Tonight, as I looked at the poor condition of Jonathan’s shoes, God placed a thought in my mind. How quickly those shoes were worn out playing a sport. How long would it take to wear those shoes out doing the work God has called us to do?

The thought overwhelmed me for a moment. What if I worked hard and never gave up in my walk with the Lord? What if I wore out a pair of shoes daily because I was working non-stop to bring glory to Him and share His love with others? It’s a humbling thought, but glorious at the same time. Should I attempt to wear out my shoes each day? Not in literal terms, but ideally, yes. For me, those worn out shoes are a visual picture of staying focused on God and His will. Doing whatever He calls me to do, whenever He calls me to do it. Those shoes remind me to work hard and never give up. God is completely worth it!

I think I’ll spare the shoes from the trash and save them as a reminder. It’s funny how God can use worn out shoes to stir my passion for Him.

Colossians 3:23 “Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men.”

In His Love,

Karen ❤️

Stripped Naked and Barefoot

Isaiah… the well known prophet who foretold the birth of Jesus 700 years before He was born. Isaiah… who so famously said to The Lord, “Here am I. Send me!” That same Isaiah walked around stripped naked and barefoot for 3, yes… 3 LONG years!

We find this short story in Isaiah 20:2-4. “At that time the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot. Then the Lord said, “Just as my servant Isaiah has gone stripped and barefoot for three years, as a sign and portent against Egypt and Cush, so the king of Assyria will lead away stripped and barefoot the Egyptian captives and Cushite exiles, young and old, with buttocks bared—to Egypt’s shame.”

Every time I read this Scripture I cringe. First of all, because I can’t even imagine the shame and humiliation involved with walking around naked for 3 years. Second of all, because I can just picture myself in Isaiah’s position:
“But Lord, are you sure about this? Don’t you think 30 minutes would do the trick?”
“But Lord, no one will ever take me seriously again!”
“Lord, shouldn’t we consider what kind of example this will set for my children?”

It is not recorded in Scripture that Isaiah objected in any way to what the Lord told him to do. Does this mean that Isaiah felt no shame or humiliation? I’m almost positive that he did. How could he not? He was a public figure. A messenger for The Lord. Everyone knew he was naked and barefoot. He couldn’t hide. He had the Lord’s work to do. Isaiah did what The Lord asked him to do and he obviously did it well.

It is easy for us to sing the chorus in church “Here I am Lord…I will go Lord, if You lead me”, but wow! Will I go naked? When this question comes to my mind, I think of the verse which is ironically in the book of Isaiah.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

Our simple minds cannot comprehend all the ways of The Lord. Isaiah understood this fact and obeyed with complete trust. God had a plan. Isaiah was blessed to be used by God as a part of His plan. If Isaiah had not trusted God and obeyed, I believe God would have used someone else to carry out His plan. Just think of all that Isaiah would have missed.

God most likely will not ask me to walk around stripped naked and barefoot, but He almost certainly will ask me to do things that are out of my comfort zone. These are the times that I need to remember this life on earth is not about me. It’s about Him. It’s not about my comfort and security. It’s about seeking His face, hearing His voice, and obeying with complete trust. It’s about bringing glory to His name.

Lord, help me to be sincere when I say, “Here am I. Send me!” Increase my faith and build my trust so that no matter what You call me to do, I will obey without hesitation. Help me to lay aside my pride and serve You with complete devotion. Remove my concerns with what the world thinks of me, and help me instead to be totally consumed with Your will.

Trusting Him,
Karen

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Brave

We watched the Disney/Pixar movie “Brave” this weekend. I was never very impressed by the trailers of the movie. It looked a little dark and violent to me. However, we had a free Redbox rental for the weekend and “Brave” was the movie of choice.

My first impressions were correct. It was a little dark and violent. A witch with spells, a bear that kills, Scottish men who fight for no reason. You get the picture. I was prepared for the possibility of those things, but I was not prepared for the daughter who was so disrespectful to her mother. Yes, she apologizes in the end and all is well, but I was not impressed at all.

The next day, as scenes from the movie were replaying themselves in my mind, I started thinking about the title of the movie. Brave? Who was brave? Merida, the daughter and main character was very skillful in archery. She was also quite adventurous, but I don’t remember her being so brave that the entire movie would be named after this quality. Was she brave when she yelled at her mother and told her she would never want to be like her? Was she brave when she asked a witch for a spell to change her mother so she could have her own way? Maybe I’m missing something, but I didn’t view Merida as brave.

I discussed it with my husband and he agreed. We couldn’t come up with an explanation for the title.

As we were having lunch Sunday afternoon, my oldest son, Jonathan shared with us that they had heard two stories during Sunday School. They were true stories from the “One With Them” website.

Jonathan had heard about a 14 year old girl in Uganda, named Susan, who lived with her Muslim father and brother. One day at school she trusted Jesus as her Savior as the result of a visit from an evangelist. A month later, she could hold it in no longer. She shared with her father about her new life in Christ. In response, he locked her in a dark room and instructed her brother not to give her food or water and not to tell anyone. Her brother could not bear it and slid roasted bananas under the door and made a small hole in the floor so he could pour drops of water for her to lick with her tongue.

After six months in a dark room, a neighbor began to question where Susan might be. The police eventually found her. She had lost the use of her legs and of course was very malnourished. After 10 months in a hospital bed, she was able to go live in Kenya with a family who loves The Lord. Her prayer is that she will regain the use of her legs so she can tell others about Jesus. She has forgiven her father and prays for his salvation.

Needless to say…Susan is brave. This was the perfect opportunity to discuss the glaring differences between Merida and Susan with my children. They completely understood and agreed that Susan was so very brave to tell her father about giving her life to The Lord Jesus Christ. She knew that most likely she would be punished severely. However, she couldn’t hold it in. She loved her Lord and she loved her father as well. She wanted him to know the peace and joy of salvation in Christ. She would not be ashamed of Jesus, no matter the cost.

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Susan’s story is one story out of hundreds of thousands. Every day, Christians are being tortured, persecuted, imprisoned, and killed because of their faith. Yet, they are not ashamed and they proudly proclaim Jesus as Lord. This is my definition of brave.

Lord, make me brave. I have nothing to fear but rejection. I have no threat of persecution and You have blessed me with legs that work just fine. Yet I shy away so many times from telling others how You’ve saved me from sin and changed my life. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to love You and love others enough to share with them how to stop living in darkness and find eternal life in You, the Light of the World.

Praying to be Brave,
Karen

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