Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

About five years ago, my husband came home from The Home Depot with two baby grapevines for us to plant. It was so… random.
  1. We don't really garden or landscape. I mean... I have more of a purple thumb than a green thumb... I kill everything. Honestly, I'm pretty impressed that we have kept the one bush in our front yard alive as long as we have.
  2. Grapevines?!!? Why a grapevine? Who plants grapevines???

But he was excited, and when he's excited then I have learned to let him roll with it. Little did I know that those two grapevines have turned out to have the best spiritual lessons… ever. I'll share just one...

My hubby, new baby, and I went on a trek to Colorado to visit his brother. While we were gone, my brother stayed at our house (at the time he was living with my parents so it was nice to have his "own" place for a couple of weeks) and he agreed to water the plants while we were gone. I actually was making a feeble attempt to keep a rosemary plant alive on the porch (yeah... it's dead now) and we had those two grapevines right next to it.

Well, I sorta neglected to mention to my brother to water the grapevines (see... evidence already that I'm not such a good gardener) but luckily for one of the vines it was next to the rosemary plant so he just sorta watered them both. The other vine... well, let's see: a Texas summer. no water for two weeks. Yeah, it was crunchy and crispy when we returned.

Why I watered it... I still have no idea. Probably because I was too lazy to take it out of the big barrel thing we had it in. So, I watered it. Every day. Just... cause. And turns out...

it was alive.

The branches had no leaves, no fruit, no appearance of life. But it the vine itself... was alive.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Even though someone might appear spiritually dead. fruitless. worthless. does not mean that the LIFE of Christ is not still alive within them. does not mean that they do not have the potential to still bear fruit. does not mean that they are to discarded from our lives, tossed into the trash of our souls, and forgotten as a could-have-been Christian friend.

But it could mean that they just need water.
Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. John 4:14
And some patience. Offer those people the Water of Life every day even if they still don't seem to be "alive", or bearing fruit, and especially when they don't appear worthy of The Water. And offer it to them after they begin to show signs of life again... after a small bud of fruit appears... after they might show signs of being "worthy" (ha- as if any of us are worthy of That Water)!

One small note to close on about this grapevine... after the grapevine came back to life, we "nicknamed" it after a friend of ours that was spiritual "dead", that was not bearing any fruit, that appeared worthless and unworthy... in our hopes that her life would bear the same testimony.

And her life is slowly, slowly turning towards The Life... just as slowly as that precious grapevine of ours recovered. But look at our two grapevines now...

you would think that the smaller of the two is the one that went unwatered that summer, but no... the huge, flourishing vine with seven bundles of grapes on it... that is the one that struggled. that didn't have any fruit. that appeared dead. Turns out... it just needed some water.
“People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.” Mark 2:17

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Friendship.  As women we crave it, but it isn't always easy to come by.  I recently heard someone say that they'd heard an older woman say We may get older, but we're all just teenagers inside.  I was struck by the truth of that simple statement.  We want to be liked.  We want to be accepted.  And we tend to hang out in our "cliques" because it's comfortable.  I don't think we do it to be mean (well, that may be different than high school), but it's easy to hang out with people we know.  Real friendship takes time, and most of us are so caught up in our busy schedules that we'd rather stick with what we know instead of taking the time to try to connect with someone new.  And honestly, many of us aren't even taking the time to regularly connect with the women we already know and love, so bringing in someone new can seem completely overwhelming.  True friendships require nurture and care, and they are so very important.

This year, I have had two dear friends move overseas as missionaries.  One of them in particular has walked beside me for about nine years.  We have been through pregnancies, marital struggles, miscarriages, babies, mission trips, and lots of laughter, tears, and late nights together.  When she moved, I felt like I didn't know where I belonged anymore.  Yes, I had other friends, but she was my "go to"--the one I could tell anything and could always count on to understand how I was feeling.  (And she's still that for me--it's just she lives on another continent, with a seven hour time difference, bad internet connections, and we can't be at each other's houses in 5 minutes time--it's more like 24 hours!)  When she left, I had a period of time where I felt kind of alone--and I didn't like it.  It wasn't because people weren't friendly or didn't invite me places, but it felt like something was missing.

