Friday, November 30, 2012

Why I need fruit...why we need fruit

For some reason, I feel like I need to tell you why I need fruit. No, not bananas or strawberries although those two fruits together are scrumptious. I am referring to the kind of fruit that only God can produce.  A divine imprint that human hands did not create.

I need fruit. We need fruit. It reminds us that the one whom we believe in, follow, and obey will reveal his glory.  We want the Lord to show us at least a glimpse of what he is doing. Okay, sometimes it is all that keeps us going when our faith is wobbling. When waiting on God or trusting him is proving difficult. 

I am not saying this with pride, but desire. I want to not only be a part of God's plans for me, but I want to see His work in me, around me and through me. Otherwise, what good am I? This may sound terrible, but I want to be more than just a human taking up space and air.

Moses never entered Canaan, but he brought the Israelites there. He saw God's promise, oath fulfilled (see Deuteronomy 33:48-52 & 34:1-4).
I believe it is okay to long to see God's promises and his work in us.

Here is what fruit can sometimes look like:

Someone who was lonely finds camaraderie.
A child adopted after many struggles to receive them.
Restored relationships.
Someone choosing Christ because you lived out your faith and God used you.
Hope (no explanation needed)
Conquering a sin...where it has no hold on you anymore.
After waiting...the thing you waited on or for happens.
A painful past was given to God and healed.
A restored, redeemed life.
Someone struggling feels supported.
Someone is freed, forgiven, rescued, and or loved.

God's fruit can only come from Him. It is good.
It is hope that we truly are a new creature in Christ, that we are God's handiwork, created in Christ to do good works...(paraphrased by me from Ephesians 2:10) 

Monday, November 26, 2012

When you can't see the fruit...(in leadership)

Here I go again...admitting something in writing.
          I can't see the fruit. I know what God has asked of me. I have obeyed. It has been 6 months. I don't see apples falling down all around me. 

So what do ya do when you can't see the fruit? My first thought? Quit. Yeah, cause that would be easy, but then it isn't obeying. It's Jonah thinking. Run away...because that will make the apples happen. Please tell me you caught my sarcasm. 

I can't quit. I don't want to. I know better. I want a fruit smoothie adventure, but I am impatient. There, I said it. I despise that word.

I am in a voluntary administrative position...something I believe does NOT fit me and yet, I was called to it? Just for the record, NO personality test or spiritual gift test has ever put administrative high on my list.  The Lord thinks otherwise. I better go with him lest I forget the last "God spanking" I had. It wasn't pretty.
No, I am not making light of any of this or on obeying God. This is just hard. It is hard being the one to delegate and sort of be in charge humanly speaking. It is difficult to be the one up there wondering if the eyes looking back at you are judging, frustrated or if the smile is genuine. Am I meeting at least some of their needs with the choices I have made? Is that even my job?

Then, I remember what it is like to be on the other side of the fence. How much easier it is to do nothing and to wonder what the "leader" was thinking when they chose to do something one way. To be the one who has NO clue how hard it is to lead.

All I really want to do is love and minister to other women in similar seasons of life. I want all that God has done for me to NOT be in vain. I want to share what the Lord has done, but honestly, this particular role in my life just doesn't seem to do that. I don't get to share much of me with anyone.
Instead, it is decisions, decisions, speakers, watch the time, do this, do that, chop, chop.

I gotta be me...I am suffocating here. Okay, yes, a piece of me exist in this position. I have had a chance to be silly. I've made others smile. If only they knew how much I care about them, this MOPS ministry, and how much I want them to belong and love it like I do.
Am I doing it for them, for me or for God? I think all three.

SO...When you can't see the fruit and you know you are doing God's will and you are walking daily with Him, then all that is left is to honor reverence and love through faith and obedience.

Yahweh Yireh...I need to keep my heart and head focused on you. Help me to know that I don't have to see the fruit to know that you are producing it.

