Saturday, June 15, 2024

Inside Out

Proverbs 14:30
A heart at peace gives life to the body,
     but envy rots the bones.

As I walked along the vegetable aisle at the local grocery store, I searched for a red pepper. The one I found shone with a healthy red color and felt firm to the touch. I held it up, and the skin appeared perfect, not one blemish, and the stem still held its green color. 

I’d found the perfect red pepper. After I arrived home, I set out the vegetables I wanted in my salad. I chopped the broccoli into small sections, cut up some carrots and celery, and sliced a few olives in half. Then I prepared to cut into that beautiful pepper.

The knife slid through the skin and pulp and the pepper fell open. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Rot. The entire inside of the perfect red pepper was covered in mold. I’m sure you’ve guessed—I threw it in the garbage. I couldn’t eat a rotten red pepper. Disappointment filled me. I had looked forward to the flavor it would add to my salad.

The pepper reminded me of social media. We tend to put our best foot forward, share pictures of what appears to be a somewhat perfect life, yet in reality, no one has a perfect life. There’s not a thing wrong with sharing the positive and uplifting days. It’s encouraging, but I have to remember that everyone else goes through trials and difficulties. I guard against the envy I might feel for what others have or do by inviting God’s peace and contentment into my heart.

Instead of projecting a perfect appearance, I try to be myself. Whether on social media or in person, if you meet me, you’ll likely see warts and all. I don’t want to be the person who looks perfect on the outside but is rotting inside. I’d rather be my imperfect self and have the love of Jesus in my heart and the Holy Spirit in my soul so I might have a peace filled life.

Have a heart at peace by loving Jesus.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Such Beauty

I am amazed by the vast range of colors God has created.
These beautiful impatiens spread across a flower bed in Cincinnati,
and I had to snap a photo. 

Do you notice the vibrancy of summer flowers?
They lift my spirits and add joy to my day.
Thank you, Lord, for creating such beauty.


Saturday, June 8, 2024

Don't Let Him Steal Your Joy

1 Samuel 16:7
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

I experienced joy in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Have you ever experienced something or attended a gathering where you tasted a hint of heaven? That’s what I experienced at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

I spent a week at the Ridgecrest Conference Center immersed in fellowship, worship, and education. More than knowledge, wisdom swirled in those mountains. Every day we spent two sessions listening to encouraging and hope-filled messages from the keynote speakers. We were led in worship by a young couple who blessed us with their love of Jesus. We attended classes led by amazing authors and folks in the publishing industry, and I met fellow writers who, like me, needed encouragement to stay obedient to the call to write.

The experience as a whole filled me with hope and anticipation, but I knew when I went home to my family (who I longed to see) and every day life, I’d need to ease back into life. I say this because I know the Devil and his wily ways. He can’t wait to suck the joy out of me, but Kia Stephens, the final keynote speaker, reminded me to guard my heart from the one who wants to inflict doubt.

God told Samuel He looks at the heart, and Proverbs reminds me to guard my heart because everything flows from it.

One way to keep my heart safe from attack is to praise God, lift my face to Jesus, and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me with peace.

When the devil attacks—fight backlift your voice and sing. It doesn’t matter if it’s off key or not, just praise the Father and ask Him to fill your heart with His hope and peace.

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

A Wink of Color

The blueish-purple bud winked at me. 

Mostly green, from the trees, bushes, and stems, 
wrapped the edges of the walking path, this time of year. 
The spring flowers have completed their life cycle
of gorgeous blooms, while just a few blossoms remain.

As we trekked through the wooded area, the wink of color, 
the humble spiderwort plant shared, caught my eye.
The tall green stem and spikey leaves held the three petals high.

Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed the beauty 
God created in the small petals. 
Even the yellow of the anthem that sits atop the filament
added a brightness to the pretty plant.

God is in the details. 
He knows our hearts as well as he knows this lovely flower.
He's with me in every little and big thing. Always.


Saturday, June 1, 2024

The Fragrance

John 12:3
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

The essence of lavender hung in the air. 

I’ve grown lavender in my flower garden for years. One of the plants I have has moved with me three times. Usually lavender doesn’t transplant well, but this particular plant has endured. Many types of lavender don’t like rich loamy soil but want an alkaline base, instead. When I discovered how well the plant thrived in the dirt at our condo, I added two more plants, a French lavender and another English lavender. Both produce lovely purple blooms and a fragrance I love.

As long as I water the plant (they don’t need an abundance) put it in a sunny spot, and prune it when it’s time, I enjoy the fragrant smell of it all summer. I can keep the smell around longer if I gather the stems and blooms and tie them in bundles to dry for winter. Some people press the blooms and draw out the oil to use in soaps and other products.

The oil Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet may have come from the Nardostachys jatamansi, a flowering plant in the honeysuckle family. It produces an expensive thick golden oil used sparingly. Mary understood how precious her friendship with Jesus was, and that His purpose on earth would change the world. She chose to honor His life as many would honor His death.

I’ve read that the sense of smell is the sense that brings back the most memories. The smell of lavender will always remind me of the peace and calm I feel when I’m working in my plants. For Mary, I’m sure every time she smelled the fragrance of nard, she remembered Jesus and His sacrifice.

I’ve been to the church camp a few times in the last few weeks and the smell of the woods and the dorms never changes. I’m reminded of some of my best days as a kid, when I learned how much Jesus loved me.

I hope something reminds you of Jesus every single day. Whether the smell of a flower, a picture, a kindness shown to you or that you show to others.

Jesus loves you, every day.

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The Simple Life

It's complicated.
I hear people mutter that from time to time--but what if it's not.

What if life is simple? 
The choices I make determine whether I complicate my life or not.
I'm not talking about circumstances that happen, 
I'm talking about how I choose to respond 
to those circumstances and how I live every day life.

My go to response is prayer. 
I bend God's ear and ask Him for guidance.
I talk with people I trust, like my husband, Tim, and my family.
And I read my Bible and follow Jesus.
I open myself to the Holy Spirit's guidance.

Those are all simple things to do to live a simple life.

As I live here on earth, I enjoy the flowers 
and sunsets and all the beauty God created.
I drink coffee and do the work God calls me to do.
I pet my dog and enjoy her company.
I embrace my grandchildren with love and hope for their future.
And I'm grateful for every day I'm given.

Sure, life can be complicated, but there are ways to simplify.

What do you do to simplify your life?


Saturday, May 25, 2024

But I Missed It

Hebrews 11:1-3
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Hebrews 11:39-40
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

I’d wanted to see the northern lights/aroura borealis, but I missed it. Sara had posted her photos from her yard and said, “Go outside.” So, we did. We drove out to an area with fewer lights to see if we could see it, but they never materialized. If we’d driven farther east, we may have had a chance, but we were both tired and decided to go home. We tried again the next night, but nothing materialized. But that’s okay. I enjoyed all the photos of our grandkids seeing them and all the Facebook posts.

A week later, Tim and I stopped at the local Dollar General and when we went outside, the sunset was stunning. Orange, lavender, and purple painted the sky. God put on a beautiful show of color. The amazing sky reminded me of a truth our pastor spoke of recently.

God has a better plan. I might be disappointed or devastated because my plans didn’t work out. But God had something better for me. I may not have gotten the writing opportunity I wanted, but God had a greater plan for my work.

I didn’t see the northern lights, but I did witness a glorious sunset that reminded me God is with me.

No matter the circumstances, God is faithful, and Jesus loves you. He’s always with us if we invite Him on our journey.

Ask Jesus to join you on your everyday walk.