Archive for the ‘Adversity’ Category

Crack Petunias

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

The sight of pink blossoms peeking through and around an old iron wheel caused me to pause. The flowers were not planted in fertile soil or growing in expensive pots of clay. Instead, these plants were the product of seeds that had fallen from petunias cascading from a display of hanging baskets. As the seeds fell, the wind gently blew them into a crack in the concrete. The seeds lay in the crack undetected as the gardener watered the petunias above. And when the petunias had drunk their fill, the baskets overflowed and fertilized water dripped into the concrete crack.

crack petunias in wheel (640x360) (450x341)The petunia seed rejoiced by sprouting—expending a portion of its energy in search of the light above and all the while sending roots down deeper than the boundary of concrete.

This crack petunia is every bit as authentic as those hanging in baskets above. Its DNA had just as much life, wonder, and ability inside its seed. It only had to choose to bloom inside the crack of concrete. Today, the plant was blooming in unexpected places, and encouraging me to do the same.

Have you ever fallen through the cracks of life? Are you surrounded—even now—by cold, hard walls of circumstances and challenges?

If so, remember the crack petunia. Seeds of talents are every bit as profound—and teeming with potential—that fall into the cracks as those whose blooms are on display around us. We only need to humble ourselves and allow the seeds of destiny to open up and sprout, and steady our souls by sending our roots deep into the life-giving soil of God’s Word. We can bloom even in the cracks of life.

If you feel you’ve fallen through the cracks and it seems your lot in life could be to live there—choose to bloom in the crack. Choose to live happy even in adverse conditions that you had no part in choosing. God can give you the ability to prosper—right where you are—right now. Rely on God and release your ways to Him. You contain the DNA to grow and bloom wherever you are.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (II Corinthians 9:8 NIV)

Give Thanks

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Thanksgiving is the season to focus on the provision and goodness of God

Much of life is consumed with long days and short nights in hopes that our hard work will lead to enough provision to get us where we want to be in life.

The first Thanksgiving living in a foreign land may seem vaguely similar to the past year. It has been a year of hardships, surprises, struggles, and a lot of hard work. However, it has also been a year of new beginnings and God’s blessings. 

New beginnings are wonderful! I love the vision part the very most because the passion is fresh, the picture is clear, and obstacles have yet to be imagined. As with all beginnings, there is an uncomfortable stage that involves the unknown questions and answers that can create doubt regarding where the conquest will truly end. Will we really succeed? Will life ever feel normal again?

And, then, we make it! Through it all we stop and count our blessings. We often find ourselves weary, but blessed indeed. 

When I focus on what I don’t have, I overlook obvious blessings that I do have. But when I focus on my blessings I am able to live in the moment with a greater inner peace and positive energy.

Focus on how far you’ve come by counting each blessing that you truly treasure in your heart. Take time to be thankful that God is God! He promised to go with you and complete the good things He began in your life.

Take time to celebrate your gain and always give thanks.

This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NASB)

Moses and the Cat

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Moses and the Cat 40It was almost dark as my car rounded the last curve and its lights shined on the doors of home. I had left before the crack of dawn and was so glad to be back. I was eagerly pushing one foot out of the car by the time the engine quit running, but a sound—more like a cat being tortured than a meow—begged me to stop and help.

It ran to me immediately. White and yellow, hide and hair, stretched over a body of bones with the face of a cat attached. Its mouth was wide open and screeching incessantly. One eye was either matted shut or entirely gone. One thing for sure—it was hungry, alone, and hurting. I could not refuse such desperation! Even my great and notable princess, Amira Cat, who hates all other animals, had softened her heart enough to let this cat approach. I could not do less.

Forgetting how tired I was, I raided the fridge to feed this little one. The not-yet-weaned stray cat meowed and growled as it attempted to gulp milk and devour dry cat food all at the same time. I entered the house an hour later than I had planned, and decided to wait until morning to name the cat just in case it died.

