Sunday, April 5, 2020

Which Soil Are You? - Back to the Basics, Part 2

Approximately one-third of Jesus’ teachings were done in parables. Matthew 13:1-23 is one of my favorites given to the general public - to the great multitudes by the sea. Jesus starts, “Behold, a sower went out to sow.” Then, proceeded to explain the type of soil the seeds fell upon.

Some fell by the wayside. Birds came and devoured them, illustrating how the wicked one comes and snatches the seed away due to lack of understanding when someone receives it - the Word - by the wayside. This is the hard heart. Are you reaching out from fear, not really understanding Scripture, so when life returns to some semblance of order after this pandemic blows over, you will return to the lifestyle you led before it hit - without Christ’s love and protection… without a sincere life-changing commitment?

Some fell on stony places. Sun scorched and ended up withering away because they had no root. This illustrates how someone hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy, but due to not taking root endures only for a while. This is the shallow heart. When tribulation or persecution results - even after COVID-19 - will you immediately stumble?

Yet other seeds fell among thorns. They sprang up and were choked. A representation of those who hear the Word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke it out. This is the crowded heart. Will you become unfruitful… paralyzed… immobilized due to anxiety or greed during these and future uncertain times?

Then, the final seed. It fell upon good ground… good soil… and yielded a crop thirty… sixty… hundredfold! This represents those who hear the Word, UNDERSTAND it, and actually APPLY it in their lives, bearing fruit to exponential measure. This is the soft heart.

Jesus spoke in parables as a teaching method to reveal the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 13:11) The parable of soils is a parable of hearing. This parable warned that unless the mind and heart hears the Word of God the teaching of the parable would be meaningless. There is nothing wrong with the seed - it is the SOIL! Which soil are you?

He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (Matthew 13:9) Will you choose to have blessed eyes - for they truly see, and blessed ears - for they truly hear?

Has this devotional stirred something inside you? Please comment below. I would LOVE to hear from you! Take care, stay safe, and stay healthy! 🥰

Sunday, March 29, 2020

From Poo to Peace… The Gift of Sabbath

Tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, burned out, and dilapidated… is what a lot of us felt two weeks ago before our lives were seriously rocked and interrupted by this global pandemic. Those deemed essential – especially in the healthcare profession, are still experiencing it.

Bound by the chains of busyness, of doing everything in our own strength, of feeling guilty for never doing enough or living up to the expectations of others. When will enough be enough?!
“Are we so comfortable with exhaustion, that we can’t even enjoy a break when it’s thrust upon us?!” Priscilla Shirer, Breathe (Follow her on Twitter)
I think too often we simply don’t know how to stop. I equate this with what I call my “poo” story. Stay with me ... My girls and I had this incredible dog, Dee, who when this single-mom at the time put these four beauties to bed, would lay outside their bedrooms in the hall until they went to sleep. Then follow me to mine until I was asleep. Then – from what I could gather from the creaking in the floor that would wake me up from time to time, patrolled the house like a sentry. Well, this incredibly attentive protective canine had three litters of pups so close together, and became so accustomed to cleaning them nonstop, that she would continue eating their poo way beyond the age of normal, necessary “mommy” cleaning. I mean, she did it to the point that her poor lips would become raw! We couldn’t even let her outside without supervision. We literally had to STOP her from doing it each time she was let out, because once all the puppies were gone, she would eat her own. Disgusting I know, but consider this… are we so accustomed to a nonstop life, that it is literally making us continue a hectic, frenzied, chaotic existence? Causing us to become raw in critical areas of our beings – the physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional?

