Be a Sunflower

There is a family farm in town called Batey Farms (BateyFarms.com).  They also offer a beautiful venue nearby called The Grove (@Williamsongrove), where there are two fields of sunflowers.  Last week, those sunflowers were in full bloom and the fields were open to the public.  Everyone was invited to come and admire them, take pictures, and even pick a bouquet. 

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My family along with some good friends of ours decided to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.  We walked through the fields enjoying all the beautiful sunflowers and took lots of great pictures.  The boys and I also picked three gorgeous sunflowers to take home and enjoy.  Once we got them home, we trimmed the ends and placed them in a vase of water on the kitchen table.  They lasted for a few days but then began to lose their petals and droop.

I so enjoyed having them on our table and really hated to see them fade away.  Not knowing much about sunflowers, except for their beauty, I decided to do a little research on them.  I found out some very interesting facts that I’d like to share with you:

  • When the sunflowers are growing, the flower buds and young blossoms will face east in the morning and follow the sun as the earth moves during the day. This is a behavior called heliotropism.  Essentially, they turn their face to the sun in order to grow to their full potential.
  • A sunflower head is made up of 1000 to 2000 individual flowers which are joined at the base. A single sunflower can have up to 2000 seeds.
  • Sunflowers can remove toxins such as lead, arsenic and uranium from contaminated soil. They are a natural decontaminator of soils, and have been used to clean up soil at some of the world’s biggest environmental disasters including Chernobyl and Fukushima.

This really got me to thinking, and I realized as Christians we can be a lot like sunflowers.  To grow strong, we must look to the Son, Jesus Christ.  To mature and reach our full potential, we must follow Him wherever He moves.  Even one person can have multiple seeds of greatness inside them.  As we grow and mature, we can plant those seeds  producing an exceptional harvest for the Kingdom of God.  Through Christ, we have the potential to bring life and healing to others who have been contaminated by the sin of this world.

So, go out and be a sunflower!  Seek the Son and keep your eyes on Jesus.  Allow the seeds of greatness God has placed inside you to grow and spread to countless others who need His touch.  Show love, mercy, and grace to those who have been poisoned by the lies of the enemy.  And finally, let us teach our children to do the same.

Scars

Today, I heard a crash in the kitchen.  I immediately ran in there to find my son standing next to a broken bowl.  Not just any bowl but my favorite blue bowl that I keep on the counter to hold fruit and snacks.  It is not one that can be easily replaced, and I’m not completely sure it can be replaced at all.  Nevertheless, I had a choice to make.  I could get angry and upset, or I could rescue my son.  I looked at his little face and saw fear in his eyes.  He was uncertain if I was mad and probably unsure if there would be punishment.  I walked over to him and first removed him from the situation and then checked for broken glass laying around.  I proceeded to pick up the broken pieces and lay them on the counter.  Fortunately, the pieces were large enough they could be glued back together.  Will the bowl still look the same?  No, it has a “scar” now.  Will it still have the same value?  Maybe not to someone else, but it does to me.  Can it still serve its purpose?  Yes, it still holds our fruit and snacks.

I think we would be hard pressed to find a person without at least one “life scar”.  I’m certain that each of us have been broken at some point in our lives.  I have been broken many times and bear several of life’s scars.  However, I have been put back together many times by the One who cherishes me.  Am I the same as I was before?  No, I am very different now.  Do I still have value?  Yes, to the One who paid the ultimate price for me, I am priceless.  Can I still fulfill my purpose in this life?  Yes, and some of the brokenness and scars have led me to that purpose.

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I can remember many times in my life where I messed up and found myself in pieces.  Jesus stepped in and saw me in the mess I had made, but He didn’t yell at me or punish me.  Instead, He lovingly scooped me up from the shards of my sin.  He then carefully collected the pieces and lovingly put them back together.  He held me in His arms and with His nail scarred hands wiped away the tears.  I was then reassured of my value in His eyes as He guided me in the direction of my next assignment.  Sometimes my scars remind me of my mess, but at the same time they give me strength for my message.  

