Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Sower, The Seed and Me (Luke 8:4-8)


I grew up in the church. This is a wonderful thing. But sometimes, as I study the Bible, I come to a passage that explodes in my head: “All this time (i.e. my whole life) I thought this, and now ...”

So it is with the Sower and the Seed.

Somehow I got it in my head that there was One Seed for me and my duty was to be the Good Ground. I went through life listening to the Bible preached at various churches, reading my Bible in various versions, taking my various Bible classes and believing I was the Good Soil and that I was ALWAYS the Good Soil.

But during my most recent study of Luke 8, I realized at different times, at different days, even at different hours during that day, I can be – and I am – all the different kinds of soil. It's all a matter of the condition of my heart, my willingness to change, my ability to pause, my sacrifice of time to ponder at the time the seed is planted.

“... some fell by the wayside …” (vs. 5) – When I read the Word, or read a devotion, or listen to a sermon, but I'm not really letting it in, I have a hard heart. I might even block it out even as it is being read to me, intent on thoughts of the week to come or the lady in the next pew over or what am I making for dinner? The Seed disappears from my brain before it even has a chance to get to my heart. I have too much going on in my life that I think I can handle on my own, so I become a cement walk-way inside, and the seed I received just lays there, getting stepped on by the world.

“... some fell on rock ...” (vs. 6) – On the way home from church I'm excited about what I heard, but no one is joining the discussion with me so I allow it to die after just a few hours. It needs further study. It needs more water. But by bedtime I'm worrying about all my work and the seed dies of thirst.

“... some fell among thorns ...” (vs. 7) – At church I have taken copious notes and feel overwhelmed by The Seed I have received during the service. I get home and I allow every thing to crowd around the New Seeds I have gathered: TV, family, responsibilities, conversation, homework, checkbook balancing, shopping, work duties, a new movie and animal care. Whatever was planted drowns and chokes until, by Monday morning, most of the seedlings are forgotten, dead.

“... but others fell on good ground ...” (vs. 8) – I get a full meal of Seeds at church, or I have worked through my daily Bible study, and it all comes together and makes sense. I wait for God to tell me that I am finish digesting, that the Seeds have sprouted. I see clearly how I need to work those Seeds out in my life and I go back to them the next day, and the next. I DO The Seed, going beyond hearing The Seed. And my walk with Jesus is sweeter, stronger.

Being a weak, sinful, variable human being, I cannot physically, mentally or emotionally be Good Soil all the time. But seeing the reality of so many soils in one person encourages me to pray, “God make me the Good Soil today.”


Luke 8:4-8 (NKJV) – And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundred fold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Luke 8:11-15 (NKJV) – Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Only

Only the Good Die Young - Only One – My One and Only - This Way Only - Be Only - Only a Game - Adults Only - Kids Only - Teens Only - Seniors Only - Staff Only - One Way Only - Sample Only – Am I the Only One? - You Only Live Once - Today Only - Only One Per Customer - Men Only - Women Only - I Can Only Imagine - The Only Game in Town

If only …

… I had studied more

… I chosen a different school

… I had gone into a different profession

… I had married someone else

… I had had more kids

… I had had less kids

… I had quit that job

… I had stayed with that job

… I had applied for that job

… I had gotten a different degree

… I would forgive more

… I would accept people as they are

… I would listen better, longer, more compassionately to their needs and concerns

… I could find common ground

… I could approach people with humility

… I could remove all judgment

… I would pray for the opportunity to share my story

… I would trust God and dare to take Him at His Word

… I would believe …

… that the only thing I need is God

This is Day 31 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/

(this blog will be slightly dormant during national novel writing month ... check it out - http://www.nanowrimo.org)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cutting

I didn't make the first cut.

There were nine candidates that applied and seven of those were given interviews, the first of two before the final decision was made. I knew I could do the job: keeping the website, emails, keeping the Facebook updated frequently, making sure things stayed positive, communicating with the public, etc. I wrote my plan and went over it many times, sending it to a friend to check for stupid mistakes, typos, grammar problems and glaring holes. She made a few suggestions and I was finished. I had more fun preparing the plan than going through the interview, which was almost a waste of time, since it was obvious the decision of the final hire had already been made. So I made the most of my time and was as sweet as pie while firmly presenting as much of the plan as I could while being interrupted.

