Beauty for Ashes

There are so many lessons to be learned in the garden.  I’d say we all have a bit of the farmer in us – who doesn’t like to see things grow?  And even if you don’t have any desire to develop your green thumb, it would be worth it to allow your kids to have a small plot somewhere in the back yard.  The lessons in diligence, persistence, and rewards are invaluable; and it will teach them how to work!  AND if you really want to teach them patience – plant carrots!

We had a late start with the garden because of Tilly’s time away in the shop, so when I planted the onions, lettuce, corn and beans, I left three rows for the tomatoes; however, later, when I started planting the tomato plants, I dug up a corn kernel!  Inadvertently, I had planted one row of tomatoes in the same row of corn/beans! DUMB!!  How can I be so stupid?!  (Actually, for me it’s rather easy!)  Now what?  Really, there was nothing to do but wait until the beans and corn showed up.

When they did, I noticed that in the other three rows, some of the seeds hadn’t sprouted, so I dug up the little plants and placed them in the empty spots.

And isn’t that just like our dear Heavenly Father?  He takes our mistakes and makes them profitable to us!  Doesn’t He promise “beauty for ashes?”  (Isaiah 61:3)  While we’re kicking ourselves for making such foolish mistakes, God has already planned how He will use our “mistakes” to show us another wonderful little facet of His great design.

So many lessons!  Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and dig?! :)

 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3

Hang on!!

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him,
Master, carest thou not that we perish?
IMG_6783And he arose, and rebuked the wind,
and said unto the sea,
Peace, be still.
And the wind ceased,
and there was a great calm.
 And he said unto them,
Why are ye so fearful?
how is it that ye have no faith?
And they feared exceedingly,
and said one to another,
What manner of man is this,
that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Mark 4: 3-417

Years ago, I saw a picture of this verse and loved it so much that my husband surprised me with it months later for Christmas.  It illustrates the sea at both ends of the verse: The left side portrays the waters calming and the right side shows the dark clouds, angry waves, and flashing lightening.  In between them is a small first-century fishing boat being tossed by the waves; however, in the boat among the frightened disciples, is Jesus: arms raised, telling the storm to cease.  And it does.  The picture loudly proclaims in word and picture: Peace, Be Still, often just the reminder that I need for the day!

Are your days filled with tempestuous waves?  Does it seem as though life is a constant storm?  Life is not easy: it never has been and never will be until we see Jesus face to face!  Oh that will be glory for me!  But today, financial weights drag us down, conflicts in relationships toss loads of water into our little boats, children stress our nautical structures with their bent for the world.  At times, we truly feel like those disciples and ask, “Lord, we’re perishing!  Don’t you care?!”

Of course, we do know that He cares – in our heads; however, there are times when we don’t feel it in our hearts.  Isn’t that strange!  Our hearts are the very place where Jesus dwells!  He’s there!  Always there!  His Spirit never leaves us.  That’s His promise! (Hebrews 13:5b … for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)

Jesus is in my boat!  I can’t sink!  There is NOTHING that can sink my boat!

Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest driven soul,
I am peaceful, for I know,
Wildly though the winds may blow,
I’ve an anchor safe and sure,
That can evermore endure.

And it holds, my anchor holds:
Blow your wildest, then, O gale,
On my bark so small and frail;
By His grace I shall not fail,
For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.

Mighty tides about me sweep,
Perils lurk within the deep,
Angry clouds o’ershade the sky,
And the tempest rises high;
Still I stand the tempest’s shock,
For my anchor grips the rock.

I can feel the anchor fast
As I meet each sudden blast,
And the cable, though unseen,
Bears the heavy strain between;
Through the storm I safely ride,
Till the turning of the tide.

Troubles almost ’whelm the soul;
Griefs like billows o’er me roll;
Tempters seek to lure astray;
Storms obscure the light of day:
But in Christ I can be bold,
I’ve an anchor that shall hold.

~Daniel B. Towner

I hope you took the time to read all the verses. We don’t often sing all of them, but notice that each one starts with a description of the tempest and ends with the promised security in Jesus, our Lord.  Truly, we can be just assured and shocked as the disciples when (not if) the Lord rebukes the winds and tells the waves to cease…and they do!  So, just hang on and ride that thing!!

King for a Day

What would you do if you were king or queen for a day? This was the question which was posed to us in Sunday School as we study Ecclesiastes.  Wow!  The answers are endless!  My first thought was political: I’d outlaw abortion forever!  Or I’d pay off our country’s multi-trillion dollar debt! (seventeen to be exact and adding 326 billion to it every day!  That’s enough to give me a heart-attack!)

