True Value

Last night at Bible Study, we were talking again about “Kintsugi, also known as kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold (Wikipedia).” It is a beautiful analogy of our lives with Christ and how He uses our brokenness for His glory as we share our testimony infused with His grace.

I was pondering that picture this morning, and realized what we have been given is even more valuable than gold. He infuses us with faith, He doesn’t waste anything, and He never fails. We we really get that truth, the value He places in us can’t help but shine through.

Scars produce Faith According to the American as Academy of Dermatology Association, scars naturally form when our body heals from an injury. When we injure the deeper layers of our skin, cells make collagen to repair the wound. Because your body makes this collagen quickly, it’s thicker and less flexible than the rest of your skin. The thicker, less flexible tissue is a scar.

When our wounds were created, often times we left the infection to fester as we attempt to “heal ourself.” When we allow God to work in those wounded places, yes, those wounds get opened back up. It can be painful as He pulls out all the muck that has been festering just under the skin. He cleanses the wounds. When He is finished though His DNA is infused into the cells that are repairing our wound. Our faith is increased, because we see and know the work that God has done in our very own life. The thicker, less flexible scar protects us from the darts of the enemy that will come and try to reopen those old wounds.

From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Galatians‬ ‭6:17‬ ‭‬‬

above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” Ephesians‬ ‭6:16‬ ‭‬‬

God uses Everything -We are God’s chosen vessels. I have shared this on Facebook before, but I purchased a small Seed Spreader from a local tribal member. She explained to me that they are usually much bigger, the hole is bigger and the seed are placed inside and this tool is used to scatter the seeds for planting. Moisture gets in and some of the seeds germinate. When the season is over the pot is busted to loose the new plants that germinated. The broken pieces are ground down and used to make a new pot. I love how they didn’t waste anything, it’s a beautiful picture.

God doesn’t waste anything either. He plants seeds, and while they don’t always grow where they should, they are still available when we reach that brokenness. God is even able to use our brokenness. I love that picture and that I will have a reminder of that during this season. I don’t know what He will make out of the brokenness, but I know He will.

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.Jeremiah‬ ‭18:4‬ ‭‬‬

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭‬‬

He Never Fails – He is faithful to His promises. His love is unconditional. His grace is new every morning, and it empowers us to do what we can not on our own. His forgiveness is our example to extend forgiveness to others. When we allow His love, grace and forgiveness to piece us back together, those same attributes are displayed to the world around us as He shines through is. He is faithful to His children.

And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.Luke‬ ‭16:17‬ ‭‬‬

Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail.” Psalms‬ ‭89:33‬ ‭‬‬

Love never fails...”. ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭13:8‬ ‭‬‬

Brokenness and wounds don’t have to be permanent with God. He will use our past to build our faith. He is not surprised by our brokenness, but can use every part we give to Him to help us and others. He infuses our life with His love, grace and forgiveness. He will not fail to finish what He has started. The truth is, He finished it at the cross.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭‬‬

Our value isn’t always seen by the world. They may see the outward brokenness, the scars, and the pain and discard us as not valuable. The truth is there is nothing that can be done to us that can change our value. There is nothing that can be said about us or to us that can change the Truth of our value to God as His children. There is nothing that we can do to change our value. Our value comes from the price that has already been paid for us. Our value comes from our Creator, our Savior, and no one and nothing can take that away.

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What We Leave Behind

Over the weekend, my husband and I went gold prospecting. He bought a dry washer and was excited to be able to try it. The weather has not cooperated recently, as the rain has caused a lot of flash flooding recently. He wanted to go south, but since there was anticipated rain and an arroyo, we agreed to go north. We hit rain on the way, but it was dry by the time we arrived.

After he finished running a few hours, it started to rain again, so we packed up. He panned his concentrate and had a little gold. I encouraged him to grab a few buckets of his tailings to run in his sluice at home to make sure he wasn’t losing too much. So he made three buckets and we drove back home.

Saturday night he ended up running the tailings from his new machine. What he found let him know he needed to do some additional work with his new dry washer. He found a 0.1 gram picker in addition to the small gold he expected to find. He realized he needed to go back for the other tailing, in addition to fine tuning his machine.

As he left Sunday afternoon to go back to the tailings he left behind, I thought about how God’s Word, His Wisdom is a treasure. He encourages use to meditate on His Word, to seek Him, to seek wisdom. He wants us to pull everything we can from it, and then come back for more.