I knew walking out I hadn't made the first cut, and I was relieved I was finished. I kept tabs on some of the other people that were up for the job, only one of which had a second interview. That's okay. I need a lot less stress in my life.

I cut my hand while slicing the turkey one Thanksgiving. Our visitor and friend was amazed that I didn't scream. “I'd be screaming and going nuts,” she said. I suggested she give birth.

Some cuts heal on their own. Some cuts need stitches. Some cuts that need stitches heal on their own and the scar looks wonky. Some cuts are stitched and when it is healed it looks wonky.

I wrote a lot of stories about government budget cuts in 2009. Things looked bleak in 2008. Some were even seeing it coming and warning people in 2006. It was interesting to watch county officials fighting over dollars they felt they deserved and then gossiping about how other government officials misused their funds and wasted taxpayer money. I was pleased to see that some officials were more mature and did the best they could with what was allotted them without complaining.

I was never cut from any team I was on (except in the business world), but my brother was. In fact, he was the only boy in our grade school who was NOT on the basketball team, or in track. He was awkward and sickly and spent most of his eighth grade year at home, but he graduated and made it to the dog-eat-dog world of public high school.

I got cut (laid off) from the newspaper staff because of the previously mentioned budget cuts also affecting the newspaper. I was last in, first out. I was also doing a lot of investigative stories that were making people mad. It was a win-win-win. Win for the cut in expenses. Win for getting the heat off my boss. Win for me in the end as conspiracy theories spread like a fire on a dry day as to why I was REALLY “laid off.” Win for me because I needed to leave that uber-stressed environment.

I was cut from another job (laid off) because the new owner had overheard me sharing my faith with one of the students.

I was cut (laid off) from a studio job because the person on maternity leave was ready to come back.

There have been lots and lots of jobs I have applied for and have heard nothing in response. There are a few jobs I applied for and got the generic “the position has been filled.”

I have learned to deal with a cut to the family budget, cut a chicken, cut ham into cubes for stew, cut a turkey so the slices are thick enough to withstand gravy, yet thin enough to allow for a party of 12.

I can cut vegetables and fruit in a variety of different ways. I like to cut my salad into little pieces before I put the dressing on and the extras, which some in the family find weird.

I love to cut paper, cut grass, cut flowers and cut my nails so I can play piano.

… and those are my thoughts on CUT


This is Day 30 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/

(this blog will be dormant during national novel writing month ... check it out - http://www.nanowrimo.org)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Memorable Dates I Have Known (not exhaustive and not in any particular order)

Sitting on a Tuft of Grass in the Desert at the Track Meet

That Really Cool Restaurant and Date Palm Grove that Served Date Shakes

When Your Aunt and Uncle Had that Big Fight

The Night Club

Practice Date

Shirtless in Overalls

Blind Date in Wausau

The Wonderful Discovery of Date Crystals

Shooting a Gun in Phoenix on New Years

Walking Down the Hill in New Ulm

First and Last Date on the Streets of a College Town

The Bearer of Gifts from a Far-Away Land

Going to a Stranger's Apartment

Scary Double Date

Switch

Quadruple Double Date

Dorm Room Weirdness

The Apartment of Someone Else

First and Last Kiss

The Unexpected Date with Forgiveness

Learning How To Make Date Cake

Awkward First Meeting in a Motor Home

I've Got Information You Want to See

I'll Buy You Lunch and Give You a Job

I'll Buy You Lunch and Give You a Job, Part 2

I'll Buy You Breakfast (at McDonald's) So You'll Believe Anything I Tell You

I Thought You Were a Big Black Guy

We'll Split the Bill and I'll Help You Understand School Finance and Then You'll Embarrass Me

The Honesty Date Sprinkled with Pain

Date with Jesus


This is Day 29 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/

Friday, October 28, 2016

Eat

Grandson, Liam, making that cookie look GOOD
Eat out

Eat everything

I could eat a horse

Eating out of habit

Eat to impress

Stress eating

Mindless eating

Eat to live or live to eat

Working to eat

Eating to survive

Eat bugs

Eat Katy! Eat Katy!