What I’m Thankful For

A few years ago, God placed a desire in my heart to bring encouragement to other moms by sharing my “mom” stories and poetry.  It was a long pregnancy, but my book was finally birthed last month. “Seasons of a Mom’s Life, is now available and I’ve been very excited to share it with everyone!

In my book, I thanked God, my family, and my publisher.  Today, I would like to publicly thank my friends, who have prayed for me, encouraged me, and cheered me on. Not just through the writing process but through many different seasons of my life.  God has blessed me with an amazing Mom, but I am also blessed to have so many other incredible women in my life.  Some of you I have known for as long as I can remember and some I’ve only known for a short time.  Each of you add something wonderful and unique to my life, and I am forever thankful for your friendship.  I cannot imagine doing life without you, my friends. 

As women, it is so important we have those in our lives that we can trust and confide in.  Those we can call at any time, who will be there with a listening ear and open arms.  Sometimes we just need to talk it out and sometimes we just need to cry it out.  There are times we need to pray together and then times we need to be prayed for because we can’t find the strength to do it ourselves.  At times, we need to seek reassurance from each other that we are okay and we’ll make it through whatever storm is raging.  Then sometimes we just need to be in each other’s presence, without even a word spoken.  There are times when just the company of the other makes everything okay (and sometimes adding in some coffee or chocolate helps too).

My FriendsAs moms, we need those women in our lives, who are more experienced and wiser, to encourage us and give us guidance because they’ve been where we are right now.  Sometimes we need to be that mom, who has been there, and give support and reassurance to the other because we’ve already weathered that storm.  We don’t know all the answers, but we do know the One who does.  If we seek Him, He will be found.

I cannot even begin to put into words how immensely blessed I am to have a magnificent group of women in my life.  Each one of my friends have a special place in my heart.  God knew that we would need each other on this journey.  I am forever thankful He made our paths cross and tie into a beautiful bow of friendship.  

 

Life’s Detours

detour-clipart-KTje5n4acThis morning, a series of events at home caused me to leave for work later than I normally would.  As I traveled my usual route to work, I was met by a detour put in place by the Sheriff’s Office.  I was required to take an alternate, lengthier route – along with many other cars.  As I traveled this other route, I was grumbling because I knew after seeing the numerous cars detouring with me, I was probably going to arrive late to work.  This would be the first day I have ever clocked in late to my current job, without having a scheduled appointment as the reason.  I was not happy about this at all.

A few days earlier, someone had asked me to sign a copy of my book, Seasons of a Mom’s Life.  I asked God what would He have me write in the books when I signed them.  I heard the words, “Seek Him.”  This is what I decided to write, along with the following Scripture reference:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)

As I waited in the long line of traffic, I told myself to be calm because there was nothing I could do about this situation.  As I sat there, I heard those same two words, “Seek Him.”  I decided to do just that…seek Him.  At least my wait wouldn’t be wasted time if I spent it with God.

After arriving at work, I received a text from my friend, who was checking on me.  She had seen a report about a crash involving multiple cars at one of the intersections on my commute.  It occurred around the time I normally go through that area and in the news photos there was a car like mine.  At first, I wasn’t aware of exactly what had happened until I searched for it on the news site.  I then understood this was the reason for my detour earlier.  Once I read the details of the incident, I realized if I had left home on time this morning I would have been in the exact spot around the same time this major accident took place.  Had I left at my normal time, would I have been caught up in this crash?  Only God knows the answer to that.  What I do know is He directs my steps, even the steps of inconvenience.

I decided this morning to make every effort not only to seek Him but thank Him, even in the delays, setbacks, and detours.  I know it won’t be an easy feat because my flesh will instead want to grumble and complain.  I will attempt to remind myself He directs my steps, and thankfully His vision is clear and far more reaching than I can ever imagine.  Join me as I condition myself to seek Him and thank Him, even in life’s detours.