My son, if you will receive my words And treasure my commandments within you, Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding; For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God.” Proverbs‬ ‭2:1-5‬ ‭

According to Oxford Languanges:

To seek is to attempt to find something.

The Lord wants us to dig into His Word, and He will reveal hidden treasures from it. I remember when I first started to really seek God in the Scriptures. I spent a week or more on one verse in John. Each day writing more and more of what God revealed as I meditated on the verse. I couldn’t bring myself to move to the next one until I felt like I had gotten everything He had for me from that Scripture.

So often I find myself satisfied with the revelation I receive from an initial reading of the Word. I realize much like my husband did, that I leave too much behind when I don’t take time to really meditate on the Word, to seek Him and the wisdom He so freely gives.

Unlike the pile my husband left behind, with God’s Word, what we leave behind will never change.

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”” Isaiah‬ ‭40:8‬ ‭‬‬

God’s word is living. There are times that I go back to a familiar passage and can still pull more from it. The treasure is hidden, but we can always go back to what we left behind. We can share it, and it will not diminish what we have. Instead we often find by sharing, that others can add to our understanding. As we change, and go through different seasons, God will bring what we left behind to minister to us in that moment afresh.

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Unique presentation

As I took a walk this morning, I stopped to take pictures of some of the flower, trees and bushes that were sharing their beauty and color. When I first moved to New Mexico, everything was brown. It was the winter, so to be expected; although I found my scenery captivating, I did wonder if I would see colors other than desert brown, cactus green, and blue sky.

As I finished up my walk, I thought about the various species of flowers I saw in such a short time. They each had their own beauty, but expressed it in a unique way. Even the ones that shared the same color, looked vastly different from each other.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:4-11‬ ‭‬‬

When I got home, I thought about how these flowers and trees did not end up there by accident, they were planted. So it is with God’s people.

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.Psalms‬ ‭92:12-15‬ ‭‬‬

We are called to use our unique gifts and abilities to edify the body of Christ. We are called to connect with a body of believers, as well as the Body of Christ. God plants is in churches so that we can work together in building His Kingdom.

We can’t do that when we are trying to be like our neighbor or trapped in comparison or envy. Our church body the world, needs our unique perspective and purpose.

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:14-27‬ ‭‬‬

We serve a God who makes us unique for a purpose. There are people who need things spoken the way you speak. There are people who need to see your perspective, the unique way you handle things that come your way. You have a beauty that is God given for the world around you. You have gifts that God has given you to build His kingdom.

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Parenting Problems God’s Way

They refused to listen, And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; And You did not forsake them.” Nehemiah‬ ‭9:17‬

This passage came up in our women’s Bible study group. Our study is about emotional and verbal abuse. Our discussion turned to how sometimes we feel unheard and in appreciated in our roles, as parents, spouses, and even leaders. How sometimes we deal with the stubbornness in others.

As I read this passage, I realized how much our behavior as Christian’s often reflects that of our children. We refuse to listen, just like our children. He tries to direct us away from danger; instead we forge our own paths. We ask for His guidance, but if it doesn’t match our plan or path, we chose not to listen. We do our own thing; yet, act like it’s God’s fault when things go astray.

As parents, we often feel taken for granted. Our kids take a “no” like that is the only word we have ever said. In the moment, they can lead us to feel like as parents we have never done anything good for them. They can easily forget the wondrous deeds we have done for them.

Stubborn, it’s a word often used to describe God’s chose people in the Old Testament. For me personally, my children’s stubbornness rubs against my own stubbornness. A matter of wills, where one party always loses. It is the same with the Lord. We know in our heart that God’s way is the best, but getting past our own stubbornness, our flesh, our will must lose. Only one will can rule.

When we chose our flesh to lead, it takes us back into the slavery that Christ freed us from. It leads to our destruction. As a child, when I lead the way I often found myself with a loss of privilege or grounded. I was a slave to my choices.

So how did God deal with His children when they didn’t listen, took Him for granted, were stubborn and were following a leader back into slavery? Nehemiah gives us a look into God’s parenting of His problem children.

Forgiveness. God is quick to forgive. He doesn’t carry around a list of our failures. For us, on this side of the cross and empty tomb, forgiveness is complete. Our sins are wiped as far as the east is from the west. We have to be willing to forgive our children. Quickly. We can not carry their wrong doings around reminding them or ourselves of the past mistakes.

Gracious. Showing divine grace, help given by God not because we deserve it. God helps us, often in ways we really can’t even imagine. We have to give our children that same grace. We have to be willing to help, to walk along side them as they navigate growing up. Sometimes they will ask, other times we need to go to them, just as God does with us.

