Motion Activated

Modern marvels accent bathrooms of today.  Faucets, toilets, paper towel dispensers and hand blow dryers are motion activated. We are so accustomed to the luxuries that we forget to flush in the few places that have not kept up with the latest inventions. Motion activated devices are now becoming the norm.

As I celebrate Easter, I cheer God’s advancements that overshadow man’s gadgets. The door to Jesus tomb was motion activated. He stirred as he arose and it signaled an angel, an earthquake and the grand opening! “There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it (Matthew 28:2 NIV).”

God Can Use Anyone … or God’s Plan is Bigger Than Me!

Also the neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “There is a son born to Naomi.”  And they called his name Obed.  He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
Ruth 4:17

 We just finished the Book of Ruth in our Friday morning study.  I love this book.  It is a story of suffering, good fortune, blessing, risk taking, resourcefulness and redemption and of course, love – there is a wedding and a baby after all.

In a nutshell, this man, Elimelech, takes his wife, Naomi, and two sons and leaves his home, Bethlehem, to go to another country, Moab, a country that doesn’t follow God. There is a famine in Bethlehem, so he thinks he can do better for himself, in Moab.  It doesn’t happen; he dies as does his two sons.  Naomi is heartbroken and left with two foreign daughter-in-laws.  She decides to go back home to Bethlehem, one of her daughter-in-laws, Ruth, decides to go with her.  She wants to take care of Naomi and follow God. Once there, Ruth goes to work, trying to earn a living for her and Naomi.  She happens to be working in the field of the wealthy, bachelor, Boaz, who just happens to be a close relative of Elimelech.  In that culture, relatives were responsible to redeem (buy back or purchase) the land of those who were struggling with debt or poverty.   The next of kin could step in and pay off the debt, marry the widow and carry on the family name.  And that is what happens, Boaz agrees to pay off the debt (or buy back the land) of Naomi, marry Ruth and carry on the family name.  They have a baby and Naomi goes from heartbroken to lovesick over her new grandson and life becomes rich and full again.  The End.

But the end is never the end with God.  There is always more to the story.  See, Ruth had grown up in a very sinful place.  Moab was sin city, a sexually perverse country, actually founded by a fellow conceived through incest by Lot and his daughter, not a good place to be from.   And low and behold, we find out down the road that Boaz was the son of Rahab, the harlot, who helped the spies that Joshua had sent out to the city of Jericho.  Remember they marched around it for seven days and on the seventh day, seven times, and then the walls fell down.  Now that is an interesting plan of attack.  See what I mean about always more to the story, with God?

So Ruth from Moab (sin city) marries Boaz (son of a prostitute) and they have a son who is the grandfather of King David, who is the great- great- great to the 28th time, (or thereabouts) grandfather of JESUS!  Whoa … how wild is that?  God used two women of ill repute, and I’m sure there were many more we don’t know about, to be part of the heritage of his son’s life here on earth.

Many times we find ourselves thinking that God can’t use us because of our past.  I want to encourage you today.  Don’t let your past dictate your future.  God has a plan for you.  Twenty years ago, I was Ruth and Rahab rolled into one.  I was not living a Godly life.  I was gutter girl.  Drugs, alcohol and men were pretty much my day to day life.  But God picked me up, cleaned me up and set me on his path.  He brought Bobby into my life and he gave me a home and a family, and then he drew me close to him and showed me such love and I’ve not been the same since.  God changed my heart and my life… and he wants to change yours too!

Food for Thought:  Which side of the suffering are you on, still living in the pain of the past or embracing the redemption of his future?

Father, thank you for this story of real life redemption – that you give us examples of people just like us and how we all fit into your perfect plan.   Thank you for never giving up on us, even when we are slow to recognize our redeemer. And Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us first.

I love you Jesus.
   In Your Name I Pray,
   Amen

God’s Blessings To You!

Love,
Joyce

My newest book is here!

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones
But Words Can Kill My Spirit.
The Lies That Get Stuck Inside.
Now Available!
http://www.sticksandstones.cc

Tuning Up

Have you ever sat in front of a live orchestra or band, and listened as they tuned up their instruments? It’s usually not a very pleasant sound, but in a few minutes glorious music fills the room. I have never learned to play a musical instrument. In fact, my music teacher at school once told me I could not take lessons, because I had not comprehended the reading of musical notes. I’ve always wished I could play, and confess at times I feel a little envious of those who do.    

Well, not long ago I heard something that really got my attention. We are urged to avoid using our mouths tearing people down by sharing gossip. (James 3:9-10) The speaker went on to explain, we could magnify God by submitting our mouths as instruments of praise.  Wow, I can play an instrument; you can too! “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders. I will be glad and exult in Thee; I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High (Psalm 9:1-2 NAS).” Let’s tune up our instruments and in unity praise God in perfect harmony!

New Song

What does it mean to be validated?

According to Webster validated means to confirm, to support or to corroborate the worth of something or someone.

