Words are swirling around us and have been for months. Most of these words are predictions of death, despair, desolation. There is a reason for this- a fearful person is easy to manipulate.
All this talk may make you think that there is nothing good left in this world, nothing good left to look forward, and nothing good to celebrate.
This is not the truth.
Here is the truth:
Whoever seeks good finds favor,
but evil comes to one who searches for it.
Yes, there is evil in the world, and death, and destruction but there ALWAYS has been. There are NO good old days, evil walked the earth in 1950, 1850, 850 and even 210 B.C. Evil has been lurking on the earth since God hurled Satan out of heaven and he landed here.
BUT, and it is a BIG BUT- Jesus also came to the earth, righted the wrongs of the first man, Adam, and restored us to right fellowship with God. The Holy Spirit walks with us, fills us, and speaks to us.
There is good, plenty of it, all around us but we have to look for it. When you find the good, SHARE it. Fill your social media feed with the good in the world, your city, your life. Fill your mouth with good reports of what is happening in your life. Find the good and spread it around like sprinkles on a doughnut.
Regardless of what is going on in D.C. or Austin, Texas, my life is bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ and EVERY promise made in the Bible is MINE because of Jesus. There is nothing a man or woman can do to change that fact.
So, take heart to day. You are not hopeless you have the power to live a good life, you just have to look for it and put your HOPE in Jesus Christ.
Since Jonathan swore an oath and joined the United Sates Marines the day before Thanksgiving, I have been living intentionally. The intention was to make the most memories, accomplish what really mattered to each of us, and to feel like we had properly closed this chapter in our lives.
We had the best time! I cooked the things he requested, planned the parties, the baptism and whatever else any of us wanted to do “one more time” before he shipped out and the schedule was not our own.
We hung out on the couch and watched our favorite movies or shows. This might be considered by some to be a waste of time. Not for us, this is how we bond. We pile up on one couch and laugh together then later we communicate in movie quotes. Movie quotes for us is like a secret language. This was an intentional waste of time and it was the best use of that time. I got to feel him resting his head on me one more time just like he did when he was little.
The last two weeks were especially perfect. It all happened because we were intentional about how we spent our time and what we did.
I came away from this time with a renewed desire to live intentionally. This is not new for me or us, but life got really intense for a couple of years and the intention of the day was to survive. That, my friend, is not living.
All of our married life we have asked ourselves what we wanted to have in 20 years or 50 years. What did we want our kids to look back and remember about home? What kind of marriage did we want? Then, every action or decision we made was based on those answers. Dose what we are doing move us toward that end goal? We haven’t been as intentional as I would like us to be.
So, Tony and I are having conversations about how we want to schedule our time and what memories we want to create. We are now living with intentionality again. You do have to schedule the important things or at least schedule time that gives enough space that the important things can happen.
Time goes by quickly. I want to look back as see a full life with the best memories.
Some of the things we are intentionally scheduling:
full moon gazing on the beach
day trips with the grands
emails to family friends
texts to friends and family
dinner with new friends
monthly hiking trips
weekly business meetings for us
and whatever else we think of.
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When the news reels play or the social media feeds fill up with doom, despair, disrespect and every other negative thing- I wield this scripture like a sword to slay the anxiety and fear that threatens to over take me. This promise and every other promise in the Bible are without condition. It does not say in Jerimiah that if the Republicans are in power that I will be like a tree planted by the water. It doesn’t even specify which country I should live in to experience the promises of God. The only requirement is that I trust in the Lord.
Trust in the Lord= I do not need to fear difficult times.
I will take that deal. Notice that this scriptures does not say that drought never came to this tree. It says the tree has no worries in a drought. Not only does it not worry, but it never misses a year of production. Friend, this is a no brainer.
The world can keep their fear and fighting, hating and destruction- I will go with God. Regardless of what comes in this world, I will be like a tree planted by the water. God is my hope, my trust is in HIM. He has proven himself to me time and again.