Compassionate. Having concern or care for others. God is compassionate towards us. He cares about the little details, even though He is a great big God. We have to show that same compassion to our children. We need to validate the things that are on their minds, the things they care about, even if they aren’t that big to us, they usually are to them. If we don’t show them they can trust us with the little things, we can’t expect them to bring the big things to us.

Abounding in lovingkindness. Abundant tenderness, gentleness, kindness and consideration. Gentleness, kindness, love these are fruit of the Spirt, part of God’s very character. We have to stay connected to Him to be able to respond abounding in lovingkindness towards our children. It is easy to make excuses: they don’t listen if I’m gentle, it is just my personality. However, with God’s help we can respond the same way (it comes easier when you get promoted to grandparent, at least with the grandkids, so it’s possible).

Slow to anger. I am so grateful that God is slow to anger, because I know I have given Him plenty of cause. I know for myself personally, I have to abide in Him to be slow to anger. I can go from zero to one hundred and twenty in the snap of a finger if I do not allow Him to lead. One of the fruit of the Spirit, is self-control. While our children may know how to push our buttons, we are still responsible for being slow to anger. We may need to take a time out for ourselves before getting into a conversation so that we can walk out being slow to anger.

You did not forsake them. Forsake, Abandon. God does not abandon us. He may let us face the consequences of our actions, but He never leaves us. We reach out and He meets us right where we are. He loves us where we are. His love doesn’t change, our access to Him does not change thanks to the finished work of the cross. In a world that preaches tough love, there is an ability as a parent yo set boundaries with our children without abandoning them. We shouldn’t shut our children out of our lives even if we can’t have them in our homes or daily lives.

God has so many examples for us in the Word. It is living and applicable to our lives. As parents we often deal with stubborn, defiant, unappreciative children. God does to. We can try to parent our own way, or we can follow His example and parent problems God’s way. We be quick to forgive, offer grace, be caring about where our children are and what bothers them. We can be gentle and kind, take steps to control our own anger and emotion, and not abandon them even as we set boundaries. Parenting isn’t easy, but with God’s help we can be led by Him.

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Quiet #FMF

I remember the first time I felt that still small voice say “Be still.” Standing still was hard enough, it takes intention on my part to not move. I know it wasn’t my body that needed to be be still, but instead God needed me to quiet my soul so I could hear from Him. The physical body being still was just an outward expression of what I needed to do with my mind.

I know I am not the only one that sits down for quiet time with the Lord and my mind races with more thoughts than I probably have all day. Maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it makes the point and it does feel that way. My thoughts would flood my mind like a film in fast forward.

As I learned to still my body, I also learned to quiet my mind. I realized when Intake the time to do this daily, it becomes easier to do, and I can do it for longer times.

I learned I had to quiet distractions. When my kids were still at home that meant staying up late to have my own quiet time. I had to wait for them to be in bed to get a space without distractions. As they got older, I was able to shift to mornings. They recognized I needed my Jesus time in the morning. Now I can even add a few carve outs in the day just to quit my soul and reconnect, when I make the intentional effort to quiet the distractions.

It also meant learning to quiet my phone. I forget to turn the ringer back on when it goes to silent. I quiet my phone on Sunday’s at church and it’s usually mid afternoon before I remember to turn it back on most of the time. My phone sets to “do not disturb” pretty around 9 p.m. and doesn’t turn on until I start my work day, with the exception of my immediate family. I also limit the notifications I am alerted to by my phone to quiet those distractions. If I pick up my phone I can see the missed messages and other things, but I am not distracted by the alerts anymore.

Quieting my soul, also takes me being present. This means, no multitasking. I need to be fully present, body, mind, will and emotions. He still can speak if I am not, but I receive so much better when I do.

I spend a lot of my quiet time in the Word. It is living. I let it speak to me. God knows my heart, my desires and needs. I need to be quiet to hear from Him and His word speaks when I quiet my soul to receive from Him.

I have had two of my grandchildren this month and I realize how much I miss my routine in my quiet time. I am used to being able to play the Bible audibly early in the morning, but I don’t want to wake them so my routine is a little off. I still start my day with it, but I feel more confined. It definitely impacts my mood not to have that quiet time like I have grown used to. I am enjoying my time with the kids; I also have an expectation that when I can go back to my regular routine in my quiet time it will be that much sweeter.

Five Minute Friday inspired post.

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The Empty chair

When death comes, it is hard to know when and where the grieving process will begin or end. For some it can start before death happens, for others it comes in waves. Grief is healthy and a necessary thing, but often hard to sit with at times.