Sometime during the night I was awakened to the sound of rain hitting the bedroom windows. I rushed to the front porch to see if the cat was still there. Not only was it there, but it was alive and bounding towards me—falling all over itself—arms and paws uplifted, and meowing with a scratchy voice. 

I fed it again and rearranged some porch decorations into a makeshift house. A wooden pumpkin became a wall, and a scarecrow pillow from the porch swing became a cuddle buddy.

I decided to name the cat Moses from the story in the Bible. Exodus records the time when a cruel Pharaoh ordered Jewish baby boys to be drowned in the Nile River. During this period of time, a woman named Jocabed gave birth to a baby boy. When she couldn’t keep him hidden, she crafted a tiny boat made out of a basket. Jacobed lowered her baby in the basket and placed it among the reeds of the Nile. That evening, the Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river to bath, and heard a baby crying.  Her heart went out to the child and she ordered her attendants to get the baby out of the water. The Pharoah’s daughter adopted the baby and named him Moses (meaning drawn out of the water). In that moment, Moses went from no Mama, to two Mamas, and in the same fashion, Moses Cat went from being homeless to finding a forever home.

In many ways, my name is also Moses. I have known the love of many friends, and I have a Savior. Like a stray cat, or like a helpless baby destined to die by a million evil foes, Christ helped me. Just like that—from no help to having a constant Helper by my side.

You, too, can have help—there is hope. Call out to your friends and to Christ. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and pray for creative ideas. Like the cat and Jocabed, don’t ever give up; someone’s heart will show you favor. I’m sure one day your name will be Moses and you’ll be drawn out.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jer 33:3 (NASB)

Update on Moses… only 10 days after rescue!

Look at me Now!

Look at me Now!

Update on Moses Cat: This is Moses Cat 10 days after his rescue from starvation and neglect. He does have an eye. He can now eat without screeching or gulping food and is able to purr. Today–for the very first time–he chased his tail and played like a kitten should. Sometimes it doesn’t take that long to get better…. if you leave the abusive situation behind and get with a safe group who loves you. Just saying. These are facts to remember.

Let It Go

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Let it Go

The difference between great success and failure may be as simple as knowing what – and when – to let go.

I heard a story about how hunters in Africa catch monkeys. Monkeys are very smart and difficult to trap. So the hunters build a container with an opening large enough for the monkey to put its hand into, yet it’s too small for a clenched fist to be removed. Hunters then place tempting trinkets or food into the container. The monkey reaches in, grips the treasures, and is trapped by its own fist. It’s hard to believe that a monkey will stay trapped until the hunter returns and captures it – when all that was needed to be free was for it to let go.

We’re more intelligent than a monkey. Yet no matter how much we know, there are times when we struggle to just let go.

Do you want to know three words to make your life more successful?  “Let it go.”  Three simple words will make your life more successful. We must evaluate often those things that we are holding onto and understand why we might want to cling to them. Things that have fulfilled their job or no longer pulling us forward have to be released to make room for the new and relevant. It is a waste of precious time and energy to keep hammering away at issues that we are powerless to change. We can gain tremendous peace just by letting go of past hurts, bitterness, or things we just never could quite figure out. Relationships also have to be evaluated. People that I pull into my inner circle will either lift me up or pull me back. I must evaluate my circle of friends and choose to stay in close contact with those who value what I have to say, encourage new ideas, and share some goals in common. You, too, should let go of friends who merely tolerate you. This will make each day an uplifting celebration.

It may not be easy to let some things go. That time, relationship, or plan in your life became part of you.  It is normal to feel some temporary sadness when you let it go. That’s OK.

Push past the disappointments. Open your hand and release. There are new people, places, and experiences ahead for you. Move forward into the great plans God has for you.  Just let it go.

