What your hands provide you will enjoy; you will be blessed and prosper. Psalm 128:2
Growing up we always had a gigantic garden. The garden was the work of the summer. There was always something to do, planting, weeding, picking or preserving. My mom canned and froze enough produce for the whole year; green beans, carrots, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peas and beets. It was a complete drag during the middle of the summer when it was 100 degrees and my brothers and I were sitting in the back yard shucking corn for hours but fresh sweet corn in January made it all worth it. I can’t begin to count the times my folks reminded me of that while they handed me another bucket of green beans to snap. It isn’t always easy to see the blessing that comes with the investment at the time. All these years later, I still plant a garden and can tomatoes. True, I can get a can on sale for less than a dollar but it just isn’t the same. The problem is, by the time spring finally comes in Michigan and I get to a point with the end of the school year chaos and I finally get them planted it’s always September before they are ready to pick and can.
This is a particularly busy time of year with speaking and school but I came home Wednesday to a basket of tomatoes staring me down. I knew they had to be canned or they would spoil and even though I had a dozen other things to do, I reminded myself how good they would taste in chili and soup when the snow was flying so I got to it, but not without plenty of eye rolling and muttering under my breath, “really…now…I have to do this now? Why can’t they be ready before school starts, that would be much more convenient! As I stood at the kitchen sink washing jars and peeling tomatoes I asked myself why I even bother at all. But as I sit here typing, drinking a cup of coffee, I hear the canner bubbling and the soft clink of the seals setting on the jars fresh from the canner and I realize how satisfying it is and how connected I feel to my mom when I do what she did. It’s worth it, but it always takes me a while to remember that.
If I’m being honest, canning tomatoes is a little like my faith life. I love the end result, but more often than I should, I grumble about the effort and the time it takes. I want the relationship and the grace but I don’t always want to invest the time necessary. I want to head to the pantry in January and grab what I need but it takes effort to make sure it will be there when I need it. Sometimes my prayer life is like that. I cry out to God with my list of wants and needs and I just expect to grab what I need. I take his mercy and his goodness for granted way too often. It will be a sad day when I go to the pantry and there are no more tomatoes but it would be an unfathomably devastating day if I went to the Lord and he wasn’t there. I very well may run out of tomatoes but I can breathe a sigh of relief to know as long as I run to the Father and truly seek him, his grace and compassion will never run dry. Out of all the things I needed to do besides can tomatoes, I had to make the tomatoes a priority. I wonder how much better my attitude and perspective would be if I remembered to put the Father and his plan as my top priority every day. Timing is important. No matter how hard I wish, I can't make those tomatoes ripe any sooner. Patience is such a key and these tomatoes are a reminder to trust in Gods timing is perfect. As I sit back and admire the jars of warm tomatoes all lined up on my counter I’m pretty sure there are many times the Father lines the events of my days up in perfect order and I don’t even notice it or thank him for it. Funny how much you can learn from putting tomatoes in a jar!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of three things you can do this week to invest in your relationship with the Father. Say a prayer of thanksgiving for someone who taught you something important.
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Wait is not my favorite word! I’m more of a GO kind of girl rather than a WAIT kind of girl! I saw a great quote the other day that said “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.” It made me stop a while and think about my posture and attitude while waiting, needless to say, I didn’t really like what I discovered about myself. After seeing this quote, I “stumbled” across this verse from Psalm 27 that contains the word WAIT twice…out of only twelve words total! Think there is a message there? I’m passing it along to all of you today and I sure hope I’m not the only one who needs it!
After God was done whapping me upside the head, I had to stop and figure out what I was waiting for. As I began to make my list, I realized some of the things were pretty silly. When I thought about how much I actually valued some of the things on my list I understood why waiting is hard. Most of the things on my list weren’t important enough to wait for or really even wish for so I crossed all those off the list. When it boiled down to the bottom of the pot here’s what I learned; the only thing on my list really worth waiting patiently, courageously and stoutheartedly for…is meeting Jesus. Most of the stuff on my list, like Godly spouses for my children or happy retirement will just come in Gods own time, but Heaven…that’s the one I need to focus on. I suppose if my focus is really truly there every day, everything else will be just as God desires…in his time…for his purpose and in his ultimate perfection. As I came to this conclusion my peace was interrupted by panic when I thought, what if God doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for? Then my heart answered my mind as only God can instruct it to and I heard; if he doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for, that means he’s got something better…just wait and see!
