So just a week ago the Non profit I work for finished up it’s annual fundraising Gala. It felt like months of planning and preparation consumed my mind every day before the actual night. I even woke up in the middle of the night to write down things I remembered I needed to do the next day.
Then the actual day of the event arrived and I stood and watched the volunteers, the musicians, the photographers, caterers and everyone that had a part of the evening do their parts with such grace and precision. I was amazed at how well everything fell into place.
Then the day after the even and the few days that followed I began to feel little off. Like I was experiencing a let down of sorts. I begin to think about the months before and all God did for us during the planning. I had forgotten to enjoy the journey and remember the process as a gift from God.
One of the verses in the bible that solidifies this for me is Genesis 28:15 What’s more, I am with you, and will protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back safely to this land; I will be with you constantly until I have finished giving you all I am promising. The Children of Israel had forgotten to watch out the window on their journey and they begin to let the stress of everything weigh heavily on their minds. Sometimes we forget to see the beauty in all we are doing and all that God is doing around us in the midst of our journey. Sometimes everything we are doing can seem insignificant and like in the scheme of things it may not matter but God is the one that makes our paths straight and allows us the strength to finish what we started.
In Job 34:32 there is a verse that touches my heart every time I read it. It says this. Teach me to see what I still don’t see. As we work and strive to do his will sometimes we don’t see the fruits of our labor for sometime. But God is teaching me that everything he is doing is connected together and is part of his grand plan. Even the most difficult parts.
So I encourage you today, if you are on a journey that is long and sometimes difficult. Take some time to look out the window and enjoy the beauty along the way. See the little things God has brought you through and how he will continue this until he finishes what he started. Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
So my kids got me a new Kitchen aid mixer for Mother’s day this year. I was so excited. I have wanted one forever. I had all these plans on making bread from scratch. Now that I had the tools I could get down to business. So if anyone has made bread before you know there are some trick to this and it isn’t something that just goes as planned right from the beginning. It definitely takes practice. So I am going to share some of this craziness with you.
Mix the ingredient. So you have to do this in a order I found out. You can’t just throw it all together. You have to do the dry first then add the wet. Some of your ingredients will react if you just mix them in without being orderly.
Rest and Hydrate. I found out you can’t just start kneading without letting the mixture rest and hydrate. If you don’t do this your dough will not knead correctly and be dry and will not rise. We have to do this in our own lives as well. Most of us skip this process and we become hard and not pliable. Take the time we need to rest in our lives.
Kneading. So when you knead the dough you can’t just beat the heck out of it. This process is done so all of the ingredients are distributed evenly and so we can start the activation process but a lot of us just are way too hard on ourselves before we can start to rise. Be slow and intentional with ourselves. This process stretches us. It can sometimes be tedious and hard. But we need to be gentle with ourselves and kind during this process.
Proofing. This is where it gets tricky. This is the first process of rising. Yet, it takes just the right environment. If it’s too hot it will rise too quickly, if its too cold it will rise to slow. Both of those things can dry out the dough and make it hard. Also, it is important to cover your dough and protect it so the air doesn’t dry out the top and allow outside influences from corrupting the dough. Protect your life from outside impurities.
Shaping. So you remove the cover on this beautifully raised bowl of dough and what is the first thing you do. You punch it down again. This makes no sense as we took all that time to raise it. But if we don’t do this we can look all puffed up but the inside of the dough can be just a bunch of air. We need to feed the yeast again. Then we shape it into our loafs. This process can be painful. Yet, if we skip it our bread will just be nothing but a pretty looking loaf of air without any substance. I don’t want to be that. So Push me down and pound the air out of me.
Rising #2. So after we have been deflated and shaped it’s time to be built back up again. This time we will have the elasticity to hold our integrity during the baking process.
Scoring. This part has always been the part I didn’t understand until one day I felt like I had an aha moment. This is the part that makes us different. It makes us special. Also, after we have shaped it and allowed it to strengthen we also need to give it space to expand. Scoring it gives it the ability to grow.
Baking. This is the fun part but it also can be tricky as well. We need to keep the temperature hot enough to bake our bread all the way through but also it can’t be too hot that we bake to fast and dry out and get tough. As we smell the aroma of fresh baked bread it can be so very hard to resist opening the oven door. It is so important to not let the cool air creep in because sometimes if we do that it can deflate us. Stay in the heat until we are complete. Don’t come out too early. Only God knows when we are finished with the process. His timing is imperative.
LAMENTATIONS 3:25 SAYS…. The Lord is wonderfully good to those who wait for him, to those who seek for him.
God help us wait on your timing and know it may not look like ours but help us to trust in you for Your perfect plans.
We all start out in life with a picture of what we believe our lives will look like someday. It starts when we are young girls dreaming about our Weddings and our white picket fences. Or as a little boy dreaming of his NFL career. Then one day we wake up and realize that our perfectly dreamed life isn’t at all like we dreamed it would be. It is messy and hard and no matter how young or old we get we can’t shake the guilt that we could have done something different or we are flawed and have failed and are not worthy of having the life we dreamed.
