Saturday, February 15, 2014

Nearer God's Heart In a Garden

There is something about being in a garden that nourishes my soul.

Perhaps it is that the beauty is so natural…so real.

Or maybe it is that gardens are one of those places I most feel the presence and peace of God, see the wonder of His creation, and I hear the lessons He has for me.
The Vegetable Garden

For some to think of a garden is to think of plants that produce food. Think of the hard work that it takes to plant, fertilize, water and weed, fighting against the onslaught of bugs chomping away at the fruit of your labor.  Experiencing the joy in the bounty of the harvest. Giving back life, from life.

I remember eating from the fruits of my grandparents' labor almost every Sunday as I was growing up. My Mammaw always had fresh cooked vegetables from the garden. Even in the winter there were canned beans and jellies of every sort to be fetched from the shelves for a Sunday afternoon dinner.  I still have the picture in my head of my grandmother bending low in her garden, bonnet over her head, picking fresh peas. At times I was by her side, as she showed me what to do.

But I have to say…some of my most precious memories was of my grandmother allowing me to pick precious treasures from her other garden.

The Flower Garden…

Every week through spring time and summer...after the big family dinner at my grandparent's house and after a fair amount of time to play with my cousins, I would wander into the backyard and linger by the flower beds.  Oh how I loved the flowers. In general, as children, we weren't allowed to pick the flowers. They were to be smelled, gazed upon and appreciated as they were left to grow out in the fresh air and sunshine.

As I got older, around my junior high years, I remember being allowed to pick a few of those precious flowers every Sunday. I would add them to the Queen Anne's Lace that grew wild at the edge of the woods…along with any other wildflower I could find on a treasure hunt through the woods behind Mammaw's house. I would take them home and put them in a vase to enjoy in my bedroom all that week. The following Sunday I would collect a fresh bouquet. This would continue all spring and summer until late fall when there were no flowers left to pick. Thankfully, growing up in Georgia afforded us a long growing season for flowers of all kinds through the spring and summer. How I loved my vase of flowers!

I still love flower gardens most…though I do realize the necessity of the other kind. God has shown me there are all kinds of lessons to be found for life, for love, and most importantly about Him, in the beauty, and in the care and tending of gardens. Too many to address in this short post.  I did write a post about the work that God needs to do in the garden of our hearts in a post I wrote back in 2011. You can read that post here:  Morning Musings From My Patio. 

The Heart's garden...

Instead of going into the lessons that God has built into His creation, I would like to honor my mother, who had much influence in the cultivating of the garden of my own heart, by leaving you with a short poem she wrote about me when I was just 12 years old.  She had written a poem for each one of her five children(at the time…three years later we added one more). In each short little poem she captured a bit of the character of each one of her children. I find it sweetly ironic that my poem was a take off of Mistress Mary and her garden.  (...and for those of you who do not know my roots well. My name, Gay, is short for Gayonne, a combination of Gayle and Evonne. Two family names)

Mistress Gayonne, quite a gay one,
How does your laughter grow?
With God's merry blessing,
We can all learn a lesson__
By watching your inner glow!
I love that my mother left me with that spoken blessing over my life.
I love that it was my mother's mother, Mammaw, who instilled in me a great love for God's beautiful creation.

My prayer is that my life and my words leave a legacy of God's great love and mercy, and that the shining of the glory of His presence is indeed seen in my countenance.

What garden are you tending…what legacy will it produce?

  The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. ~Isaiah 58:11

Here's another garden story you don't want to miss!  

Lisa-Jo Baker launched an incredible project on Valentine's Day this year. She is raising money, $150,000 from Valentine's Day through Mother's Day to fund the building of a much needed Community Center in South Africa. As of Friday(Valentine's Day 2014), the first phase of the project has been funded(a community garden). As Lisa-Jo says,
 What if 1 blog community could build 1 South African community a safe place for sustainable food, child care, economic empowerment, job skills trainings, a gathering place for church, classrooms for HIV/Aids education, and a playground for their kids.
Here is one way that you can help with the Maubane Community Center project. When you purchase one of these three beautiful necklaces from Krafty Kash $12 from each purchase will be donated!! This offer is available until Mother's day!!

Love is more than a date on a calendar! Fall in love with the world next door….

   “Fall in Love with the World Next Door” Necklace

Five Minute Friday

I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo and 

the Five Minute Friday writers.

Join us…Hop over the Five Minute Friday 
and find out what it's all about.
Better yet…join the fun!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sacrificial Faith - Abraham and Isaac

Today I have the honor of guest posting over at my friend, Beth Zimmerman's site, ButterflyMasterpiece. Myself, and quite a few other bloggers are contributing to the series, Walk By Faith. If you follow this post over to the site, you might want to pour yourself a cup of tea, and stay awhile and browse around her site and read some of the other posts. You'll be glad you did!

