Ramblings

Life, family, business


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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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Worship is Like Gardening

Here is my writing that was published in The Moravian Magazine.  The poem at the end is from this blog, but was also included.  

One of the things I enjoy the most is gardening, and growing food.  I’m a volunteer Master Gardener with the NDSU Extension Service.  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 oyster.  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.   In 1Corinthians 3: 6-9 (NIV), 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.”  

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, just like each plant has certain requirements for it to grow as well.  I think that God gives each one of us a talent, a passion, or a cause that we can use to glorify God.  Just like every plant in the garden has a purpose, every person in our churches has a purpose too.  We need to encourage each other to grow and use those talents for the greater good of our communities.

There’s nothing better than talking to God in my garden.  I can spend hours just being thankful for everything that God has not only given me personally, but everything He has given us all.  I contemplate things I have read; blogs and personal stories, and ask God how this is relevant to my life, and our lives in the Church.  How can I be a blessing  to others?  I feel called to help feed people.  I grow as much food as I possibly can in my half acre yard.  I grow for my husband and I, our adult children, and their friends and family.  I grow for my friends and neighbors, and I grow for the local Emergency Food Pantry.  Our Master Gardening group picks up and donates produce all summer, and that makes me feel like God is using me to bless others. For I was hungry and you fed me.  Some people don’t know how to grow food, some people live in apartments where they don’t have the space.  But I have a garden, and I have a dream to grow more every year; to have more to give away every season.

 

THE SONG OF SPRING

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.

 

 


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Every Single Person Matters and Why Fear is Killing Us

I do believe that this is true, every single person matters, to someone.  Every person is a mother, father, son, daughter, niece, nephew, friend, or loved one.  Every one of us matters to someone.

I see the hatred and racism, I hear it talked about at my store, on the news, and all over Facebook.  People categorize and generalize, and group people into labels.  But each of those people matters.  Every one of us is a child of God, and a child of the Earth, and a child of two other people.  Every one of those lives has a purpose, has a reason.  Each one of those lives has been given a different set of talents, unique to that person, and they should have the opportunity to use them.

I know not all of us are the same religion, but that shouldn’t mean we can’t cooperate and learn together how to make this planet a better world for all of us.  We’re not all the same color, but that shouldn’t make any difference; the color of one’s skin doesn’t make them any better or any less of a person.  WE ALL MATTER!

But the power behind all of this nonsense, is FEAR.  When we fear other people because of their color or their religion, or even their sexual preference, we are the losing team.  God tells us to fear no man.  But we do, we fear all kinds of things, but mostly, we fear anything different than us.  We fear the differences in culture, in language, and in morals.  We fear that someone will try to make us change, and we fear change of any kind.

But the world is changing every minute, every second.  The world changes and we change too, even if we’re afraid.  I am not the person I was 40 years ago, 4 years ago, 4 days ago.  My experiences in life change me every day.  I learn new things everyday, and by learning those things, I am a different person, a wiser person.  I go out of my way to learn about people and their cultures.  I learn about them, their families, their hopes and dreams, and their own fears.

Education is the key to stop FEAR in its tracks.  The more you know about something, the harder it is for you fear it. I have friends and relatives who are gay, transgender, straight, black, brown, yellow, red, white, and even pink. I have friends and relatives who are Atheist,  Christian, Muslim, Pagan, and even a couple who are witches. I don’t fear my friends, I want them to be happy and have joy and fullness in their lives.  I want them to feel love and be loved, just as I want that for myself.  I want them to be accepted for who they are, without feeling any type of oppression or fear from others or for others.

I challenge everyone to learn about the people who scare you.  Before you stereotype a person into a label that you fear, try to meet them, befriend them.  “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, as Jesus once said, because once you start praying for them, they are no longer enemies, perhaps only friends you haven’t met yet.  If we all work together, we can make this world, this country, this state, a better place; a place where all lives truly do matter.  A place where we build each other up, look out for each other, and try to help each other understand why there should be no fear here.  We are all brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, and children.  We are all in this world together.  What a beautiful place it could be if we saw each person for who they truly are, if we could see their lives as valuable, just as we value our own.  Each of us has value, each of us has a unique soul, and each of us has a worth.  We just need to open our eyes and see that we are all the same, yet we are all different, and that is why each of us, each single life, matters.

 

 

 


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Everything You Tell Yourself is TRUE!

Everything you tell yourself is true.

You are what you say and think you are.

