Bloom Where You’re Planted

Bloom where you are planted. That’s what I tell myself AND my window box flowers every year. If my flowers would just bloom where they are planted, we would not have a problem. I love gardening, but it is a lot of work. Anything worthwhile is. Using the right flowers-in the right soil-in the right conditions…My personality dictates easy to grow, low maintenance kinds of flowers for my garden. This is so me. My daughter, Kathie, has beautiful billowing flowers every year. She’s a great gardener. It’s an art, I am convinced. I also realize that for my flowers to ‘bloom where they are planted’ it will take some effort on my part. 

Consider that as Christ-followers we have our own garden of unique flowers. Those that surround us are unique souls. How awesome would it be to help others bloom where they are planted, too. Some people are fragile, tender shoots, some have weeds trying to suck the life out of them, some are dying and are not producing any blooms. Still others are thriving and surviving many harsh conditions. The Word of God encourages us to nurture them as we ourselves are nurtured. As Christ-followers, we can help provide the right growing conditions that facilitate spiritual growth by cultivating an inviting, loving, safe environment around us. We can then water them regularly (with the water of the Word), feed them the right food (Jesus, The Bread of Life), then the Master Gardener can deadhead or prune them to cause them to produce more luscious growth (prayer, confession, accountability) or place them where they get just the right amount of sunlight (focused study time each day) or transfer them to bigger containers when they need it (deeper study questions and higher level opportunities to serve), etc. Think about how this could look in your life if you help others to bloom where they are planted. Ask God, The Master Gardener Himself, to teach you what you need to know to grow and tend to your own garden of unique flowers. Go ahead and start planting!! Consider this foundation:


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I know, I know. Why should we focus on things we shouldn’t do in 2016? Shouldn’t we focus instead on what we want to do? I personally believe that if you commit to NOT doing these next 8 things in 2016, you’ll reap a rich reward. Here we go:

1.  Self rejection. Why do you spend so much time rejecting one who God has made in His image? Dear one, God loved you so much that He sent His One And Only Son to die for you. Find your worth in what He has done, not how you feel about yourself or who the Enemy tells you you are. John 3:16 1 John 3:19-20 NIV

2. Negative self talk. Did you know that speaking negatively about yourself causes you to live up to what you’re saying about yourself? Beloved, God does not condemn you and neither should you. Speak life to yourself. Proverbs 18:21 NIV

3. Criticizing others. Consider that criticizing others comes from an insecure place in your own heart. Criticizing others speaks more about you than you could ever say about others. It’s bullying at its finest. Romans 12:10

4. Being a people pleaser. Are you a servant of Christ? Then, ask yourself why you care so much about what others think about you? Why do they command such allegiance from you? What do you think will happen if they’re not pleased with you? Consider that God is the only One who deserves such allegiance. Strive to please Him first. Galatians 1:10

5. Fear of failure. Did you know that some of the most successful people “fail” at many things? We are not promised that we will never fail. Failure is not fatal. We are however, promised that God will NEVER fail. With that said, take some risks realizing that no experience is ever wasted. “Failure” is a part of every God story. I Corinthians 13:8 Mark 10:27 NIV

6. Procrastination. I’ve always struggled with procrastination, yet I’ve made tremendous strides to tackle my to-do list by setting mini goals to work on along the way. Consider doing that. Procrastination unloads mountains of overwhelmedness at your feet. So much so that you can’t lift your feet to walk through your tasks, right? You get anxious and paralyzed. Procrastination takes up valuable time that you could spend being in the moment. Don’t let tasks be left undone. Handle them quickly and efficiently. Colossians 3:17 NIV

7. Holding on to grudges. Why hold on to grudges? How does it serve you? When we forgive, we release God’s grace in the spiritual realm. That same grace covers you and the one with whom you’re holding the grudge. If you are a recipient of God’s grace then freely give to others that same grace. Unburden your heart. Let go and let God. 1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV

8. Expecting perfection. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? Do you demand perfection from others? If so, perhaps you’ve  created a standard for yourself and others. dear one, you are not the standard. God is. If perfection exists then Jesus would not have died for our sins, right? Why would He die for perfect people? Here’s some news for you, He didn’t. So, in light of that give up the idea that you and others should be perfect. So thankful that we serve a perfect God. Romans 3:23 NIV 

This year, vow to not drag the old ways of thinking into a brand new year. 2 Corinthians 5:17 

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I love Christmas songs. ‘My Grown Up Christmas List’ is one of them. As a little girl my Christmas lists always included a Barbie doll, clothes and accessories. My parents struggled to buy one for my little sister and one for me every year. Because of that, we cherished our dolls even more. They were precious gifts to us. Oh, what I would give to have such a simple Christmas list this year.

I now have a new appreciation for this song. I’ve listened to it several times this season. Every time I hear it, it touches my heart in a very sensitive place. Look at the words and sing along if you’d like:

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies

Well, I’m all grown up now
And still need help somehow
I’m not a child
But my heart still can dream

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up christmas list
Not for myself
But for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree

But heaven only knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown up christmas list

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, oh
This is my grown up christmas list
This is my only life long wish
This is my grown up christmas list

This year, as I’ve watched family and friends struggle with doubt, loss, betrayal, health, brokenness, depression, trauma, estranged relationships, pain, financial struggles, etc. I began to think about what I wished for each of them. I now have my very own grown up Christmas list. Well, I’m not asking Santa to grant my wishes but I’m asking the One who CAN and DOES change things, to answer prayers. He is The One True God.

