Is the seed in you being nourished?

“This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit”  Mark 4:26-28

Is the seed God planted within you growing and bearing fruit?  Have you been nourishing it with the proper sustenance?

I remember a conversation with my dad some time ago.  One of my daughters loves any and everything about nature.  We decided we would buy some seeds and plant them in a pot and watch them grow.  I was telling this to my dad.  In our conversation, I remember telling him that I don’t have a green thumb.  His response was that it isn’t a matter of a green thumb or not, it’s making sure you give it attention and water the plant.

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Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

My lesson from that conversation with my dad and from the gospel reading today is that we have to give our bodies – heart, soul and mind – the proper nutrients for the seed of God to grow in us to build His kingdom. It is through the proper ingredients of prayer, the Bible and the church that the seed will grow into abundant fruit by the will of God, just as the land yields fruit.

One thing I am discovering within is that the more I provide nourishment to the seed in my heart, God reveals a disorder internally through turmoil whirling around externally. As He reveals this disorder through the Holy Spirit, He guides me in unpacking it or as my spiritual director says, guides me in peeling a layer of the onion.  Lately, it seems I have a lot of layers to peel and sometimes it feels exhausting.  The one truth I do know about each time I unpeel a layer is that I learn the roots of sin and lies that are buried within me.  God gives me the grace through the Holy Spirit to illuminate my mind, stir up my faith and trust that God will grow His love within me through the tiny seed He planted during my creation.  The more layers I unpeel the more fruitful branches grow within and the closer my relationship with God is.

Do you feel that you are growing daily in your relationship with God or do you feel you are growing further away?  Are the branches in your life bearing fruit or are they withering away?  Are you nourishing your mind, heart and soul with the right ingredients to grow the tiny seed within you into a massive tree where others can dwell in its shade?

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Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

Nurture this seed that God has planted within you to flourish and by the will of God, you will be a vessel in your community and family – pouring out generosity, love and the Word of God.

One last thought on this day where we honor all fathers, remember that it is also important to equip our children with the ingredients to grow the seed God planted within them so that they too may nourish it and produce healthy, fruitful branches within.

Is your life a game of Twister?

“My son, if you receive my words and treasure my commands, turning your ear to wisdom, inclining your heart to understanding; Yes, if you call for intelligence, and to understanding raise your voice; If you seek her like silver, and like hidden treasures search her out, then will you understand the fear of the LORD; the knowledge of God you will find;” Proverbs 2:1-5

Ever feel like your life is like a game of Twister?  It’s twisted in this direction and that direction – your mind on green and your feet crisscrossed on red and blue, while one hand is behind your back and the other moving forward?  Do you most often feel like this when you are not looking to God for discernment and help?

It may seem easy to spin the arrow in life and land on a color and then another and img_2271before you know it, you find yourself in a mangle that leads to off balance and a tumble.  On the opposing side, if you take a few minutes to pray asking for wisdom and understanding, you may just find that your mind, hands and feet are all in alignment.

Over the years, I’ve been learning a lot about discernment, trusting and conforming to God’s will through the wisdom of others more seasoned in their faith and through reading books that just seem to fall into my lap.  It’s definitely been a slow process. I feel like I’m still in the elementary school of discernment, with a graduation date that is beyond my horizon and into eternity.

When I first began reading about discernment, I thought some giant NEON sign would just appear to me telling me what to do.  WRONG!  Now, I am beginning to realize that discernment has a lot to do with being present and observing things around me, the encounter of God through all things.  As I move through this journey of discernment, I’ve begun to pay more attention.

Often the things I read speak directly to what God is wanting me to do or see in a particular situation. When I need to work on forgiveness and relationships, everything I seem to get my hand on talks about forgiveness and my own faults. When I am worried and full of anxieties, I pick up devotions or read random verses on peace, rest and God’s will.
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I also see things around me that cause me to ponder and connect my circumstance and God’s guidance. When I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and feel I can’t carry it no longer, I notice an ant carrying something that is 20-100 times it’s weight and realize the strength of God carrying the weight on my shoulders.  When I am troubled, I see a cross displayed before my eyes and I’m reminded of the peace and rest found in Christ.

When I am in tune to hearing God, listening to others, songs or peace around tend to guide me to think more and seek more understanding. Often when I am seeking wisdom and guidance, I hear lyrics to a song so much clearer. If I’m afraid, they tell me that “fear is a liar”. When I need strength I’m reminded that “I am a warrior”. When I need to trust, I hear “thy will be done”. When I am not including God I hear He “will always be the king of the world”.

