November 13, 2015

Foxes in my vineyard

With my heart in my hand, I want to confess that my hopeful outlook on life, my reliable optimism, and the consistency of my steadfast faith is as fragile as it has ever been. No, not the head game. Not the knowledge of God. Not the big picture. The foxes are eating the grapes in my vineyard. 

Because it provides so much insight into growing up spiritually, I overuse the fruit of the Spirit word picture. But it is so rich. Indulge me once again. Plant a seed. Water that seed. Add water (studying the Word of God) and sunlight (prayer and conversing with our God).

Watch for the sprout. Wait.Wait.Wait. More water and sunlight. Grow into a strong, sturdy plant that can withstand frost and drought. This really is my life's work. Plain and simple. (For a city girl, I do love a good farming metaphor. Thanks, New Testament writers.)

Back to my own personal vineyard: the place where the small, unexpected troubles are upsetting me. These foxes steal my fruit: love, joy, peace and the rest. I have so much for which to be thankful. I have so many people for whom to be thankful. I have some disappointments. I had dreams and plans for myself that were not the best dreams and plans for my growing family. I am still uncomfortable with living so far from my parents, brothers and my in-laws. And those friends who once walked in my daily life and now rarely see or hear from me.They are hard at work in their own vineyards. I know that.

My vineyard has fruit missing. It has gaps and holes. It isn't perfect. My reactions and perspective are lacking at times when I wish my words had been instead. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this: Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. - Psalm 107:1-2

Yet, I need to confess the truth. My fields have not been scorched. They have not been destroyed. My little world keeps spinning.

And tucked into the most romantic book in the Bible is this verse about having a fox in your vineyard. My mom has often quoted this verse to me. We occasionally recognized this petty theft happening in our fields.

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. 
-Song of Solomon 2:15

My family is in bloom. My personal vineyard is growing and bearing fruit. I am watering and spending time in the sun with them. I can't pause or stop this season now if I wanted to. But I can catch the foxes. I can defend my vineyard from the foxes in my heart.

August 28, 2015

Tenth Grade Insight

Guest Post by Ethan Billhime

Ethan is a freshman at the University of  Florida who loves cars and Jesus and recently rediscovered a devotional book that he never finished from the tenth grade. This is an entry from that collection of devotionals, titled "Get A Clue". 
Note:  He is also dating my daughter Julia who he accurately describes as "wonderful, super cute, and slightly overwhelmed."

Is that really cheating?
Last Friday, I was taking the first math quiz of the new nine weeks.I didn't feel too confident going into class, but after a quick review I was ready to go. The quiz was a double bubble map with only two questions. I was nervous, because I knew if I got one wrong, the quiz would automatically be an F. I did all of my own work, circled the answers, and looked back over my quiz. I realized I hadn't put the answers in the designated "answer space."

As I copied down what I had circled, the person sitting next to me whispered, "the reciprocal." I looked at the answer I wrote and at my work. I realized that when I circled my answer, I cut off too soon and left out the last part.  I changed to my second answer (that reciprocal), thought about it, and turned in my quiz.

I felt awful. "I put the answer down anyway." "So it was already there." "I didn't cheat." "I didn't even ask for help."

I finally decided to go to the teacher's desk and tell her the truth. I walked up and BLEW IT!
I couldn't do it.

When I finally did go and tell the teacher what happened,  she told me that it was ok. Because I originally had that answer, it wasn't cheating.

The right thing to do can sometimes be the hardest thing in the world, especially when you have to fix something you did wrong. But that's where forgiveness comes in.

August 21, 2015

That Parenting Book

I have things to say. All bloggers do. was/is a collection of life lessons and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit. When I am pondering a passage of Scripture or walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I long to learn, grow, and remember what I have learned. Writing about an event or an illumination is my way of bookmarking that memory.

Currently, my life experiences are happening at such a pace that I am six months behind on processing things for myself, much less sharing what I am learning. Am I even learning? I am not sure that I am, because I haven't written about it.

Am I just walking in circles these days? No! I am a student. A disciple is what Jesus calls me. I must learn, grow, and write.

A few years ago, I wanted to write a book about my children, but the very gentlemanly Holy Spirit cautioned me to wait until our family grew a bit older. I am so glad that I did. That "book" would have actually been a brochure. Apparently, I have learned more about parenting in one year than I have in the previous decade. I may write that parenting book when I am a grandparent. It will be memoirs NOT advice at that. You won't want to miss those revelations. Stay tuned.

I do know this. I have things to say, because I am daily learning and growing. I have enough material for a blog. So I will stay here. First project of the day: create aliases for my children.