My nephew Shane died June 1st. I shed no tears when I got the news from my sister. I knew he had been in pain, and was no longer suffering. Cancer may have taken its toll on his physical body, but he stepped into eternity with Jesus. I have peace in my soul because of that knowledge.

When I talked to my kids, who are all around his same age, I shed a few tears. My momma heart knew they were hurting and there was nothing I could do to ease the pain of losing someone they were close to growing up. I know how hard it is to lose someone close in age. We were separated in distance and phones just don’t provide the physical comfort.

Over the day leading up to the visitation, I shed more tears, but never that soul cleansing kind. The deep cry that can reassure me, I am not just avoiding. I am good at avoiding painful emotions. The tears I shed were few and more for the pain I knew others were experiencing.

Sometimes when that happens, I give myself an out, especially when I have God’s peace. I had told my friend, it is not about me. I won’t let it be. I won’t make it.

I also knew with Shane I couldn’t setttle for avoiding. Growing up, he and his older brother were always at my house. Not that they didn’t have parents actively involved in their lives and extended family, but they were with us most weekends. My kids were close with their cousins, just as I had been with mine. They had the advantage of being close in age.

In addition to my love for him, he was only 26. He hadn’t got to live life. I was also holding out for God to show up in a powerful healing of Shane’s body. I wanted God to show up and show off, because Shane was an amazing person, full of God’s spiritual fruit. He was a light, even when he wasn’t trying to be. I knew I had some feelings I needed to give back to God that only He could handle. But they were not coming.

When I turned into the cemetery for his funeral, seeing the hearse and the graveside setup choked me up. I did not expect to have a meltdown before the service began. The funeral director asked for the family to sit in the chairs. They were trying to get me to sit there and I let them know it was for his parents and siblings. I set out to get them in the chairs.

After his parents and siblings sat there were 3 empty seats. I stood there looking at the seats trying to figure out who needed to sit in them. When I do family counts for things I start with the oldest (or youngest) and make my way through the family. I make sure to include spouses and children, and so it is kind of a systematic habit. I started with the baby because he was sitting next to my sister. I went to look for Shane to get him in the chair next to his brother and I lost it. I had to cover my face and walk away.

I took the tissue from my sister-in-law. I took the hug from my niece and nephew. I held tightly to my granddaughter and let the sobs come. I let the memories flood and count the blessing of having so many with him.

There will always be an empty chair. One for him, one for my parents. I had to place each of them there in my mind so I could be in the moment with my sorrow. So I could be in the moment of his service. So I could hear the beautiful words that my sister had written and pay tribute to his life.

I let God have the anger I have at cancer and that despite all the money that goes to it there is still no cure. I let go of the disappointment that Shane didn’t get a healing miracle this side of Heaven. I let go of all the should’ve and could’ve that like to run through my mind. Shane is with the Lord. He is with his grandparents who he loved dearly. He is completely healed. He is pain free. Despite the empty chair, I will spend eternity with him one day. I know God’s ways are higher than mine, and I know my nephew can see the empty chair where he is waiting for me.

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Roadkill Revelation

Sunday my pastor half jokingly, still serious, finished the service out saying that revelation comes from the Word of God, through prayer, through fellowship with the Holy Spirt, through others, and through circumstances around us. He said he had even had revelation for roadkill. He prayed that we would all have revelation from roadkill. Not wasting any time, God showed me three things.

Roadkill is dead, it is the past. Generally speaking we don’t stop and take the time to pick it up or clean it up. We leave it where we hit it. Nature or roadside workers will generally remove the carcass. We drive on past and don’t give much thought other than damage it might have caused our vehicle.

As believers, our past needs to be left where it happened. We don’t need to pick it up and carry it with us. We don’t need to try to clean it up, that is truly the Holy Spirt’s role as we put on the new man. We need to tend to the damage, and find healing. Then we need to go on our way.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
‭‭II Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:13‬

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians‬ ‭4:20-24‬

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.”Colossians‬ ‭3:9-11‬

I know that I have picked up roadkill before. Our dog was killed down the road after getting out. We put him in a bag and buried him.

If there is roadkill in our life that we have picked up and brought with us, for whatever reason, it needs to be buried or trashed. We were never meant to carry it. It’s okay to mourn what could have been or what happened, but then we need to move along.

Every now and then someone might have some road kill like a deer where the antlers or skull are worth taking with them. It gets dried out and displayed.