Make no mistake, we are in a world at war. This war is between good and evil. It rages everyday. Battles can be bloody and I may take a hit, but my hope is in the Lord, I trust in the Lord to bring his promises to bear. So, turn off the television and internet feed and turn to the One who is able to save your soul and drench you with so much love that it drives out all fear.
Jesus Christ came and died for you and for me. He restored us to a perfect relationship with God. He didn’t come to steal all your fun and wrap you in chains of shame and guild. Jesus came to give you life. The only thing that Jesus want to take from you is fear and death. Give your life to Christ, you will be glad you did!
Thank God! My healing, your healing is not in anyway dependent upon the one who did the wounding!
Think about that a minute.
Your healing is not in anyway dependent upon the one who did the wounding.
This is so great because I have no control over the other person. Neither do you. Neither does God. Nope, not even God has control over people. He is a crazy risk taker and gave us this thing called free will. I have the freedom to do whatever I want, consequences be damned. This means other people can do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences to those around them. Now, don’t confuse God’s gift of free will as a blanket approval for every action- because He doesn’t like what was done to us anymore than we do.
Now, God does have control over my life because I freely choose to give him control.
AND THAT IS THE POINT
Because I have free will, when I chose God it is because I CHOSE God. This makes God over the moon happy because if a choice is forced, its not really choice. Love that is demanded and required is not LOVE. God so loved me that he gave his son. God so loved you that he gave his son. So, when I choose God, it means something. It sounds a lot like a love story, does it not?
My friend, it is the greatest love story ever told.
Since I have chosen God and his son Jesus, I have given them access to my heart, soul, and mind. I have surrendered my life, therefore he refuses to let me remain the same. He will pursue me, until I drop the barriers and let him see where it hurts. Not so he can add to the wound but so He can heal it. Kind of like the Alpha male in those love stories where he pursues the heart of the woman he loves, regardless of the venom she throughs his way? Yeah, just like that. God is the ultimate Alpha male and thanks be to Him, he has pursued my heart. This usually means that he keeps poking at the tender spot, not because He is sadistic but because He needs me to grant him permission to get in the middle of it.
As of late, any statement or question from Tony that could in any shape or form be construed as him saying that my best wasn’t good enough has brought out a huge reaction. Think angry mountain lion hissing, growling and baring her teeth- maybe even taking a swipe with the claws. He and God both just take all the anger and let it roll off. Neither walk away and for that I am so grateful. Nothing Tony has said was meant to imply that I wasn’t enough, for whatever reason he thinks I am freaking amazing.
No matter what I do, how hard I work, how much I accomplish- it’s NEVER enough. How hopless is that situation? Can you relate?
But, its not really a situation. It’s a mindset.
A mindset framed and built by words and messages from my past and fed by the enemy. Yes, we have an enemy whose whole purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. We have an enemy but we have a bigger God. The commander of Angel Armies has come to our rescue. Once again, I get love story vibes. God is writing the love story of your life. DO NOT give in to the enemy.
Seeing the truth of the situation, seeing the lie that is being told, this is the beginning of healing. The healing is not dependent upon the one who did the wounding. The healing is dependent on you- YOU have to power.
Hear that again- YOU have ALL the POWER over your healing.
That doesn’t mean you have all the answers. You don’t. BUT, your heavenly father does. Give Him control over your life and let him into the wounded areas and HE WILL heal you. You have the power to choose life and recieve the healing.
Now, please do not expect this to be an easy process. It won’t be. Healing is scary. But living with wounds unhealed is even more scary.
For me, I could not stand the idea that the enemy would have any power or control over my future. This meant the wounds had to be healed or they would steal joy and peace from my present and my future. I will NOT give the enemy one more victory in my life.
I have wounds because others did not let God heal their wounds. I am NOT riding that merry-go-round another minute. I will not hurt others by refusing to let God heal my wounds.
My healing is not dependent on the one who did the wounding- neither is yours.
