Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Blessed Day

Today is my birthday, and I have been overwhelmed with the well-wishes from all my friends and family. I love facebook. It has really connected me back with people I love and care about.

I had a friend who wanted me to start my week with a yummy cake. She wanted me to be blessed, not just on my birthday, but all week long. How wonderful is that? I think that is pretty special. Then, I have another friend, who took me on a very special outing today, to geocache, which is one of our family's favorite things to do. She took me not only to geocache, but to see some pretty scenery, so I could take photos to my hearts content. Then, the day completer, to go to a gorgeous winery, where there was a lake and lots of photo opportunities, even seeing and capturing a bald eagle. It was very far away, so it didn't come out real clear, but I was thrilled anyway. We went inside the building, and there we saw some beautiful glass work and lots of fun things, that really were special. This winery is connected with Amador Flower Farm, and it is a family run business. The ladies inside were all very nice, let us take pictures, and talked us into tasting some of the wine. A first for me, of wine tasting tours. I would not be a good connoisseur of wines, but the young lady that did the pouring was very informative about the grapes, the vines, and the the different processes of dates and "airing out" the wine, which I did not know was extremely important. She shared that there were some vines in the area from the 1800's. I had no idea that there were vines that old in this area, or that there were so many grape arbors in the area for so long. We found out that Amador County has the temperature of Tuscany Italy, where many vineyards are located. Who knew? Now you do. The grapes are considered sweeter than most, so make good Zinfandel's, which I did not know, either. Another thing learned? The date on a wine bottle is not the date of the bottling of the wine, it is the date the grapes were picked and crushed. I had no idea. Maybe you didn't either, but now, like me, you have learned something new.

My dear friend had planned for more to do, but we had to cut things short, so we could get Kaylee from school in time. Then, we went back to the office, and another dear friend had dropped by, and given me some beautiful azaleas. They are a beautiful dark pink color, and smell wonderful. Then, Kaylee got the mail for me. She has been off duty in that department for over a week, but since it was my birthday, she said she'd get it, "but only because it was my birthday." I like that it was my birthday, so she could get it for me.

Once I was back at the office, Isolino informed me that I had a lot of facebook messages, wishing me a "Happy Birthday". I had gotten some this morning, that blessed my heart so much, but I hadn't had time to really have it all sink in, as I was busy getting stuff done before taking off for the day. So, I sat down to the computer and began to read and thank all my precious friends and family, who remembered my birthday. How wonderful, life is, when you have so many precious people in your life. I cannot thank you all enough, who remembered my birthday, did something special for me, or who just wished me ''Happy Birthday". So many of you called me "Special" and I was so blessed to know that I have impacted many of your lives with being in them. You hear this at funerals, but how many of us get to know that we have been an influence in a positive way, before then? It is very precious to me, to know that I am so loved, and how I am loved.

Before I was done reading my messages, Isolino came back to the shop after taking off to the store to get ingredients for a special dinner I asked him to make for me. It is a very yummy soup, that is a hit with almost anyone who eats it. It is a minestrone soup that he found online one year, and I was thinking of it a lot the last few weeks, so when he asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I asked him if he'd be willing to make this soup for dinner, instead of going out to eat, like we usually do. He said he would, and then he added a yummy list to add to the soup. I am SO blessed! So, before we leave, the same friend who made me the cake, came by to give me a beautiful rose that was made out of feathers. It looked very lifelike, and is such a beautiful red rose. She stayed and talked for awhile, and gave me a birthday hug, then I had to finish sending off a fax, and it was time to head home. I came home to a cleaner house, a table set for dinner, and more surprises, as there were lovely tulips on the table. They are such a gorgeous pink and white variated color and were such a treat to see. Isolino knows that I have been checking daily on the tulips outside in our yard, so it was so sweet of him to think of getting those for my birthday dinner table.

