Fake Strawberries

John 15:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

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TOMATOES

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh, you accomplished this did you?”

 

 

 

 

After working in the garden at 100% humidity– I stopped to rest and drink some water. Even though I was exhausted, I looked around and took pride in the garden.

My husband told me that he would not be able to help in the garden this year because of his back problems. Stubbornly I pursued the task of planting and weeding. We failed to place a layer of wood chips in the fall which would have kept the weeds under control.

 

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Squash – newspaper to block weeds???

 

Observing the thriving  plants, I thought, “Look at this, I planted all this by myself and it looks so good.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Immediately the Lord reminded me that all I did was plant and weed the garden – he caused the growth with the abundance of rain and sunshine. I felt like Job when the Lord challenged him for using words without knowledge in Job 38-41. Oops, sorry Lord.

He encouraged me to look at the strawberry patch that was overgrown with weeds.

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Right side (before)

 

 

“That is what you can take credit for – a mess. Without me you can do nothing!”

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, after four days of pulling weeds the strawberry patches are cleared of those tall weeds.

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Right side (after)

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Left side (before)

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Left side (after weeding)

 

Just like Job, I was challenged that God is the creator and sustainer of life. Success comes from acknowledging his majesty and authority over all I attempt. Whether it is gardening, volunteering, or any area of my life, the praise should go to God.

It is important to recognize the weeds as they creep into the strawberry patch.

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tiny runners are weeds – fake strawberries

 

 

 

Just like these fake strawberry vines, we must be aware of the invaders.

 

 

 

 

 

Are we taking pride in ourselves and our accomplishments without acknowledging that every good and perfect gift comes from the Father and without Him we can do nothing.

 

Thank you Lord for giving me strength and stamina to pull those weeds!

 

Job 38  New International Version (NIV)

The Lord Speaks

38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?

Which Season Are You In?

One of my hobbies is color analysis. I enjoy the process of helping someone discover what colors are best for them to wear.  Each person can be categorized in one of the seasons of the year – fall, winter, spring or summer.  It is amazing to see how one’s hair color, eye color, eye pattern, skin tone and color preference reveal the season.  Sometimes it is hard to determine their season without the draping process.  This is done by comparing several pieces of drapes in the four season’s palettes.

Some have compared our lives to the seasons of the year.  Spring for youth, summer as the prime of life, fall for maturity and then winter for the older stages.

My favorite way to feature the seasons is the flowers.

The first signs of spring are the bulbs pushing up through the barren ground– crocuses, daffodils, tulips.  Forsythia (or yellow bells) take over the landscape.  They swiftly fade away.

 

Warmer days cause the azaleas and rhododendrons to take the stage only to last a few weeks if we are lucky.

 

Summer begins with my favorite- the glory of the day lilies. If there is enough rain – hydrangea upstage all.  Wish they could last all summer.

 

Summer’s heat ushers in the crepe myrtles and black-eyed susans.

Cooler days are welcomed as the trees take on the show with the rich, brilliant colors of fallview.johnny.house

It seems only a few more weeks and the flowers shrivel and waste away as the leaves drop from the trees and give way to winter’s barren cold.

 

 

Blooms of the Christmas cactus brighten winter indoors.thanksgiving-cactus.jpg

Chronologically I am in the winter of my life.  Although I can view the flowers in my gardens and I feel like a spring chicken.

We often think of someone as we knew them 20 or 30 years ago.  It is fun to look on Facebook and see friends from “way back when” and see how they have changed.  Not me???? But suddenly I look in the mirror and see a grey-haired person who is slightly overweight! Well, maybe more than slightly. Who’s that????

“I’m 17”– my friend Beth says!  In our minds, we are all a certain age – 17 or maybe 30 or even 40 for us over the hill gang – 60 is the new 40 these days.

Don’t you know that time passes faster as we age?  Maybe something to do with our brains and how we process time.

Just like the flowers in my garden, our lives are swiftly fading away.

One day we will be a memory to the younger generation.  What will they remember? I asked my granddaughter “What words would you use to describe me?”

“Flowers, food and family,” she said.

When I am no longer able to take care of the flowers, prepare the food and serve my family, will she and my grandsons remember my faith and desire to follow God like their Nana? Our lives are just like a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow but the word of God endures forever.

So, what season are you in?  It will pass so swiftly.  Enjoy each season and share God’s word with your family.