I don’t think any of us will escape this. Even if our lives are great we always will look for better. Some of us have had devastating things happen to us that may have taken us on a journey we weren’t prepared for.
As I was studying and thinking about this I came across the story of Monet He went through a devastating time for any artist as he struggled with his eyesight. He had rejected surgery many times before. In 1923 he finally agreed to the surgery and over time he saw much better and was seeing colors so vividly and described them like nothing he had seen before. Because he saw these colors so differently he began to repaint over some of his paintings as what he painted before didn’t match what he was seeing now.
Isn’t this true in our lives. Sometimes we can live so clouded by our own perceptions that when we begin to take in truth our eyes become open and we begin to see life differently. The bible talks about this….
Isaiah 55:8-9New International Version
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
We must measure our vision on the way God see’s us. Anything less than is a counterfeit art piece. Let our Creator let his vision shine through us and let’s not get clouded by our own judgements or opinions of others. Our Artist has his purpose and vision for our lives and it is genius and will never compare to what our finite minds can comprehend.
Have you ever been in a season where it feels like things are being taken away from you? Maybe you didn’t get the promotion or job you were wanting. Or perhaps a relationship you thought you would be in forever didn’t work out or fell apart. Maybe you just feel lost or unsure of how to spend your time or there isn’t enough time and you’re overwhelmed and overworked and not understanding when things will get better. If this all sounds familiar this might be a season of pruning. Sometimes we hear that word and think of punishment. We hear cutting away and our minds go to the fact that God isn’t good. How could be if He is taking things away from me?
So how do we associate God’s goodness with things being cut from our lives? John 14:1-2 says… I am the vine and My Father is the vine dresser. Every Branch that doesn’t not bear fruit, He takes away and every branch that bears fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit.
I went to a winery a while back with my husband and I remember seeing grape vines that were 6ft long full of grapes and then there were 6 more feet of vines with just leaves and then about 20 ft of bare sticks. It was explained to me that the nature of the vine is that it will overextend itself to the point that it no longer can bear fruit. So you have to cut it back to the place where it bore fruit and it will put more energy into growing grapes again instead of just making a stick.
This resonated with me and over the years I have seen this happen in my life. In fact I have had a few things cut away again recently. This is a great example in our own lives. If we overextend ourselves beyond our personal calling and don’t prune or quit activities that are fruitless, we will use all our capacity and energy on things that don’t really matter. The consequences of this is that you don’t end up making anything of value in the end. We spin our wheels and waste precious time from our lives. This can even derail our destiny. The point of being pruned is not a punishment but is actually good for you. Yes, at times some of the pruning may feel like it hurts and how can hurting be good? But in the end if we trust the vine dresser, he will cut away the dead sticks and we will see new growth and see fruit like we cannot even imagine. God is going to make something beautiful out of us.
So at our Mighty Mom’s group this week the girls were asked to take a Tshirt and make it into something new and all they could use was a scissors. It ended up making a great illustration as I watched them cut pieces away of their shirts. In the end they all had something different but uniquely beautiful. I asked them to take mental notes and ask themselves if there was something in their lives that was inhibiting their growth that needed to be cut away. I am going to ask this of you as well. Take some time to ask yourself what is draining your energy and keeping you from being all you could be.
Let’s see what happens when we put a little effort and energy into making something more beautiful out of our lives by cutting away the activities or things that our holding us back from all we can be. Trust the Vine Dresser.
So 2022 has brought so many changes in my life. Mostly in my career. I had been working for a small non-profit as the executive director part-time until this last January when I excepted a full-time position. I had been praying for this for so long and when it came to pass I was almost shocked. It has been so exciting and challenging at the same time. I have big dreams for this ministry and sometimes waiting on God’s timing is just so hard. His timing is not our timing this I know for sure. I have found dreaming big can bring disappointments and heartaches. Especially if we do what we think is right before he tells us to. Sometimes it is about wanting His will for your life and ministry and trusting Him and growing your faith at the same time.
Other times it is about GOING FOR IT. Sometimes doing this can require even more faith. I know that sometimes this year I have found myself feeling like I am on a highway and I am behind a car that is just not as motivated as I am to get to their destination. It can be frustrating to say the least. But, getting out of our lane and going around this vehicle before our time can be dangerous. I Know that there is a perfect timing for GOING FOR IT. Sometimes we can stay behind this slower vehicle the whole trip which is what a lot of us do. It is safe. But, we may be take much much longer than we had expected. This will cause us to be angry and maybe even just complacent. I have been in this spot many times. This year God said it was time to step on the gas and move out of our safe lane and move into what God had for us. He has blessed us. Yes the trip isn’t over and we find this same scenario happens again and again. Yet if we follow our GPS (GOD) we will be happy with the trip and will get to our destination in a timely manner and safe without rerouting too many times. When he says Go may we have the courage to step on that gas.
God help us to trust your timing and stay in our lane until you say GO!