In those first few months after she moved, I thought a lot about the value of friendship and saw first hand how much friendship matters.  I truly felt like a piece of me was missing (we do joke that we share a brain, so I guess part of me kind of is missing), and I was reminded how much women need that in their lives.  Yes, many of us are married and have a best friend in our husband, but women need other women.  We need to have someone who cries at commercials with us or who understands the mama pain our children can cause.

I'm always struck by David and Jonathan in the Bible.  Their friendship had such a depth to it.  I think that is the kind of friendship we all desire, and I think God desires for us to have those friendships in our life, too.  Every good and perfect gift is from above (James 1:17), and friendship is certainly a gift.  Though it can be hard, and though it takes time, it is worth it.

As I move forward, I hope to remember how these past few months of transition have been for me; I want to have my eyes open to those who may be lonely or needing a friend.  I don't want to be "too busy" so that I am no longer making new friends.  The Lord's plans didn't end for me once I hit my mid-30's.  He still has much to teach and show me, and part of that very well may involve people who I haven't yet called friend.

Who can you reach out to today who may be hurting or lonely?  Is there someone new in your neighborhood who would love it if someone just said hi?  Is there another mom at your child's school who always seems to be standing alone?  You never know where God might have a new friendship in store for you--and you never know how He might use you in someone's life.  Take a chance this week.  Ask the Lord to prompt you, and then respond in obedience to what He has to say.  You never know, you might just meet a "Jonathan" for your life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Value of a Life

On Friday, I got the opportunity to go with my oldest son on a mission day to a local school to help with their field day.  This school has a lot of very young children and some with physical and/or mental disabilities.  This was right up my alley and completely in my comfort zone, but as I watched a group of 7th and 8th grade students interact with them, I was struck with how uncomfortable many of the teenagers were with the disabilities they were faced with.  Some of the kids were in wheelchairs, some had walkers, one little girl was missing both arms, some had mental disabilities.  Some of the teenagers went right up to these kids and struck up conversations with them.  Others would interact with some encouragement.  Many did not even look interested in the "regular" kids, much less the kids with disabilities.
It got me to thinking about why some kids act so differently/stand offish/afraid around those with disabilities and   why others are so quick to talk to them.  I think a lot of has to do with their exposure and examples.  It seems like we have always had friends around us that have a child with some kind of disability - some have been less severe and others more so.  We have always encouraged our children to talk to them, treat them with the respect they deserve, be kind to them, help them with whatever their needs are, and share God's love with them. Being friends with those with disabilities has brought countless blessings in our lives and has taught us to focus on something other than ourselves.  I think too often, our society does not give people with disabilities a chance ... to do anything.  They write them off as useless and that they have no value.  What a shame!  God says each one of us is valuable in His eyes.  He has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.
Matthew 10:29-31 "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
As I watched these teenagers, I prayed that they would each learn the value that God puts on life - every life.  And that they would also realize the blessings that come from knowing someone that is different from themselves.
How do you and your kids react to those that are "different" from themselves?  Are you modeling love and acceptance or fear and indifference?  I pray that you and your children will realize the value of each individual and take each opportunity to share God's love with them.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Case You Weren't Listening

