Potential

Potential: The possibility of something happening or of what someone will become in the future; latent qualities that may lead to success in the future. 

 

 

This morning I sat on my porch during a thunderstorm and marveled at the magnificence of our Father. I have enjoyed my lilies this year; they have been beautiful. I noticed many new buds on the stalks that would become big, stunning blossoms. Sadly… they only last a couple of days then they begin to fade. But I also I noticed the new buds on the lilies, the hibiscus, the small rose bush and even the blueberries. I am eagerly anticipating the sweet taste of the blueberries and the morning I am greeted with the brilliant colors and delightful fragrance of the flowers. Potential. Today I see their potential, tomorrow the fullness of their destiny. 

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In the spring there is nothing more exciting to me than buying flowers to plant in my flower beds. I break up the hard ground, add new soil and look for bigger pots to grow more flowers. I love Miracle Grow products! As I pour on this blue liquid I have great expectation of bigger blueberries or increased blooms.

Hidden within each of us, our Father plants a small portion of His own DNA, a tiny seed ready to explode, bloom and reach our destiny. He then plants us into fertile ground so that we might reach our full potential. (Acts 17:26, Read it!) What dreams were placed in your heart by our Father that hold the key to your potential? What abilities or even disabilities has He allowed in your life to prune or even fertilize your potential? With great expectations, He pours on His “Miracle Grow” products such as faith, hope, joy and even sorrow and difficulties, knowing exactly what each of us will require to reach our potential, our destiny. He is the Master Gardner. John 15:1 I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. (The Message Bible).

 

 

Scrolling through FaceBook I read the story of a young, hopeless boy in the slums of Haiti who has just graduated with honors from West Point Academy as a full citizen of the United States. He is a strong warrior who may just command the army of our nation one day. Who knew? Who could see his potential? God and the boy’s father. (click here for the story)

Then there is the story of the little boy who kept the sheep on a hillside in the Judean hills around Bethlehem. Everyone else saw him as a shepherd, but God saw the potential of a great warrior king who could bring Israel into the fullness of its destiny. King David. 

Rich Butler, my son-in-law once said, “An acorn is simply an oak tree that hasn’t reached its potential…yet.” 

 

 

As we look at the lillies and even the acorns let’s remember to look into the faces of newborn babies, of children, of friends, of little boys born in the slums of a poverty-stricken nation and see the potential. Let’s pray for hope and faith to come and water the potential in each of them. Who knows what your small prayer might kindle? Who knows what spark your kind words might ignite? Begin to look past the present and nourish, encourage and pray for their potential to manifest. Who knows if that dirty faced, snagged toothed little boy might become the hero, the president, the king.

 

 

Potential plus the power of God?

Nothing is impossible! 

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It Is Well With My soul

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Have you ever been in God’s waiting room? I am in the process of waiting for my new book, The Covenant Keeper to be printed. Because of technical difficulties, it has been a long process. However, that is not the only “waiting” I am doing.

It just seems many things in my life are shifting. I have heard the Lord speak about a new season, a new direction and my heart has said yes to His nudging. This means I have pulled back from some of our usual meetings and am waiting for the new thing.

Waiting…. Waiting… Waiting… Waiting for the new. As one friend put it, “You are in the waiting hall of the Lord. One door has closed and the new door has not opened as yet. And so you wait….”

This morning as I was “waiting on the Lord” I heard him ask me, “Is it well with your soul today?” I stopped for a moment to take inventory. Did I feel peace? Anxiety? Fear? Joy? After checking, I realized that yes, it is well with my soul.

You see, God’s waiting hall is not a place of emptiness where nothing is taking place. It is a place of preparation, of taking off the old clothes of the old season and being ready for the new outfits, the new mantles of the new season. A place to stop, take inventory, and learn to trust Him all over again for the new.

Earlier this week I felt anxiety over several things. I knew I was still in that waiting hall and I wanted out! Yard work to be complete, emails to answer, projects to complete, the book, the ministry, my life. And why were my new flowers dying, for heaven’s sake! I was ready to move forward. Ready for the new door to open. Yet, there was nothing I could do but wait. After venting all of this to my long-suffering husband, I realized the things that caused me to feel the most anxious were the things I could not control. After a few frustrated tears, His peace came and BJ was quite relieved. (BJ did buy me some new ferns to replace the dead flowers.)

 

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THANKS, HONEY!

 

This morning my prayer was, “Father, why was I so anxious earlier this week?”