Here’s another thought I have about waiting, it isn’t work. It doesn’t require great effort like scrubbing the porch or organizing the office files or losing 40 pounds. (All silly things I’ve been waiting for…I told you there was some silly stuff on my list!) If we truly live the words of this verse from Psalm 27 our lives will get instantly calmer, more peaceful and much easier. I’d like to end this post with a passage from Jim Beckman’s book God Help Me, “Think of the image of a sailboat. The boat doesn’t do anything burdensome to respond to the wind in its sails – it simply moves forward propelled by the wind. The sailboat responds by moving forward, but it is the wind that is carrying it.” What are you waiting for? If it is something of great value than be still and know God will provide the wind to move your sailboat! I’m thinking it just might be the perfect time to wish for a sailboat instead of a speedboat!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you’re waiting for. (Silly ones too!) Tuck it away for a day or two. When you get it back out, ask God to give you eyes to see his plan and his timing as you evaluate each item on your list and think about its value.
Blessings on your day!
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
Have you ever noticed how many times things don’t go exactly as you think they will? Today is one of those days. In my plan, I was going to get up at 5 and get on a plane at 7 and be home from Houston by 3. Then the texts started coming…delay after re-book after new city. Instead of a quick trip home, I’m sitting in Philadelphia (because Houston to Philly to Grand Rapids makes perfect sense…right!) and should be in my driveway by 10 tonight. Not the plan I had cooked up, but I decided early this morning it was going to be an “eyes wide open” kind of day. I’m glad I made that choice because I saw a lot of cool stuff.
By 6:30 this morning I was already in a customer service line arranging my first re-book and I just watched the people in front of me in line. I watched a young man who had a walker to balance his unsteady body as he tried to walk on his new prosthetic leg. He was managing a huge suitcase and a walker and a wobbly body, just wanting to get home after a long medical stay in Houston. He was quiet and patient as they got him re-situated and I was impressed with his strength and his smile in spite of his physical challenges. He showed me perseverance and gratefulness.
The lady in line next to me at the counter was throwing a huge hissy fit because she was going to have to sit in Miami an extra two hours before she could get to her ten day vacation in Aruba. She was mad at the clerk, she was mad at her husband and when she said she was so mad she thought she was going to have a panic attack, I just touched her elbow and told her I’d say a prayer that her travel panic would calm. She immediately softened and settled…God is so good. I handed her a tissue to wipe her tears and she went on her way more calmly. He showed me how he can soften, strengthen and bring peace when we ask.
Two hours later, I got in line again to re-book and standing in line in front of me was a toddler who had just had it. As her daddy set her down to hand his paperwork to the ticket agent, his daughter went into a full out melt down. She cried, rolled on the floor and sobbed. Over and over she kept saying, “Daddy I want you to hold me!” She was hot, hungry, tired and overwhelmed. Once her daddy finished what he was doing, he picked her up and she was instantly calm and peaceful. Although it would be more appropriate for me to pray than roll on the floor screaming for my Father to pick me up, he showed me that he’s what I need and when I call to him and trust that he hears me, he will bring me the same peace and comfort that toddler found in the arms of her daddy.
As I sat in busy airports all day I saw fancy people, frumpy people, happy people, shiny people and cranky people. I saw people excited about going places and people disappointed about their destination. I saw thousands of people, each with a different story but each with a common thread. No two people looked the same or waited the same or interacted the same, yet, each and every one of them were created in the image and likeness of God. Each one was made was fearfully and wonderfully made. Today, he allowed me to sit and marvel at the wonder of his creation. Thank you Father for letting me see how creative and wonderful your work is even when it wasn’t my planned activity for the day!
A Seed to plant: Take some time this week just to watch people and marvel at the creativity of our Creator.
Blessings on your day!
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