Happily linking up with:

miscellany monday at lowercase letters

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Being super honest today

Today is a hard post because of how honest I am about to be. 
    Hubby has to ride his bike today in 19 degree weather and I feel sorry for him. Our Jeep's radiator is cracked and the water pump is out and this will cost us almost a thousand dollars to fix. Money we have, but money we really need-at least from our perspective. And I went on a hike last Saturday and somehow lost my driver's license. Then, there are the emotional issues and relationship struggles and terrible reactions. It was ugly last week and this week thus far. 
   Comical too. So I will be illegally driving to pick up said hubby this afternoon so he can drop me off at the local DMV and get our four year old to the dentist and hopefully pick-up the cash gouger that should be ready. Ugh! Life, huh?

So I wince and shift uncomfortably to admit that my deep seated feelings/actions toward this past week were less than ideal. I was fearful, prideful, critical, and dare say it, fleshly (oooooh).

I thought I was over faithless reactions.

Ya know the kind where you get all fearful, say stupid things, believe lies or come up with your own action plan? Striving instead of trusting God in other words.
  For a moment, I am like, um...did I seriously just do that? Hello? Where did the faithful me go?
I am so tired of the old me showing up when it feels like it.  
I wish I was scratch-art where I could use a wooden stick and scrape off the "blackness" and reveal  gold and it would stay and the flesh wouldn't mucky it up. But that job belongs to our Lord Jesus. 

THEN, the new me and the faith does come (after I smashed our decaying Jack O'Lantern with a baseball bat. Ahem, call it cheap therapy).
I read my devotional this morning. Read God's word. At first, I feel convicted, but not better.
Genesis 15:1, 17:1, 18:14 and 22:14 about whack my eyeballs and certainly pierce my heart.
    "Do not be afraid , Abram[Dionne], for I will protect you, and your reward will be great...I am El Shaddai-'God Almighty.' Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life...Is anything too hard for the Lord?...Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means "the Lord will provide").

The Lord will provide.

My 80's childhood returns saying, "Oooh, burn." I chuckle, feel bad, but quickly realize the truth, the freedom springing forth from God's words spoken so clearly to me.

And despite my tail between my legs or the miniscule pity party...there is hope! And I want to memorize the above to fend off the humanness. But, God isn't asking me to be less human. He is asking me to trust Him when he is testing my family and me. To trust me with Him. The Lord will provide.

Your turn to be honest. Share your heart, I will treat it with care.

Gladly linking up today with:

Monday, November 12, 2012

Motherless Mothering

I wrote this awhile back, but never posted it. For some reason, it seems appropriate and feels right to post it today.

In 2006, I became a motherless mother.  After eleven months of trying and five months after my mom’s death, I became pregnant for the first time. Thoughts of “She won’t get to meet him” or “I know what she would say,” “My baby is having a baby” became my soundtrack for those 9 months.
That same year I lost 3 other family members to cancer (one being my maternal grandmother). Crushing sorrow, disbelief and a firm, “why?” consumed my mind and heart. Then, the Lord gently guided me to Lamentations 3:19-26 (not my first choice in bible reading), “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail…” I’ll admit that a part of me wanted to be angry and not accept the truth in these verses, but those words lavished mercy and comfort to my soul. God was reaching down to my sorrow. I knew at that moment that I was not alone in my pain. The Lord was carrying me and He had plans to use this time of bereavement for His purposes.   
I know now that God’s will for me was to be pregnant after 2006.  He knew the devastation that I would feel after those losses and I believe He was protecting my son and me. I don’t think carrying a child at the time would have been wise.  He knew when He would give me a child (a son). It was a lesson in faith, trust and belief.  Believing that He was with me in my grief, holding onto faith even if I never bore a child, and trusting that He would guide me in my motherless mothering.  
I often crave the opportunity to see my mother’s reactions to my parenting and to my children’s antics.  I have inherited her humor and compassion so I daily act on those qualities. The choice to do this has not only benefited my family, but has created a path to my healing; a means of celebrating my mother. 
My utmost struggle has been and probably always will be not having her presence in the moments I want it most: seeing her joy during the births of my sons, asking her advice on parenting, watching my children graduate high school and or college and get married.
5 years and a second son later, my mother’s death still brings sadness to my heart, but the Lord has been healing me as I move forward in my grief. My children are not meant to replace my mother, yet their lives honor her. Reminding me of how much of a blessing it is to be a mom. I am a motherless mother, but I got to have my mom in my life for 32 years and that is something to be thankful for.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A week of Noah (Day 5): Quiet

Linking up today at lisajo's 
Where we write for five minutes flat with no editing or worrying about getting it just right.

