Harvest those seeds

I get a push notification on my phone every day that says:

Your seeds are all ready to be harvested!

Basically I water my “plants” each day to make sure I drink enough water and when they are fully grown plants I can put them in my garden. They produce seeds.

One day I was looking at this pop up differently than normal.

It was like God was telling me, Your seeds are all ready to be harvested.

We all sort of know the basics when it comes to gardening. You get seeds, you put them in soil, and you water them. You might see some small green blades shooting up, then leaves, then all sorts of things. And one day it’s a fully grown plant. And what’s cool about a fully grown plant is..it makes its own seeds.

So today I want you to look at yourself and think, what are your seeds? Gather them up because they are ready to be collected.

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Monday Inspiration 12.15.14

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I think this is actually a great way to live. Let’s stop comparing our situations with other people’s. Ladies, let’s stop envying that girl’s legs or good looks and appreciate your own. Men, let’s stop comparing your career to the careers of your buddies. We need to be focusing on our own mental health, our own self-esteem, and our own unique callings instead of wishing we were someone or somewhere else.

I like the advice found in 1 Corinthians 7 (MSG) which says:

29-31 I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple—in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.

In other words live freely and uncomplicated. Keep it simple. Don’t allow what people or the world tells you is important affect you. This world is temporary. Let’s focus on things that actually matter like becoming all that God has created you personally to be.

In Ephesians 2:10 MSG it says:

7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

In other words there isn’t greener grass. God planted us all in His garden through acceptance of His Son and the grass is already green there. We all have favor.

Be content today to fertilize your own grass, to plant the seeds God has given you for your own field. You don’t need to envy anyone else’s.

Photo Credit: Boho-weddings.com

Wednesday Inspiration 9.3.14

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When you hear a lie going through your mind, say out loud:

2 Corinthians 10:5 “Satan, you are a liar. I will not receive (or believe) your lie in the Name of Jesus.”

1 John 4:4 “I remind you that it is written, ‘He that is within me is greater than he that is in the world.’ I command you to bow your knee to the Name of Jesus and leave me.”

(Now you have pulled the lie out–just as you pull a weed out of the ground. An empty hole remains where the weed was, and you will need to fill the space you cast the lie out of with Scripture.)

Philippians 4:8 Begin to think on the Word or begin to sing a praise song to God. Make a conscious effort to fill your mind with good, pure, wholesome, and lovely thoughts.

– http://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=scriptures_for_a_sound_mind

 

Today is hump day. It’s right in the middle of the week and so I thought this would make the perfect post. Sometimes it can be a struggle to get to the other side of the week or metaphorically to get over a way of thinking or a difficult situation. Even though I am not currently, today, struggling with any particular thought I think it is still a good reminder to be vigilant over your mind and pull out negative weeds so you have healthy mental soil. 

What is a thought that you can remove today? Once you’ve severed the root and turned it over to Jesus what was one verse/truth you planted in it’s place?

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com 

Monday Inspiration 8.11.14

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Proverbs 3 MSG:

5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

 

This quote is stunning. So often we feel like when life is unraveling or we are cracking under the pressure that it is a bad thing. We fail to remember that when we are weak we are actually strong. Pain has a funny way of making us feel like our very insides could come out if we cried hard enough, or our heart could explode if we were disappointed one more time. But this is not the case. We need to look at our supposed “destruction” and know it is actually God’s “construction”. We are being transformed. Proverbs 3 reminds me that we need to continually trust God. This isn’t always easy but it’s important to keep in practice. If we listen to God’s voice and turn from our own understanding of what is happening to us the Word promises that “our bodies will glow with health.”

Speak life into your situation today by reminding your soul that what appears to be cracking is actually growing. “To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction”.

Photo Credit: imgfave.com

Wednesday Inspiration 8.6.14

 

1 Chronicles 16:8-19(MSG)

8-19 Thank God! Call out his Name!
    Tell the whole world who he is and what he’s done!
Sing to him! Play songs for him!
    Broadcast all his wonders!
Revel in his holy Name,
    God-seekers, be jubilant!
Study God and his strength,
    seek his presence day and night;
Remember all the wonders he performed,
    the miracles and judgments that came out of his mouth.
Seed of Israel his servant!
    Children of Jacob, his first choice!
He is Godour God;
    wherever you go you come on his judgments and decisions.
He keeps his commitments across thousands
    of generations, the covenant he commanded,
The same one he made with Abraham,
    the very one he swore to Isaac

Today is just a short reflection on the goodness of God and what I aspire to be in my relationship with Him.