I shared the picture above (which I took today, as one of the photo opportunities I had), because Isolino and I always look forward to when the daffodils bloom. It is one of the first signs of spring that we see, and those bright yellow blooms make us smile with delight, at all the blooms to come. They make my heart sing with gratitude and my eyes light up with joy, as they make me think of the light of Christ. He makes my heart soar with joy. He brings a song to my heart. His Life, brings me completion. So, I pray that as you see those yellow petals all around you, that you will be encouraged with the Love of God for you. It may be my birthday, but I believe each day we are given is a day to praise God in. A day to feel His wonder and His grace. A day to allow Him to minister to our hearts and souls. Today, because of each of you, my heart and soul have been blessed by God's Love. As each of you reached out to share this day with me, I felt as if God wrapped His loving arms around me, and was saying, "See how much I love you? See how much I care? I have given you all of these loved ones to be in your life, to be part of blessing you. I have surrounded you with Love." Yes, He has blessed me today, with each of you, most assuredly and completely. Today, all of my daughters blessed me with such sweet and special birthday wishes. Kristine, Jolynn, and Kaylee all gave me the sweetest praises and words a mother could wish for. I told Jolynn that it reminded me of the Proverbs 31 woman, "whose husband and children rise up to call her blessed". Yes, I am surrounded by love. Even my son, shows his love by coming out to eat with all of us. How precious it is, to have a family that loves you. To have friends who love you. To have so many who bring joy to your heart, by their fun, their laughter, their sharing their joys and their fears, and share their tears and pain and sorrow as well.

Friends and family, our Father in Heaven loves you. He cares about you deeply. He cherishes the time He gets to spend with each of you. I pray that you will feel loved, like I felt loved today. I pray that if you have been hurting, that God will bring you comfort in some way. I prayed for a friend once, who was struggling with a lot of things. I prayed that God would give her a very specific sign of His love for her. She told me later, that there was a special rose bush that she loved, and God had on there one very perfect rose that spoke voluminous to her of His love. It really ministered to her heart, and it opened her heart in a very real way to expecting more blessings from Him. I pray that for each of you. I pray that God will hear your hearts cry, and minister His love in a real way for you. He knows you inside and out. He knows what you need to hear from Him. He wants you to be encouraged. That was one of the things that we are told to do, as New Testament Christians, "that we are to build each other up in His Love". "We are to sing psalms and hymns to one another, to encourage each other". Dear friends and family. I pray that you will be encouraged today.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What To Do With Lemons

I have a friend who made me think about what to do with lemons.  You see, when we are given hard situations, we usually say, "Make Lemonade out of those lemons".  But really, what do you do with lemons?

You can eat them, you can squeeze the juice onto fruits and vegetables, and that helps keep them fresher.  You can squeeze them over cooked food to give it more flavor.  You can squeeze it into juice, and you can make that juice into lemonade, or just use it for cooking, cleaning, or many other uses, like putting it onto your hair to give it highlights, put it on your arms and face to get rid of freckles (does it work?), and you can put it into your water to give it more zip.

Sailors use to keep lemons on the ship to get rid of scurvy, which was a horrible disease to get.  It is used to help get rid of colds, flus, and I use it to help me keep kidney stones at bay.  I take a tablespoon of honey and chase it with a tablespoon of lemon juice, when I have a sore throat, and it seems to soothe my throat and I feel it helps kill those germs.  I also put it into the tea I drink when feeling a cold or flu coming on, and it makes me feel better.  I think it helps with coughing.

I guess the point I am trying to make, is that there really are a lot of uses for lemons.  They are a very versatile and important fruit.  The citrus in them is so healthy and beneficial, and I am sure there are many things I didn't even touch on, of how good they are for you.  So, are the situations we find ourselves in, somehow more than we see?  If we really look at those situations, are there any lessons or benefits we can get from them?

I remember reading about a minister in Russia, who was put in the Siberian prison.  He was there for many many years.  Finally, the Russians were going to release him, but when he found out, he sent word to his wife that he really had to stay there, because he was doing so much for Christ, that to leave, would do more harm than good.  She told him to continue doing God's work.  How many of us would do that?  Here this minister found lemons to be good for him.  He was put into prison, but prison wasn't able to keep his spirit from finding ways to serve Jesus, and as he did, he was more free, than anyone could believe, except his wife, who knew Jesus ruled in this situation.

