Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Public Speaking, Stay at Home Moms, Teachers, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries, Writers

Soil and Roots…

On a recent visit with my in-laws, my mother-in-law was pointing out the great job that her gardener had done on the new landscaping and sprinkler system.  But we noticed that the parkway planter area that held a large beautiful tree, was quite dry.  She told us her gardener assured her, “Even though the soil doesn’t seem like it’s being watered enough from the top, the roots were getting plenty of water from the surrounding soil UNDER the ground.”  He told her what to look out for with the tree to make sure it was growing and not suffering from lack of watering.

I have not been able to get that story out of my head for weeks now.  And here I sit at a new coffee shop and I realize that the mural on the wall in front of me…it’s a painting of roots!  Okay, Lord, I get it!  I’m digging in!!

Jeremiah 17:8 say, “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

This is exactly the verse that came to mind when my mother-in-law was telling us about her tree.

I would not say I have a green thumb…nor a black thumb…just hands that are really good at purchasing new plants when the old ones die.  Why do you think they sell plants at the grocery store?!  But I have managed to keep quite of few philodendrons alive (and mostly well) in my kitchen and living room.  Indulge me a bit while I share my “gardening” observations.

I have six plants in my kitchen and four plants in my living room.

The 6 plants in my kitchen are fabulous!

One of them I received from a friend who was moving out of state and couldn’t take it with her…my “Jenn plant” has managed to stay alive and green for the 5 years since her family moved. I think it thrives because I notice it more and water it more often…it reminds me of my friend and I pray for her and her family every time I see it.

The larger plant on a stand by the window is the one that thrives the most. I believe because it’s closest to the sunlight, it grows the best. It has the benefit of weekly watering and is daily bathed with the rays from the sun. There are two other plants on the little kitchen sink window ledge that live well with partial sun as well.

Now, the two to the left of my kitchen window, that’s another story. They are in smaller pots, which means that there is not a lot of space for their roots to spread out. But the pots are just so cute…and the shelf they sit on doesn’t really have space for a larger vessel. They are little out of my line of sight, so I know I wait too long to water them. They look quite wilted and give me little hope that they will “spring back to life” just because I water them  But every single time I take them down and give them a good watering, a few hours later I look up at them and they’ve been revived!  It’s amazing what a little water can do!

Well, then there’s the plants in the living room.  We don’t really get any sunlight in there, at least where I have the plants. Those pots are regularly the ones I have to repurchase new plants from the store. They start out full and lovely and after time, I’m watering pots of dirt with one stalk of three or four sad leaves on it. And they don’t perk up at all after the watering.

So what kind of plant are you?

Do you put yourself in a place where you are being watered and cared for?  Do you soak in the sunlight when it’s available?

Do you slowly lose your stamina until there’s almost nothing left?

Or are you the tree planted with deep roots?

When we make the decision to stand firm in our relationship with the Lord, and let Him water the roots of our life in Him, we can withstand ANY kind of storm or drought. Even when the topsoil of our life is dry and dusty, we can still grow and bear fruit of who God is in our life. We need not fear anything because we know Who we are rooted in.

Taking time each day to be rooted in God’s Word ~ that is the only way to remain standing and not sway or break with the ever-changing moments life will bring.

Think of a palm tree. I’ve lived in Florida – palm trees galore. I’ve witnessed the strength and remarkable flexibility of these trees during storms. Being born and raised in Southern California, what is more iconic than the palm tree lined streets of the city suburbs and beaches? Here, the greatest characteristic of these trees is that depending on where they are planted, they are either straight and tall, or they seem crazily slanted…but both features are simply because they desire to be in the full gaze of the sun’s light.

Palm trees are amazing to me when you see them bending like crazy-straws during a hurricane but when the storm is over, it regains its composure.  How?  They have an incredibly fibrous root system that goes down into the ground very very deep.  The palm has roots that keep growing, that continue to gain nutrients to sustain their life, and a leaf system that overlaps the branches all coming from one common trunk.

I mean, I am so excited just thinking about the similarities here between my life as a Christian and how God made palm trees.  I mean, besides how cool they are, what a life lesson they are to us ~ and I know that God does not do anything haphazardly.

Do we remain steadfast and let our roots go deep with God? Do we yearn so earnestly to be in the light of the Son, that we may look a little like a “bendy-straw” to those looking at our life? Do we look like we’re going to simply break in half during the storm of life? Do we regain our strength and stand tall when the storm is over? Do we continue to bear fruit in the midst of a drought?