There are parts of our past that God will eventually put on display. We have to allow those areas to dry out and give our testimony of what the Lord has done. We tell the story of what happened, but it is for other’s benefit, not because we are carrying it around showing the victimization.

I think that is the difference. When we try to carry around the roadkill of our past, we are playing the victim. It caused us pain and trouble. We are carrying around the disgusting, rotting, road kill.

When we get to the point that we can let it go, we may show the carcass, but it’s a story of overcoming. We kept going despite the pain and trouble. We are no longer saying “look at this terrible part of my past.” Instead it is a message of hope “God saved me from this and if He did it for me, He can do it for you.”

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Down, yet Rooted and Strong

While we drive, a lot of times I will just be gazing out the window looking at the scenery. Last week, I kept noticing trees that looked like they were barely holding on, but still looked like they were living. We were never in a spot where I could stop and get a picture, but another opportunity came, this little tree was right next to the truck.

Maybe the tree has been speaking to me because I have felt so much like it I think the tree must feel. It has just been one of those months where I feel the weight of the world around me. I know that it is not my burden to carry, I know God has it. Still, there are times when things feel so personal that I can’t help be feel like the weight is bringing me down. I have felt raw and exposed, tears come easily and unexpectedly. I have learned to sit in the moment, but it doesn’t change how lopsided things feel.

Three weeks ago, I got some rough news that my heart is not ready to hear. I am still standing in faith for a miracle, but two weeks ago when I started writing this, I really felt like this tree. I know my roots are deep, I know I am still grounded in Christ, but I felt like I could barely stand. I honestly could not speak the words I had heard, so allowed the text message to speak to those I needed to pass along the information.

This little tree had also been cut. I am not sure if it was to clear the roadway, for firewood, or another purpose. Regardless, it had been cut. I definitely feel like the enemy has tried to cut me. I know it could also be God’s pruning, just like there could have been a legitimate reason for the tree’s branch to be cut. Right now though, I see the enemy’s hand at play, not God. Sickness and death are not God’s way of trying to teach me something. God is still in control, but the enemy has tried to cut away at my strength these past few weeks.

Despite feeling like the first tree, I know that I can’t go by how I feel. My strength is in the Lord, not my own. So despite feeling like I am barely standing, I know that I am more like these little trees. These trees are growing on the inside of the cone of a volcano. The ground surface is almost vertical in some spots. They are growing strong. The seeds were planted despite the adversity. The mineral rich soil became a place where new life could form after it had weathered away the burnt ash.

There will always be things that come against me, in the natural and in the spiritual. There will be things that try to weigh me down. The enemy will try to cut me off and down, even trying to convenience me that it is God’s pruning not his evil work. Fire and brimstone will clear a path and make it look like all is lost. There will be times I am barely standing.

But the Lord has planted me. He has given me roots. He has caused me to grow. He produces fruit in me. I was never made to stand on my own, I stand in Him. I am more than an overcomer through Him.

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Sweeping the Clouds Away

When we headed to Colorado for the weekend, the weather forecast was not in our favor. Raining and cold. My husband was planning to go gold prospecting, so neither were thing we wanted.

We almost changed our plans after hearing the forecast. Low in the 30s and high in the 50s, my husband knows I am not a snow bunny. I would prefer the sun. He wanted me to enjoy our anniversary weekend. I reminded him this is what I signed up for, him coming to Fairplay to prospect; it’s something he has talked about for a couple years.

We got up early and the temperature wasn’t too bad; jeans, a T-shirt, and a hoodie are working okay for me. We have been out here a few hours and not a drop of rain. The temperature is comfortable.

Playing in an ice cold river is not my idea of fun; I am enjoying the sounds of nature, especially the river. I have written a little, am taking pictures, and taken a couple laps around the walking trail. I enjoy being able to clear my mind and talk with the Lord and letting my husband do something he enjoys.

As we came out, the clouds were dark, a promise for sure of rain. From time to time the sun has peaked out from the clouds and warmed me. I enjoy the sun immensely. Having water nearby, even though I have no desire to be in it, it the icing on the cake to me.

Sitting here, with an occasional ray of sun, I am reminded that I often decide to change my plans before I get started. I hear something that sounds like opposition or mere discomfort and I change plans as if I were the one in control. Often this change is done without getting all the facts or even consulting the Lord.

As the dark clouds parted and the sun peaked through, I was reminded of the theme song from Sesame Street when I was a child:

Sunny Day
Sweepin’ the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet
Can you tell me how to get?
How to get to Sesame Street”

Why do I tend to focus on the dark clouds, instead of the sun? Why do I not stop and ask God for directions when I feel like the clouds are overtaking me? Why do I let the cares of this world cast a dark cloud over me anyway?