His answer, “Look at your flower beds.”

That was a strange reply. Then I noted that all of my flower beds had distinct borders. Gently the Lord spoke, “You don’t enjoy flowers that might get outside of the borders. That would feel out of control to you. And neither do you like for circumstances in your life to be out of control, outside of the borders you have created in your heart or mind.” Ouch! I began to see the earlier anxiety had come from situations in which I was not in control. My children’s choices, the publication date of my book, our ministry, and so many other projects. I realized, yet again, that in order to walk in peace I had to learn a new level of trust. This is a lesson I have walked out over and over and over again but one I frequently forget.

Trust. Simple trust in the most trustworthy one of all. My Father.

So in taking inventory this morning, I smiled and said, “Yes, I trust you all over again. You have never failed me and you won’t start now. It is well with my soul.”

Will this next season require swimsuits or snowshoes? I don’t know, but I do know my Father is preparing me for either one as I wait in His waiting hall. Whenever the new door opens it will be the right door, the right time and I will be ready. Yes, “It is well with my soul.”

 

Trust. No Borders. My Next Room?

Spring!

The first thing the Lord did when He created man was to place him in a garden. So many times Jesus spoke of farmers, crops, and flowers. One of my favorite scriptures is from Matt. 6: 28-29“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

 

I have been quite busy working in my garden and loving every minute. There is something about digging in the dirt that brings fulfillment to my heart and fullness to my soul. Psalm 23 that states, “He restores my soul.” For me, one of the best ways for my soul to be restored is to have dirt under my fingernails. Last year was such a busy year for us and by the end of 2017 I was quite burned out. I seemed to have lost the joy of everyday life. Talk about a dry spell. So the Lord in His mercy has had me to pull way back on many things, re-evaluate everything I was doing in ministry and just rest. No, not sleeping, but finding rest for my soul.

How would the Lord restore my soul? My body was fine. My spirit seemed to be in touch with the Holy Spirit. But my soul? Dry, tired, no joy and even a feeling of sadness. I needed restoration.

Matt. 11:28-30. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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I began to ask, “Lord, how do I walk with you, how do you do it?” I thought I needed to be at every meeting, in touch with every person I knew, take care of all the problems of my children (ouch!) and the list goes on! Talk about two big issues.

Number one: Who is in control? I quickly discovered it was not me!

Number two: I had a big case of FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out!!!

As I surrendered Number One to the Lord and am learning to release others to him and to say “No” to other things, BJ is still traveling to many meetings and prayer assignments. I am staying home, planting flowers, digging in the dirt.

The second one seemed to be a little more difficult. I had a big case of the “what if’s.” What if no one remembers me? What if I miss out on the Big Thing? What if everyone is there…. And no one misses me? You see, we all want to be invited to the party! No one likes to be left out.

And guess what? Most everything, all the meetings, went right along without me just fine. Does that mean I’m done, not important? Not at all. You see I have found peace working in my garden. The Master Gardner is right there with me, enjoying the beauty He created and I help to grow.

When the time comes, if it comes, I will be back out there, going and doing. But my prayer is that I will be wiser than before, I will pray to hear if I am to go or to stay.

If I go, he will direct me, I will walk in joy and fellowship with others and love the busyness of it all, especially the opportunity to teach, share and pray with others.

If He says stay, I will be content to stay, be quiet and be still and KNOW that He is God. You see, that is where my soul will be restored. That is where I will find his rest. That is where I will find Him: In the garden looking, smelling and enjoying the lilies. I will be walking in the unforced rhythms of His grace. In my garden.

 

 

Silent Night

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It’s Christmas and my cups are out! Can’t help but smile when you sip hot coffee from a cheerful Christmas mug. This year as part of my own devotion I plan to read a Christmas carol each day. The words are so rich, and I don’t want to miss the message behind the words. Often they were composed with a specific purpose, other times written from a moving experience of the heart, but they always tell the story of salvation in the language of music. Who doesn’t get teary eyes watching little boys in bath robes and sweet little girls with crooked halos singing “Away in a Manger.”

Today the song on my heart is Silent Night. Most of us know the story of the broken organ in a small Austrian village. Joseph Mohr, the priest, had just watched a troupe of traveling actors present the nativity play and his heart was deeply moved. Rather than going home he walked in hushed silence to a hill overlooking the little village. His heart swelled as he reflected on the birth of the Messiah in the stillness of the snowy evening. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Could he visualize the events that quietly took place so long ago in another small villiage in Israel? In Bethlehem? “Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild.”