We need to give ourselves permission to STOP. Let this become our season of slowing. C’mon, let’s face it… we’ve been pretty much halted from most aspects of our active lives in just a matter of days. Quarantined away from our coworkers, friends, family – anyone but those with whom we reside. The exception, of course, are those brave, dedicated souls who are caring for the sick – who probably more than any of us right now need a time of genuine rest from the chains of life.
The Israelites led out of Egypt by Moses were given “… a loving, gracious gift that would break the chains... The gift was called Sabbath.” Priscilla Shirer, Breathe.
People have thought of this as a day set aside “of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.” However, our current culture rarely affords an entire day for such rest. So in a desperate attempt to find even a hint of it, recent studying has taught me so much more about it. The most emphatic was that the Sabbath is to be used to look back over what God has done - in my minutes, moments, days, weeks, years, etc., and trust what He will do over the next time period… until the next Sabbath. THIS is what becomes our “testimony” – our lifelong story.

Stop. Cease. Resist. Breathe. Be still and know He is God. Here is where we will find tranquility, serenity, peace, calm, joy… REST. Then reflect on what God has done for you, with thanksgiving.

As Priscilla Shirer so eloquently mentions on the back cover of her book, Breathe, “It’s time for us to breathe and build margin into our lives for God.”

Has this devotional stirred something inside you? Please comment below. I would LOVE to hear from you! Take care, stay safe, and stay healthy! 🥰

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Operation Rescue Tablet

More than halfway home on Tuesday, I realized I had left my tablet back at our meeting place – about three to three and a half hours from home. Even if we were still in the city, the offices were now closed and I had to work the next day back in Blythe. A bit frantic, I immediately texted my boss and inquired whether anyone had mentioned the device. I also emailed her along with two others who had been there that day to see if anyone had found it, especially since I was aware of another meeting that was to take place after we left. My hubby, Joe, offered to go back out to the city – another seven hour road trip – and pick it up the next day. As I was walking in my front door that evening I received a text from my boss – who had also just walked into her front door, saying that she has it and that she’ll take it to her other office the next day (Wednesday), which is only about an hour and a half away. Being a shortened bell schedule, I asked if I could skip our faculty meeting in order to accompany my hubby to go and retrieve my tablet. I was ecstatic. Not only was my tablet safe, but I’d have it in my hands within 24 hours.

Upon arriving at my boss’ office, however, there was a little mix up in the device description, and the wrong item was awaiting my retrieval. A few phone calls lead us to believe the tablet may still find its way to our current location with another person making the trek out, but come to find out THAT person had locked it up in her drawer another hour and a half back into the city, and she’d already left. In fact, I saw her pulling into the parking lot as Joe and I were leaving. I heard Maxwell Smart from the Get Smart TV show saying, “Missed it… by… THAT much.” I managed to reach one of the other ladies from the meeting who was kind enough to offer to send it with a family member, who just happens to live in Blythe, and just happened to be going to the city the next day. Wow! Wasn’t that an amazing happenstance? While I may not have the tablet that day as I’d hoped, it would definitely be back in my hands the next. (Thursday)

So I thought.

There was a little hiccup in those plans and that transfer didn’t occur either. After a few messages, I arranged another attempt to recover the tablet the next Wednesday in the same location as this past Wednesday – an hour and a half away.

Those of you who know me, know how the geek in me is just screaming by now… how could I be so foolish to leave such an important, valuable item, and how am I going to function without this critical, daily tool?! Not that I couldn’t figure it out, and did. But there are certain “things” in my life that have a “home” and when they are not in my hands, they are where I can find them – certain bags or briefcases, keys, and electronic devices. Recently, though, there have been a lot of peculiar forgetfulness on my part. As Joe pulled into the school parking lot to drop me off at work this last week, I realized I’d left my work keys in my car and had to go back home to get them. That same day he brought me lunch, and when I returned to work I realized I could not find my phone. After speaking with Joe, I’d left it – thankfully – on the floorboard of the truck.

What was going on...?!

As the thought of waiting six more days for the return of my tablet whirled around in the forefront of my mind, I became near desperate… okay, I was desperate. So I blasted on Facebook: “Hey friends… Anyone traveling to the Riverside area OR coming to Blythe from Riverside between now and next Tuesday?” To which a handful of people responded. One of whom has a brother who resides in the very city my tablet was currently displaced. She was going to Disneyland (Friday), and offered for her brother to pick up my tablet. She would then pick it up from her brother and bring it home to Blythe today (Saturday). With a few more communications, a photo and name of her brother sent to my boss, Plan “C” was in place.