I know these plants.

Sometimes I contently sit in my “little pot” waiting to be watered but slowly dying inside because I don’t go where the sunlight will strengthen me. But I want more of those times when I’m seen, watered, and cared for by Gardener. Unlike a plant in a pot, I have to be an active participant in the watering!

I know this tree.

More and more I am the palm tree. I know the value of sticking close to God’s Word and burrowing deep so that the roots of my heart and soul are planted securely within the truths of the life He has intended for me to live.

I am this tree.

I’ve been the tree in the desert, the tree with the dry topsoil, the tree that still survives because the roots are deep. It doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. I don’t have the market cornered on staying strong in the midst of the storm. I just know that trusting in the One who refreshed me with water from the spring of everlasting Life in Him.

So even when I look a bit slanted, or a bit like a crazy bendy-straw, just know that I’m in the process of reaching out to be as close to the Son as I possibly can! Come join me!

Blessings,

René

Jeremiah 17 verse 8

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

Good News from a Far Country

It is always so wonderful to me when I hear good news “from a far country.”  Sometimes, the distance really isn’t that far, but just far enough.  If you ask some of the people we know, asking them to travel to the Pasadena area from their homes seems like we are asking them to travel to a far country!  LOL!!  Really….20 minutes?  In SoCal, that’s a quick trip! If you aren’t from this area, I’m sure I will bewilder you when I tell you that in order to visit my sweet niece, her husband, and their three beautiful daughters, it takes an hour AND 7 freeways to get there…yes, I said SEVEN!  But it’s always worth it!

We have friends & family from all over the country…great places to visit…Montana, Tennessee, Washington, Kentucky, Virginia, Florida, Texas…just to name a few.  At this point in time, the most “far country” person in my life is our middle daughter who lives in Kona, HI.  And soon she will be ministering with YWAM in an area in Southeast Asia…that’s REALLY REALLY FAR!  I’m so beyond thankful for technology that allows us to keep in contact so easily.  Our oldest daughter used to live in Seattle and many times that seemed like a far away country.  And with our youngest still at home, I think she sometimes feels like high school is a foreign country!  🙂

When I was in the 6th grade, my teacher was a darling little woman from the Philippines.  We learned very quickly, however, not to underestimate her authority in the classroom.  Small but mighty is a great description for her!  At that time in the L.A. area, the public school systems were beginning to severely decline in their organization.  These poor teachers wouldn’t find out what grade they were teaching for the year until practically the day before school began.  Surprise surprise that the first 4-6 weeks of school, we didn’t have the books or curriculum that we needed.  But with Mrs. Hidalgo in charge, our little class did not suffer from “nothing to do” syndrome.  We were learning about foreign countries, and she taught us how to write our first research paper.  I remember I was given the country of Venezuela and I think I still have that report somewhere ~ I was quite proud of it!  After we were done with that, we all received our new pen pal (through a national service that matched 6th graders with other students the same age in foreign countries).  Christl from Belgium became my new pen pal friend ~ and although it’s not 1-2 letters a week that we would send/receive from each other back in the day, we still exchange Christmas cards all these years later!  I even had the privilege of meeting her in person about seventeen years ago.  It was so amazing to hang out in Ghent with her and see where she lived.

So how do these stories play into the theme for today?  Here’s the verse that I read in Proverbs 25:25“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.”  I don’t know about you but on a hot day, or a day that I haven’t had enough water, drinking a nice cool glass of water has a remarkable affect on me.  The taste of it on your tongue immediately begins to quench that thirst, then the flow of the water just hits you as swallow and you can feel it going down, refreshing all parts of your body.  Now, I am not a doctor, but I do know that the water doesn’t actually travel into all parts of your body like it’s filling up a water balloon.  But the EFFECTS of that cool water nourishes your entire system from the top of your head to the tip of your toes!!  Okay, I’ll wait…go get a glass of water and then come back!

Proverbs 25 verse 25

I am continually amazed by the healing properties of water ~ so of course the Lord would use water in so many analogies and parables throughout His ministry.  Water into wine (John 2), the Woman at the Well, (John 4), the commandment of the water’s power (Luke 8), and being baptized by John the Baptist as He began His ministry on earth (Matthew 3),  just to name a few.