Most recently, I was experiencing difficulties in my relationship with my daughter.  I prayed for direction and also for God’s will in our relationship and in both our hearts.  Each day, there was something subtle that popped up pointing me in the direction in which God wanted me to handle the situation with my daughter.  I conformed to this and today I feel that we have repaired a part of our relationship I felt was breaking. Prior to asking God, I was spinning and the colors I was landing on were not coming out the way I had hoped. I found myself knotted like a strand of Christmas lights that had been in storage for a while. Not a place you want to be in a key relationship in your life. Something had to change, I had to seek guidance and let God spin for me and guide me in accordance with His will.

THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON I’m learning is that my self compass is not better than God’s.  When I pray for His will to be done, I am not disappointed in the outcome.  When I don’t, I find myself wondering where God is and when He will answer my prayers.

When you take time to pray, asking God to spin the spinner for you, you will be less tangled, less unstable by the mangle of spinning the arrow and listening to your own selfish guidance.  Give it a shot and just may be your feet and your hands will line up and not be twisted this way and that way.

No time to pray? Discover an endless block of prayer.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Do you struggle with praying? May be you don’t quite know how to pray? Or perhaps, you feel you don’t have time to pray?

I have struggled with prayer often over the last few years. I use to have what I thought was a pretty solid prayer life, very consistent. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, read a few verses from the Bible or a spiritual piece of work. Then, I would meditate on that and how it related to my life, journaling my thoughts. Afterwards, I would pray my intentions. I also would take my lunch break in the chapel to just sit with Jesus and write my thoughts as they came to me or just be still. I enjoyed these blocks of time I set aside each morning and at lunch.

Today, I struggle with the time to set aside these blocks for my prayer life. My schedule with my children has become busier and because of it I beat myself up constantly and feel like I’m disappointing God in some way by not giving Him this time I use to by allowing the busyness of life to fill this time that was His.

I have a very wise spiritual director, who is probably reading this and I just may get kudos at our next meeting, not sure it works that way but worth a try.

She is wise because she does a great job listening to the Holy Spirit as she provides counsel to me. She is use to hearing my struggles with my prayer life.  She once told me or perhaps I should say often reminds me that my life is a prayer. She told me that spending quality time with my girls is a form of prayer. Kind of sounded weird at first until I realized the meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:31.

As long as you do everything for the glory of God you are “pray[ing] without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Sure it’s nice to be able to set aside time blocks for God, to sit still with Him, to give Him 100% of your attention; but He doesn’t love you less for not doing so consistently all the time. He wants you to glorify Him in all things and by doing so He is fulfilling His will in you and this is the greatest form of prayer.

Everyone has had to ask for permission to do something when they were growing up.  Do the same thing with God.  Approach Him and ask Him for guidance and direction about tasks and decisions so that you know that your decisions and actions will glorify Him. Thank Him throughout your day as you spend time with your children, your spouse, grandchildren, friends, mother or father. Thank Him for the breath He gives you when you wake in the morning.  Each is a form of prayer as you approach your Heavenly Father in thanksgiving and guidance, glorifying Him in all that you do.

By seeking His guidance and thanking Him as you spend quality time in your relationships, you will conform to His will and your prayer will be unceasing and as endless as the horizon. What a beautiful landscape you will paint with His hands guiding you in all that you do as you discover an endless block of prayer.

God Always Wins

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Have you felt like you have been losing a battle lately in life?  Perhaps you feel like you are losing a battle against an illness?  May be, your spouse, a family member or a friend has been very bitter, controlling, or abusive and you feel you are losing the battle?  May be your finances are deep in the red and you feel you can never reach the green?  Are you fighting the battle alone or are you asking God to fight it for you?

One evening, my daughter was reading me a story called “The Weight of a Mass”.  In the story, an old lady asks a prestigious baker for crumbs of bread and tells him she will offer a Mass for him.  Cocky and rude, he asks her how much bread he would owe her.  He proceeds to place a piece of paper with the words “one Mass” written on it on one side of the balance and on the other he places a slice of old bread.  The side with the piece of paper never rises.  He continues to place more and more on the opposite side of the paper, pastries and chocolates, with the same results.  The scale never budged.  As my daughter begins to read about his challenge of the weight of “one Mass”, she says “God always wins”.

“God always wins!”  I thought about that for some time afterwards.  I evaluated my own past and could see so many instances where I tried to fight the battle alone and couldn’t keep my head above water.  In some of these moments, I even hindered God as he tried to work in me, resisting any help he would give me.  When I looked through the rearview mirror of my past and saw the moments that I called out to God in prayer and asked him to fight for me, those battles bore fruit, polished a gem.  They didn’t always come without a struggle or pain but they were victorious battles.