I am not a worrier. Well, I didn't think I was. This year with my oldest son, and especially the last month, has challenged that. He has had health issues and school issues that have brought me to my knees. Tearful pleas and questions and arguments with God for this child.
Turns out, I worry a lot about P1. And while I regularly chant "Faith and Worry cannot abide in the same house," I'm not sure my heart is listening.
So imagine my trepidation upon hearing that Pastor Richard would be preaching on fear this week. It would have been easy to skip or leave early. It was my daughter's birthday. My 6 year old is squirrelly in church. My oldest has back pain and can't sit through church and Sunday School. Plenty of potential excuses. But God took out the possibility of missing when our neighbor asked if he & his son could visit with us. Okay, guess I'll be going to church and staying the whole time.
And I heard the message. And I took notes. And I came home. And I set the notes aside, and took on a week that included another MRI and an appointment with a neurologist for my oldest, along with a 4 yr old well visit for my daughter (SHOTS!). Oh, and my turn to write on the blog. I had something written about Sparrows and Eagles - maybe another day.
This morning God had some messages for me on Facebook, and funny enough, they sounded very similar to the message on Sunday. So, I felt compelled to share them with you, if only so I'll remember the lessons better, but maybe it's something you needed to hear, too.
Message #1: Worry Less. Smile More.
Message #2: The most difficult of circumstances can always be used to better our character and teach us many things we would have otherwise never known - it is equally true when it comes to our children...
Message #3: I cried out, "I am slipping!" but your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
Message #4: Listen to What If by Nicole Nordeman - What if there's hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
Message #5: ‎"You’ve wept a monsoon of tears for your child, enough to summon the attention of every angel and their neighbor to your cause. But you’re not so sure anymore. You find yourself wondering if Christ has forgotten you and your child. He hasn’t! Keep giving your child to God. In the right time, the right way, he will give your child back to you." -Max Lucado
Message #6: For with God nothing will be impossible. ( Luke 1:37 )
Message #7: Dear God, help me cling to your promises during both the joy and the pain of life. Comfort me and hold me close, help me go through challenges knowing I’m in the palm of your hand. Amen!!!!
Okay, I'm listening. God's got this. He hears my cries. There is purpose to this time of pain and trial. And I have a hope beyond hope, because my God loves my son way more than I do.
Oh, I went back and looked at my notes from Pastor Richard's sermon on fear:
- Why does God allow impossible situations in our lives? 1) To reveal His Glory. 2) For our growth.
- How to overcome fear? 1) Look up to God. 2) Give up control. 3) Launch out.
Something "impossible" in your life? No worries.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why Be You, When You Can Be New?

So, my youngest son lovvvvvvves the movie Robots.

Okay, I'll admit it. I love it too! My husband is an inventor and an out-of-the-box kind of guy and so any story along those lines just totally matches up with our family!

Well, aside from the many inspiring parts of the movie, there is one scene in particular that caught my attention today when the movie was playing in the background. Essentially, the old-school boss of the corporation (Bigweld) has been booted to the side and the fancy-pants money-making robot (Ratchet) has taken his place. Ratchet has decided that it is time to stop making spare parts for the robots forcing them to "upgrade" into expensive shiny new parts.

And it was his sales pitch that got my attention…
What's our big ticket item? ("Eye Of The Tiger" plays while images of sleek, sexy robots appear on a screen all the robots are watching) Upgrades, people, upgrades. That's how we make the dough. Now if we're telling robots that no matter what they're made of they're "fine", how can we expect them to feel crummy enough about themselves to buy our upgrades and make themselves look better? Therefore, I've come up with a new slogan: "Why be you, when you can be new?"

Originally I started to think about how this is such a parallel to our society. We are pushed by marketing into that mentality of "feeling crummy enough about ourselves to buy upgrades"… upgrades being, like, a zillion things… wrinkle cream, makeup, expensive hair gel (ummmmm yeah, tell that's a personal issue of mine- haha), hair extensions, nails, tanning, containers of SlimFast, subscriptions to Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, gym memberships, personal trainers, laser hair removal, contacts, tats, earrings, jewelry, clothes, shoes, purses, lasik, hair dye, highlights, extensions, Botox, plastic surgery, etc. etc. etc. etc.

Now, don't get me wrong... I have worn contacts, had lasik, occasionally wear makeup, have had a gym and a Weight Watchers membership. I've tanned, got highlights for my wedding, paid a mint for acrylics, and I would love laser hair removal. I can't even count how many purses, shirts, and shoes I've owned over the years.

But… well. None of that "newness" matters. I was still the same… me.

Except where Jesus has made me new.

Like I said, originally my entire goal was to mock the catch phrase "Why be you, when you can be new", but the more I thought about it… the more I realized… wow. That really is enticing if the right voice is saying it to me.

Why be you… addicted to food?
Why be you… a liar and a gossip?
Why be you… who has the self-confidence of a flea?
Why be you… full of lust and greed?
Why be you… self-centered and weak?

So Jesus says to me, "Why be you… when you can be new?" But it's the kind of "new" that won't be out of style next season. It's the kind of new that feels amazing on earth and will be even better in heaven. It's the kind of new that I want to be. need to be. am designed to be.

Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17