When I first moved to Blythe, my sister told me the pace of life made it a perfect match for me. After 27 years, however, it seems the city pace has made its way here too. There seems to be this underlying rush of the world that, when caught up into it, creates confusion and destabilization. We make careless mistakes. We’re exhausted. And I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m worthless to ANYONE under these circumstances.

On Friday I received a text that the “package” has been obtained, and a photo of my friend’s brother holding my tablet. Today I received, “One step closer to Blythe” and a photo of the two siblings holding the device between them. And while the device may not yet be in my hands, I am no longer anxious. My friend, Sharon, who arranged the successful return of my tablet is the epitome of calm and peace. She never rushes, never seems frazzled, and never overreacts. She is always so generous and helpful. A mutual friend describes her as gentle, kind, caring, loving, and loyal. Her family is beautiful, caring, loving, and supportive.

Isn’t that just the way God works though? We make Plan A’s, Plan B’s, maybe even Plan C’s… but it’s HIS plan that works out for the best. It took this particular, seemingly tragic event for me to see myself in my current state, and remind me through the character of my friend to slow down (once again) and rest in Him. A CSN pastor recently said, “Get strife out of life. Delight, commit, trust, and rest in Him.” (9/29/2017) Plus, this entire adventure has been amazingly humorous! I mean c’mon… what are the odds? And in the whole scheme of things, in a hundred years, is the loss of one “thing” really going to matter?

While this story doesn’t lend itself to that of the Tortoise and the Hare, it definitely coincides with Aesop’s quote, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Paul speaks of the discipline and self-control required to run the race towards the prize (1 Corinthians 24-27). That’s one crown I want to strive for and obtain.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Back to the Basics

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed that even doing what should be routine, easy tasks - such as taking out the garbage, doing dishes, laundry, even just taking a shower or brushing your teeth, appear to be monumentous undertakings?! It is in those moments that the only thing that seems to fix it is to stop, and restart... with the basics. So it is as well with our spiritual walk. Truth be told, every major spiritual lesson I have learned has first started as a physical manifestation. It's as if it just won't "stick" if what I am to glean doesn't somehow initially affect me in the flesh.

By realizing the inability to do the simplest of tasks lately without struggle I am reminded that perhaps I haven't been faithful in my spiritual routine. While I almost always begin my day with a "Dear Lord" and a concluding "Amen" as my head hits the pillow, once school started this past August I must admit my daily reading of His Word has been hit and miss. As I "snack" on granola bars, bananas, or bagels and cream cheese instead of taking time for a solid breakfast, I equally find myself "snacking" on KLOVE's 'Encouraging Word' or Air One's 'Scripture of the Day,' neither occurring every morning. Not that I am knocking such little nibbles, but a steady diet of such can leave one malnourished - both physically and spiritually. I find myself hungry, tired, and at times grumpy. Without steady nourishment and proper exercise, our bodies cannot function optimally. Our souls also suffer without proper nourishment and exercise.

The word "remember" occurs 121 times in the Old Testament and 27 times in the New Testament (1). This tells me it's pretty important. The only way to become familiar with something enough to remember it is through repetition. That is, unless you have an eidetic memory. If you are around my age, I bet you can easily recall the words to this show's theme song, "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. That started from this tropic port..." Did you find yourself saying or singing the rest of that verse?! If not that one I'm sure there are plenty of other jingles easily recalled, and I guarantee they didn't get "stuck" there the first time you heard them.

One of my favorite biblical stories I remember very clearly is that of Martha and Mary, the two sisters hostessing a visit from Jesus (2). Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to what He had to say. Martha was busy serving to the point of frustration, even pointing out her sister's lack of contribution to the tasks at hand and demanding Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus pointed out that Mary chose the "good part, which will not be taken away from her," speaking of His Word. I am a Martha by trait, but can recall the first time I found balance between her and Mary. Martha likes to dominate from time to time, with such an occasion occurring recently, but I have always managed to get Mary back where she belongs. When I get so busy that I am unable to see the forest for the trees, I have to exit the forest and seek different scenery. This weekend I took a trip several hours away, where I was able to get a bit of a restart, become refreshed, strengthened, and return to a semblance of a more healthy routine once again. I found my Mary. I found peace. I was reminded there will always be work to do... we are expendable and our days are numbered. Getting back to the basics gives a better view to prioritize what is really important.