~be careful little mouth what you say~

You have to believe in yourself.  If you’ve ever been in sports, your coach probably said those words, or told you that you have to believe it to achieve it, or something similar. Many times in life when we face obstacles, we talk ourselves through it, we help ourselves do something by believing we can!  But if the talk in our minds is negative, its not going to help us at all.  Its going to pull us down, because if you believe you are worthless, you’ll become worthless.  If you believe you are overcoming, then you are an over-comer.  As children, we are told many things, some good, some bad.  Stop believing the bad things.  Stop believing the cruel words of others.  Only believe the good, and work toward being better. Try hard to be a better person today, than you were yesterday.  Change only happens when you change what you are saying to yourself!

~be careful little ears what you hear~

But think about this, what if every song lyric you sang or listened to automatically transferred into your life as a true fact.  Would you keep listening to the same music?  The songs you sing in your head; are they going to lift you up? Or bring you down?  Do you listen to sad songs? Or songs about violence and rage?  Those words are who you become.  Do the lyrics of your favorite song talk about how pathetic you are?  How screwed up you are?  Its only going to reinforce these thoughts and keep you stuck in the downward spiral.

It kills me when people who suffer from depression listen to death metal.  Don’t you want to feel better? Listen to happy music, children’s songs, church hymns, anything that’s upbeat.  Don’t reinforce your depression by listening to someone drone on about how miserable they are, or how terrible their life is.  Every genre has this music; Country, Rap, Metal, and Rock.  There are even Classical pieces that resonate doom and despair-don’t listen to them! Pick something that makes you feel good inside.  Find some music that makes you feel happy.  And no, don’t try to tell me you only feel happy when you listen to depressing or angry music, I don’t buy it, please don’t insult my intelligence.  Find some relaxing music; Native American flutes, Buddhist singing bowls, or ocean waves, or something from nature; anything that clears your mind and helps you think in a positive manner.

~be careful little eyes what you see~

Did you know that when you watch a movie, your subconscious brain believes its really happening to you?  There are people who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after watching violence happenings on television.  Some people are more sensitive than others and watching horror movies, or violence, can cause serious repercussions, especially in children. So think about how much stress you are inflicting on your subconscious just by what you watch on the screen! (I’m going to start watching exercise videos!)

~be careful little hands what you do~

Having nothing to do is an invitation to boredom, and that can cause you to feel worthless.  Find a hobby.  Find something for you to do in your spare time.  You’d be better off finding a part time job to make a few extra bucks than just sitting around moping.  It good to have things to do, find some!

Finding peace is possible, if you want to find it.  You have to believe you can, and you need to feel that you are worthy.  Only you can make your life better, and the best way to start is by realizing that everything you tell yourself is true.  The words you say, the music you listen to, the things you give your attention to, are the things that make up your life.  If you want your life to change, you have to change it!  You have to pick a different choice than you have in the past.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”

“There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.”

Henry Ford is credited for the quotes above, and he’s right.

YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

 

 

 


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Are You Good Enough?

 

The world is a terrible place, full of lies and deceit.  As a young teenager, I remember looking in the mirror and being OK with who I was.  I needed braces, but other than that, I thought, I was OK.  But then the world chimed in and told me that I wasn’t OK at all.

The world is so miserable, it just can’t stand to see anyone happy.  It wants you to be just as miserable.  It conspires against you, telling you that YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  It wants you to believe that you are not as good as the others.

You are not pretty enough,

Skinny enough,

Smart enough,

Strong enough.

You don’t have the right hair, the right clothes, or the right body.

The world is a bully.  It’s the worst bully of all.  It says bad things to us about ourselves, and SOMETIMES, WE ACTUALLY BELIEVE THEM!!

That’s the worst part of this.  We actually believe the lies the world tells us.  Why?  Why would we put ourselves through this misery?

The TRUTH says that we are exactly the way we were meant to be.  Generations upon generations have blended together to make you exactly who you are today.  Even one variable in those ancestors would have made a completely different person!

You are good enough!!  You are pretty, smart, and strong!  Your physical features have nothing to do with who you are inside.  Your body is just that, its a body.  Its a vessel that we are given to move our brains around in.  You need to take care of this body!  Its the only one you get.  Maybe you’re not happy with it, but don’t envy the one someone else has because you think its better.  For the most part, you can shape yours too, like a potter shapes the clay.  It takes work, but the results can be fabulous if you stick with it!  Maybe you aren’t happy with some aspect of it, perhaps its not the one you would have chosen had you been able to try them on and pick.  But the one you got is the one that was picked for you.  Learn to like it, that one thing will make your life a much happier place!  Feed it well, with nutritious foods.  Nurture it, exercise it.  Perhaps yours is a malfunctioning body, or one who has taken much abuse and now has a few dents and dings in it.  It may be hard to understand why yours isn’t in good working order, but none of us knows why these things happen.  None of us knows what things we will learn in life because of that thing that makes us unique.