Suddenly that tranquil night was filled with light and angels! “Shepherds quake at the sight!”

The next day he shared this moment and poem with his friend and fellow priest, Franz Gruber. Franz composed a simple melody on the guitar and Silent Night was sung in the tiny little villiage of Oberndorf, Austria, at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Silent Night

By Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star lend thy light;
With the Angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

The first verse ends with “sleep in heavenly peace.” I hope today you will sing all of the verses to this beautiful carol and may you also sleep in heavenly peace, because he came.

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“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)

Sunday’s Comin!

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Today has been one of those days where everything seemed a little hopeless, a little dark. Outside my window I could see that winter still had it’s grip on the earth. No leaves on the trees, no flowers blooming, neither snow nor ice on the ground either. Just another day of nothing in particular.

Ever had those days? “What are you expecting today?” “Oh, nothing in particular.” And that is what you get: Nothing in particular.

I did the usual things to wake my spirit up to His goodness and love, but….by afternoon I was still not feeling it. No spark of joy when I read my devotion; no revelation as I read the Word. So I just did the usual things you do. I was tired, and wanted to take a nap.

Finally, I walked out into my yard. It was a delightful day outside and I decided to go for a long over due walk around my neighborhood. Rather than call one of my children and talk as I walked, I listened to music. One of my fav is Gungor’s “The Earth is Yours.”

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The upbeat sounds began to sink in my soul and my step picked up a little bit. I found myself smiling and singing along. Then I began to see. The sun was going down and the beautiful pinks and purples and oranges were filling the skies through the stark branches of the trees. The yellow bells were beginning to pop out of bare stems that just last week had no life at all. Sort of like from my lifeless heart a little flicker of unexpected joy began to rise. Not so much, mind you, but a tiny spark slipped out!

One neighbor had put in some new landscaping that looked so nice and manicured. I liked that. New neighbors? When did they move in with their cute little purple playhouse and the trampoline in the back? I watched as the youngster did a flip and throw her hands up in victory. I shared her imagined moment of triumph as she received a ‘10’ for the Olympic gold! Was that a surge of joy I felt? Oh Yeah! Now I’m feeling it!

Suddenly I began to see the signs everywhere: The tender little lily pushing up the hard soil; The green buds getting ready to burst open on the Japanese magnolia and the buttercups. The hope that comes as signs of spring begin to emerge from the dormancy of winter was slowly awakening from the hidden places in my soul.

It was then that the Holy Spirit whispered quietly, “It seems like Friday night, But Sunday’s comin!” The Friday night after the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross seemed very dreary, hopeless and dark. Jesus’ followers went into hiding as fear rose in their hearts. The one they had looked to for deliverance was now dead and buried in the grave. Oh yes, my friend, that was a dark Friday night. They just didn’t know that Sunday was coming!

I didn’t get the winter snow that I love so much. There are still no leaves on the trees, the days are short and my flip flops are tucked away in the deep recesses of my closet. My day started off a little dark and dreary too. But just as these little signs speak of the hope of spring, my heart shouts “It may feel like Friday night, But Sunday’s Comin!”

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His world is a beautiful place full of hope, joy and beauty, even in the winter. And even in the winter season of your life. But don’t despair,

Sunday’s comin!

and so is the spring.

THE EARTH IS YOURS!

by Gungor

Winter, Where Did You Go?

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Love winter

I love the cool, crisp air of winter! I love sitting by my fireplace, drinking coffee and just ‘Being.’ I love to watch breath freeze as others are talking and laughing and perhaps even building a snowman, although snowmen are rare in North Mississippi.

Basically I enjoy all of the seasons! but winter is my fav. Two weeks ago we had snow, ice and temperatures in the teens. Then POW! it turned to spring. after only one week of winter. Today the temperature climbed to 73 degrees, with a promise of the same tomorrow.

The scripture ‘be ready in all seasons’ takes on a whole new meaning. Get out your coat and gloves. Nope! Find those tee shirts I had already put away. This morning I felt a little grumbly because I wanted it to be cold weather. It is January, for heaven’s sake! I felt the quiet nudging of the Holy Spirit to shift my attitude to gratitude. Be thankful, even when the winter doesn’t feel like winter. Be thankful for the small window of cold and snow a couple of weeks ago.

