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Look at the lilies and how they grow.
Jesus once said, “Consider the lilies and how they grow.”
After reading this I began to consider these beautiful flowers.
I pictured them growing alongside the white fence in our backyard. I thought the splash of color they would bring against the white would be breathtaking. Little did I know they would be “breathtaking” in another and more deadly way.
The article I was reading recommended planting the bulbs in 8 to 10 inches of rich and well-drained soil, to plant where they can bask in full sunlight, and to take extra care to protect your lilies from voles, deer, and beetles. Then came the next “breathtaking” sentence…
“Many lilies are highly toxic to cats, causing acute kidney failure if eaten.”
Now, if you were to ask me my favorite animal, I wouldn’t hesitate in saying, cats. I have two that I love dearly, Morris and Luna. Luna’s precious face adorns the heading of this blog. Morris and Luna are not “just” cats…they are my babies, and the thought that I could have something around the house that could take them from me, scares the hell out of me.
I’m a gardener of sorts, in that, I have a few raised beds for veggies, a rose garden, and a few inside plants scattered about my home. After reading the article about lilies, I began to wonder if any of my plants were toxic to not only my cats but to my dogs as well.
The verdict: Guilty
The guilty culprits:
I don’t worry much the Cyclamen plant because it is placed high and out of reach, however, not so with the Daffodils and Tulips. Both lay naked by my raised bed of corn, cucumbers, and a green bell pepper. Just the other day I pulled bulbs from the bed in order to plant the veggies. I tossed the bulbs on the ground beside the bed, thinking I’ll pick them up later. Of course later never came and the bulbs still lay where lay.
Picking up the bulbs and tossing them in the trash is number one on today’s “gay agenda.” Number 2…thanking Jesus for asking me to “…consider the lilies!”
Below is the link to ASPCA’s alphabetical list of Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants to Dogs and Cats
“And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat so that it was already becoming filled.” (Mark 4:37)
I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be a rider in the boat above!
First of all, I’m not a very good swimmer. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the ocean, but I don’t like treading it without some sort of flotation device.
Second of all, hurricane force winds can rip a little fishing boat to shreds.
And third of all, I’m sure the air was full of electricity, and I don’t relish the thought of being struck by lightning.
If I were a character in the story above I would fear for my life. I admit I would assume the worst.
Corinne, my wife, and I once stayed in a high-rise in New Hartford Connecticut. On the 17th floor, we had settled in for the night, under covers and enjoying an episode of Law and Order SVU. At approximately 11p.m. a voice from the speaker above filled our room.
“Attention, there may be a fire in the building. Please exit your room, in an orderly fashion and take the stairway down to the first floor, …there is no need to panic.”
Corinne and I proceeded to the closest exit and began our descent with hundreds of other guests. We had a long way to go to reach the bottom. The 17th floor turned into the 16th and the 16th turned into the 15th, and with each passing floor, the fear inside of me increased. My mind filled with pictures of people jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center. As I continued down the long stairway, I heard the sirens from the firetrucks below. At that moment I made the assumption that this was it…I was going to die. In my mind, I decided that I too would jump rather than burn.
Obviously, I didn’t die that night. When we finally reached the bottom, we discovered it was a false alarm and were directed back to our rooms. Once again in our room, it took me a while to calm down. When I wondered how the episode of Law and Order ended, I knew I was back to normal.
It is so easy for my mind to automatically jump to the worst scenarios.
Maybe you have this problem as well.
The men in the boat from Mark’s story felt the same way and I don’t blame them! The story goes, “…but soon a fierce storm arose. High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water.” But Jesus was in the boat. The frightened men ran to Jesus and cried, “…don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” Jesus “rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then Jesus looked at the men, I believe lovingly, and said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still not have faith in me?”
This morning, for my personal devotion, I read an article called, Facing Unexpected Storms, from one of my many Joyce Meyer books. She made the point that “…not all storms are in the forecast…” Her advice, “Don’t get distracted by the storms of life. Stay focused and do what you need to do whether it is easy or difficult. The more we use our faith, the stronger it will become.”
Her words comforted my heart and reminded me to do what I could and to not fret over what I couldn’t. Whether it’s easy or difficult…only one step at a time.
Remember, Friends,…Jesus is in the boat!
Have you ever had to eat your words?
I’m sure I have, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind. Perhaps, even if I could, I wouldn’t share as “eating your words” is considered quite distasteful.
Often, the words we have to eat are bitter.
