Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Clothed in Splendor

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The clematis vine I planted last year has grown more than I could have imagined  and this spring, showcased a remarkable amount of blooms.

 

As you can see, it has settled quite nicely in its home under the pergola. In fact, I love it so much, I’m going to plant another one of a different color.

 

As I thought of a friend of mine who is struggling with health issues, a passage of scripture came to my mind, which immediately made me realize that this simple yet elegant flowering vine not only gifts me with its beauty, but also with an important lesson about life.

 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

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I know it is not in the best interest of anyone to worry excessively. There is enough scientific evidence now to confirm that the stress of worrying is not good for our bodies or minds.

 

But life is full of ups and downs, trials and conflicts, enough to at least bring concern to our minds now and then. I don’t believe that is any surprise to God. He told us these times would come and to hold fast to the words which He spoke.

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This passage of scripture is full of assurance and encouragement, and I find much comfort in it.

Because when I look at that little flower on the vine, I see that my God put so much care and thought into the intricate design of each part of it, shaped it just so, and used His imagination to decorate it with brilliant color.

And as He stated in His words,  if He would take such care to dress the field flowers so beautifully, and water them with the dew, will He not make sure that I am cared for also?

 

Sure, times of concern will come. Circumstances will sometimes feel overwhelming. I will even admit that sometimes worry overtakes my thoughts and weighs heavy on my mind.

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In times such as these, this scripture is a reminder to keep our eyes on God, to continue to seek Him, to press in closer to Him, where we will find strength and comfort, peace and wisdom.

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And one more thing about my beautiful, flowering vine… I know that when He was creating it, He had me in mind, knowing that when my eyes behold its beauty, it would remind me of Him and bring warmth and delight to my heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Faith, Uncategorized

Adorned In His Righteousness

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10

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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4  (I am not trying to say here that we should not fix our hair, or dress nicely, etc. But I see this scripture saying that our true beauty as human beings is more than what those things may define it as, with the second part of the passage describing from where our beauty should be rooted.)

 

I was attending preschool in the small city where we lived. It was nearly summer, and my class went on a special outing to the city swimming pool.

 

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The city park had a separate, very nice kiddie pool. The large, round pool was a small child’s delight, where one could play and splash with abandon. Evenly spaced around the perimeter of the circular-shaped pool, were small fountains which sprayed water up and into the pool.
Some memories are embedded in our minds because they are marked by strong emotions, so although I was quite young, I have never forgotten this particular day.

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That day, my Mother dressed me in a red, one-piece, very plain swimsuit. I remember clearly like it was yesterday, feeling so terrible in it. Even at preschool age, I apparently had some awareness of fashion, or perhaps it was an early introduction to peer pressure, comparing my attire to that of the other girls. Either way, to that small, shy girl, it was not a good day.

 

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I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and I sat along the shallow edge of the pool that day hanging my head and crying. I didn’t want to play.
I can still see myself sitting there. I would liken it to going to the prom dressed in a plain, hand-me-down, dull, lifeless dress, while all the other girls wore beautiful, sparkly gowns. You would want to find a corner to shrink into.

 

 

That’s what I felt that day. I’m not blaming my Mom. She was a busy mother with limited resources, and I’m sure she dressed me in something we already had, and probably thought it decent and adequate. I can only speculate that my teacher must have spoken to my mother about what took place that day.

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What I can tell you is that my wise Mother put her seamstress skills to work that evening, hand-crafting a new swimsuit for me. The next day, when my preschool class went to the pool, I donned a cute, two-pieced, brightly colored swimsuit!

 

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My countenance changed, and I played and splashed, laughed and dipped along with all the other children! (This too, I remember like it was yesterday.) I was a different child. I didn’t feel like a shy girl that day!

 

 

 

What I wore that second day changed my countenance! It changed how I felt inside.
And what I felt inside, showed on the outside.

 

Oh, you know there is a life-lesson in this story, right!?

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In a secular sense, we change our outward appearance in order to change how we feel on the inside.

 

But God works differently. He begins on the inside of our being, and the inner changes manifest in our outward reflection.

 

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When we no longer keep God confined to the sidelines of our lives, but invite Him to dwell within us, becoming vulnerable and moldable, surrendering our will to His, we are changed from the inside, out.

 

When we allow God to change us on the inside, His righteousness and His goodness begins to manifest in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and we begin to reflect the characteristics of Christ.

 

 

Although His love and abiding presence brings humility to our nature, we don’t hang our heads in shame. No!
Our spirits soar, and dance, and play with delight in Him!
We no longer wear that dull, lifeless old swimsuit. We have a new suit! It is new, and colorful, and it was fashioned by our Father’s own hands!

 

 

Shake off the shame of that old suit, and raise your hands in freedom and joy and dance in your new suit!

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Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Colossians 3:12-14

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Simmer Down Mama Bear

Sometimes, I get a little stinky.

 

My attitude, that is.

 

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Sometimes, my mama-bear claws come out and I want to start growling in defense of my young one. I don’t want to use the nice words and have a heart-to-heart talk laden with honey and sweetness. I just want to roar, “Hey! That’s my baby, and knock it off!”

 

 

But, nothing good is going to come from that approach. (I tried already, to no avail.)  I know my only choice is to bite my tongue, breath and simmer down, lest I make the situation worse. You mama’s and papa’s know, when it comes to our babies, that’s not easy to do!

 

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But when the choices made by another person are beyond my own control, what other solutions are left? It leaves me angry, frustrated, and feeling helpless.

 

So, I mentally give it to my Lord, take some deep breaths, and try to, as that infamous song says, “Let it go!, Let it go!”

 

I also want my child to learn a better way to manage these situations in life, being careful not to adopt the characteristics being exhibited by this other person.

 

I don’t want to harbor bitterness or contempt in my heart. It almost literally hurts in my gut. It’s not good for me.

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So I pray:

Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

 

 

 

 

For I cannot change that other person, I am not responsible for their actions and stinky attitudes. But I am responsible for my own.

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So even though that circumstance has not resolved yet and I see no signs that it will be in the near future, I will pray for my child and for that person who can’t see beyond her own self at the present time.

 

 

Lord, I give this circumstance to you. I trust you.