I wonder if there were ever really any quiet moments on the ark? Or if the roars, squeaks, grunts, etc. were so deafening that peace and rest rarely happened. I don't pretend to think that life on this giant sized boat filled mostly to the rim with animals was ever pure solitude, but a part of me thinks it might have been a special gift...a chance not given to any humans since to live among all of the animals of the world. All of the Lord's creation huddled and cramped for one purpose: to repopulate the earth while floating safely in a boat with God's blueprints all over it.

In the quiet of this morning before my boys awake, I ponder and am curious about a story I thought I knew so well. I am treasuring this moment as I can sit here and think, rethink, and grow deeper with God as I look further into his word. What a privilege to know and love El Chay (Hebrew for Living God) who gave me Himself through all of the stories, poems, prophecies, and letters in the Bible.

And in the quiet, I am grateful for the silent encounters with God.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

A week of Noah (Day 4): Remembered

Answering a thoughtful question from studying Noah in The Women's Devotional Guide to the Bible by Jean E. Syswerda.

The question: "God remembered Noah" (Gen. 8:1)...Do you think God actually forgot Noah, then remembered him? If not, what other meaning could this have? 

No, our all powerful, holy God doesn't forget anyone. But, I wonder if at times Noah was beginning to wonder if the rain would ever stop. I don't know if Noah ever doubted about his situation.

I believe that when the word says, "God remembered Noah" that this was/is all the proof that our Lord keeps his promises! God did not send Noah on a boat and say, "Good luck with that and don't get eaten by any of the animals." Yes, Noah had to be super patient, but eventually the dove came back with signs that the water was receding (an olive branch). The rains did stop.
God remembered...

Just like God didn't ask my family and me to move to our current city and then abandon us. The Lord has held us, walked ahead of us and we have seen his plans unfold day to day and month to month. 

God does not forsake us. In the midst of the greatest suffering I have endured, I have been remembered. So have you
I have heard his word, felt his comfort, and seen his mercy. 

When we are His...we are His forever.

A little something to make you smile:
Cartoon: aromatherapy noah ark animals (medium) by rmay tagged aromatherapy,noah,ark,animals

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A week of Noah (Day 3): Why Noah didn't worry about voting.

Every four years, someone loses, someone is disappointed and a country is divided between two candidates. Luckily, Noah didn't have to worry about voting.

In his day, it was follow your own laws, yourself, or your own god. Even "fallen angels" chose their own will and married human daughters. It seems like this might be the first example of anarchy. But Noah did none of those things.  While almost everyone disobeyed and disrespected God, Noah and his family did not.
 In a way, Noah "voted" for God.
Let me explain...

Noah was given specific instructions on how to build a huge boat or "Ark"...VERY specific blueprints down to a particular wood to use called, Cypress or some translations say Gopher. The only vessel that would save his family and him.

Noah could have laughed, or decided to ignore God and build it his way, but he didn't. Sure, it would have been foolish for Noah to not believe God since drowning was the consequence, but I believe Noah wasn't just creating flood insurance for himself.

Noah didn't put his faith in humans or himself.
He put his faith in the only living God. And so should we.

We must trust God with our country and not place our hope in the government or a president. I am not saying to not vote nor am I advocating not standing up for your personal beliefs, but one must never rely on humans to make all the right decisions.

One man or Congress will not make everything as it should be...only God can do that.

Noah knew and believed that and was blessed for it.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A week of Noah (Day 2): Would I be on the ark?