Then I thought a little more selfishly.  I’d buy an island, or a beach house in Virginia, a cabin in Maine and a castle in England!  I’d travel the world! (That would be hard to do in one day!)

But then, I thought about the spiritual needs of my family, and I thought I’d ask that their hearts would pant hard after God, that all my grandchildren would be saved and love the Lord, that our church folks would all be on fire for God…

And that’s when it hit me: It wouldn’t matter if I was the king of this whole world, had all the money and power and prestige this world could offer – none of that would improve my standing with God!!!!  That is an amazing thought!  The poorest pauper on the streets of New York City has as much power with God as the richest man on 5th avenue!  A kindergartner can talk to God with as much effect as a lawyer on Wall Street (maybe more!:))

I hope that thought is a blessing to you. Know your heavenly Father, love Him, talk to Him, and listen to Him – it will change your life.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  John 17: 20-23

Deadly Shortcut at the PA Grand Canyon

As we headed to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon with our evangelist friends, I was once again reminded of another visit there.  Although our canyon is nothing compared to the “real” Grand Canyon, it is still quite a site.  The deep gorge carved by the Pine Creek over billions and billions of years (just wanted to see if you were really paying attention!), and the view from the top of the gorge is truly breathtaking.  A four-mile round trip path called the Turkey Path literally zigzags its way to the bottom and trails a lovely waterfall as well.

In my teen years, while hiking back up the canyon, my friend and I decided to cut straight up and spare ourselves from some of the zigs and zags.  This was not a problem for two of the shortcuts; however, the third shortcut missed the next bend in the path and instead led us out into uncharted territory!  We found ourselves rock-climbing instead of hiking and I was really scared!  Looking straight down into the yawning mouth of that canyon made my heart stop and my arms and legs shake! Obviously, I did not die, but that incident is forever etched into my memory!

Shortcuts – who wants to waste time in our day of counted seconds?  EVERYTHING takes time, so we find ourselves reviewing the times tables with the kids on the way to soccer practice; or making that much needed return call while driving.  We fold laundry while watching TV, and keep our minds humming while doing those mundane tasks throughout the day; and then, we wonder why it’s so hard to turn off our brains when our heads finally hit the pillow!

Artisans see this world in a totally different way because they KNOW that a masterpiece cannot be rushed!  It takes time to sculpt a figure or paint a landscape or write a book! :)  Patience has been learned and past shortcuts have resulted in now understood failures!

My hiking shortcut could have cost me my physical life; and when I cut short my time with the Lord, it will also cost me my spiritual life!  We will not grow in our spiritual walk without that quiet time!  Is that perhaps why Satan fights us so to keep are triste with God? Oh, how well he knows the destruction which little or no Bible reading will produce.  Here are just a few:  WARNING, the following statements may break your heart

  1. A destroyed marriage. Marriage is so hard.  How in the world anyone can accomplish a successful marriage without a lot of prayer and Bible is beyond me!  You may say, “Well, I see a lot of successful marriages and the couple aren’t even Christians.”  Duh!  They do not have YOUR enemy!
  2. Wayward children. Is there any greater heartache for a mom or dad?  I am truly convinced that our children CAN turn out loving the Lord if we set that example before them; but why would they love the Lord if our lives are reflecting our love for this world’s treasures and counterfeits?  Sadly, we are reaping what we are sowing.
  3. Lost loved ones. Our poor testimony is convincing our unsaved friends and families that they are doing just fine without salvation!
  4. Sadness and discontent. There is nothing sadder than a worldly Christian.  He can’t be happy in the world, because his conscience won’t let him alone; and he can’t be happy with Christians because he can’t relate to them.
  5. Depression, stress, sickness… Will we ever know all of the ramifications resulting from a lack of Bible time? Not until we see Jesus.


  • PRAY – Every time – EVERY TIME, I ask the Lord to show me what He wants me to see, He DOES! It is so awesome.  This morning, I could hardly contain myself, and I didn’t read much, but Oh, was it good!
  • Your best friend is a good study Bible: Life Application Bible, Scofield Study Bible, Thompson Chain – these are my favorites, but there are others
  • Matthew Henry Concise Commentary – you can get this for $1.99 on a kindle. Again, there are lots of commentaries. MH is my personal favorite! (Also a dictionary.  I have Matthew Henry, the Bible, and a dictionary on my kindle, so if I come to a difficult word and I’m not sure of its meaning, I just put the cursor in front of the word, and BINGO: the definition comes up! [Know that’s not much help for you less “techie” folk.  Sorry!])
  • PEN AND NOTE BOOK – write, write, write. You don’t have to be a writer to do this. :)  Start by just looking for one verse that really speaks to you and write it down.  You could also write your thoughts about it, or write a short prayer. I’m not sure why writing it down helps so much, it just does; I’m sure an educator could give you the reason.