 

James 4:13,14 (NIV)

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

I Peter 1:24 (NIV)

All people are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
25but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

 Ecclesiastes 3 (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Fill in the Blanks

How many times have you heard people say “I wish I had asked my parents……………..”  You fill in the blanks.  Shekinah Lane is our story of those blank spaces.  We want future generations of our family and your family to realize that God can use us in our weakness if we dare to dwell in the secret place (the Shekinah glory) of the most High God. 

That glory is only found as we step out in faith, out of our comfort zone, and out of preconceived restrictions.  We experienced the freedom of serving God with people from various backgrounds as well as those who had no religious background to restrict their faith journey. 

 Join us for a book signing of Shekinah Lane

at Union County Library on Friday, May 19, 2:30 – 4:30 pm

 

 When we are young children we depend on our parents.  As teens we tolerate our parents.  Young adults depend on parents again to help with their children.  Midlife finds us busy with our teens – ball games, school activities, and before we know it – we are the grandparents.

Many times only in the later years of our lives do we start to reflect and wish we had spent more time talking to our parents and asking those questions to pass down to future generations.

My family a few years before my parents died.

My parents died in the midst of our sons’ teen age years.  My mother suffered a major heart attack and died a few hours after I arrived at the hospital.  Two years later my father died of lung cancer.  Since I was in that midlife time, I had not asked those questions about my parent’s lives to fill in those blanks.

 

John’s parents both lived long lives.  They moved close to us here in the north Georgia Mountains.  For eleven years we shared them with our sons and their families.

First great-grand child

Second great grand-child

Cha and Cam enjoyed their Mee maw and Great Pa paw

 

Having four generations interact was a delight.

 

 

We enjoyed the twinkle in Great Pa paw’s eye and the smile on Me maw’s face as he shared the story about their wedding night.  Every December 23 he disclosed, as if it was the first time he told it, about when he and Me maw were married and the house caught on fire.  We made them an anniversary DVD one year and the background music was Johnny Cash’s song “We got married in a Fever.”

Third great grand child (Mitchell) with hands raised.

Even though we shared many years with John’s parents, there are still some blanks.  We wish we could talk to them just once more and ask the lyrics to so many jingles that Great Pa paw loved to recite or his secrets for successful crappie fishing 

and also to ask Me maw about her faith journey, her visions, her determination to teach without a formal education.

Shekinah Lane is our attempt to complete many blanks for our children, grandchildren and future generations.  We want them to know the joys as well as the struggles we experienced in our lives.  Our spiritual journey is the train that drives all the adventure.

 Psalm 102:18Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.

Dogwood Winter

Dogwood blooms

I failed to take the hint. Admiring the Dogwood blossoms on my way to church made me think they were a bit early. Don’t they usually bloom at Easter time? Easter is almost two weeks away. However, not having John’s folks to remind me I just admired the dogwoods and that was it.

It snowed on March 12 and then a week later it was summer time – well almost. Daffodils bloomed in late February and our Bradford Pear tree budded out as well. Tulips were beginning to pop up.

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This picture was taken prior to the March snow.

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The day after the snow the blooms were burned from the cold.

Surveying the yard, I found a cluster of purple tulips. What a delight!
Thank you, God, for the promise of spring. How did these tulips burst in bloom when others have not even come out of ground? It is all in the timing, the angle of the sun, the protection of plants around them. You see these bulbs were surrounded by bushes that absorbed the frost. Also, they were exposed to the first rays of the sun to warm them as they struggled to shine. They were close to the house which provided shelter.

Lord help us to seek you as these tulips sought the sun. May we stay close to the protection and encouragement of others and stay under the shadow of the almighty.

Playing golf in 80-degree weather in March is unusual even in Georgia. Time to put away the winter clothes. After ten zillion trips down the basement stairs to the cedar closet and back up for another load I was exhausted. Contrary to my husband’s opinion, I do not have that many clothes or shoes. I just can’t carry much at a time. Sweaters, sweat pants and boots packed away. Must confess, I was so tired, didn’t finish putting up winter shoes and boots – they are still on table in closet waiting to be placed in boxes. But at least they are downstairs.

Yesterday, April 6,  the high temp was 45 degrees. It was then I realized – it is Dogwood Winter. My in laws were the prognosticators of seasons. They would have warned me not to put winter clothes away too soon. You need to wait until Dogwood Winter and of course Blackberry Winter. When the Dogwood trees bloom, it will turn cold and when the blackberries bloom even though many times in mid-May – we will get a cold spell. They did not need a weather app.

Just like us – we kind of stagnate in our mundane life, complaining about cold weather then we receive a few warm days, or even hot days, and we complain about the heat. So, it gets cold again. We just can’t be happy. What is going on? Does God really know?