Water is remarkable ~ it brings life, it nourishes, it refreshes, it cleanses, it is powerful, it is gentle, it is perfect and cannot be duplicated.  Sound like Someone else I know ~ Jesus has all of these attributes and more.  And more importantly, Jesus cannot be duplicated.  I would like to challenge you to look at areas of your life where you are seeking to fill your life with things (or people) that cannot truly fill you.

John 7:37-38 provides a beautiful picture of how truly simple it is to receive the Lord and the blessings He intends to give us ~ “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  Isaiah 12:3 prophesied with these words, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

And the promises that will be fulfilled in God’s perfect timing, found in Revelation, are some of the most beautiful words in all of scripture to me ~

Revelation 7:17“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 21:6“And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”

Revelation 22:1-2, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree werefor the healing of the nations.”

Revelation 22:17“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Throughout my life as I have served the Lord, as I have had seasons of drought, seasons of plenty, times of doubt and thankfully more times of trust, the promises of the Lord my God have remained true and steady.  Praise the Lord that my faithLESSness doesn’t weaken His faithFULLness!  *I know I spelled that wrong…but wanted to highlight the best part of God’s fullness in my life!*  He showed how faithful He is to give me what I need just last night on the eve of my birthday.  (Yep!  Today is the big day….and I am proud to say that I am 47 now!).  The enemy was working over-time, trying to make me feel inadequate because I had (again!) not accomplished all that I had thought I would in this past year since my last birthday.  I was beginning to go down that dark road of doubt and sadness…I could literally feel the joy of the day being choked out of my heart.  Had I done ANYTHING worth it in this past year?  Yes!  By God’s grace…YES!  Had I failed at some things and not come close to completion on a few others, you bet.  But did that make me less deserving of God’s grace and unconditional love?  No way!!  God has given me a most amazing husband who is such a tower of strength and encouragement ~ he doesn’t let the self-pity thing go very far, reminding me that he loves me no matter what.  And more importantly, reminds me that God loves me despite my failures.  It is in those times of failure and disillusionment that I need to not just turn to the Lord, I need to break out full speed ahead and RUN to my Savior!

Jeremiah 31:12, “They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more.”

I want to be like a well watered garden and no longer languish through life!  I want to flourish with joy and contentment in all areas of my life, trusting that God has good things planned for me!  And I want that for YOU too!!

My first “Happy Birthday” message came from my Kona girl at 1:18am.  I woke to the sweet sounds of my husband and two girls at home singing “Happy Birthday” to me. I have received more texts and and humbly abundance of well-wishes and blessings from friends and family near and far.  I have had “Good News” from far-away places.  And I live in a place today knowing that the Living Water from my Lord sustains me like no other.  I am a Daughter of the King and He is radiant over me with His goodness.  I can function from a mind-set where I know that I have salvation that I cannot earn or purchase, but an eternal life that I have been given through the price Christ paid on the Cross.  I can declare the truths and promises about me and for me, that the Lord has set forth ~ I do not have to walk on that dark path of doubt.  God has a plan and path for me ~ and for YOU ~ and guess what….Satan cannot walk on that path with us.  He can’t!  He’s not allowed.  He can only stand on the sidelines and try to lure us away, tripping us up with his lies and deceit.  He cannot dwell in the same place as the Lord.  Because you are HIS, you are safe.  I am in His strong and mighty hands.

Isaiah 46 verse 4

These sweet words in Isaiah are like water to my soul and joy to my heart ~ I have a long way to go until I have reached “old age” but I have the fantastic knowledge that God will be there with me each step of the way.  He will guide me, carry me, bear my burdens with me, and save me for Himself.

My birthday wish to you ~ that you allow the Lord to bring you His good news of salvation and grace.  He’s waiting right there for you and will never turn away from you.  Trust me ~ I know that I wouldn’t have made it to my 47th birthday without the strength I have received over and over and over again from the Lord.  HE is my greatest gift and I know my Father loves me.  He loves you like crazy too!!

Blessings,

René

 

Bonus note ~ just as I was writing this blog, I received some “Good news from a far country” ~ Savannah called to say “Happy Birthday!”  What a joy!  Oh, and these photos (with the scripture on them) are from the gorgeous drives I was blessed to take with my friend Jenn in Montana last week.