“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Phil 3:13,14 NLT

No More Detours

Saturday, January 12th, 2013

The count is definitely in, and everyone I know is glad for the past year to go. I too welcomed a new year because I wanted a fresh start.  But this New Year is now into its second week and life is throwing me some pretty fierce distractions to deal with. I wonder if what I did last week was done any differently than this time last year.

Distractions don’t go away. They must be dealt with. I can’t drive down the main street of our small town or log onto my computer without the possibility of getting sidetracked. But I can become stronger and make wiser choices.

Our paths are strewn not only with distractions but also opportunities. So the question to ask ourselves when things pop into our world is, “Is this a distraction or an opportunity?” When distraction comes and opportunity knocks, we have the power to choose which one to answer and entertain and when to just stay focused on our present path.

If you plan ahead what you would like to accomplish in your day and upcoming year, it will make right choices clearer.

Decide where each new “unexpected” will lead your day. Distracted days add up to months, and soon another year has come and gone. We do have the core strength to do things differently. Be courageous and push pass that first uncomfortable moment of taking charge of your life – choose opportunity over distraction.

Give yourself an internal boost of energy by taking some time upfront to define your goals clearly, rid your path of proven distractions, and quiet your mind each morning.

Know that if you follow distractions, you will take a detour yet again this year.  But if you face the ongoing distractions, choose to stay the course, and keep going forward, you will enjoy great success in the coming year.

“For I can do everything through Christ,* who gives me strength.” James 4:18 NLT

I need you – you need me – and we all need God

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

In times of trouble, in times of great need, there is but one place where my heart is secure and my thoughts are understood. There is only one power that can quiet my busy mind and soothe my desperate soul.  When my faith is shaken, I must know there is a safe place above — called heaven — where life’s pieces actually come together in a land of perfect peace.

Today, I walk below the celestial sky.  I live on earth’s imperfect soil where both good and bad intermingle along the path.  I seek to connect with the creator of heaven and earth to make sense of the now and receive courage for tomorrow.

I find a refuge — in prayer to the God who understands a language of tears and sighs. I open the Bible and personalize promises that were given to me when I accepted Christ as my Savior…. The Lord is a very present help in my time of need.  Jesus has said that He will never leave me or forsake me.  God will make a way in my every trial so that I will not be crushed entirely beneath the weight of devastation.  When I don’t know what to do, I will ask God for wisdom and the Holy Spirit will give me direction.

Dear friend, if ever I should be too weak to cry out would you please say a prayer – for me.  In the middle of grief and loss each kind word, plate of food, and act of kindness gives me strength to keep on standing.  Please don’t stay away because you don’t have any words to say- for at times the greatest energy came when you said- nothing at all.  What mattered most… was that you were there.

“Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur.” (Quintus Ennius – 3rd Century BC) This quote translates from the Latin as ‘a sure friend is known when in difficulty’.

See the big picture

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

It’s important how we view single events during our day.  If we only see the small clip of what’s happening just during a specific moment then our picture is lacking and way too small.  We could be tempted to believe everything we’ve ever done is horrible if we dwell on a single negative word about us during the day.  Dwelling on, rehearsing, and replaying this single phrase can soon become what we think we accomplished for the entire day.

Look at each day at least as an episode.  Factor in the great things accomplished, the good comments and not just that one miniscule sound bite.

Something done or said wrong can be used to learn new and better ways of living.  Learn by mistakes and then move forward quickly.  There are great reasons that a person gets back on a horse after being thrown or drives soon after being rear ended.

Fear, exaggerated thinking, undue stress and excessive pain can be stopped by looking at the big picture, readjusting and then getting back into the game right away.

Life is more than just one misspoken word or bad day. Life is meant to be a beautiful journey. It’s so true that woven into the tapestry of our days there are knots and gray shadings from time to time.  These brief snubs were only mean to be indicative of normal weaving and not deemed as a flawed or castaway life.

Now, smile, and go ahead living the God life!

“Whiskers in August”

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Our friend, Kenyon, is growing a beard! His lip and chin are now covered with short, neat stubble. When asked about the new look, Kenyon said that he was ‘getting ready’ for hunting season.