I recently found out I have another little blessing on the way, my thirteenth grandbaby. There have been too many days I misprioritized as a result of my Martha traits, and although God worked all things together for good (3), I missed a lot of what was really important. It's time for Mary to take the lead.

(2) Luke 10:38-42
(3) Romans 9:28

Sunday, September 17, 2017

How Time Flies, First Impressions, and Auto-pilot

“Time flies when you’re having fun.” This unknown authored quote came to mind when I woke up this morning along with another invading thought, nagging me since Friday, “It’s already been five weeks of school?!” Which, also indicated to me yet another week and a lack of posting on The Seeder Chest blog.


I had begun to draft a post the Saturday after school started entitled, “First Impressions and Auto-pilot,” but never managed to complete it. The rest, literally, is history. But I digress. Here’s how it began:

Made it through the first week of school! This week was filled with enthusiasm, energy, introductions, and getting-to-know-you activities… I even had a student tell me what a good teacher I am, and then quickly thought, oh honey… let’s wait and see what you think when we round the bend to 180 days! But seriously, first impressions are important. However, we also need not base our entire perspective of someone on that first impression.

I then went on to say that Jesus made a good first impression, until His people decided He wasn’t going to do things their way.

What a different world we live in than when I was a little girl. I used to be able to play outside from dawn til dusk without a care. Perhaps that is also perspective because I can look back on my life and see on many occasion how obvious it was that God had a plan for me based on the messes from which He saved my very life. But the puzzling thing to me is how did we get to this place of thinking if we don’t agree with someone it must mean we hate the person…?! All I seem to hear about in the morning news is how North Korea is launching another missile. How the ANTIFA have violently tormented people, specifically an old man and journalists – including women. And yet another bomb injures many in the London Underground tube in England. What is going on?
Beth Moore said yesterday at her most recent world-wide simulcast that social media has created a disembodied society. We are addicted to our devices. In fact she said, “our devices have become our vices.” Beth mentions that our American “Body” is in critical condition. Exhorting us to not ignore Hebrews 10:25 because, “disembodiment leads to dehumanization… and dehumanization leads to disposal.” A remnant is unhappy, and we are on the cusp of change. What is going to change cynicism is the re-embodiment of the disembodied Body of Christ.

The only way we’re going to accomplish this is to become grounded in the Word and in prayer. I’m barely beginning my 50’s and I am just now sensing a new plateau I’ve reached in my relationship with God. Although I have been aware of Him my entire life, and even studied as a young child, it wasn’t til my 30’s that I fully surrendered from considering Jesus as my Savior to Him being my Lord. You see, while I didn’t give in to the hell and brimstone tactics, I also knew there was a difference between entering heaven with my tail still smoking and that solid confidence of having a place that is prepared just for me. I wanted the latter.

When the rubber meets the road we can rely on our auto-pilot, trained by THE Pilot through His Word and direction of the Holy Spirit! As we stand firm and don’t succumb to compromising our character, when those situations arise which distract or tempt us to sway from who we want to be, our “auto-pilot” will kick in and truly give the impression of who we are… despite, or in addition to, our first impressions.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

No Regrets, Part 2

This morning I watched as a friend, surrounded by numerous loved ones, said goodbye to her daughter today… We’re not supposed to outlive our children.

