Church In The Midst Of Yard Work

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I will say that even in the simple activity of weeding and planting, I saw God everywhere I looked.


This weekend I took time to do some much needed yard work. I also recently read a post by a well known food author. She talked about how being outside was her “church.” While I don’t recommend giving up church for hiking, I will say that even in the simple activity of weeding and planting, I saw God everywhere I looked. Not just the “isn’t God amazing” feeling we get when we view an awesome sunset or watch a spider spin a web, but the kind where God speaks directly to your heart through a very simple thing.

Here are a few things God said to me…

Bloom where you are planted. We feed a lot of birds at our house (and a lot of squirrels, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue). Subsequently, we have a lot of “volunteer” sunflowers randomly popping up all over the yard. These volunteers literally bloom where they are planted. Rocks? Not a problem. Shade? No worries. The ones in the shade do the best they can. Are they tall and strong like the ones in the sun? Nope. But they are giving it their best, and they produce a flower. Do I do that? Do I complain about my situation? Do I wait to serve, or to help until all the conditions are just right? Perfect soil, right amount of water, great location. Or do I do the best that I can right where I am…even if I struggle?

Sunflowers know their job. Everyday, all day long, they face the sun. Their bright beautiful faces are even brighter, because they point in the right direction. They are not looking around to see what all the other sunflowers are doing.

God can redeem all things. A few of the trees in our yard have become diseased and are dead or dying. One of my favorites looks this way this year. It’s leaves are dull and small instead of bright green and healthy like it’s neighbors. I have worried that it too will begin to lose its leaves and die. This weekend I saw one bright green leaf emerging from the end of one of the branches. There is struggle, but there is hope. God can make beauty of ashes, rivers in the wasteland, and bring new life to what was dull and lifeless. He is reminding us of that every day. Every season.

I felt spent and tired that day. But as the song goes…His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.

 

God Is At Work In The Ugly

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The trouble, the pain, just keeps coming and coming – piling up, suffocating, and consuming every thought. You search for hope in the darkness. You barely remember the time, a long time ago, when you thought if you just followed Jesus life would go well, easy. But that was long ago, and your very-real trouble seems to far out-weigh the blessings. Continue reading “God Is At Work In The Ugly”

When There Are No Answers

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“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” Philippians 4:11 


I don’t have answers to life’s questions. God knows I have many, many questions. I long for Him. I want to understand Him. I want to follow Him.  But, if I am honest, I also want life to be stable, predictable and easy.  When hard days come, I want to immediately see what God is doing and explain it to myself and to others. Probably like yours, my life has been anything but predictable or stable. Yet, way down deep I have still clung to a secret hope that somehow I could make it be. I like order. I like predictability. I like to feel like I am in control of what the day will hold. Yet life for me, and many of us lately, has been anything but predictable and anything but easy.

A few years ago, I went for a walk around our little farm with my niece Riley. We noticed the change in the season as the cool air hit our faces. Leaves and dried blackberries were falling to the ground. Fallen persimmons were rotting into the earth. The ground was turning brown and crunchy with all the decaying matter. I explained to Riley how God would make something beautiful out of all the ugly, dead stuff the coming spring. I told her we couldn’t see what God was doing but that deep down under all the decay, He was at work.

That walk and those words came back to my mind today. It seems every news story, every conversation with friends and family is full of hard, heartbreaking things that are far from beautiful and seem so utterly out of control. I remembered telling Riley, “God is still at work even when things look ugly.” My mind raced to my own ugly times – like losing my husband to suicide—and other times when I honestly felt like giving up. In the midst of the heartache, I couldn’t see what God was doing. Still, He whispered a persistent, hold-onto-hope and asked me to believe He was indeed ‘doing’. My eyes could no more see His hand than I could see a flower being birthed under the rotting leaves that fall day with Riley. Sometimes it seems like forever to wait on spring in the dark days of winter and even harder to wait on God when we desperately want answers, when our hearts are breaking, and when nothing seems to be in control. It is exhaustingly difficult, but it is not impossible for those who are determined to keep following and trusting God. He has given us (yes given us) a gift of faith (all that we need) to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). He has always been in the business of bringing beauty from ashes, and His Word is full of the incredibly hopeless finding real, stand-on, keep-going hope. Indeed, His greatest miracles came from the most desperate of situations; and I expect they still do.

Yet, it is in the very midst of the trial, in our weakest-of-weak that our Faithful Father asks us to surrender our will to His and believe He can still do great things for us, in us, and through us. Yes, when we finally lay down our conditions and expectations for how things should turn out and say, “God, I trust you more than I trust me, I believe you are at work even when I can’t see you,” it is then—that we find incredible, amazing, hope-filled, hold-onto peace that makes no earthly, logical sense.

Oswald Chambers said, “There is only one thing you can consecrate to God and that is the right to yourself (Romans 12:1).” Yes, the enemy may have intended what you are walking through for evil, but God alone can bring good. Keep your eyes on Him. This hard road you are walking may be the only way someone else sees the only Savior of Souls. That awful situation that you or someone you love is enduring may yield a depth of love for our Lord that could come no other way. It is in reckless abandon to God (not predictability or stability in this life or even the easy) that He tells us we will find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29-30). And that is no small thing. So keep reading His Word, keep praying, keep seeking encouragement from other believers and keep hoping in God who  is at work in your life.


Prayer: Oh Lord, help me to lay down those things which keep me from experiencing your peace. Take my right to myself, my day, my calendar, my expectations, my need to control, my desire for stability and predictability, even this heartbreaking thing, and help me to live in reckless abandon to You. May I give glory to You no matter what this day brings. May I only desire to stay under the shelter of Your wings, for you are my rock, my protector and my comforter (Psalm 61:3-4).  Amen.


– used by permission of the author 

The Beauty of Being a Single Mom

Being a single mom is a hard road to walk. It is made harder by the fact most people do not plan on walking it and usually find it through traumatic situations. However, like many dark circumstances, it can serve as a back drop to show off the brightness of God’s love and depths of His grace.

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Continue reading “The Beauty of Being a Single Mom”