Why do we turn to people to validate or give us our worth?

As I recently began a new season in life I found myself feeling uncertain and not sure of where I was going. I found myself “venting” and looking for confirmation from those I respected and loved. I found myself searching for answers through people and NOT God. Why when we struggled do we look for man to give us our worth? When we look for others to give us our worth we are giving them the power to tell us what we should do and who we are in life.

I don’t know about you but I want my worth to come from God NOT man. I want to look to God to guide my direction. So, what keeps us from finding our worth in Him?

Do you trust Him with everything or just certain areas of your life?

In order to trust God we would have to have an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength and truth of God. God has never let us down or has He? God’s strength and ability has been shown time and time again in the bible. Most importantly God’s truth is time tested and proved.

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11

By faith the harlot Rehab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. Hebrews 11:31 NKJ

By faith we need to walk in trust, the Lord will provide and will help us along on our journey as long as we seek Him first and NOT man. Let us walk with our heads held high that our Lord knows where we are today and where we are going tomorrow. By faith He will deliver us from our pain and suffering no matter how little or all consuming it may be to us. Let us seek fellowship that is encouraging and helps us to bare fruit.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3

Lord we thank you for loving us in spite of our doubt and unbelief. Lord help us to trust in you and look to you for answers before seeking man. Lord give us strength to follow after your faithfulness instead of allowing our insecurities to drag us down. Thank you that we can call upon Your name for guidance, love and support. In Your name we pray, Amen.

In Him,

Ronel Sidney @ http://mommyaccountability.blogspot.com/

What’s In Your Bucket?

In this house

we do dishes, yes…

Dishwasher Boy

But we also do wild.  Unorthodox.

We do mistakes.

We do second chances.

And third.

And four hundred and seventy-ninth.

*thankfully*

We do silly.

We do laughter.

We do real.

We do tomfoolery.

{and plenty more mistakes}

We do “I’m sorry’s”.

{A lot of “I’m sorry’s”}

We do loud.

We do long hugs.

Lots of sweet kisses.

We do grace.

We do family.

We do us.

Perfect imperfection.

It had been a tough parenting day.  One of these days.

Actually it had been a rough week.  Ever since returning from our anniversary getaway, we had been dealing with incredibly unpleasant {see…I’m choosing my words wisely} behavior in my daughter; over-the-top whining and drama about every little thing, constant boundary-pushing, mega attitude and rudeness like we had not experienced from her before.

And that particular day, I fell apart at the seams.

And it was the furthest thing from pretty.  It was downright scary.

I failed miserably, shouting – in the heat of the moment; where utter exhaustion and intense furry collide – with such anger in my voice that my heart ached with regret as the dagger-like reprimands left my mouth.

Sure, she was wrong in behaving the way she did.

But now, so was I.  My immature, impulsive handling of her behavior simply added fuel to the fire.

I get to choose: water or fuel.

This explosive day, I had grabbed the fuel.

It was one of the most ferocious crazy cycles we’ve ever been caught in, her and I.

I modeled such poor anger-management skills that it breaks my heart to even think about.  The very heart attitude we are working to mold and transform in her was so starkly, blatantly revealed within me..and found wanting.

One of the hardest parts for me to swallow is this: I never was an angry person before this season of my life.  Where is all this rage coming from?  In 7 years of marriage, I have neverspoken to my husband in the harsh, unkind way I did to my daughter that day.  I have become a yeller.  And I hate it.

Maybe it’s simply that I was good at stuffing…and my toddler is good at digging.

Immature outbursts drenched in selfishness & impatience: 2

Tenderly delivered, grace-filled lessons in {tough} love: 0

And despite {many} apologies, my heart remained heavy.  Grieving over our exchanges.

What a horrible, ugly side of my heart has emerged lately.  And my 3 year old, tender-hearted little girl, often has a front seat.

Oh, how desperately in need of saving I still am.

How deeply I need accountability in the way I process my weary frustration in mothering toddlers.  How vital support and friendship is to surviving this rollercoaster ride of parenthood.

How very grateful I am for God’s incredible patience with me.  His ever-present mercy, grace and direction on this journey.  His faithful protection of my daughter’s impressionable heart.

So I press on.

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.”

Lamentations 3:23-23 {The Message}

What will you choose to bring to the fiery times, the heated conversations, amidst your day…?

Water

or

fuel

The choice is solely ours, friends.

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Nip It!

They were the prefect baby shower favors.

I left happily clutching my little pots of rosemary and licorice basil; sweet {& tasty} reminders of the mommy-to-be’s blossoming belly and the promise of precious new life within.

Just two simple little sprigs sat in the small containers.

The rosemary I repotted in a cute little green planter on my deck.  Over the past  5 months, it has doubled in size.  Maybe.

The basil, however, I planted in the garden…and it has blown me away. A far cry from it’s meager beginning, it has taken full advantage of the ample space to grow and the nutrient-rich soil offered it by our accommodating vegetable garden, and has burst into the most fantastic display of greens and purples.

