Ramblings

Life, family, business


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Sermon for 3-11-18 The Grower

The Bible begins with the story of creation,  God is the creator of all things, and the method used is amazing.  God speaks and things happen.  God says, “It will be so”, and it is, because God can’t lie.  Can you imagine how absolutely perfect God needs to be for this to not end up in a catastrophe? I think of the things that I say sometimes, sometimes out of habit, sometimes out of anger or pettiness.  Sometimes I catch myself complaining or finishing “I wish” with something that’s not truly best for me or for those around me.

Colossians 4:6
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

The words we say are so important.  Luckily we don’t have that same power that God has.  I converse with people quite a bit at the store each day.  I try to be positive, working toward the greater good of our community.  Some of the conversations are wonderful, but some make me cringe.  I can’t help but overhear quite a few conversations too. Sometimes , if they get too crazy, I’ll turn on the nature sounds CD on my laptop and drown out the noise.  Sometimes I can only thank God that I have paperwork to do!

One of the things I enjoy talking about the most is gardening, and growing food.  I’m a volunteer Master Gardener with the NDSU extension service, which anyone who knows me already knows.  I love growing plants, they amaze me.  They generally start from a seed, sometimes a tiny small seed sometimes a big seed depending on the plant. But somehow, contained in that seed, are the blueprints and the nutrients, and all the stuff it takes to make life happen.

But even though that seed has everything it needs in it, it won’t grow until it gets the proper place, time, and set of circumstances.  There is a certain signal that prompts that seed to sprout.  As a gardener, I try to replicate that signal, I try to give the seeds everything they need to start that process of sprouting.  Many seeds are easy to sprout, but others take extra circumstances.  Some seeds need to be left outside in the cold all winter before they will sprout.  Some seeds need to be burned in a fire before they will hear their signal that its time.  And others need to pass through the digestive tract of a bird or animal before the hard outer shell is dissolved, and the seed can begin its journey.

People are like seeds.  We all need the proper set of circumstances to truly grow.  Its one thing to be alive and occupy space, but its another thing to truly live life and continue to learn and grow and share ourselves with others.  Some of us seem to thrive right off the bat. Others need time, and space, and some extra help. Some of us need a big push to leave our comfort zone and reach out to others, while other people seem to live as though the whole world is their comfort zone.  Some people need to get burned by life, or frozen in their tracks, or even be consumed by something that seems to be the end of the line, before they are able to truly grow in life.

Many of us are born, or planted, in the same set of circumstances, yet the result of our lives can be very different.  There are things that stunt the life and growth of plants, just as there are things that will stunt human growth too.  There are pests and diseases in both plants and people, some can be cured, and some cannot. In 1 Corinthians 3: 6-9, Paul tell us “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”  

One of the stories from Jesus is the parable of the sower from Mark, chapter 4. “Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”13 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any parable? 14 The farmer sows the word.15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

If you put a plant that needs a lot of sun in a shady location, that plant will never reach its full potential.  It won’t get as big, and it may not bloom or produce fruit.  However if you place a shade loving plant in an area that receives full sun, it will probably burn up and die.  We are like that too.  If you stifle someone’s ability to grow and improve and learn, they will never reach their full potential.  They may never bloom or produce the fruit that God wants us to produce.  But give that same person the opportunities and tools they need, and they may grow so much you’ll barely recognize them!  There are some people who love to work behind the scenes, if you thrust them into the spotlight, you may lose them forever.  We all have different personalities that demand different scenarios for life.  There is only one “one size fits all” model that actually works for all of us.  And that model, is the life we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