1. God has been faithful for thousands of generations. Which is crazy. As humans we accidentally break promises, are forgetful, are selfish, are fickle, etc. And yet God has remained the same. He didn’t get sick of being kind, He didn’t change His mind, He is and was and will forever be the same. We don’t have to worry about Him outgrowing us or leaving us.

2. I aspire to be brave enough/passionate enough to share Jesus..the term “broadcast” is a tall order. I tend to think of broadcast like radio and television. But I googled the term for additional definitions and actually really loved this one: “scatter (seeds) by hand or machine rather than placing in drills or rows.” It immediately brought to mind a very small detail oriented way of planting instead of using machinery or tools that could do it faster. In life–seasons can be slow. But no matter what as we walk through life we are in essence scattering seeds. Picture Hansel and Gretel in the children’s story. They left breadcrumbs to find their way home. Imagine that is what we are doing as Christians in life. We are dropping seeds..so that others see where we are going. 

3. I want to continue to study God day and night. I want to remain fascinated by Him–intrigued to learn more. Sometimes this means I am awoken in the middle of the night. Sometimes this means I blog. But whatever it is, I want to use any opportunity to grow in who I believe God to be–so He can show me who He really is. 

Photo Credit: Found on pitterandglink.blogspot.com

Wednesday Inspiration 7.9.14

“In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.” – James 1:19-21 MSG

I love this verse. I’ve had it in my phone for a few weeks now and just today it spoke to me again. Sometimes it can be hard to flourish. If you imagine yourself to be a flower, you know that it can take the right soil, water, and sun to grow. It can also be hard not to die when people cut you/pluck you/don’t remove the weeds from around you. However this photo reminded me that the most beautiful flower is the one that blooms in adversity, despite all the odds. In that way I want to be reminded that God is our gardener. I might be worried about the garden I am planted in, but never worried about the gardener. He will create a beautiful landscape if we refuse to let the weeds of life consume us. 

Photo Credit: Pinterest Via The Simply Luxurious Life

Wednesday Inspiration 5.14.14

The power of your thoughts is something that we don’t always ironically THINK much about. I have a very active imagination. I have internal monologue going a lot of the time. I have an excellent memory. And while those things in and of themselves are not bad, they CAN be. For example it might be beneficial to remember small details for work, or in life, but it could be harmful to remember things that you want to forget about your past but your mind keeps replaying them. Make sense?

The Bible reminds us of this all the time:

1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Philippians 4:8 “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.”

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”

Genesis 3 “The serpent was clever, more clever than any wild animal God had made. He spoke to the Woman: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”

2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”

4-5 The serpent told the Woman, “You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

6 When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she’d know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.”

Therefore it is very important to keep your thoughts and mind at bay. It just takes a whisper of doubt, negativity, self-harm, whatever to sow a seed. I pray that we continually clean out our minds with God’s word so only the good soil remains. No more weeds, no more pollution.

Philippians 3 “20-21 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ, who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.”

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Found on ahighcottonstyle.blogspot.com

The Constant Gardener

I remember a few years back going to a different church than I go to now and hearing a message about being pruned.  I specifically remember it because even back then I knew I was already being cut back. But not in the kind of way where a plant still looks like a plant but just cleaned up from unruly branches or weeds–more like when you go to the salon and think you were clear in asking for a quick trim only to walk out with your hair half the length you started with. Something that you didn’t ask for, desire, or expect. At that time friendships I had were dying out, I was suffering with unemployment, I was struggling with how things were going and what I thought about myself, I wasn’t writing anything creative at all, and optimism in general was being snuffed out.

The Bible actually talks about pruning in John 15 when Jesus refers to himself as the Vine and His people as the branches:

1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.9-10 I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.16 You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.

 

I know this passage very well just from being raised in Sunday school and hearing it a number of times growing up in church. But lately I find myself really torn by it. Over the course of my 20s I’ve given up so many things I actually cared about:

  • A relationship I felt God was calling me away from–even though it ended up ultimately being for my own good it was still an incredibly painful few years of a recovery,
  • A dream–of writing, having a career involving writing
  • A core group of friends–ever since high school and a loss of a particular close group of friends I found myself never quite in one group of friends or another and often felt really alone, out of place, and unwanted
  • etc etc etc.

Even though most of these things could still be in preparation for something greater it’s been years and I am still here waiting to see that regrowth.

 

In His Word God promises that if I abide in him, He will not leave my side. Then why is it that even though I am consistently trying to draw closer to Him despite my confusion and pain I feel more like the branch that has been thrown out to the fire than the one that’s supposed to be churning out grapes left and right?