Take a shortcut on your walk, or your other reading, or your facebook time, or your shopping.  Let the laundry go for a half hour.  It will still be there! Read your Bible.  Our kids and our world are dying for a lack of it in our lives, dear Christian!  And you are dying too.  It’s like cancer – so often, you don’t see the affects until it is too late.

 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips;

I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. Job 23:12


Too Much Green in My Garden?

ID-10013392 (1)“Your carrots look really good,” my mom said as she looked out my kitchen window.  Ah yes, two lacy green rows of baby carrot tops all in a straight row – nice and thick.

“Yes, I bought my seeds from the local hardware store,” I said.  “Only paid fifty-two cents for a half scoop of seeds.  That’s a quarter of the price I would pay for a seed packet and four times the amount of seeds; so I planted them really thick.”

If she looked out today, she’s say with alarm, “What happen to your carrots?”

Today, I thinned my carrots, because I’ve learned that if they are too close together, there will be no room for the carrot to grow. Now maybe it’s the Bambi Syndrome, but I hate pulling up those tiny little carrots and discarding them!  Murderer!  It’s not their fault that I planted them so thick.

While thinning them I need to make the decision as to which one stays and which one goes.  It’s not always the biggest plants that stay.  I just need to have a row of well-spaced carrot plants when I’m finished; so any plant that is too close to another, no matter how big, good, or healthy, has to go!

I couldn’t help thinking that our lives are a lot like those rows of carrots.  So many good things press into our schedules, often keeping us away from what is really important.  As born-again believers, what is most important?  Being a good worker, or being a godly worker?  Raising good kids, or raising godly kids?  Having a great marriage, or having a godly marriage?

Good things make good kids.  For example, dance lessons are a good thing; soccer is a good thing, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H, family reunions, camping, skating, working… these are all good things.  They can build character into our children and can build strong families, but when anything gets in the way of godly “things” like church attendance, our personal or family devotions or prayer time, then that good thing must go.  Our lives may look great – lots of green tops, but when the harvest time comes, will there be a carrot?  Will there be any fruit for Jesus? Do I need to “pull out” some of the good things to make room for the godly things?

“Yea, but you don’t understand.  Susie would die if I pulled her out of softball and said that she had to go to Wednesday night Children’s Club at church.”

Well, here’s the deal.  I KNOW that I MUST pull those good carrots out to get fruit, so even though I hate doing it, I did it because I wanted the fruit at harvest time.  The real question for you is, what kind of fruit do you want in your children’s lives and can you accomplish that with your present schedule?  Too often we are fooled into thinking that we’ll get the desired result of godly children even though we don’t do what God requires.  And, at the risk of being too harsh, the problem goes a bit deeper – as adults, our hearts are not really “panting” after God as the deer thirsts for water.  Can we really drink of the Word without being under the preaching of the Word or without reading the Word?

I love growing root plants.  It’s so exciting to think about what’s happening under the ground!  About six weeks from now, I’ll be out there brushing the dirt away from the tops of the carrots to see if there’s any orange coming!

As we raise our children or walk our own path of sanctification, I think we should do the same check: brush away the “cover-ups” that we may create, the false impressions that we are giving, and take an honest hard look at what’s happening under the “dirt.”  Man sees the outside, but God sees the heart.  He knows what’s truly in the garden of our hearts and in the garden of our children’s hearts. When Judgment Day arrives, will any of us regret any decision we made to draw our families closer to God?  I seriously doubt it!

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.  Psalm 42:1

Empty Nest is for the Birds

ID-100186801Well, it’s official – our last little (or not so little!) bird just flew the nest.  As he said, “Good night. I’ll see you in the morning,” for the last time, a lump came to my throat – the same lump that has been lodging itself there for the past few weeks!

The Lord has been so gracious to me this summer:  Nathan originally was going to start his GAship right after graduation and be gone all summer.  THAT would have been very hard to swallow, especially after I continually consoled myself  while he was away at college that I would have him here this last summer before his wedding.  “Closure, Lord!  I need closure,” became my prayer, and He agreed!  God gave Nathan a different GA at a different school which starts August twenty-second!