During Lent, we remember the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us, and then we celebrate the great triumph of Jesus rising from the grave.  The death and resurrection of Jesus fulfilled the Law, and then Jesus gave us his New Covenant.  The wonderful thing about this New Covenant is that this is where we Gentiles are invited to be the children of God.  Before this, we were not invited to the table.  We had no chance to grow.  The Bible says that we are the wild vine that has been grafted onto the tree of life.  I’ve grafted a few trees in my life, and here’s the crazy part; you have to cut off part of the tree in order to graft another piece onto it.  Another piece of that tree was cut off, or broken off, in order for us to be attached to it.  Romans 11 tells us that those branches were broken off due to unbelief.  So if we also suffer from unbelief, we can be broken off as well. God can graft as many branches as he wants onto his tree.  He can offer forgiveness and mercy to anyone he chooses.  The people of Israel were God’s chosen people, but He didn’t offer his son up for just them, he offered up this sacrifice for us all.  As Gentiles, we were never included in the Law of the Old Testament.  That’s why the Laws from the Old Testament do not apply to us.  We have only ever had the New Covenant.  Large portions of the Paul’s writings are aimed at telling the Jewish people that they cannot keep both covenants.  Since a covenant is a contract, you are under one or the other, you cannot have both.  Some people want to keep parts of the old law in place, some of us have been misled into believing that we must.  Paul tells us specifically that the old law, the old contract, is over.

Imagine if you will, that you have a loan contract with a bank.  You purchased a new car and are paying payments on the car.  Once the payments are paid in full and on time, the contract is done and you own the car out right.  Would you keep sending the bank a car payment each month?  Of course not!  The contract is done, its finished.  So why would any of us try to keep working on a contract from God that is finished?  Its a contract we were never offered in the first place.  Your name isn’t even on it!

Instead our name is on the contract that tells us to love God, and to love each other. God says that the work of Jesus is finished.  Its done.  When he died on the cross and rose again, we were included in the most amazing deal in the history of the earth, we are to be called children of the most high God.  So even though our roots were not from that tree, we have been grafted onto it and receive our nutrients from the roots of the tree of life.

Now we are called to go out and testify to the love and mercy of our Creator.  We are to go out and proclaims God’s greatness.  We are to replicate his love by showing love and mercy to others.  We have been called by the Most-High God to be the hands and feet, to be the mouth and the voice of Jesus.  We are called to be the keepers of the kingdom.

I pray then, that we all hear our calling and rise up to the challenge of producing the fruit that God wants us to bear.  May we love God above all, and love each other as God loves us. Amen.

 

 

 


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Christmas is for Kids

As an adult, I have realized that Christmas just isn’t as good as it used to be.

Every store gleamed with the hopes of what Santa might bring. Every aisle littered with toys, books, new clothes and shoes.  In a family where gifts were limited to holidays only, the anticipation of, the perception of unlimited possibilities, was sheer joy and excitement.  What would Santa bring?

The fun of picking out a gift for Grandma, for Grandpa, and wanting it to be perfect, was thrilling.  The baking, the ability to eat Christmas goodies for a month without gaining an ounce of fat was amazing, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.  And Mom baked, and both grandmas baked, my aunts baked, and I ate.  I ate and ate and ate.  And it was good.

In school we practiced for concerts, and we sang our hearts out.  We sang at church and practiced for our programs there. And the moms and grandmas baked, and we all ate.

Christmas Eve was always spent at Grandma’s house.  Santa even knew it, and dropped our gifts off there.  The stench of lutefisk permeated the whole apartment building, but I knew there was always a turkey for those of us unwilling to partake.

I used try to get my kids to clean out their toy boxes and closets so they will be able to fit all their new things inside.   I baked, and they baked, and we ate. My son, the baker, baked the most, and probably ate the most too.  We had fun.  We wrapped and packed and shopped and argued, and it was good.

We all run.  We run from one thing to the next. We drive to the store, and try to find a gift for someone who doesn’t need anything.  We wrap, we pack, we order online because the stores are too packed with people. We cuss at the person who took our parking spot. It can be stressful.

We stress over trying to make everything fun, for the kids.  Because the magic of Christmas works best for those who believe in magic.  And Christmas, the material commercial Christmas, is for kids.

 

 

 

 


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Dogs and God, and Us

I share my home with three dogs, two cats, a conure parrot, and of course, my dear husband.  The dogs are so much fun, and can be a challenge as well.

Kelly is an 11 year old Setter that we brought home almost two years ago when her owner was in a terrible car accident and would be in the hospital for half a year.  Bo is our purebred yellow lab puppy, almost 7 months old, that we purchased, because we were denied adopting since Kelly was never spayed.  And Jersey is a 6 month old puppy we got about 3 weeks ago, from a friend who couldn’t keep her, and she is the new kid on the block.  All three are house dogs, although Kelly lived outdoors for the 9 years before she came home with us.