I’m asking God to bring healing for a pandemic that may never end–healing for those who are burdened under the effects of systemic racism–peace and joy to all who feel hopeless–a living faith for those struggling with doubt and darkness –comfort for those who are dealing with unimaginable loss or betrayal–good health for those who suffer from chronic pain and mental illness of every kind–restoration for those dealing with brokenness and estranged relationships AND prosperity for every financial struggle.  This, dear LORD, is my prayer.🙏🏾

This is My Grown Up Christmas List.

What’s on your Grown Up Christmas List?

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When The Unexpected Happens 

Last Sunday, my life took an unexpected turn. On the prior Thursday, I had planned my weekend just as I always do. I planned to shop on Friday and catch up with the shows on my DVR list.   Saturday I planned to watch Christmas movies all day then join my family for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Two days down just like I planned. I was really looking forward to a lazy Sunday after an 8:45 meeting at church, then a class at 9:30, followed by spending time with our precious newcomers at 11. I got up at 6 and thought I should just chill until 7, so I got back in bed. At 7, I tried to get out of bed but couldn’t. I was in excruciating pain. Unexplained pain. “Pain, please don’t ruin my plans today”, I prayed. I had so much to do that I prayed and prayed or the pain to go away and I tried to push through. I did. I made it to church then came right home to lay down with the hopes that doing so would help relieve the pain. 12 hours later, the pain had become more intense and unbearable and I realized I needed medical attention.

What do you do when the unexpected suddenly happens and knocks you off your feet? Both literally and figuratively? Financial hardship? Accidents? Betrayal? Relational turmoil? Displacement? Loss of a loved one? Tragedy? Health issues? How do you know what to do next? What should you do next? When these things happen you feel like you’ve been hit by a 2×4 or run over by a truck, right? It’s overwhelming. It’s hard to get back up again, isn’t it? If you’re like me, you spend time crying out to God asking Him, “Why?” While He doesn’t always tell us why, He will tell us Who. It’s the Who that can help you when the why has no answers. It’s the Who you can call on when the unexpected happens. My friend, Jesus Christ is the Who.

He is the One who comforts, guides, draws near and never leaves us. He speaks to us, heals us, picks our heads up. He restores peace and joy, rises above our understanding, feels our pain, rescues us and gives us wisdom. 

Struggling with the unexpected today? Do you feel blindsided by what’s happening in your life that you never would have expected? 

After an unexpected and dramatic 4 day hospital stay, I was diagnosed, treated and released. I learned once again that in times like these I needed to focus on the Who and not the why. Looking into His face comforted me and strengthened me. He gave me hope. He gave me the strength to get up again. Looking in the face of Jesus will do the same for you. When you do, you will reflect His attributes and characteristics. #reflectChrist  Dear one, let the following scriptures wash over you like a gentle rain: 

 The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight   Proverbs 3:5,6

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Exodus 33:14

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the LORD forgave you. Colossians 3:13

All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful. Psalm 25:10

LORD, You establish peace for us. All that we have accomplished, you have done for us. Isaiah  26:12

God will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

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I love the book of Ruth for many reasons. The biggest reason is what God did in her life. Ruth was a foreigner and an outsider to the one true God, yet she was a woman who opened her heart and will to Him.  She got to know Him personally. I think that makes her a wise woman for sure.

As we end our series, 14 Ways A Wise Woman Builds Her House, let’s take a look back at what sets this woman apart from the foolish one. The Wise Woman:

  • knows her worth in Christ
  • builds her house on prayer
  • unleashes her creativity
  • trains her children to love and serve God
  • loves and celebrates her husband
  • reflects characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman
  • is her husband’s crown
  • is industrious
  • is clothed with strength and dignity
  • is not afraid of the future
  • opens her mouth with wisdom
  • teaches kindness by example
  • doesn’t have a lazy bone in her body

Wow, that’s some list, isn’t it? Hopefully you’ve been both challenged and encouraged to build your house as a wise woman.  Let’s look at our last few verses: Proverbs 31:28-31.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

    her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women have done excellently,

    but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,

    and let her works praise her in the gates.

These verses sum up what I call graduation day. The virtuous woman has been an excellent woman, wife and mother. NOW, she gets her just reward. Notice that her children and husband rise up and call her blessed. She is now being honored by those who know her best. Her family. Her testimony is authenticated by those who are closer to her. Who are you when the outside world is not watching? Do you act the same way inside your home as you do with your friends? At Bible study? At work? At church? Well, this woman’s life was consistent. Now she was being praised and blessed because of that.

Notice that they rose up. Rising up is very deliberate. It’s a way of indicating something important is about to happen and/or it indicates that someone important is entering your presence. As prominent as her husband was in the city gates, he gives her a glowing review as his noble/excellent wife. Her children blessed her for being a mother that rose above the rest. Charm and beauty could not withstand the test of time and certainly could not produce the qualities that the fear of the LORD produced in her life. As we all know, physical appearance changes with time. Wisdom is what lasts. Wisdom is infinitely more valuable especially in God’s eyes.

Fear of the LORD, the Word of God says, is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).  This woman feared God. Are you a God-fearing woman? Would your family describe you in that way? This woman is praised by a grateful husband. Her works are also praised in the gates (the city gate).  The city gate was the place of business dealings, legal transactions and social meetings. Her husband was known there. Good works shouted her praise, not the applause from people.  An excellent wife shall receive the work of her hands if the fear of the LORD has been the root from which that fruit has grown.

Let’s revisit Ruth as I end. Did you know Ruth was described like this? Listen to what Boaz said to her: “I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” That’s how I want to be known: as an excellent and wise woman who builds her house on no other foundation than Jesus Christ, The Chief Cornerstone. I hope you do, too.

+First Look—Read Proverbs 31:28:31 and Ruth 3:11.

+Through The Looking Glass—How would you answer the questions sprinkled throughout this blog? How would others answer these questions about you?

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