 

**All scripture references can be easily found on http://www.biblegateway.com

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Women's Ministries

When “Hovering” is a Good Thing

In the past couple of days, SoCal has entered what we all hope is finally the beginning of Autumn.  Yes, I know it’s towards the end of October…we’re getting there.  One thing I love seeing is the return of the fog.  We live near some mountains and it’s such a majestic site to go out in the early morning to see fog hovering over tops of the mountains.  The high temperature of the day only gets to about 72-75 degrees, the air conditioning never comes on, and my favorite part…opening the windows and feeling the cool breeze.  At night, the misty fog returns to rest upon the crest of the mountains and lend a sense of closure and protection to our little city below.

But there have been times in my life when fog has not been beautiful or majestic at all ~ it’s been downright frightening!  I have driven in the famous Sacramento “Tule Fog” in the middle of February, on an unfamiliar road, not knowing that it was not a good idea to drive in fog with your high beams on.  Um, yeah…scary!  I was on this road for about 2 hours, going 15 miles an hour, 8 weeks pregnant and had to use the facilities in the worst way.  Let’s just say, I made it to my friends house just in time, but absolutely stressed out vowing to never drive in those conditions again.  Well, in those conditions alone again.

One of the most visual images about the Holy Spirit, at least when I think about Him in this way, is what is described in Genesis 1:1-2:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

To hover is to “to keep lingering about; wait near at hand.”1  Can you picture this?  The Holy Spirit’s job at this point in Creation was to wait near and linger over the heavenly waters as God the Father began to create “the heavens and the earth.”  He was not separate from the creation story ~ the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity and has a very important job.  

Although as we read further in Genesis chapter 1, we see that in order to make the earth and heaven, He had to separate the waters to those “that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse.” (vs. 7b). But wait…when you separate something, it means that there are usually two halves still remaining.  In verse 6 of chapter 1, it tells us, “And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”” That expanse we know as the sky (or atmosphere).  There are heavenly waters that still exist as well as the waters on earth that we know as the sea.  Personally, I have always loved going to the ocean because it just feels like God to me.  The expanse of the sea, the depth of the oceans, the peacefulness of the crashing waves, and the coolness of the water ~ that all reminds me of the profound power and grace that encompasses who God is.

Depending on the commentary you read, the Holy Spirit is known by at least 35 different names in the Bible.2  Most notably, the Holy Spirit is known as our Helper, our Counselor, our Comforter (see John 14:16, 26; John 15:26; John 16:7; Isaiah 11:2).  After Jesus was resurrected and spent time back on earth with the disciples, He appeared before them one last time before He ascended to Heaven, (see John 16). He gave them ~ and all of us who believe in Him ~ the immensely personal gift of the Holy Spirit to be our: Counselor, Advocate, Helper, Friend, Comforter. The role that the Holy Spirit has is to guide us in our thoughts and actions, and to be a intercessor between us and the Father.  He is with us and with the Father ~ the Holy Spirit is hovering between the two, never leaving one or the other.

Today, let me encourage you to settle in and allow the Holy Spirit to hover over you.  Hear Him speak words and promises of joy, comfort, and even correction to your soul and seek the Lord as you move forward in your relationship with Him.  Don’t miss out on the beautiful way the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, will hover over your life, bringing you great comfort and peace.

Blessings,

René

Genesis 1 verse 1-2

  1. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/hover?s=t
  2. http://www.compellingtruth.org/names-Holy-Spirit.html

 

 

Christian Mentors, Moms, Parents, Stay at Home Moms, Uncategorized, Women's Ministries

Watering in a Drought

Hello there ~ so this week, watering has been on my mind a lot lately.  Especially because I live in Southern California and we are in a serious drought!  We are truly becoming the “land of golden dreams” because our grassy lawns are now a variety of shades of gold…okay, they’re mostly brown, but I’m trying to be optimistic here! Parts of our front lawn are still green, but with only two days a week to water it, the nourishment is not there to keep up beautiful growth.  How like our spiritual lives are like that!

One of our pastors at church finished up a 3 week series on Parenting this past Sunday ~ and it was excellent by the way…thank you Pastor Bob!  Part of this last session was on the application of “watering” in terms of how we speak into the lives of our children.  Are we giving them the nourishment and encouragement that we need to with our words, actions, etc.  Let’s not go down the path of “Woe is me….I’m a horrible mom…” because that’s not what I want to focus on, so please don’t go there.  We can be a better parent, spouse, sibling, friend, etc., everyday God gives us breath but let’s focus on moving forward.  Allow me to share a beautiful visual that God gave me several years ago that has stuck with me every time I water my potted plants:

When things (or plants in this case) look as if they have lost their luster, lost their liveliness, lost their beauty, or lost their strength ~ adding in the water of God’s Word can bring back to life the most desperate of situations.