Twenty nine years ago, I started something and didn’t finish it. I hate have something unfinished hanging out there. Because of Tony’s encouragement and a word from God, I went back to school. At this time, I am attending college full-time. College Algebra (read with crossed-eyes) and Art (read with a GREAT BIG SMILE!) are in their last weeks. One of the projects in art was to make a collage. I had so much fun doing this project.
We were instructed to include things that inspire us and explain the meaning behind what we choose. This was so easy for me, all the things that inspire and motivate me are around me everyday. This island holds all my treasures.
The timing of when and how we got to the island is remarkable but no accident. God’s timing is perfect. I had no idea what season we were walking into, but God had a plan. He works all things for our good and answers prayers in ways we never dreamed.
It isn’t a crazy thought that we moved to an island. I am quite sure that my birthstone is actually a seashell, not a sapphire. The water makes me come alive in a way that nothing else in nature does. But yet, it is crazy that we actually packed up and moved. We had lived 23 of our 26 years of marriage in a small town where I grew up. Most of my family still lives in that town. It was a good place to raise children and live. But that season was over.
We were coming out of the most challenging time we had ever faced. Our farm had been destroyed by a massive tornado. We had spent a year cleaning and rebuilding. Every time we were ready to start on the house, God would say just wait. So, we waited. Then, one job opened up for Tony- in Texas City, fifteen minutes from Galveston. Against all odds, this door opened and every other door we needed open, opened. We just kept walking through them.
And here we are, beginning our third year at 1220 Winnie St, Galveston TX. I can walk a half of a mile and have my feet in the saltwater and feel the sand between my feet and the sun on my face. This has been a season of restoration and healing. The trauma of the tornado had left us raw and worn. God has been restoring and healing us day by beautiful day.
Not only was I healing from the recent events in our history, but God had appointed this the season to heal some deep wounds from my childhood. This has not been an easy journey, but is has been good. I am so grateful that God gave me such a beautiful and unexpected place to heal. This island has been a place of restoration.
I began seeing a therapist, who is so fabulous, and she has been a God-send. One day, last summer I was getting ready for my appointment and I prayed, “God, if there is anything you want to talk about, bring it up with Dr. Casper.” In the middle of our session she asked me, “Have you ever thought about being a therapist?” Well, as a matter of fact I had. About three decades ago I was in college pursuing a degree in Psychology. I told her about this and she said, “You should go back to school.” Later that day, I realized what I had prayed and what had been said. I told Tony that apparently it was time for me to go back to school. He said, “I know, I already got your paperwork done.” And so phase two of my college career began. That unfinished thing in my past won’t be unfinished for long.
The past is being dealt with at the same time that new things have begun. I have launched a writing career. I am now owning this as mine. I am a writer. One day in my kitchen talking with all my kids, I said how being a writer would be my dream life. I had already written a novel at this point, but I had not owned that life. I stared at them all and said, “Then why aren’t I chasing that thing down?” Well, here we are. I am running down a dream (I love Tom Petty).
So, when I am asked what inspires me- all I have to do is look around. My husband (My Leading Man), my children, my grandchildren, the sea, the historic homes and my faith. All are held on this one island. Now, the children and grandchildren will come and go. But, I will always have the memories and new memories to be made.
When my heart or my mind or my soul or all of the above are troubled, I remind myself of the promises made to my by the King of kings and the Lord God Almighty.
Here’s how I read this out loud (I like to read it out loud on my balcony so that these words are spoken over not just me and mine, but over my island.
1 I dwell in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a] 2 I say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save me from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover me with his feathers, and under his wings I will find refuge; his faithfulness is my shield and rampart. 5 I will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand, but it will not come near me. 8 I will only observe with my eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 I will say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and make the Most High my dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake me, no disaster will come near my tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning me to guard me in all your ways; 12 they will lift me up in their hands, so that I will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 I will tread on the lion and the cobra; I will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because you love me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue you; I will protect you, for you acknowledge my name. 15 You will call on me, and I will answer you; I will be with you in trouble, I will deliver you and honor you. 16 With long life I will satisfy you and show you my salvation.”