Once you have made peace with your body, its time to look into your heart and see who you are.  Who are you?  Not your name, or your title, but who you are on the inside.  Its hard to find, because we’ve accepted so many labels from so many people over the years.  But take away all the things that others have named you, and what do you have left?  Take away the lies you have believed in the past, wipe the slate clean. Who is living in your body?  Who is this person called “I”?  Think about it. Dwell on it.  See if you can find “I”, meet them, ask them questions.  Ask them who they truly are.

I am compassionate, loving, caring, strong, and determined.  I am introverted, intelligent, creative, and empathetic. I am a daughter of God. I am a mother, wife, daughter, friend. I am patient, I am impatient.  I am so many things.  I am also not many of the things the world has labeled me as.  I get to choose who I am. I don’t have to accept any label I don’t want.  If another person chooses to label me, I am not that label. I am not what others think. What the world thinks is not my concern, my concern is what I think.  What I think I am, is who I am.

I’d love to hear about who your “I” is.  What labels have you chosen?

 

 

 

 

 


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Baptism

My sermon from Sunday, January 10th.

What is baptism?  A baby comes to mind, all the family and sponsors dressed up and smiling, as the minister drips a little water on his or her head.  The baby usually cries or fusses a little, we all read a liturgy together, pledging to help raise this child in the family of God.  Some churches baptize people as adults instead, plunging them into a tank of water or submerging them in a river. Either way is fine since we only baptize with water, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of baptism is to show the world we are accepting Christ as our Savior.  If we baptize a baby, we are welcoming him or her into the family of God.  Baptism itself is simply a ceremony of identification with the Christian church. But the true meaning of baptism is rebirth, being born again in the presence of Jesus, and accepting His resurrection for the life-changing thing that it is.

I remember awhile back, Pastor Brian Dixon gave a sermon on baptism, and during the sermon, he presented a bowl of river rocks and invited each congregant to come up and take a rock to remind each of us of our baptism.  I took a shiny black rock and listened to the rest of the sermon instructing us to use this rock to remind us of our own baptisms.

I kept that rock in my pocket for months.  Each time I felt the rock, or became aware of its existence, I made to sure thank God for something. I was reminded that God is the rock I build my life upon. God is my foundation, and all things come from Him.  I would thank Him for my family, friends, coworkers, and all the blessings He brings into my life.

“Thank you for this beautiful day, God!” I would think as I felt the rock. Sometimes I would hold it in my hands as I prayed and I would thank God for giving me this rock so that I thought of Him more often.  When life would get chaotic and my brain was thinking of a million things at once, all I had to do was hold the rock and I could stop and thank God for any and all things.  The rock became almost like a security blanket.

Then, one day as I got ready for work, I stopped to grab my rock and my lip balm to put them in my pocket, and the rock was gone.  I looked all over, under the couch, in the bathroom, in the laundry room. Where did I put my rock?  I had to go to work without it.

That night I continued searching for my rock, but it was gone. I questioned my husband and children if they had seen it.  But alas, the rock was nowhere to be found.  I told my wise friend that I had lost my rock, and she said to me, “Maybe its because you don’t need it anymore.”

God gives, and God takes away.  I thought about this for awhile.  Its true, I was thinking about God on a regular basis, and every time I noticed my rock was missing from its place, I would still thank God for something.  My thanking God had become a habit.  But a good habit at that!  I may have not had the physical reminder, but I still remembered to thank God for everything in my life.

I realized that I truly didn’t need the rock to have God in my life.  And I realized that the rock helped me become a better person by helping me to remember that God is with me in all things.  When I feel God in my life every day, I am more at peace. I know that God is in me, and I am in God.  I know that God works all things together for my good.  I trust God to take care of me, and in this trust I have learned to have less fear of the world and the circumstances of life.

God tells us to ask Him for everything we need, and He will provide.  I worry less about the future and take the time to experience the present.  I ask God for wisdom and knowledge when I have a problem, and He gives me what I need.

When I strive to see the world through God’s eyes, its an entirely different place.  I tend to look for the good in people instead of the negative.  I see the beauty of nature which is God’s creation.  I understand that God’s will prevails over humankind, and no matter what I do, God loves me the same.  I know how much I love my children, even when they make mistakes, and to think that God loves us more than we love our children is amazing.   I am one of those children, and so are you.  God loves us no matter what we do.  When we place our trust in our Father, He always takes care of us.  He is the ultimate definition of love.  God promises us all these things when we become His children, and so much more.

So if any of you want to become more aware of God in your life, I invite you to find some thing that makes you think of God.  Think of it as continuing your baptism.

 

 

 


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The Song of Spring

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.