Looking back over the seasons of my life, I find that many of the seasons I enjoyed so much were over way too short also. One minute I was getting a grip on being the mom of toddlers, and Boom! They were teens. I blinked and we were planning weddings and having grand babies. Just like our short week of winter, I miss those short seasons too. But rather than complain, I am grateful that I did have those seasons, as short as they seemed.

Today, I will remember the good seasons of my life and be grateful for the sweet memories. And I will choose to be grateful for 73 degree weather in January, smile and remember that we DID have at least one week of winter!

Soon it will be Spring. Then Summer. Then Autumn. AND THEN it will be winter again!

Actually I love all the beautiful Seasons!

A Little Texas Boot

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“It’s just a little Texas boot Christmas ornament.” Tom said as he placed it in my hands at the Fort Worth Cattle Stockyard.

img_1392-1We were visiting our friends in Arlington, Texas, and they wanted us to see ‘the real Texas’ just like in the olden days. A cattle drive at the FW Stockyard.

The smells, the sounds took me back to a time in my childhood and I remembered my daddy’s beautiful red cows with snowy white faces. It was a big day in the tiny village of Walthall when he moved the cows from one pasture to another. Anyone who could ride a horse joined in the fun.

But the best day of all was the Cattle Sale. Daddy would round up the calves to take them to theimg_1411 sale, and many times my older sister, Chalie, got to go with Daddy. She came back talking about the auctioneer and how he rattled off words so fast it sounded like a he was yodeling. She ate hot dogs and drank Coca-Colas for lunch. Oh, My! It sounded like a grand day. I was assured that one day I’d be old enough to go to the sale too.

That day finally arrived. All week, Daddy had said I could go with him. My excitement soared as I tried to decide how many hot dogs I could eat, and for sure at least two Coca-Colas.

Early that morning I could hear the heifers lowing as Daddy loaded the calves into the trailer. My day had arrived. I ran out to be sure he didn’t forget me, but Mama stopped me at the door. She told me that one of Daddy’s friends showed up and wanted to load a couple of his own calves with Daddy’s and there would not be enough room for me in the truck. I must stay home this time.

Crushed. Disappointed. Shattered. Those words hardly scratch the surface of my wounded heart. I ran to my room, crawled under a table and cried and cried and cried. Mama was so sweet to me that day, knowing how disappointed I was. When Daddy came home he brought me a present, but somehow it just didn’t make a difference any more. I had missed the big event. And life moved on.

I don’t remember dwelling on it, but for years I noticed a huge fear of disappointment. It seemed that the pain of disappointment for me was a little out of proportion. At a restaurant, if my order was incorrect I would be so upset I could hardly eat. Or if someone didn’t fulfill a promise, I was deeply wounded. Rationally I knew this was ridiculous and I was always asking myself, “What is wrong with me?”

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And then Tom Schleuter placed a little Texas boot in my hand. Suddenly tears came to my eyes and I could hardly talk as I felt the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit. This little boot was a gift from my Heavenly Father.

I heard that gentle voice speaking tenderly to my heart. “Your Daddy didn’t realize how disappointed you were that day. He had a job to do, herding cows to the sale, and he did it. But I saw every tear under that table. I saw and I grieved for you.”

“I am a good Father, Ruthie.” He continued. “I have brought you to the most famous sale of all: The Fort Worth, Texas Cattle Stockyard! It doesn’t get much better than this one. Spend this delightful day with me watching the people have a good time; listen to the music of guitars; see the sidewalk bronze stars like Wild Bill Hickok; breathe in the smell of the cows and horses. This is our day together at the Sale. Enjoy this day to the max! Release the pain of that little girl crying under the table. I’ve waited a long time to bring you to the best cattle sale of all.”

After that trip to Texas, I took a morning alone time with my Father. Oh what a delightful  time remembering every step of that day at the Stockyard. I laughed, I cried, I praised and I worshiped as I held that little boot. I realized once again how specific our heavenly Father is and how extravagantly he loves us. There is never one tear wasted, nor hurt so small that he does not notice. I had actually forgotten that day under the table, but my Father had not. When Tom placed that little boot in my hand it all came rushing back, every detail so vivid, but no disappointment. What joy to see how my Father remembered all the details and met every expectation of my heart.

Since that time I realize that when I am disappointed, it just doesn’t hurt quite so deeply.

After all, my Dad took me to the Cattle Sale at the Fort Worth Texas Stockyard and healed my heart.

And I have the boot to prove it!

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Thanks, Tom.