There is always plenty of food for our dogs.  No one ever goes hungry. We monitor them as they eat to make sure that they each get their own food.  One day I noticed Jersey was hesitant to come to her food bowl.  I moved it to the other side of the room, and she proceeded to eat.  Kelly gave her a growl and started toward her.  Jersey ran to the living room.  I told Kelly, “No.  Its Jersey’s food.  You are not allowed to take away what you didn’t give.”  I brought Kelly back to her dish, and coaxed Jersey back to hers.  I stood by Jersey while she ate, and for the next few days to make sure this didn’t happen again. (I always talk to my pets as though they are humans who understand everything I say.)

But as I stood by Jersey, I thought about what I said.  You are not allowed to take away what you didn’t give.”  For some reason, it really struck me.  I thought about humanity, and how so many people are trying to do this all the time.

Why are people trying to take away things from others that they did not give them?  If I look at the teachings of the Bible, I see that oppression is a recurring theme in the things that God tells us NOT to do.

God tells us over and over again that oppression is wrong.

Psalm 9:9   “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”

Proverbs 14:31  “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

Zechariah 7:10  “Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”

Jeremiah 5:25-29  “ Your iniquities have turned these away, and your sins have kept good from you. For wicked men are found among my people; they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.  They set a trap; they catch men. Like a cage full of birds, their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich; they have grown fat and sleek. They know no bounds in deeds of evil; they judge not with justice the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,  and they do not defend the rights of the needy.  ‘Shall I not punish them for these things?’ declares the Lord, ‘and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this?’”

Whoa!  That last one!  It makes me think of religion and politics, and how these evil men, these wicked souls, have turned so many away from the words of Jesus.  How many so called Christians do you know who have been lured into this deceit?  By reading the red letters in the Bible; you know, the words of Jesus; we can see that much of American “Christianity” is not Christian at all.  It is no longer following the words of Jesus.  This American Christianity does not follow Jesus at all.  Instead, it operates on fear.  It’s trying to make us afraid.  It wants you be afraid of anyone who is not like you.  It wants you to be afraid that someone is going to steal your money and your privilege, and all the other treasures you have hoarded here on earth.

But God tells us to not fear over 80 times in the Bible.  Fear is the tool of evil.  If your religion is all about fear, then it is not following God.  If your church tells you to fear everything, then it does not preach the words of God.  Inciting fear in God’s people is how many so called religious leaders try to control and exploit their followers.  By doing this, they have become rich.  Look around! How many mega-million preachers are there?  Everyone of them should be ashamed.

But they are not allowed to take away what they didn’t give.  When God gives us rules and guidelines, who are these people to try to convince us that they know better than God?  They try to take away our faith, our hope, and our promise from God that He will take care of us, that He will prosper us and give us hope, and a future.  He also has a stern warning for those people in Matthew 25:41-46:  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’  Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’  And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

So, who are you going to fear?  Man?  Our rich politicians who are following their own made-up religion centered around money?  Or God?  You see, God made you.  God is one who gave you everything.  And He who gives, can also take away.  For naked you came from your mother’s womb, and naked you shall return.  The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

 

Thank you to Bible Gateway for the Bible verses I cut and pasted, all in ESV.

 


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The Tall, Tall Trees

The forest.

Subdued, quiet, peaceful.

The birds sing their songs from the highest branches of the tall, tall trees.

The rain runs down the bark,

deep veins covered in moss and lichen.

The leaves allow some raindrops through,

here and there,

it splashes my upturned face.

They stand;

timeless.

Soldiers standing guard to some magical place,

a place we cannot see.

The patterned beats of the rain hitting the leaves

create a rhythm, my footsteps add to the song.

The bark is now soaked, the moss slippery.

Rainwater runs on the ground creating mud,

as it slips down into the roots,

a deserved drink to quench the thirst

of these soldiers.

These guards.

These giants who seem to make time stand still.