 

Why do I feel so barren and broken?

 

Why do I feel so depressed and hopeless?

 

Why do I know in my Spirit that Jesus has not left me and loves me but in my mind and deep in my heart I still feel last on the priority list and forever ruined by all that has been removed from me?

 

I am writing this entry today after many 12 hour work days, after tears at my desk, after about six panic attacks this week from stress, after looking in the mirror at my unpleasantly thin figure from weight loss, and almost crippling sadness and grief. I do not feel my harvest and I do not see the purpose.

 

And yet strangely enough the weaker I get the more I can sense the shears coming out again to cut me down. Another new project at work, someone from church’s harsh words about my season being reflective of something I must have done wrong, or another subtle eye roll when you share another hard work week with a friend and you can tell they are tired of hearing about it. How much more can you be cut back …right?

 

I actually Googled pruning tonight when I got home hoping to find some additional inspiration for this and came across something someone else in the universe wrote about this topic:

 

http://rightremedy.org/elizabeths_pen/341.

 

The first thing that stuck out to me was this:

 

God just sees that we can bear more fruit…that we have more potential for greatness, so he wants to get our plans and ideas out of the way so He can bless us with His plan for our lives.”

 

I instantly connected with that part because it’s exactly how I feel and exactly how I do not feel all at once. I do not feel at all like I have the potential for greatness right now. I feel bitter, I sound bitter, I am angry and sad mixed together most of the time, more so than happy or hopeful or optimistic. I don’t feel like my fruit is anything worth eating right now either. In my mind it would be bruised or mealy, or otherwise unpleasant to look at or taste. But then you get to the part about Him wanting to cut out our ideas and plans out of the way so he can plant His own stuff and I get it. I feel it. It’s like a sharp pang in my chest and I know it’s true. I had wonderful plans and ideas of who I could be, or what my life would be like. And to a certain extent I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming about being a writer, or having a great marriage, or going on adventures or whatever, but when those things continued to die leaf by leaf off of my branch it’s like I didn’t know what I wanted anymore. Who I was anymore. And that’s kind of pathetic.

 

Most of my deep despair lately is feeling completely lost. Like everything I believed I was made to be like or do has not panned out. It’s like someone pulled the plug and I’m all shriveled up now with no idea how to plump back up. As stupid as they might sound I really do feel that way. I’m totally lost. I feel like I’m stuck in this career purgatory, I still feel like I’m watching people in great friendships for example and while I know people care for me, it’s not the deep I want to hang out with you all the time and talk to you kind of friendships. There are so many things my heart yearns for and yet it’s like everyone has long settled in to these things and I’m still trying to sort out which map I should use next.

 

But what really hit me was this:

 

“I’ll never forget what a minister once told me during a very difficult time in my life. He said: “Wow, Elizabeth…God must be impressed with you to allow you to go through something this difficult at such a young age. I was 47 before God thought I could handle something that heavy. He must really have big plans for you!” This man’s words to me totally changed my perspective about what I was going through, and I hung on to those words throughout that trial.”

 

And when I say I folded my laptop down and ran into the bathroom to take a shower and cry..I’m dead serious. Why? Because of the phrase “God must be impressed with you to allow you to go through something this difficult at such a young age”. It breaks my heart because I don’t believe it. I don’t feel it in my heart. Maybe over the years with all of the hardships I’ve endured, betrayals, feelings of insignificance, failure, disappointments I’ve allowed this rejection into my life. Like how could God possibly be impressed with me? Maybe once upon a time. But now? I feel like a total failure. I feel discouraged by my lifetime of Christianity only to feel like a total newbie when this wilderness surrounded me. How can He trust me when I feel like I don’t even know or really like what I’m seeing in myself right now?

 

It’s hard for me to believe this suffering will ever cease or that I will come out joyful on the other side but God does promise good for those He loves. It’s easy sometimes to accept the pruning of bad things out of our lives, or to accept Jesus taking all of our sin away, and other kinds of good housekeeping. But He is a constant gardener in my life, even when you think you have been groomed enough—especially when He starts to amputate limbs that you thought were healthy and even more so when He starts jabbing at the already painful infected bits. Have you ever had someone rub against a wound or poke a bruise? It’s like that. It might ultimately be for your recovery but it is the worst pain you have ever felt.

 

I do aspire to see this period of darkness with Ephesians 5:26-27 eyes where it says through this process “Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.” And you know what? I want to be made whole.