I admit, I do not have a green thumb…more like a light green thumb.  My cue to water my plants is usually when they are severely drooping over the sides of their containers.  Whoops!  Time to water! And my outdoor plants suffer a bit more because of the heat we have been having, so the drooping happens much faster.  Just this past week, I walked up the steps to our porch and I thought, “Oh great!  I’ve lost them all!”  But I decided to water them to see if I could coax them back to life with a bit of water.  A few hours later, I left the house to pick up my daughter from school and when we came home I was struck with the absolute beauty of these plants that had only a few hours before been limp and lifeless.  These spectacular plants were ALL standing tall and I think looked more vibrant too, as they soaked up the water I had given them.  I imagined the flowers that talk in “Alice in Wonderland” ~ these plants looked like they were saying “Thank you for giving me this gift!  I feel so much better!”  Okay, so it was a slow day in imagination-land for me, but the difference was truly striking as to what a bit of water and few hours had made.  I was reminded of that picture and realization God had given me all those years ago.

Trusting God to heal a relationship, a broken heart, a harsh word spoken to our children or husband, or a myriad of other aspects of our life, is a choice.  Only God is able to get into the deepest parts of those issues and heal them.  Most of the moments in my life that I have regret for (I’m a work in progress people!) are the times when I know I’ve done or said something to hurt one of my daughters. I hate that! And the enemy knows that this is huge weakness of mine, and I hate that too!  But every time I water one of my sad little plants and see the reaction a few hours later that my plants have returned to the glorious creations they were made to be I am reminded how God can do that for my sweet girls.  I am made beautifully aware by my amazing Savior, that even when I can’t, He can pour His Spirit into my girls wounded hearts and heal them in a way that I cannot even fathom.

However, when I come to them and apologize for my actions and words, which is a form of watering too, I am allowing God to use me to pour into their hearts with His love.  That is a physical way that I can nourish them and help heal our relationship.  And the older they get, the more they remind me that I need not apologize a million times for something I did when they were little.  It is extraordinary to me when my girls remind me that if we’ve apologized and forgiven each other, then BELIEVE IT ALREADY!  Out of the mouths of young adults!!

In the ESV (English Standard Version) of the Bible, the word ‘water’ is used 625 times ~ 48 of the 66 books!  The first mention of water is in Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  I hope it gives you chills to read this verse…if it didn’t the first time, please read it again OUT LOUD and let these words wash over you in a fresh new way.  This same Spirit of God that hovered over the first waters of the earth is the same Spirit that lives in you when you come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior.  Whoa!  Just as a plant is watered, let God’s Word pour over you and seep deep down into your soul to bring life and growth.

In John chapter 4, Jesus tells the story of the Samaritan woman.  In verses 13-15 it says, “Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”  The living water we can receive to cultivate our spiritual life, comes from the Lord and only Him.  We can look to our friends, family, or even to our work (inside or outside the home) to support us and reassure us that we are doing a great job.  But those are all temporary things.  We will not find suitable ways to foster growth if we do not first look to the Lord.

God so perfectly knows us; He can discern exactly what kind of ‘watering’ we need.  Sometimes it’s just a bit to perk us back up, other times it’ll be like sitting in the middle of the sprinklers on your front lawn for 15 minutes soaking it all in, and quite frankly, some situations it’ll be as if we are in the ocean, catching wave after wave of Him.  But it will never be too much; He will not let us drown!  Isaiah 43:2a promises us this, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;”   Thank you Jesus for that promise!

So whether you are feeling as if you are in a drought ~ browned, burnt and brittle from the unrelenting heat of life; or if you are in lush green pastures of peace and contentment, God is right there with you.  Set aside time with the Lord and allow His Spirit to wash over you and bring you back to life.  Every day is new and every day God wants to speak into YOUR life, to water your soul with His Words.  Whether those words are in the form of blessing or correction, they are always intended to produce spiritual growth and development.  The more in tune we are with the Lord and what He wants for our lives, the more of an impact we can have on the family and friends we share our lives with. Stay watered my friend!

Blessings,

Rene’