The closure is over; tomorrow we head to Illinois for the Saturday wedding and I couldn’t be happier!  As we watching his plane grow smaller and smaller in the sky, I cried.  (Funny story: Actually, I was crying and dying over the wrong plane!  We were just about to leave the parking lot, when  Nathan texted us and said that they were about to take off!  LOL!)  After a visit to Hobby Lobby and a nice supper at Panera Bread, we headed home (listening to “For Men Only” which was recommended by our son!)

It’s been a tense few weeks.  Nathan has a lot on his plate: marriage, new apartment in a new town, graduate school, entrance exams), and although he tried hard not to let his angst spill over into our closure time, he wasn’t always successful!  As we sat watching “Little Men” last night, Tom and I both sighed a happy sigh – and I was a bit surprised!  We made it!  He’s gone and life is going on!

“Empty Nest” IS really for the birds. I don’t know all the ins and outs of bird-parenting, but I don’t think mom and dad bird sip coffee and grow old together after the chicks are gone.  None of us want to see our children leave home (well, maybe that’s not true!!).   WE didn’t relish the thought of any of our children leaving home, but the key to successful empty-nesting is to prepare for it.  It’s a dangerous thing, moms, when our lives are so wrapped up in our children that there is no relationship left with our husbands once the children are gone.  We have focused so much on the kids and their lives that, too often, we leave hubby on the couch to fend for himself with the remote control!

If I could give one word of caution to any married couple, it would be don’t let ANYTHING destroy that love which brought you two together!  Make time for each other at all cost! Keep focused on your man!  My husband often says that the one of the best things that you can do as a parent is love your spouse – he’s right!  (As usual! :))  It might sound as though our motives are selfish: Keep a close walk with hubby so that he’ll be there when you need him.   Even though that is a true statement, the bigger picture is that a marriage that is built on a strong relationship is one of the most alluring pictures that we can paint of God’s working in our lives!  This world needs to see marriages that shout the difference which Christ makes.

And if you’re saying, “It’s too late – we have nothing in common.”  Take time to remember.  What did you do together when you were first married or dating?  What does he like to do?  Shock him and go talk to him while he works on the car, or chops wood, or watches a ballgame (during the commercials!).  Sacrifice a little and see what happens!

Did Jesus know what He would gain when He suffered so in this world and on the cross?  I think so!  I know so, because He knows everything.  He sacrificed, and I gained everything; but He gained as well – He gained my heart, my love, my all!  What will you gain if you “sacrifice” your wants and time for your marriage?  The thought is beyond imagination!

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  Proverbs 31:11

Hidden Blessings

“Once I cut down the weeds, I found that the ground was red with wild strawberries.  I guess you’d call them a hidden blessing.”

As this dear man shared his testimony in Sunday school a few weeks back, my husband replied, “That will preach!”

Hidden blessings: How many blessings are hidden from our lives because of the weeds of sin that have crowded in and taken over the ground of our heart?  Jesus promises showers of blessings await the heart that is obedient:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;

and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6: 33

And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents,

or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake,

Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.

Luke 18: 29, 30

And in the Old Testament, our heavenly Father also promises loads of blessings:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house,

and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven,

and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:10

And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee,

if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Deuteronomy 28:2

A faithful man shall abound with blessings:

but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. Proverb 28:20

Does God hide or keep these blessing from us because He is mean?  Never. If you are a parent, you may understand this concept a little better.  You love to shower your child with blessings, but if there is disobedience in his heart and hands, the blessings stop–sometimes for correction, sometimes as instruction.  We don’t taunt our children saying, “I have this for you, but you are not good enough to have it.”  The blessings remain unseen until the problem is corrected; then comes the joy of pouring out the blessing!

God never dangles the reward before us like the proverbial carrot, bribing us to be good, because He knows the obedience will be for the reward and not for right.  Likewise, we would do well not to bribe our children for the same reason.

Hidden blessings.  It’s like a wonderful treasure hunt, seeking to do His will and searching our hearts for the weedy spots, so that we may please the Master.  I just finished weeding the garden…again!  It’s a lot of work!  I am always amazed at how quickly those nasty weeds show up!  If I don’t keep after it every week–what a mess!