Getting ready?  Preparing?  Really?  I mean really?  The temperatures have been in the triple digits here for days now. It’s really, really hot- even for Oklahoma summers.  Most of us have been talking, feeling, and focusing on the present as if today was the way it’s always going to be- hot and dry- and always August!

Kenyon knows November is coming. With cool breezes ahead there will be a hunting season. He is preparing- right in the midst of the heat- for days he believes will come!

Tough, uncomfortable seasons plague all of us from time to time. The heat of trial, unfairness of life, and record breaking, heart failing tragedy and questions come our way.  We could be tempted to believe that we will be overwhelmed for the rest of our lives, or that things will always be the way they are today.

But, faith beckons us to us to look forward.

Hope says that change is possible- even sure- in all areas of my life.  Wisdom would tell me to live today with understanding and with an uplifting attitude.  The Love of God builds up my inner core with assurance that I will be ok- no matter what.

Faith sees ahead and prepares. The tell-tale evidence of our faith is in our actions today!

Thank you Kenyon, for whiskers in August!  That you God, for faith to prepare in the heat of today… so I will be ready for the cool promises of tomorrow!

Some things don’t change with the weather!

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

The subject for last week was the weather!  Tulsa got another 3.5 inches last week on top of 14– we didn’t get that much more on top of our 20 but it made everything worse.
But, this week – Feb. 9th, 2011- we have just gotten 17.5 more inches I hear.  It’s hard to tell as it is still snowing and blowing.

Enjoy the wonder.  Still your mind.  There is a God and He is greater than any problem that we can or cannot see.   Even though we’re not have service tonight because of the weather, the church is very much alive, well, open, and active!  See the church is really, really ‘you’ and our communication system is called prayer.  Heaven is always open.  Prayer is just as powerful whether spoken in the sun, rain… or yes the snow.  It’s at times like these that we are reminded that some of the greatest things- love, prayer, God, family, ability to think, or move, or eat are not affected by the weather.  And, yes, the church… Anywhere you are, the church has arrived!  Fill yourself up with God’s love.  Eat it up! Enjoy just being loved, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done.  Open your heart to Jesus.  Then, let some of that love spill out on others today.  Don’t worry that you’ll not have enough.  His love is never ending, never failing– and it will never pass away.

Last week 2 04 11 'feeding the birds" garden table set on porch step to get out of the 15"-20" of snow

my garden table on porch step today 2 09 11

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  I Cor. 13: 4-7 NLT

This is how God feels about you. In fact He is the one who first initiated it. You are loved beyond measure. Eat it up, this wonderful, never failing, everlasting- God kind of love- into every fiber of your being!

Love does make the world go round.  You are able to love well because He loves you… very well!

I dare you.  Write down of a gift of His love to you, each day.

Ode in Dark Times

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

When I read the book of Psalms I think of each chapter as an ode. Maybe it’s because an ode, in the classical form, would be writing a poem for the intention of singing it. David, the shepherd boy, who wrote most of the Psalms, of course sang them as he played the harp. When I read the Psalms I find verses that are still being used to write many of our praise and worship songs today. David defined his problems, wrote them down, reasoned them out, recognized God was on his side- and burst into song.  He declared the circumstance for what it was and began to sing about the answer- well in advance of its manifestation.  In the face of each new obstacle David would choose to compare each gigantic problem with God.  God was always bigger. So, David would choose to declare that the immediate enemy to his peace was ‘no different’ than the one from last year or yesterday and then he would realize he would be ok.

Here is one of my ode-psalm-songs that I wrote during some dark times. “Satan is no match for my Lord. When He does the fighting, there’s no way that I can lose. Victory is sweet with my life at His feet. Now, I have Jesus who knows no defeat.” ©RW

Dare to compare. Write down your thoughts. Then, begin to sing a new song of overcoming joy- today.