In His presence the air is sweet. In His presence there is rest. If I let Him, He will carry the burdens that this world tries to weigh me down with? There is warmth and comfort in His presence, even if for a moment, everything feels like it will be okay. He strengthens me for the journey ahead.

If I keep my trust in Him and His plan for my life, I will be able to walk out anything that He places before me. The clouds may look dark, the world may send me messages that would try to deter me, but He finishes what He starts. He has created good plans for me to walk in. He can sweep back any clouds that would keep me from fulfilling His plans.

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The Stones Cry Out

shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”” Luke‬ ‭19:38-40‬ ‭‬‬

Before me stands a pile of tailings from a long time ago where a dredge ran through the Platt River in Colorado. I am surrounded by river rocks and brush much like I have seen at the Mississippi when I visited my husbands hometown in Iowa. As soon as I walked upon the tailings pile, I heard that still small voice “the stones will cry out.”

I know that this is a reference to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Pharisees were indignant that Jesus was letting them cry out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Jesus told them, if the people were quiet, the rocks would surely cry out.

Sitting in nature, it is peaceful, but it is also loud. The river rushes and roars. The birds squawk and chirp. The trees and shrubs sway and whisper in the wind. The animals scurry across the loose gravel. I can only imagine if the rocks started to cry out.

I think about how our country has changed even in my lifespan. I can’t help but think the rocks are wanting to cry out in our silence. Things that we have taken for granted in our silence are now plagues in our society. Voices are crying out, but they are not crying out to God. What will it take for us to wake up and see what our silence has allowed?

Human Trafficking – a form of modern-day slavery. This crime occurs when a trafficker uses force, fraud or coercion to control another person for the purpose of engaging in commercial sex acts or soliciting labor or services against his/her will. Force, fraud, or coercion need not be present if the individual engaging in commercial sex is under 18 years of age. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2019, there were 11,500 cases of human trafficking reported. A case can involve one or more potential victims of trafficking and can be reported to the hotline through one or more conversations via call, text, email, online report, or webchat.

Child abuse and neglect – According to the Children’s Bureau at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) of the 3,534,000 million (rounded) children who were the subject of an investigation or alternative response in fiscal year 2018, 678,000 (rounded) children were determined to be victims of maltreatment.

Murder – The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program defines murder and nonnegligent manslaughter as the willful (nonnegligent) killing of one human being by another. The classification of this offense is based solely on police investigation as opposed to the determination of a court, medical examiner, coroner, jury, or other judicial body. The UCR Program does not include the following situations in this offense classification: deaths caused by negligence, suicide, or accident; justifiable homicides; and attempts to murder or assaults to murder, which are classified as aggravated assaults. In 2019, the estimated number of murders in the nation was 16,425.

Domestic violence – the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, economic, and emotional/psychological abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence varies dramatically. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in the United States, more than 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually.

Divorce according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 746,971 divorces (45 reporting States and D.C.) in 2019.

Abortion – According to the Center for a disease Control and Prevention in 2018, 619,591 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas.

Addiction – According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in 2018, an estimated 164.8 million people aged 12 or older in the United States (60.2 percent) were past month substance users (i.e., tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs). In 2018, approximately 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder (SUD) related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year, including 14.8 million people who had an alcohol use disorder and 8.1 million people who had an illicit drug use disorder.

Hate Crimes are a traditional offense like murder, arson, or vandalism with an added element of bias. For the purposes of collecting statistics, the FBI has defined a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” Experts estimate an average of 250,000 hate crimes were committed each year between 2004 and 2015 in the United States. The majority of these were not reported to law enforcement.

Homelessness – Acording to the Point In Time report presented to Congress in January 2021, on a single night in 2020, roughly 580,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. Six in ten (61%) were staying in sheltered locations—emergency shelters or transitional housing programs—and nearly four in ten (39%) were in unsheltered locations such as on the street, in abandoned buildings, or in other places not suitable for human habitation.

Food Insecurity At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. In 2019, in the United States according to the USDA report 35.2 million people lived in food-insecure households.

These are just a few of the things that plague our society. Things that break the Lord’s heart. Things where the voice of the Church was silent too long. It is not to late for us to stand in unity, to cry out for the innocent, the take a stand in the name of the Lord. Will we take our voices and cry out for the lost or will we continue to let the stones cry out?

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