LOVE My Garden!

0721181019a.jpgThis has been the perfect growing year—good amount of rain and hot days. As you can see, I pack A LOT in my little garden. It’s enough to give us fresh cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, lettuce and snap peas for our dinner. I’ll purchase tomatoes to make into sauce, tomato soup (new “original” recipe last year and delicious! If you want it, just ask), and salsa—another tried and true recipe.

I find myself looking out my kitchen window, admiring the straight weed-free rows and healthy plants. It brings me such joy! I guess the saying is true: you can take the girl off the farm but not the farm out of the girl! I must admit a bit of pride in my heart as well, which is really dumb because…

  • God makes the seeds grow
  • God allowed me to grow up in a farming/gardening family to gain gardening knowledge
  • God gives me the strength to weed the garden
  • God even allowed someone to invent the Liquid Fence that keeps the critters out!

So, my pride needs to be all about Him—my gracious, glorious heavenly Father! As I am writing, I’m watching the yellow finch at the feeder which makes me think of the children’s song:

God sees the little sparrow fall it meets His tender view

If God so loved the little sparrow, I know He loves me too!

What a thought! He sees me, but even more than that, His heart is tender towards me. He protects me, leads me, strengthens me, and feeds me with His Holy Manna—the Word of God. He cares for ME! WOW!

When I look at my garden and experience the joy and satisfaction of a job well done, I think as well of God’s view of me.  Is He pleased? Am I growing straight and tall? Does He see that the little seeds of conviction are sprouting and bringing forth fruit in my heart? Am I “weed-free?” Am I tilled up and pliable in His hands? Am I bringing forth fruit for His kingdom and glory?

My husband loves to see a tree in the middle of a field where it can grow freely, not all trimmed and chopped because of power lines.  He will say, “That tree is doing exactly what God intended it to do.” That is what I want God to see as well when He looks at my outward life and my inward heart-garden! Oh, the joy to think that I can bring such joy to my Master Gardener!

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. {ungodly: or, wicked} But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

I love conflict!

ID-100122418Just thought I’d get your attention! Seriously though, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone say that they hate conflict when in the midst of a struggle.  It’s often a statement which is actually saying, “I don’t want to get involved.” Who likes conflict? There are certainly people who like to shout their opinions or goad you into a verbal debate, but most of us are not wired that way, or shouldn’t be—especially professing born-again believers!

Conflict. Resolution. How do you get from one to the other? What I have learned…

Scenario:

  1. Party A does or says something that offends, riles, aggravates, disturbs Party B
  2. Party B REACTS by becoming angry, cynical, nasty, rude, quiet
  3. Party A then REACTS against Party B’s reactions. In J. Allan Peterson’s booklet Your Reactions are Showing, he says, “We may at any given moment pride ourselves on right actions and yet be reacting with jealousy, or resentment, or anger, or hatred, or fear or self-pity. To react in one or several of these ways when things do not please us will be very harmful to us.”

Poor reactions are the sand that stops the engine of resolution from working properly. Wrong reactions take the focus away from the real issues and add more conflict. So, before the original problem can be resolved, the reactions must be dealt with. The problem is that the reactions are showing deeper character issues. Peterson explains, “Were a person to watch my actions, he would not really know me. My actions would not reveal to him what I really am, because my actions might be planned and practiced for his benefit. But is it our reactions – our spontaneous, unconscious, unscheduled reactions – that reveal what we really are.” OUCH!!!

If, in the above scenario, all the reactions could be peeled away, the real issue could then be dealt with. It may be as simple as a miscommunication or misunderstanding. Perhaps, Party A didn’t realize how important the issue was to Party B. In a situation where a mom is cleaning out a child’s closet after repeated warnings, she may throw out all the “junk” and feel satisfied with a job well done.  However, when Junior comes home and finds that all his “treasures” are now in the trash, we have a conflict. A wife who makes a purchase that seems extravagant to her husband, a sister who twits her sister about her looks in front of other teens, a teacher who calls down a student for a wrong answer—all these are potential conflicts with added out-of-control reactions depending upon what is in the heart of each person involved.

Solving conflict is a part of every relationship and the methods of resolution are as varied as the people involved in those relationships, but several things are absolutely necessary for any conflict to move into resolution:

  1. LOVEAnd now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13 emphasis added). We quote this verse so often, but do you see what it is saying? Love is greater than faith?! How can that be? Love is greater than hope?! I want to “chew” on that a little more, but I’ll try to stay focused! The point is that love is the greatest thing, for out of it comes all the other necessary ingredients:
  2. TRUST—stepping out on a limb for the sake of the one you love and giving them the benefit of doubt. It is so crucial in every relationship.
  3. FORGIVENESS—When those ugly words fly and open old wounds, can you forgive? When the only response you can muster is, “How could you?” and the hurt goes to the core of your being, can you forgive? When it happens over and over again, can you forgive?
  4. CONVERSATION—talk, talk, talk! But be sure to keep the law of kindness in your tongue! That is SO hard to do, but it is possible by the grace of God! Sometimes a little space is needed to cool our jets, but when the motor of self-justification has cooled and the reactions are once again under control, talk… and LISTEN—you need both to call it communication.
  5. CHANGE—Conflict happens to teach us to change. “No man or company of men, no power in earth or heaven, can touch that soul which is abiding in Christ, without first passing through Him [God], and receiving the seal of His permission.1” Nothing catches our loving heavenly Father by surprise. Can you accept the conflict as a tool from your Father’s hand to help you to grow in His likeness?

We can learn so much from our Savior and His ultimate conflict on the cross.

  1. He never complained
  2. He went willingly
  3. He was humbled, thinking only of us and making a way to resolve our greatest conflict!

Looking at the cross always puts every conflict of life back into a right perspective!

So, press on, dear reader. Conflict is a part of life. We all hate it, but resolution is so sweet! It is true—making up is almost, ALMOST, worth the fight! 🙂

1The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whithall Smith (p,41)

My Mission Field

 

cogan house viewThis photo is my desktop screen.  I LOVE it! It is also my mission field. You may say, “But where are all the people? What do you have, I ministry to cows?” No, but there are folks in them there parts! God did not call us to the foreign field or to the city.  He called us to a zip code which has about 3,000 spread over approximately 64 square miles. (VERY rough figuring!) That’s not a whole lot of people! But…

  • Are there people who have not trusted Christ as their Savior? YES!
  • Are their families that are broken? YES!
  • Are there families that are searching for the truth? YES!
  • Are there elderly who need to see Jesus? YES!
  • Are there teens who need hope? YES!
  • Are there children who need to hear the Gospel? YES!

What does your mission field look like? Do you have a mission field?  Is there something that God wants you to do? For example…

  • Does the cashier need a friendly word and smile from you? And maybe even a Gospel tract?
  • Does a neighbor need to know that you care?
  • Does a family member need help? Or even a heartfelt Gospel letter?
  • Could you bake a cake for a busy mom or even watch the kids while she goes for groceries?
  • Maybe someone in your church needs a listening ear or an encouraging phone call or a smiley face text.

All of these ideas are little seeds that may someday bring forth fruit! Go! Enjoy the summer! Plant some seeds in YOUR mission field! And maybe, just maybe, the Lord will even allow you to see some sprout!

And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. Matthew 10:42

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. John 4:35