It has been a while since I wrote on here. My life has moved forward in many ways which is positive because anytime you move forward it is amazing. BUT, during this time I found myself overwhelmed and sometimes if I am being honest very fearful. Even though I knew my calling and that I had heard from God I still found myself falling back into the motion of doing it on my own. Every time I found myself falling into that I would see my momentum come to a screeching halt.
You see I am one of those people that will work unending hours to prove I can do something and then watch every other part of my life fall apart around me while I am proving myself. I had seen this happen so many times before. You would think working more would rectify the problem but nope my work load just seemed to grow and grow and grow. I guess the problem is I had asked God to take the wheel of my vehicle (life). When we started this journey He was driving and things were going smoothly. Then as soon as I thought the process wasn’t moving fast enough I took the wheel back from God. Now we are lost, I got a speeding ticket and we are almost out of Gas.
What do I do? I call for HELP!!!! I am so thankful that I have a God that will come get me when I am in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire and empty tank of gas in the middle of a snowstorm When he shows up again he doesn’t say Renee’ I told you this would happen. Or What were you thinking trying to drive yourself. He says how about you me put this can of gas in your tank, fix your flat tire and If you want I can drive you home during the storm so you can relax.
As I sit here with tears in my eyes thankful for everything he has done for me and all that he is in my life I remember the verse in God’s word that says this:
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16
He will always lead and guide me. He will never leave me alone. He will help me when I call on him. I just need to cry out for help.
If you are struggling today because you have taken the wheel back from God. Cry out HELP!!!….he is just a call away.
Let’s take a walk Daddy said. OK but first I need to get a few things. I ran to get my wagon and begin to fill it with my treasure. All the stuff a little girl can’t live without. Most of the stuff in my wagon most people would look at as completely worthless garbage but to me I saw it as priceless items. We began to walk and talk and at first it was easy as the road was smooth and straight but then we veered onto a much smaller trail much curvier and full of rocks and small pebbles. They would get stuck in my wheels and make pulling harder. He looked down as he saw my face scrunch. Do you need help? No Daddy I can do it myself. We continued walking and talking. Pretty soon we came to a spot near the river where the ground was wet and muddy. He noticed I had stopped talking as I struggled to keep going as my wheels would sink in the mud. My face is red and little beads of sweat have formed. Finally in my silence I can see my Dad look down at me and say Do you want my help yet? My eyes would get full of tears and I would say Daddy it is heavy. He would reach down wrap his hand around my little hand and together we would pull. I would immediately feel the weight lift even though my body still had to take time to calm down. Pretty soon my voice began to be heard chatting again. He would look down and smile as to say I have always been here you just need to tell me when you need me.
So today I sit in the rocking chair by the window holding a little boy who is crying something terrible. I hold him tight and whisper softly. He is restless and alittle angry I fear. I have done everything I could think of to calm his little spirit but to know avail. I thought at one moment he wanted to be free of me so I put him down on the rug but as soon as I did that he cried harder and came crawling toward me. I realized that he didn’t know what he wanted at this moment in time. He knew he was sad and angry and uncomfortable. I knew what he needed was to trust me and rest.
Isn’t that just like most of us today we don’t know what we want. Freedom or not freedom. We have everything we need but we aren’t satisfied. What we need is rest. We need to lay down and trust the master with our lives. Our constant temper tantrums and crying and bickering and madness and unrest do nothing but exhaust us even more.
Today on November 3rd when the world is at odds and anxiety is running rampant in our nation. Let’s listen to the soft whispers of our savior as he tells us everything is OK. We hear him sing softly to us. He is holding us through it all. We will be OK. Let us rest Now!
I woke up this morning later than normal because its saturday and It is allowed. I made my coffee and took my dogs outside. The birds were singing and the sun was shining but I felt cloudy and dark and gloomy inside. I came in and sat down with my coffee to do my daily devotion and I picked up my phone which is always a detour for me by the way. I stumbled across a live worship set one of the churches my parents were on staff with was posting. I kept it on and sat it down and thought I will do some cleaning and listen to this as my devotions today. So as I picked up the windex and started to clean I began to feel a lump develop in my throat. I heard the song from my phone and all of a sudden they came falling slowly from the corners of my eyes until before I knew it I was in full blown sob mode. I heard that soft still small voice whisper how long has it been Renee since you cleaned this filter. I saw the tears and water pour over the dirtiest heart shaped filter I had ever seen. So much dust and impurities had built up. I fell to my knees and raised my head to heaven and let God do his work. I heard the beautiful words coming from my phone. The tears went on longer than I had expected but soon they subsided. I don’t honestly remember the how long I was on the floor but when I got up It was like the clouds had lifted…my glasses were cleaned. My life felt clean again.
How long has it been since you cleaned your filter.
It talks about this in the bible it says…
Psalm 51:10-19 King James Version (KJV)
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me
I experienced that today and I am greatful because we were created to reflect Gods glory and if we are full of gunk like bitterness and sadness and regret and fear we will not reflect who God is to a nation who desperately needs to see it.