For quite a few years, Jesus has really been after me to have my first reaction be praise to His Name.  I am still learning that process, each day.  I admit, it is not easy for me.  I get to grumping and griping about things, and then I realize, I need to just praise Jesus.  I just need to remember to lift His Name on high and to fill my mouth with the wonders of Who He Is.  Paul's message to us in Philippians always hits my heart about this point.  "Rejoice in the Lord, always, again I say, Rejoice!"  So, if you, too, struggle to rejoice at first.  Try to make lemonade.  Make the situation sweet with praises to our King.  Let Him come into your problems, with your praise drawing Him close to you, so that He inhabits the atmosphere around you.  When He comes in, the problems go out.

I have a friend who gave me a sentence for my life.  It is "If you worry, why pray, and if you pray, why worry."  This is so true.  If we are praying to Jesus, then we must trust that He has heard and answered.  So, therefore, we shouldn't be worrying.  So, lets make some uses out of the lemons we are given, and lets encourage one another, not to let these situations get us down, but to wrap our arms together, and make a strong wall against the schemes of the enemy.  We hold strong together, so even the weakest link, is stronger because of the care and encouragement given.  Let us pray in faith.  Let us be thrilled with the light that comes with the knowledge of Christ.  Let us embrace our struggles with the attitude of gratitude and say, "Even in this, I will praise the Lord".  Be strong and courageous my dear brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Lord is with you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Under God's Covering Psalm 5:11 & 12

                        Psalm 5: 11 & 12

But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your Name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.

For You, Lord, will bless the [uncompromisingly] righteous [him who is upright and in right standing with You]; as with a shield You will surround him with goodwill (pleasure and favor).

I was reading in Genesis this weekend and was at the part where Cain killed his brother.  Before he had killed him, he was upset because God liked and accepted Abel's offering, but not Cain's.  God told him that "If you do what is right and good, will you not reap a just reward?"  He was reminding Cain that He had given him the plans for doing right, and if he didn't follow those plans, why was he upset at God, when his offerings didn't pass muster?  You see, we all like to think it is someone else's fault when things don't go our way.  Well, we live in a sinful world.  God does cover us, but things happen to impact that covering.  No, I don't mean God can't or won't intervene, but sometimes, He allows things to happen to help us to grow, and to see what our response will be.

God's covering is amazing.  He is able to do so much with so little.  I like this little joke I heard one time.  It was about these scientists getting together and challenging God on making people.  That they could do what He did.  Well, God accepted the challenge, but then when the scientists went to get the dirt, God told them, "Oh no, you go get your OWN dirt.  That's the dirt I made."  It cracks me up, because we are given so much from God, and then we think we are the ones who made our own destiny's happen.  His covering gives us the world.  He gave man dominion over it all.  Wow!  We gave that away, with a bite of forbidden fruit.  Jesus won that back for us, and as we follow His plan, we get to see that dominion in the real world around us.  How many of us give up our dominion, though, to the enemy?  Do we let him have it, when we choose to do something God told us not to?  Do we do it when we keep unforgiveness in our hearts?  Do we do it when we won't have mercy or love?  Do we let him have it when we believe the lies of the enemy?

My dear friends.  Keep joy in your heart.  Keep singing.  Keep remembering that God is YOUR covering.  He hides you.  He holds you.  He lifts you.  He surrounds you.  He gives you all you need.  Let Him be more in your life.  Believe Him for more.  He wants you to trust Him.  He wants you to step out in faith.  Just believe that He means what He says in His Word.  God IS for us.  Lets lift our hearts in HIGHEST praise.  Let us be overwhelmed with His Goodness.  Let Him inhabit your praise.  Let Him come into your midst, because your praise drew Him to you.