Glory to God, Halleluja! This comforts me in a way that nothing else can! Share this with everyone you know, we all need comfort and encouragement right now. The One True God, the Name Above All Names has made you a promise and HE is faithful.
Here is the orginal text:
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a] 2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, 10 no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he[b] loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
When I was all of 19 years old, I was getting married. Lots of people weighed in on my decision- some welcome, some not. But I had one uncle I was very close to who always said the bold and brave things to me.
He told me to let Tony have sex whenever he wanted it. If I did, I would never have to worry about Tony cheating.
He and my aunt had a great marriage so I took his advice. Best thing I have ever done- other than choosing Tony as my life-long companion.
I have learned a few things over the 28 years that have come and gone.
For one, Tony is not the kind of man to cheat- regardless. Just as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, Tony Ross is a faithful man.
The other thing is that sex is an easy barometer to the overall health of a marriage. Think about it, it is the one thing that sets a marriage relationship apart from any other relationship. You can’t legally or in good conscience pay for it. You can pay for childcare, housekeeping, therapy and so on- but you can’t pay for sex. Now, you can get it for free but then we cross the moral line.
If I don’t want to be intimate with my husband on a regular basis, or vise versa, then something is wrong down deep in my relationship.
Another benefit to this advice was that I was not swayed by the idiotic idea that I should withhold sex from my husband in order to maintain control or manipulate him. This would have done considerable damage to our relationship. Thank God for an Uncle not afraid to talk about sex!
I love Christmas time- I have a desire to bake, cook, clean, decorate, and wrap gifts tied up with lots of ribbon that sparkles that I am just unable to suppress. I do get some help from the kids, but mostly its just me and I love it. Tony enjoys my creations, especially those emerging from the kitchen, but is also content to sit and watch. Many wives gripe about their husbands not being involved but I don’t see it that way. He loves what I do but its not his thing to decorate- plus, if he got involved and started having opinions then I would not get to do it my way uncontested. I like doing things my way. Therefore, we have a nice balance, I drape greenery and lights on everything that will stand still and then when the sun sets and our home is shimmers, we sit on the couch and he tells me, “It’s beautiful, baby.” That makes my heart happy and we avoid silly fights.
So, as Thanksgiving came and went the bins of decorations came out. I have collected many items over the years that I love. I usually pick a few things up each year after Christmas has passed. But the things I love most are vintage junk. The junk ( more on the great junk in another post) plus Christmas photographs of my children when they were little make up the most treasured of our Christmas decor. For a few weeks, I am once again surrounded by their little cherub faces and toothless smiles. These framed photos are stored in the bins with the other lights and ornaments. As the bins are emptied of the Christmas contents, I pack away all of my usual decor into the empty bins- giving me a clean slate on which to create.
Decorating for Christmas can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Simple white lights mixed with fresh greenery is beautiful and elegant. Add in some cheap dollar store bead garland and you have a classy display. The greenery can be obtained by a county drive with a pair of lopping shears.
White lights and greenery mixed with a vintage tool box, glittered Merry Christmas and a ceramic Santa painted by my very talented Aunt.
The only artificial tree that I have in my house, this white tree with white lights holds all my Coca Cola ornaments that I have been collecting for over a decade now. The Coca Cola Christmas village was given to me by my awesome mother-in-law.
This china hutch has a mixture of tool, white lights and glittered Pine Cones– the pine cones are a really fun project to do with the kids. We made our pine cones about 5 years ago. Each year I store them in large zip lock bags and they have lasted really well.
This in an antique window that I painted an ornament on. The ornament is patterned after my favorite Merry Brite ornaments that hung on my parents tree for years. I love those old ornaments. As you can see, I need to fix the white stripes. I stored this window in the storage room in our barn, this summer the cow got inside and licked off a lot of the paint. I repainted the dots, but wouldn’t you know it I am out of white paint.