(This is a week long series of my thoughts after studying Noah in The Women's Devotional Guide to the Bible by Jean E. Syswerda.) Join me this week.

 (Genesis 6:9 NIV)Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.

So if I warped back to different parts of my life when I didn't know God and I wasn't following him, would I have been on the ark? Before Jesus' sacrifice would God have told me:
7 ....Dionne, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. (Gen 7 NIV)

 Maybe it depends on who you talk to, but me found righteous?..not entirely sure about that.
Noah didn't have Jesus in his heart, he never possessed the Holy Spirit, no bible to read and no one sharing the good news, but what he did have was righteousness in God's eyes. According to scripture, he walked faithfully with God  And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him. Did ya catch that? 

Faithful and obedient.
Yes, more often then not, even when I was four I had faith in God. Obedience? Um yeah, I am embarrassed to confess that before I accepted Christ, well, it didn't exist. In my defense, I was a child. Then, without saying too much, there have been BRIEF periods of my life where I have decided like an idiot that my way was best. And no, the consequences were not worth my stubbornness.

 Noah didn't have Christ as the one who bore his sin and made him new and he was still found righteous. ONLY his family and him were spared from death by water. Noah's story is a reminder of the blessings of being obedient and faithful. Not just an excuse to escape drowning, but Noah believed and trusted God and now this story is still told after more than 2,000 years later! AND Noah's family were the first humans to see a rainbow. God kept them safe. He kept his promise. They were the only humans left to repopulate the earth.  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.(Gen. 6:8 NIV)

I am grateful that in Christ, I am found righteous, but also I am thankful that God, thru the Holy Spirit changes me, helps me be obedient and I don't have to stay in a rut. It is a privilege to be a part of God's be obedient or faithful isn't easy, but it always has a beautiful promise and ending. (like life and rainbows) 
Mosaic depicting Noah sending the dove to find land.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A week of Noah: (Day 1) It wasn't two by two?

This week, I have decided to share what I am learning in a devotional I am doing called, The Women's Devotional Guide to the Bible by Jean E. Syswerda. I acquired some new facts, but the best part is what the Lord showed me. It just isn't fun to keep it to myself.

Did ya know that Noah didn't take animals two by two? What? Yep, I was shocked too. According to the devotional, Noah was told by God to Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate,... 
Genesis 7:2 NIV

So essentially, there was more than a duo of each animal and the reason for that is found in Genesis 8:20 20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.

If only two had been preserved on the ark, then that animal would have been instantly extinct. Not God's plan at all. -Syswerda

So like me, do you feel hoodwinked? Tricked or duped?

Honestly? At first I did feel this way, but then I realized the problem was me. Not the sweet Sunday School teacher or the Fisher Price's Little People Noah's Ark toy.

Often, it is me that is doing the bamboozling. Where my pride deceives me into thinking there is nothing left to learn from a tired story I have heard a million times. My thinking and pride stinks!

I don't care to admit that I cheat God of quality time. Sometimes, I spend a dutiful 15 minutes and call that "spending time in the word". Okay, no, I am not blogging to shame myself, however, had I read the familiar story more closely, listened more carefully with a thorough, open heart, I might not have missed that very important detail. Believe me when I say, NO detail is just fluff in the Bible. It is THERE for a reason.  

So why explain how many animals? Well, it isn't totally clear accept for what Syswerda said about animals being extinct and because building altars and sacrificing clean animals was required by God for atonement of sins or peace. Yet, in Noah's case, perhaps pure gratitude for God faithfully keeping his promise to protect Noah and his family.

Today, we are not required to build altars and sacrifice animals (thank goodness because I have a queasy stomach) to show gratitude or atone for sins.  Jesus paid that price. It is because of Jesus' sacrifice of himself, God's unselfish act of grace that God doesn't require this tradition.

So, for me, I am going to start showing gratitude in a different way; my eyes, and ears will soak up God's word more carefully so I don't miss a thing! Not out of pride, but out of thankfulness that I can read the Bible and I am loved by the Almighty God who longs to teach me and speak to me.

Linking up today at these awesome blogs:

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