Please don’t let my blueberries die when it possibly frosts tonight. They are loaded with blossoms.

John’s dad always said if the wind is blowing the frost won’t hurt the plants.  May it be so ! God sends the rain and snow to water the earth and cause it to bud and flourish. He knows what he is doing.

He also sends his word to us. It will not return to him void. Can he trust me to use his word to encourage, comfort and challenge those I encounter? Am I as concerned about sharing his love as I am about my flowers and garden?

Don’t forget Blackberry Winter is yet to come!

Isaiah 55:8-11 (New International Version)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.


							

Celebration

She’s a celebrity now!

After all, her pictures are displayed on the big screen. Pictures ranged from kindergarten to her wedding, small children, family group photos, the wedding of her oldest daughter and then the first grandchild to an intimate scene with her husband as her health was waning.

Not the theatre marquee for this saint but on the big screen in the sanctuary, the one that holds words of songs and Scripture for Sunday services. She would be embarrassed with all the focus on her as the lines of family and friends streamed past her five precious daughters, only son and loving husband. This celebration is of the life of a godly lady who lived a quiet, reverent life.

Reeda Fay was known as a woman of faith and prayer and a proclaimer of God’s truth from His word. She lived in the Shekinah Glory of God. She was of the old school, “God said it and I believe it!” Continue reading

Let the River Flow – What a Blessing!

(Excerpt from Shekinah Lane.)

You may now order Shekinah Lane on line.      

Lake Nottley - comes from a river!

Lake Nottley – comes from a river!

It had been a quiet morning reflecting on God’s goodness. I had just finished reading the devotional in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers for September 6.

He compared our lives to a river and how out of us will flow the rivers that will bless to the uttermost parts of the earth. Commenting about how God has nourished us to bless others, he made this statement: “God rarely allows a soul to see how great a blessing he is.”

Smiling I thought, “Oh, but He did that for my husband John – not once but several times in the past few years.”

John retired from the preaching ministry in 2005. He has Parkinson ’s disease and his voice was so low he had trouble speaking. Serving churches was a part of his multi-faceted ministry. Counseling has always been his strong suit. Working with youth energized him.

A celebration of thirty-five years of ministry was planned. Many came from former churches he served, the college where he worked and also the youth facility Teen Ranch in Marlette, MI where he mentored. Memories flooded our minds and washed over our hearts as several shared what a blessing John’s life and ministry meant to them.

Laughter came in waves and tears streamed down our faces as they shared. Precious people who God allowed to splash in the river of living water flowing from John’s life.

Many more encounters with the flow of ministry have occurred for John in the past few years. Thank you Lord for the confirmation for John to see how great a blessing he has been and he is.

Let the river continue to flow.

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Family reunion

Recently – Still ministering………..

When picking up our book order for Shekinah Lane, I was privileged to see John still ministering.  I was signing the contract for the printing of the books and needed to ask John’s opinion on the order. He had just loaded the boxes of books in the car and came back into the office.

He came in as I was signing the papers, and spoke to the young lady helping me. “Congratulations on your baby.”

She just beamed and told John her due date, the baby was a boy and everything was progressing well. He told her he would be praying for her and the baby. She delighted in his interest in her.

Not me, I was all business as usual as I discussed the printing of the book and placing it on line.  Still smarting from my last encounter with a lady with a belly – when I asked her when her baby was due, she said, “He is sixteen months old.”  Ouch, I won’t do that again.

So typical of John and how he shows genuine concern for people and knows how to engage them in conversation.

Let the river continue to flow!

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John on pontoon boat

 

Faith, Feathers and Family

Shekinah Lane

Psalm 102:18 “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord.”

The wispy peacock feathers on the teal green background of my Bible cover brought back many memories as I prepared for communion Sunday morning in 2012 at House of Prayer Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The words Faith – Hebrews 11:1 on the cover inspired my own hall of faith recollections.

Faith, feathers and family

Faith, feathers and family

The peacock feathers reminded me of a favorite flower arrangement. A wall décor with flowers, grapes, and the peacock feathers in the background mounted on a green burlap matted frame was my first purchase from a Home Interiors party. My favorite colors of green and teal permeated the arrangement. This attempt at decorating our first home in Marietta, Georgia in 1966 and establishing some permanence in my life was short lived.

As a “military brat” I had never lived more than three years in one place. John and I married in 1965. We planned to live in our nice three-bedroom brick ranch style house for many years.