Foodie

Eat that Frog

What should we eat

Eateries

Diners

Restaurants

Dives

Bar and Grill

Mom and Pop

Fancy Restaurant

Roadside Diner

Family Restaurant

Eating with friends

Eating with the enemy

Eating out of obligation

Such a feast

Feasting on delicacies

Feast for the eyes

The Royal Feast

The Final Feast

The Heavenly Feast

A feast for buzzards

A meal in a bowl

A meal in a box

A frozen meal

Frozen dinners

Elevenzies

Three Squares a day

Eat six times a day

Graze all day

Cattle graze all day

We eat cattle

We eat too much

We eat badly

Good food. Good fun. Good friends. I'm done.



This is Day 28 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/

Thursday, October 27, 2016

bouquet

I love flowers.

And I can remember just about every bouquet I ever received.

When I turned 16 my friends teepeed my house and left gifts by the back door. They had even baked a cake for me. In a glass of water were the blooms from the sweet pea. I was called Sweet Pea after that, but only when I did something really silly.

There were flowers from my parents at high school graduation.

There were occasional cut flowers my dad bought from the store for Mom and I to arrange.

One of the biggest surprises was the bouquet from my college boyfriend – a dozen roses (my first bouquet of roses) – to celebrate the opening night of the musical in which I directed the pit orchestra.

Then there were the beautiful centerpieces my mom sent me on my birthday after I moved out. She always ordered them placed in a reusable vase or bowl or basket. I still use many of those.

Some churches I have attended hand out chrysanthemums or roses or daisies to the moms on Mothers Day. Once I got a flower for each child – a beautiful bouquet of seven came home that day.

I remember the flowers my children picked for me in the summer and fall, all the flowers they bought me – potted or cut – on Mothers Day or birthday and sometimes just because.

This past summer I received my first bouquet of wild flowers picked by my grandson. It felt like a full circle as I remembered picking bunches of wild flowers for my grandmother from her acres and acres of them. She was always pleased and placed them in water right away.

When I get the feeling that it has been too long since someone gave me flowers I buy a bunch for myself from the grocery. In the summer I cut from my day lily collection adding wild grasses and asters for fill, or even some evergreen.

Soon I will cut a bit from my evergreen collection living wild and free on our property and create something festive for the holidays.

But the best bouquet of all is the constantly changing, thoroughly creative bouquet God creates – different every day, varied in color and scope, shape and hue.

Giving flowers is wordless and sweet, can be done by anyone and given to anybody, and speaks more from the heart than cards and presents.


This is Day 27 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Confront

via Warren Photographic
I hate confronting people, don't you? I think if I was confident that they wouldn't explode or run away or get really angry, it would be different.

Actually, I don't really hate confronting people. I just hate their reaction to it.

I have searched myself, prayed and asked advice from wise people. Is it me? Is it the way I say things? Is it my tone of voice? Am I controlling? Am I too firm, too prickly?

In my last job I had to deal with people that wanted to confront me. Some of the time it was actual honest confrontation, like someone complaining about what was put in the paper, etc. There are rules we go by and freedoms we exercise, so I had a rock to stand on.

But then there were other people who thought they were confronting when actually they were telling me off. I say that because they asked questions but didn't listen to my answers. Instead they interrupted me again and again with more questions. And the questions were “how stupid are you people” and “where did you learn to spell” … things like that.

When confronting people in the business world you should always have a pen and paper handy. Every word should be established.

Then I had issues at a church I once attended. Confrontation is practiced for me, so I willingly participated, trying to treat everyone in love. But it soon became obvious that I should have been taking notes, just like in business. As discussions progressed the facts blurred. I tried to be as clear as I could, but my old plague of people not wanting to confront me for some reason became more evident with each discussion.

The last discussion/confrontation was me asking a few questions and the other person yelling until my nerves were so wrangled I had to give up. That's confrontation, but it sure isn't love. No forgiveness was forthcoming. And I'm embarrassed to say that ties remain cut.

This exercise of pondering confrontation has brought a realization to my heart. I can't just forgive, but I must reach out with that forgiveness. Maybe they don't know that I have forgiven them. Maybe they haven't forgiven me. But someone has to make the first move.

I think if you are going to confront you must be ready to forgive. It's the only way.

But then, I'm still learning.



This is Day 26 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/