No matter what is going on in your life, if you are open to receiving God into your circumstance, he will always win.  Sometimes the outcome may not be what you intended or thought was best, but later when you look back you will realize that it was the perfect solution in your life.  Trust in his plans and be open to whatever they may be.  Let him win the battle for you, because “God always wins”.

Thief of JOY

padlock-lock-chain-key-39624.jpeg“The joyfulness of the heart is the life of a man, and a never-failing treasure of holiness, and the joy of a man is length of life” (Sir. 30:23)

Have you been robbed lately? Not of material things, but have you been robbed by the thief of JOY?

How many of you have an alarm system on your homes? Savings account to secure your finances? Lock your cars when you go into the grocery store?

We lock up and secure the things we value in our lives, our possessions. Yet one of our greatest treasures that is freely given us we hardly ever secure, our JOY. We allow the enemy to step right up and steal our JOY with ease.

Perhaps, someone cut you off in traffic and you said a few choice words. A friend may have made a hurtful comment to you and you wept. Your toddler spilt milk everywhere making you late for work. You were excited about an idea for a project and your boss didn’t like it. There are so many scenarios throughout our day that can take our smile and turn it upside down. It’s amazing how instantaneous it can be, how easy the enemy takes our gift and chunks it in the trash.

I remember years ago, I had put a lot of thought into a gift for my husband at the time for our anniversary. I had bought him a book and a ring with a scripture verse inscribed on the inside of the band. Both had a significant value in my eyes and a message from my heart. When I gave him the gifts, there was no response of gratitude. The ring he returned to the store and the book he had placed on the floor next to the trash can in the broom closet. My heart was broken and my excitement and JOY were met with sadness and hurt.

Why is it so easy for us to guard our material treasures we store up on earth yet so hard to protect the spiritual treasures given to us by God? Is it a lack of faith and trust in God that we are emotionally vulnerable and the enemy slivers his way in to attack? How can we protect our JOY from the thief that steals it? I’ve come to believe that the best answer is being steadfast in prayer which will allow us to respond in love.

I have learned over the years that when I pray before responding to someone who has said hurtful words to me that I tend to respond in love and I don’t lose my joy. I may momentarily become frustrated until I pray asking God to guard my heart and fill it with his love. When I am emotionally hurt, I am unable to humanly respond in love. I need the grace of God. So prayer is extremely important in securing my treasure, my JOY.

Don’t allow the enemy to steal your JOY. Pray that God guards and fills your heart with love when the person cuts you off in traffic, the friend says something hurtful, your toddler spills milk and your running late, or when your idea is not the one your boss is looking for at that time. And may be next time the thief of JOY will not be successful in his heist.

Be Still…

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:11

pexels-photo-326055.jpegHave things in your life been hectic, with little room for God? Are you struggling to sit quietly in prayer to listen to what He wants to tell you? Is your mind full of clutter and preventing you from being in the stillness, the presence of God?

Sometimes I think when we are at this pivotal moment where we are struggling to find this time, to free our minds, to sit at the feet of Jesus and just be still, God places us in a circumstance that does just that. He calls us to rest in Him when we are tired, weary, worn out from the busyness of life.

For me, I think this has been recent. I was at a pivotal moment where I was worn out, struggling to find time to pray. When I did find time, my mind was everywhere but there. I remember long ago when I was at the beginning of my spiritual journey, I told my spiritual director that my mind was full of clutter and I couldn’t pray. She suggested that perhaps God wanted me to bring this clutter to prayer. Again, recently, I found myself at this point, struggling to pray with all this clutter. Except this time the clutter was more about all the things I needed to do or to not forget I needed to do. Every time I sat down to pray, when I found a few minutes, my mind was focused on everything I needed to do that day.  My days had become too busy, too busy to even set aside a small amount of time for focused prayer.

Several months ago, I found myself unexpectedly sitting in a hospital bed for 2 days with nothing to do, but rest.  This little episode caused me a lot of downtime, a lot of rest. I found myself often wondering what am I going to do with all this restful time, in the absence of the busyness? Then God whispers, “be still and know that I am God.” I am the God who created day and night, water and land, all the animals that roam the earth, and most of all you. Trust in my ways and embrace my love by resting in my arms today. Rest your mind and let me guide your thoughts and your path. I will direct your life, through the story I have already written and the living master piece I have set before you. Now let me direct you by first being still and listening to the tiny whispers you hear. For in Me, you find all that you long for, all that you need. Rest my dear one. Rest!

In the busyness of your life consider setting aside time to be still and rest in the presence of God, at the feet of Jesus.  Quiet your mind and listen to what He is saying to you.  Your prayer is a conversation between you and Him, let Him speak to you as you rest your mind and your voice.