 

Seek Him First

SeekFirstI woke up early this morning, and at first thought I would turn on the TV and watch the news or something.  Then I thought – no, I’m going to spend time with God, which should have been my first thought to begin with.  I find that I sometimes struggle with giving my free time to God and instead want to do something mindless.  Even when I am spending time with God, I often battle to keep my mind focused on Him and turn off my “mom mind”, which wants to create a grocery list and plan our meals for the week.  Do you struggle with this also?  I suspect that a lot of us do.

Once I began to focus on God this morning, I heard Him say, “Seek Me first,” and the following verses came to mind:

Therefore, do not worry or be anxious (perpetually uneasy, distracted), saying, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.   Matthew 6:31-33 (AMP)

I was then reminded of one of my favorite songs, “Give Me Jesus”.  If you know this song, you are probably most familiar with Fernando Ortega’s version of this traditional old hymn.  The song begins with “In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus,” and concludes with “When I come to die, give me Jesus.”  This song is a great reminder of how we should begin and end, not just our lives but each day.  We should begin and end each day seeking Him, while continuing to do so throughout the day.  He has promised that if we seek Him with our whole heart, we will find Him. 

You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

I am challenging myself to seek Him first in everything, every day.  I know this won’t be an easy task, but I’m confident it will be a rewarding one.  I would love for you to join me in this challenge, and I would be thrilled if you would share your stories with me.

Keep Swimming

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with to-do lists, appointments, responsibilities, and other obligations?  I know there are days and even weeks I experience this.  I sometimes feel as if I can’t get my head above water, and I struggle to prioritize everything that is calling my name.  There are times I continue for several days on this path before I finally settle myself down and seek God.  Not only seek Him for answers and direction but for rest. 

According to Merriam-Webster.com, one of the definitions of “rest” is peace of mind or spirit.  Additionally, one of the definitions of “at rest” means free from anxieties.  This is the type of rest that I’m referring to.  There is a true rest only God can provide to us.  As mothers, rest is often scarce; however, we should remember that this is a gift God desires to give us.

In Psalm 46:10, God tells us to “Be still and know that I am God,” and Psalm 62:1 tells us that our soul finds rest in God alone.  In Matthew 11:28, Jesus tells us to “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”  In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells His disciples, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 

downloadWhen you feel like you are drowning, I want to encourage you to reach out and take the hand of the One who can walk on water.  He is our quiet place, and He is our rest.  He is our strength to keep swimming.  The storm may not pass swiftly over at that moment, but God’s peace will fill your soul and provide you with the strength to rise above what is pushing you down.

Who Loves You More?

ChildOne day, my Mom shared with me that God had spoken to her when she was praying for me during my wayward years.  She described how God told her as much as she loved me, He loved me so much more.  I am sure God’s purpose for sharing that with my mother was to give her peace about the circumstances she could not control at that time. 

I am very thankful my mom shared that story with me because it has been a great help to me after I became a mother.  Especially in the beginning, when we first brought the boys home from their long stay in the hospital’s NICU, there were many times I was overwhelmed with anxiety and fear.  They seemed so fragile and helpless.  I did not have the nurses and monitors to alert me if something was wrong.  The only choice I had was to trust God with it all.

I began to meditate on what my mom had shared with me.  I thought to myself, if I love them anymore, my heart will burst!  And, God loves them more than that.  I could not even fathom how great His love for them must be. 

When we are filled with fear or anxiety about our children, we must stop and remember the limitless love our Heavenly Father has for them.  As much as we want to protect them and care for them, how much more does He?  I know it is almost impossible to never worry or have concern when our babies are involved – no matter how old they are, but let this knowledge bring you peace.  He has His arms around our children, just like He has his arms around us.  As much as we love them, He loves them an unfathomable amount more.

Dear Lord,

 Thank You for loving us so much that You gave Your only Son to die on the cross.  It is amazing how great Your love for us is!

 Help us to realize the depth of Your love, not only for us but for our precious children.  Remind us of this when we experience fear or anxiety over those we care for.  Give us the wisdom to leave our uncertainties and concerns in Your hands and not be overtaken by fear of the unknown.

 Thank you, Lord, for Your never-ending, unfailing, unmatchable love!

 In Jesus’ name ~ Amen