I felt guilty our house was nicer than any my parents had lived in. I also mused that we would never have sad stories to tell our children about how difficult it was in the early years of our marriage. My false guilt and regret were replaced with many adventures to share with family and friends.

My husband’s surrender to the call to full time Christian ministry initiated many moves and changes in our then idyllic life. Each time we moved I was careful to pack the peacock arrangement to prevent damage. After many U-Haul adventures it was reduced to just the peacock feathers and the flowers. Not sure what happened to the grapes or the burlap frame – could be our small boys played with the grapes and the frame was used for a bulletin board?

In our first church in 1971 at Shelby, NC where John was serving as pastor of Shelby Missionary Methodist Church, the peacock feathers coordinated perfectly with the green cabinets in my kitchen. The church board was so wonderful about remodeling the parsonage to meet our needs. They asked me if I wanted the kitchen cabinets painted and I said, “Yes, green!”

The green background on my Bible drew me back to the present communion service where my eyes fell on the word Faith in large letters and in smaller letters Hebrews 11 surrounded with peacock feathers. I always placed my Bible on my lap during communion to avoid spilling the juice. Quoting the verse from Hebrews 11:1 in my mind kept me focused on preparing myself for receiving the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ. The pianist played a medley of hymns about the blood of Christ and my mind again wandered to other services when I was privileged to participate in The Lord’s Supper.

One service was in 1966 at the First Evangelical Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia when Dr. Neil Anderson was serving communion. He quoted the words from many hymns like “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood”; “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus: and “There is Power in the Blood.”

The pattern of serving communion in that church was for the congregation to kneel at the altar. When the altar was filled others would wait for the next time. Sometimes it would take several tables as our pastor, Rev. Frank Ray referred to each group. This gave each person time to pray and also the pastor prayed for them as he served communion.

The order of service for communion changed for us over the years. When John began his ministry he followed the traditional method of serving wafers and juice in communion cups. Depending on the size of the congregation most were served while they sat in their pews.

Then we were exposed to the pattern of serving communion by intinction (receiving a piece of consecrated bread or wafer, dipping it in wine or grape juice, and consuming it) through the United Methodist Church and the Emmaus Community. Walk to Emmaus is a unique weekend when participants receive spiritual instruction, insight and inspiration. John and I both participated in Emmaus as pilgrims and later as servants.

Our experience with the Emmaus community was very special and John decided to serve communion by intinction in his churches. The last church he served was Confidence United Methodist Church in Blairsville, Georgia. The people, though reluctant at first, responded with great awe. One lady was so overwhelmed she cried and said “I felt as if the Lord Jesus was serving me like one of the disciples at the Last Supper.”

John served communion to our family shortly after the birth of our first grandchild, Chalonda. I read the book “I’ll Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch – a children’s book about the progression of love from parent to child and then child to parent in the aging years. We all cried and realized this would also happen in our family in time. One year John served communion to our annual family Christmas morning gathering.

Our youngest son’s wedding was another special communion celebration. Tim and his wife Shelley were married in the Susan B. Harris Chapel on the campus of Young Harris College in 1999. John conducted the wedding ceremony and then he and Dr. David Murphy, Shelley’s Dad, served communion in the intinction style. Several of our friends from Michigan attended the wedding and when they came to receive communion my heart swelled with joy to see them share this special occasion with us and at the same time celebrate our faith through the thanksgiving for the sacrifice of our Savior.

As the deacons passed out the wafers and the grape juice that morning in 2012 my thoughts returned to the service and I repeated the words I heard a precious saint say many years ago during a communion service – “Jesus saves me, Jesus saves me now.”

This simple phrase has eternal implications and serves as a reminder to me that I have nothing to do with this precious ceremony but to receive my Lord’s sacrifice of his body and blood for my sins and be grateful. Also, I am grateful for the memories of many times of participating in this expression of faith.

Now the peacock feather décor from early marriage days has returned in the form of my Bible Cover and my faith is still offering me hope. The distraction was a blessing to help me concentrate on the meaning of that verse Hebrews 11:1 – “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

The stories in Shekinah Lanelogoforbookdemonstrate how God has covered us with His feathers and increased our faith as we learned to dwell in his presence. We did not anticipate the adventures God would provide for us in this journey of faith. His Shekinah Glory has covered us, comforted us, and catapulted us into an exciting life of faith.

Our desire is that future generations and those who read our story will experience this Shekinah (the glory of God) – God’s indwelling and presence in their lives and follow Him.

Psalm 91  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.  

Ephesians 2:22  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.