The first regret I can remember clearly was as a parent. My eldest daughter had just arrived and I was obstinate, stubborn, and tenacious about using cloth diapers. To this day I cannot recall my reasoning, but something had convinced me and I was fixed on doing it. The ladies I worked with at the time even bought me a few months of diaper service! I had taken so much time off prior to her arrival that I had to go back to work when she was only four weeks old. So, once I started juggling work, a newborn, and trying to keep up on laundry after the diaper service had stopped, I realized it wasn’t going to work. I felt like a failure having to go to disposable diapers. Years later I realized how silly it was for me to feel that way over something we see now as trivial. But when we’re right in the middle of a situation, quest, or mission, it’s difficult to see the forest for the trees. It tends to feel like your whole world is falling apart. For me, having lost my mother to cancer at an early age of 14, being a good mother was extremely important. The fact I had to work and leave my new baby in the care of others for over eight hours a day began my collection of regrets as a parent. As each sense of failure occurred the collection got bigger and bigger, and heavier and heavier.

Now here’s where I become really transparent. A deeper regret I have experienced on numerous occasions is something along the story line of the song, “Cats in the Cradle.” I have often felt regret that due to my life circumstances, and as a result many choices, I wasn’t able to do better as a mother for my girls. Looking back I realize I wasn’t a horrible mother, but I wish I would have played and just hung out more. I couldn’t love them more, though.

The way I see it, there are two ways to respond to regret. I could continue to allow the pain of what was lost to continue to build up and weigh me down. OR, I could be very thankful that I still have an opportunity to not necessarily make up for it – because we can never go back… but forget “those things which are behind and (reach) forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14). The second part of the “or” is that we use those times which can cause regret to become better – whether it is to apologize to those we’ve hurt or done wrong, improve our reactions to situations which can cause regret, or knowing our days on earth are numbered we make good use of the time we have with those we love and care about.

I get it now. It’s about relationships. But it took time to get it. As a new, young, inexperienced mother, I thought things like using cloth diapers and other such idiosyncrasies would make me a good mom. Humorously, having all four of my girls by the time I was 25 years old caused the peculiarities to continue. Although we did have our special moments we’ll always remember and cherish. And I made sure to emphasize the fact mom and dad won’t always be around, and friends will come and go, so they should always stay close and be there for one another, which they do.

Each moment of our lives and how we choose to respond to it, builds our character into who we become. If we truly believe that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), then how can we hold onto regret? Let it go!

Until next time… ❤️

Monday, August 7, 2017

No Regrets, Part 1

Ever get to the end of a time period only to find things didn’t turn out the way you planned? As the last nine weeks wind down to an end, and I face the beginning of a new school year, I look back and wonder… where the heck did the time go?! 😆

The items on my summer task list were not life nor death, but nonetheless I could allow the unchecked boxes to weigh me down and I find myself at a crossroads. In one direction, I could let the feeling of failure cause a shut down in which I become ineffective and potentially sabotage this fresh start of a school year which is about to begin in a week and a half. In the other direction, I could look at the few things I was able to accomplish – from completely rearranging and reorganizing our music room and home office to successfully snaking both drains in our bathroom adding rudimentary plumbing to my résumé and saving a few dollars. Facing a “cup half full or half empty” analogy, I choose the positive outcome believing that what I did I was purposed to do in the given time. I additionally recall that despite our inability to travel as desired this summer, the opportunity to help with worship at a newly planted church about 120 miles away was an added bonus to our initial summer plans of hiding out and staying cool. Truth be told, it is something my husband has been hoping for that has now been realized.

I have a lot to be thankful for, and I must remember that His mercies are new every morning. Should I choose to regret not completing certain items not only is an insult to God and the blessings He saw fit to bestow and the given direction we should go over this summer vacation, I am also reminded that just because they were on MY “To Do” list, doesn’t mean they were on His. This isn’t a cop out, but an acknowledgement that He is a much better driver than I when it comes to fulfilling goals.

Philippians 3:13 states, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…” 2 Corinthians 7:10 reminds us, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” And let’s not forget what it means to FAIL – First Attempt In Learning. (See my blog, “Failure is Not Final”

Next week, I’m going to discuss some major circumstances that could tempt us to hang on a little tighter to regret.

So if you ever find yourself feeling down because you cannot find anything to show for your efforts, just keep looking up… and remember no regrets!

Until next time… ❤️