To say it is 100 times it’s original size would not be too lavish of an estimation.

Beside it sits my sage {on the right, below}, dwarfed by the shear enormity of it’s neighbor.

But there’s a problem in all this glamorous mega-growth.

You see, it needs to be pruned to be worth much as a basil plant.

Sure it’s pretty to look at, but the whole purpose of it’s placement in our garden was to provide a steady supply of lush basil leaves for our soups, sauces and salads…not just lavender-colored eye-candy.

I was diligent, in the beginning, about nipping the little blossoms off the tips of the deep purple stems as soon as they started to appear.  This practice redirects the nutrients from the {all-consuming task of} forming little florets back down to the leaves, allowing for fuller, more flavorful basil leaves.  And generally, a healthier plant.

But I had allowed distraction – with life, small children, and gleaning the more noticeable harvest from the garden {like tomatoes, zucchini and peppers} – to preoccupy my time, while my basil plant grew wild before my eyes.

Now when I want to add basil to something I’m cooking up in the kitchen, I have to cut 5 times as many sprigs to glean half of what I used to.

As I studied the plant from my deck the other day – a beautiful monstrosity of licorice-scented stalks – I was reminded how easily I get distracted in other areas of life and fail to “prune” my character.

I get stuck in the hamster-wheel of SuperMom pursuit and pretending to keep all the pretty balls up in the air, while failing to let the main thing be the main thing.

Think: basil leaves.

How easy it is to fall into the destructive habit of judging and criticizing, nit-picking and questioning those around us.  Especially as we navigate these turbulent, and sometimes scary, waters of motherhood.

We need each other desperately.  And yet we continue to allow small differences between us to tear down and destroy the common beauty we share – desiring to be the best mothers we can to our precious children.

I didn’t realize when I cut ties with the mommy mafia, just how relentless “their” pursuit of my heart would be.  It’s a constant decision to choose unity over comparison and conflict.

God is so faithful to nudge my heart.  To remind me to nip these attitudes in the bud.  And yet how easy it is to get caught up in the whirlwind of life – and the {seeming} instant gratification of pointing out someone else’s weakness in a feeble attempt to make ourselves feel better about our own inadequacies – and I neglect this essential “pruning” of my mind, my tongue, my heart.  I allow my energy and time – the necessary “nutrients” needed for survival – to fuel negativity, rather than “deadheading” it and diverting my {limited} resources to fresh growth: encouraging and uplifting those weary ones around me.

He nudges, yes.  But it is up to me to listen to that still, small voice… and to make the choice to pour myself into the building up of others.  The seeking out of the gold, rather than the pointing out of the dirt.

I don’t know about you, but my heart is in constant need of pruning.  While a lavish display of plumes may appear to be what the world demands from us, a steady supply of delicious, enhances-everything-you-put-it-in leaves are what I’m after and what blesses the heart of our Creator.

Here’s to basil…and the delicate art of pruning!

{Just nip it}

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

Sticks, Gold & Life

There’s something I’m learning about people.

They’re sort of like sticks.

Allow me to explain.

The climate and surroundings of a person have the potential to utterly destroy them, to the point of sapping the very life from their being, or to cause them to flourish beyond their wildest dreams.

Imagine a stick.

Snapped off from its only source of nourishment, it has lost its only purpose in life: to be a conduit for more life.

Unless someone identifies a glimmer of potential in it, it will lay on the compost pile, awaiting slow disintegration.

Enter the gold digger {someone determined to search for the gold in something/someone rather than highlight the obvious dirt…as expanded on here).

My husband rescued said stick from certain doom this spring, when he discovered we were short of stakes to mark the vegetable rows.

Into the dirt went the little stick.  Surely dead, but still able to be used for something relatively important.

{Goal accomplished}

But then…

the climate was right…

the surroundings were right…

and the nutrients needed for survival were present.

Slowly that hopeless little stick started to become a tree, surging once again with life.

Just look at that baby {it was completely bare when it went in}!

People are just like this stick.

If we are only willing to take on the ‘job’, we get to be the soil, the nurturing, life-giving plot in which someone is ‘planted’.

We have the potential to spur on tremendous growth and inspire greatness in the lives around us.  All the while, maturing and developing ourselves.

Isn’t that something?

What a thrill to know we have the ability, the power if you will, to so profoundly impact the people who, by no coincidence at all, are in every circle of influence we come in contact with.

I want to speak lifesow life…invest life into my husband, my children, my sisters, my friends, the overwhelmed single-mom down the road, the frazzled, down-trodden sales clerk at Meijer.

And I can.

I just have to be willing to look outside of my comfortable little world of “self” and look for opportunities to search out the gold in others, looking for ways to encourage them, lift their chin, speak life over them, and love them.

It’s a deliciously “dirty” job…but we’ve been called to it and equipped for it.

So, how about it…

Wanna be soil?

by Joy McMillan, Simply Bloom

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