Our hearts are even more susceptible to sin than my garden is to weeds.  Just as the roots of those weeds are hidden beneath the soil, the roots of sin run deeply in our hearts, part of our very nature.  All around us, the seeds of sinful thoughts blow, ready to take root at a moment’s notice!  No wonder we are told to “pray without ceasing,” and, like the Bereans, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Ac 17:11

And then they come – the bountiful blessings from our God!  The blessings of the soul are much sweeter than fresh wild strawberries, and more beneficial than the freshest picked vegetable… “More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:10

Heavenly Homeland Security

Ah, gardening! I love my garden. I love looking at it out my kitchen window- neat straight rows of healthy plants, and as of yesterday morning, no weeds! What a glorious sight! I’ve trimmed down the size this year, mostly because of my husband’s accident. The garden is mainly my job, but Tom usually tills it in the spring, and he does help when he can. Even if he doesn’t have much spare time, I know he would help if I really get overwhelmed, but that isn’t true this year. My backup safety net is gone! He cannot help; it’s physically impossible. Amazing, how much that played on my mind and attitude.

Can you imagine what it would be like if that same scenario was true of our Heavenly Father? What if He wasn’t there? What if He couldn’t help me? God’s precious promise of security and peace is so much a part of our belief, that its nearly unfathomable to imagine life without it.

We cannot go back to what our lives were before salvation, and we often forget what it was like to have no hope or to be deceived by a false hope – to still be carrying the weight of sin and condemnation. No hope, no help – how miserable! Oh, the joy of knowing Jesus!  His promises are ever true!  He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.

And on this glorious Fourth of July, there is another blessing that is easily overlooked as our gaze seems to focus on all that is wrong with America.  We don’t have to worry about the police coming to our homes and arresting us because we are believers.  We know that there is an ambulance waiting for us if we need to get to the hospital.  There are doctors on call right now if we need them and firemen waiting for that dreaded call.  We live in a country that cannot deny its Christian roots.  We see it every time disaster strikes and a host of volunteers show up to do whatever needs to be done!  That kind of responsible behavior and care came from our American ancestors who learned what was right because they had been taught the Ten Commandments, directly or indirectly.  It was just a given in their homes and schools.

Our homeland is secure as of today, and we have much to be thankful for.  Every country has its skeletons in the closets and its host of demons working to destroy all that is good; but how blessed we are to know that America has so much good at its foundation!  The fiber of American life is threaded together with Christian values and Biblical truths; and no matter how many people try to remove them in the name of tolerance, to do so would insure the destruction of the United States of America. Removing them would be as disastrous as taking the oxygen out of water – it would simply not exist.  Oh, may God continue to bless America!

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.  

Psalm 33:12

Best Words on Parenting in the Bible

3 grandsonsWhen it comes to church and religion, I think it’s important to let my child make his own choice whether or not he wants to go.

This statement always amazes me.  Can you imagine if a parent applied this mentality to school, or the dentist, or the doctor?  Why do we fall back on this sort of thinking when it comes to the most important part of parenting?  I believe the statement reveals a menagerie of situations:  One may be that of a parent who was made to go to church, as a child, for no other reason than it was what we were supposed to do on Sundays.  We now have a generation of parents who have “given up on the organized religion scene,” and rightly so.  “Just do it because I say so,” really doesn’t hold up in this progressive twenty-first century society in which we live.

What does the Bible have to say about Biblical training in the home?  A lot, but one of the most all-inclusive statements is found in Deuteronomy six:

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. (7-9)

The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy is basically Moses last words before his death.  In chapter five, he restates the Ten Commandments, and in chapter six, he starts the chapter by saying:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (4,5)


He then lays out the above plan for training children in the Jewish home: teach them diligently, talk to them about God when you sit and walk and lie down and get up (all the time!).  Have the Word of God all around them in your home! The Life Application Bible has a wonderful statement about verses seven to nine:


The Hebrews were extremely successful at making religion an integral part of life.  The reason for their success was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented.  They used the context of daily life to teach about God. The key to teaching your children to love God is stated simply and clearly in these verses.  If you want your children to follow God, you must make God a part of your everyday life.  You must teach your children to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related.


BINGO!!  That statement, if implemented, makes ALL the difference in your child’s life.  The lack of it has been the downfall of churches all across the world.  Why would a child choose to go to church as an adult if he sees no value in it?  Mom and Dad may have sat there enduring the hour for no apparent reason, but he will not!  If he does not see a real relationship with Jesus Christ lived out at home in his parents, how or why would he develop a real relationship with Jesus Christ for himself?

Dear Christian parent, there is NOTHING more crucial for your child’s success in life than this.  It is more valuable than a career or any possession.  It will aid him in life more than any amount of education or financial gain.  Nothing will mold his character and his future as much as developing his personal walk with Jesus, the Friend of sinners; because nothing else will matter in a hundred years except his relationship with Jesus Christ, and you hold the key!


PS Yes, these are our three wonderful grandsons, and I’m so thankful for the godly parenting they are receiving.  There truly is no greater joy!!