Since, before I was born ( I am 41) this Santa covered my great-grandmother’s front door. After she died, my grandmother moved into her house, so I have spent every Christmas Eve in that home and so have my children. One day, I was over at Grandmother’s house and she was going to throw out this Santa. I said, “I will take that, thank you very much.” Now, it has hung in my home for over a decade. My children do not remember a year when that wasn’t apart of our house.
I love making memories. I look at is as my privilege to be the keeper of those memories as well as the creator of memories for my family. My Christmas decor is filled with memories of the people I have loved, many of them are no longer with me. In this way, they live on. In years to come, I hope nieces and nephews, grand children and children will pull something out of a box or smell are familiar aroma from the kitchen and remember me fondly.
As a blogger friend posted about the rain and hay making- which can be very dicey- it occurred to me that anyone who farms has so much to contend with on a day to day basis. There is the weather, insects that destroy, insects that help, insects that are neither and the job of telling them apart, animal husbandry, fatigue and the list goes on. Where do we find the strength to keep at it? Where does one go for help for these things such as weather for which there is no control?
For me my faith in God and my Bible are my mainstays. Many would scoff at this and that is ok. I simply cannot deny what my Creator does for me in my life- I have seen to much to be dissuaded. Some who may share my Christian faith will think what follows is mystical hog wash and that is ok, too. Again, I have seen the proof in my life and on my farm, in my kids and I know that this works.
It is all in our perspectives with which we view our world. If we deny that we have an enemy- we see the world and what happens to us in one of two ways.
1. I must be blowing it- or
2. God is holding out on me.
Neither are true. We were born into a world at war, good versus evil. God versus Satan. The good news is that God wins. I have come to the conclusion that the enemy hates gardens and farms- especially organic ones that seek to steward this Earth the way God intended. Just look at what Monsanto is doing to small farmers and our food sources and you will see evil at work.
So considering that I have this enemy who wants to take me down, I get up every morning and I go to battle. I pray over my farm, my family, my marriage but I don’t just pray empty words or cliches, I use the Word of God as my sword. You will find a scripture on any subject that you need if you look, but for the sake of this discussion on farm life- I will stick to the ones I use over my farm.
For the seed shall be prosperous,
The vine shall give its fruit
The ground shall give her increase,
And the heavens shall give their dew-
I will cause the remnant of this people
To posses all theses.
Proverbs 27: 25
When the hay is removed and the tender grass shows itself,
And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in,
The lambs will provide your clothing,
And the goats the price of a field
You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food,
For the food of your household
And the nourishment of you maidservants.
Deuteronomy 28: 11-12
And the Lord shall grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body,, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground…
The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand.
Each morning as I pray these words over my farm, I thank God that He has given me these promises. As I pray I also remind Satan of these truths and tell him to take his curses- such as grasshoppers- back to hell where they came from. Just as in any war, you win some battles and you lose some battles. Regardless of the outcome of the battles I know who won the war and what the future holds- Victory. So, when hardships do come I remember the promises and stand on those. If I lose the battle of the squash to the squash bug, I thumb my nose at the enemy and replant. Then, little by little you begin to see the shift. You produce more, things come a little easier, and you see more of the promises show up in the everyday life. With faith we can move mountains- or shift the mountain of high pressure off of us in the summer to let a little rain in. Maybe there is not a huge amount of rain, but if by faith I can shift a 1/2 inch in to our skies that may make the difference between life and death of my gardens. I will take that as a win. Today as I write this, it never got over 83′ F and we have received about 4 inches of rain over the past 4 days- in JULY in TEXAS. That is nothing short of a miracle. Oh, how we are rejoicing.
None of this means that life is just easy street, but it means that instead of futility I can see our farm advancing. I have been praying like this for the past 15 years in regards to my children and my marriage and when the farm came along about 7 years ago I approached it the same way. It took awhile for the gardens to build up some steam but finally I began to harvest enough tomatoes to make some sauce and put it up by canning. Now, I am canning some every week. These are victories.
Trust me, you will be opposed when you begin to pray like this and to believe the promises of God. This does not make the promises less true, to the contrary it means they are all the more real.