 

 

 

 

 


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Pushy People

There are certain things that people do that I just don’t understand. One of those things is trying to control what other people do. Yes, we have rules and they are there for good reason. You should always stop at a stop sign, don’t take other people’s things, and don’t hurt other people on purpose.
But when other people try to tell you what to think, how to feel, or what to do with your life, I don’t get it. Why do other people think they know how you should live your life better than you? Why do others think they have any authority over another person?

I feel that so many people feel entitled.  That’s right, entitled to think that their opinion should matter to everyone; that somehow they are smarter than you and everyone else.  The biggest problem I have with this, is when that person is a close-minded person.  You’ve probably heard the saying, “Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one”. It should be no surprise then, when others do not share the same opinion as you.

If you don’t like something, then don’t do it.  Don’t think that anyone else cares that you don’t like it.

If someone’s lifestyle makes you uncomfortable, then just leave them be.  Most people have enough to deal with, leave them alone.

If someone else has a different faith than you do, leave them alone and go about your own business.  They probably think the same about you.

If you don’t like the way someone dresses, then don’t dress that way yourself.  You’re not a fashionista, get over it.

I have a problem with the “holier than thou” attitude I see so much of in today’s society.  You’re no better than anyone else. Get off your high horse long enough to see that you’re just on the merry go round of life.  We all are.

I can’t stand oppression.  I just can’t.  I  don’t understand it. Most of the people screaming on their soapboxes can’t even keep their own lives straight, yet they feel that everyone should listen and do what they think is right.  They try to keep other people down, they don’t want to see anyone else happy or successful.

Every one of us has a truly unique life and each of us gets to live that life the way we see fit.  Some of us have more difficult lives than others it seems, but each of us is fighting our own battle.  We each have our own demons to face down and kill for us to grow.  Some people seem to be handed everything, yet are unhappy.  And sometimes those who struggle for everything are the happiest people.  Its all up to each of us how we live our lives.  And if you don’t like how others are doing it, then just live your own life and stop worrying about everyone else’s.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.  Just think of how much nicer this world would be if we still believed in this.  But in our current world of internet trolling and bullying, its hard to imagine.  Its so easy for everyone to hide behind their computer and type out crazy things they would never actually say to someone’s face.  So perhaps for our day and age, we need to change it.  Perhaps now we need to say “If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t type it in the comments section.”  What do you think?

 


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Procrastination

Hello, my name is Jeanne, and I am a procrastinator, sometimes.

I tend to procrastinate doing things that I don’t know how to do. Or if I have to make a decision about something that I don’t feel confident about, if that makes any sense.  I feel like I need to be properly educated about things before I decide what to do.  And it sounds like it makes sense, right?  But I use it as an excuse sometimes, and you’d be amazed at how much I can learn about something before I make that decision.

I also procrastinate doing things I think will be too much work.  I have to really get myself motivated to start any big project.  Sometimes, even little projects need a long time to get started.

But then there are other days, where I’m just ready.  I’m ready to start, to jump in with both feet.  I don’t even have to think about it, it just feels right.  I don’t want to make it sound like an impulse thing, but maybe it is.  Maybe sometimes its better for me to just jump on that first impulse and get it going.

I’ve learned that I procrastinate things that I don’t like to do, as well.  The way that I combat this, is by making myself do the least liked task first, get the crappy things done, and then move onto the next most crappiest thing.  (This is seriously how I get things done.)  By the time I’m halfway down the list, the rest of the jobs are things I don’t mind doing, and they get done much more quickly.

How do you combat procrastination?  Or are you one of those people who jump in every time?  My husband is like that.  It seems like he is always looking for something to do, because he does everything right away.  He’s a go-getter, that’s for sure.  How can I learn that habit?  I’m not sure, but I plan to at least try.

 


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How to Trust God in a Crazy World

My sermon from 5-28-2017:

Chaos.  Crazy.  Fast.  Uncertain.

How would you describe your life?

 

Reading through Psalms, we hear about the people crying out for God’s help.   They prayed, they cried, but yet they kept on sinning and kept on making God angry.  And if they attributed their plight to God being angry, then they knew that they were the ones doing it.