When I saw that one of the topics for her series was to be Sacrificial Faith and revolve around the story of Abraham and Isaac, I knew that I needed to share what God has shown me through a very difficult time in the life of our family.  My hope and prayer is that this will encourage you in your faith journey.

 Abraham was a man who knew the true meaning of the words sacrificial faith. In Genesis 22:1-18 you can read the full account of Abraham and his son, Isaac. Isaac was the son he and  Sarah had conceived in their old age. In Hebrews 11:17-19, we read a recap of Abraham and Isaac's encounter with God. 
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Can you imagine that kind of obedience? God had asked Abraham to take his son to the land of Moriah and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on a mountain that God would show him…

Please join me over at Beth's site to read the rest of this post. Just click on the link here: Everything Made New, formerly known as Butterfly Masterpiece 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Healed or Walking Dead? Choose Now...

This week is the last in a series of link-ups with Jo Ann Fore's book study, When A Woman Finds Her Voice. It has been a privilege to walk in this community of voice bloggers. To join in with other women who are learning to walk, healed and whole, into the fullness of redemption and restoration that God has for each one of us.  It is the light that leads the way home to a lost and hurting world.
  It isn't a trivial journey, this healing. This restoration, this redemption, is a biblical mandate…a life principle to be worked out, and shared with others. We redeem the hurts of life when we allow them to come full circle, when we pour into the lives of others. ~Jo Ann Fore,When A Women Finds Her Voice.

With these words in mind, let me caution you. You cannot fast-forward, past the process of healing, into the sharing and comforting of others. When you do…you end up not sharing words of hope and  comfort, but words of pain and bitterness. The cacophony of the pain and bitterness of your story all but drown out any of the words that are meant to point to the light of hope and healing. Too many come together to talk about their painful past only to find themselves commiserating in their stories of pain and misery. You cannot reach out to give hope and comfort when you, yourself, have not received that comfort.

The Walking Dead

I believe there are too many women walking around with soul wounds…gaping, bleeding, ugly wounds.  I have this picture running through my head of the ghouls on the show, the Walking Dead. I know that sounds extreme but let me tell you what I mean.

Sometimes the wounds are caused by others, sometimes by life's circumstances, or they may have been self-inflicted. In any case, they are an indication of this fallen world in which we live.

To have an open wound requires all of our focus and attention to remain on ourselves. We spend the majority of our time and efforts tending the wound. If the right salve is not applied we begin to look like the 'Walking Dead'…stuffing our emotions down, becoming lifeless. There is no 'inner light' left for others to see. We begin to think that no one should be exposed to the ugliness of our wounds. We withdraw deeper into our own world…no, not as hermits because life goes on around us. But our voices become wilted…melting, silencing the emotional pain. We go on about the tasks of our daily lives in a 'Stepford Wives' sort of existence, saying and doing all the right things. All the while, our true self longs to be heard, longs to call out to someone who will listen and apply the needed salve to our wounded spirit.

The enemy of your soul wants you to be a member of the walking wounded. He wants you to believe that there is no way out…no answer…that it is so much easier to remain in your present state than to move forward.

Scars...a sign of healing

It is difficult, if not impossible, to move forward in our  God-given purpose if we do not first address the wounds of our spirit. You see it is not the open wounds that propel us forward, but wounds that are healing and healed...leaving the scar.  Scars are an indication that healing has taken place.  We first need to address the open wound, the brokenness, and seek to be emotionally whole again.

As the healing begins to take place it is the scars that we use to propel us forward. The scars that enable us to say, ''See,  I have been there, but now... I'm healed." The scars that allow us to point to the healer and redeemer, Jesus Christ. We can now say as Joseph did in Genesis 50:20...
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
If you are one of the walking wounded, I cannot 'fix' you. Only God, through His son and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life can do that.  But…I can come along side you and encourage you. I can point to the hope that is within me…to the One who fixed me. I am not perfect…I still mess up, stumble, fall, sin…but I am redeemed! He is in the process of restoring me to the woman he created me to be…to walk out His purpose in my life. How very thankful I am for my Lord and Savior, who is my righteousness.  He is yours too!

The salve…God's Word

Walk away from the lies of the enemy of your soul, the one who would have you remain in the pain of deep wounded-ness. Walk toward the truth of the Word of God, into the loving, faithful and healing arms of Jesus.  It's time to replace the lies of the enemy with the truth of God's Word (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Your story, wrapped in God, around His word, and what He has done in your life will safely lead women home. ~Jo Ann Fore
It's a process. A journey we must walk…let the journey begin. Move into your calling as one healed to be a healer. We become over-comers when we use the words of our testimony.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.  ~Revelation 12:11                 ~                                                                                                          
  Find your voice!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Please join us here and see what the other amazing #VoiceBloggers are sharing today on our last link up with Jo Ann. This is the last link-up for this study session but I hear there is more coming…more to join in as we all share our voices!