The Israelites really had a history.  They lived a life of uncertainty.  From Abraham came so many Israelites, that the Egyptians became afraid of their sheer numbers and enslaved them. Then Moses led them out of slavery, they wandered for 40 years, and finally arrived at their new homeland.  They worshiped God in victory, but continued going back to their ways of worshiping idols as well.  They demanded a human king, and Saul showed them how a human king can be.  David was his successor.

Life was very different then.  There were no grocery stores, no conveniences of life.  If drought came and the crops didn’t produce a harvest, people starved to death.  It was the cold hard truth.  The people prayed for rain, and rain was something they saw as a gift from God.  When the rains didn’t come, they saw this as God’s anger.

People now have more confidence in, and reliance on themselves.  We have crop insurance, life insurance, and if the rains don’t come, we assume other parts of the country will still produce a harvest, and no one starves.  We go to the grocery store and buy food when we need it.   We have a home, which is our shelter, and we have house insurance in case something goes wrong.

We don’t live day to day like the people did then. When it rains, we generally don’t sing “hallelujah” and dance in the streets.  Well, some people probably do, but they’re the minority.  Back then, rains meant life.  But too much rain would wash the crop right out of the fields, so they needed just the right amount, at the right time.  Farmers now also need rain, but the average farmer grows a lot more food than just what feeds their family, they grow thousands of acres of crops, something that would have been unheard of back then for lack of machinery and technology.  The plants were different too.  They were not hybridized to produce a better crop.

They really knew what it meant to trust in God.  They gave sacrifices to try to make God happy.  They lived in fear and anxiety every day.  But even with all our modern marvels, we still live in fear and anxiety.

How can you make your life better just by trusting in God?  Its easy, but yet its hard.  Happiness is not just a feeling, its a way of life.  Its something you choose to be.  If I have a bad day, or a bad week, I can choose to wallow in the depths of my despair, or I can choose to acknowledge it, and then let it go.  I can choose to let it rule my life with fear and anxiety, or I can choose to say, “what will be, will be.”   It takes practice.  Trusting in God with your whole heart is not easy.  We tend to trust in ourselves the most, and that’s  not really what God wants.  God wants us to trust in Him, to listen for His voice, to follow His path.  He wants us to live a full life, not one of fear, but one of love.  God’s way is love.

I think many of us tend to put God on a shelf until something really bad happens, something we can’t control.  That’s when we usually look to God for help. But what if you asked God for help in your everyday life too?  What if you truly thanked God for everything you have, even though you worked hard for it?   What if we trusted in God like the people did way back when.  How do we even do that? How can I thank God for my food when I went to the grocery to buy it, with money that I earned from working at my job, that I got because I studied hard at school and got top grades?  If we trust in ourselves more than God, we may see it just like that.  But if we trust in God, we can thank him for the food we were fortunate enough to be able to buy.  There are so many people who don’t have the money or the opportunity to buy their food.  We have it so easy here in the United States that I think we have a hard time even imagining life otherwise.  Even here though, there are people who are hungry.

We can be thankful for our health, for our lives, and for those loved ones around us.  We can be thankful for the weather, the flowers blooming, and the stars that light up the night sky.  We can always be thankful, we can always rejoice.

There are so many stories in the Bible that show us that God is love.  He sent us Jesus to show us how much He loves us, and how much he cares about us.  Some of the Psalms are song lyrics. The word “Selah” is believed to be a musical direction to pause the singing.  I like to think that God probably enjoys the Psalms greatly.  The songs of gratitude and hope, love and praise to God.  There are the sad parts too, the desperate crying out for help, the people begging for mercy.  But these were the songs of many people, including King David, who is believed to have written 75 of the 150 Psalms.  Number 68 is believed to be his writing as well.

Think about your life, are there ways you can improve it by trusting in God with your whole heart?  Are there things that you’ve never thought about that you could be thankful for?   Can you see the beauty of God’s creation in a stream, in a rainstorm, or in a full head of wheat?  Can you see the beauty of God in a child’s smile, a crisp slice of watermelon, or the bird’s song early in the morning? I urge you to take some time this holiday weekend to pause.  Selah!! Listen for God’s voice, look for God’s beauty, and ask God to help you trust in Him completely.  Let us be thankful to those who have given their all so that we have the freedoms we have today, and let us thank God for all that He has given us.