I believe the words we say never disappear. They linger and take their abode within the minds of those who hear.
I remember the day, Corinne and I left Josh, our son, at West Point. As a new cadet, he was about to enter basic training, or “BEAST BARRACKS” as it is referred to at West Point. Beast Barracks is a 7-week program designed to transform young men and women into cadets worthy enough to be sanctioned Plebes, the lowest rank on campus.
My heart hurt at the thought of what he was about to face, and as most moms in this world, my imagination soared beyond the realms of reality. Sitting in the auditorium I heard an officer beckon the new cadets to come forward, and I knew this would be the last time I’d see Josh for what would seem an eternity. I looked at him and he looked at me, and I’ll never forget the words he said, “Write and write soon.” Tears ran down my face as I watched him walk away and disappear from sight.
I was able to write him immediately; however, it would be weeks before he would be allowed to write home. When those letters came, I couldn’t wait to open the envelope and devour the words on the page. The words were few because he rarely had a moment to spare during BEAST, so I hung on every word. His words were important to me. Finally, after seven weeks, we were allowed to go and visit him at West Point, and that is a moment, and a hug, I will never forget.
When we love someone, their words matter.
This was true of King David’s relationship with God. In the book of Psalms, he has this say about the words of God,
“They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.”
The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more we want to listen for his still small voice. They become a balm for our soul.
On the flip side…guess what?
Our words are just as important to God. He loves us so much, that our words matter, and he waits patiently to hear them.
Talk to God today…He loves your voice.
Okay, I remember a time when I had to eat my nasty words…I even wrote a blog about it. Almost two years ago on election night, I colored the world of Facebook with a wide array of colorful expletives. As a result, there were consequences to bear. I was unfriended by friends and family. Those family members, to this day, ignore my Christmas cards, and of course, I get none from them. Words matter.
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
What do we do when things get complicated?
Well…here’s some of the things I find myself doing…
Talk about putting the cart in front of the horse! Of which I’m the master…so, here, hold my beer while I take a bow!
Why the hell can’t I remember to pray first? Does it make me a horrible Christian? On the contrary…it makes me human.
It’s just good ole “human nature” to desire to fix something when it breaks, and we shouldn’t berate ourselves for following our God-given, intrinsic instinct. If we do, then that, my friend, is the real tragedy. God doesn’t hold it against us…
Simply put, God knows how it feels to be human!
God, himself, put on flesh, and walked this earth for 33 years, and his friends called him, Jesus. During these 33 years he was tempted in all ways, and personally experienced every weakness that can ever befall us. Remember, He understands. His arms are open, and he bids us come… “give me your cares for I care for you.”
Now, I’m not so naive as to believe that prayer is some magic wand that fixes everything…
However, this is what prayer will do…
[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Through prayer we receive God’s understanding, His Mercy, and His Grace. Armed with these we can face any circumstance that life throws our way.
So, when things get complicated remember….
Oh what a Savior we have!
“…Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him…” (Hebrews 4:14)
This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.
Would it be too premature if I said, “I’m enjoying Heaven on this Earth?”
Well, lets take a look-see…
So, first of all, my description of Heaven is anywhere I can commune with Jesus.
Yes, I know that one day this body will die, and my spirit will ascend into Heaven, and I realize Heaven to be a tangible…touchable place.
After all, Jesus said this about Heaven,
“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you…so that where I am you may be also.”
So, yes…physically I am far…FAR away from the physical Heaven. Even the Pharisees, of long ago, questioned Jesus about the whereabouts of Heaven, and He said,
“The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
Jesus proclaims that His kingdom abides within us!
There may be thousands, upon thousands of galaxies that separate me from Heaven, the place, but guess what? Nothing, absolutely nothing, separates me from Jesus or His Love! Even the Apostle Paul agrees with me on this one, for he writes in Romans,
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, who freaking cares how many galaxies exist between me and Heaven! It doesn’t matter because God has already set up His Kingdom within my heart! Jesus lives within me, and He wants to live in you too!
Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
Don’t wait to celebrate Heaven, dear friends!
Open the door and let’s get the party started!
Jesus Wants Us To Be Happy Christians!
“Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today…” (Hebrews 3:13)
This morning my daily devotions took me to chapter 3 of Hebrews. In verse 7 the Holy Spirit admonishes me to “listen to his voice.” Not only am I compelled to listen but I am urged to do it now…right away…in this very moment.
Listen to the urgency… “Today you must listen to his voice.”
As I read, I wondered…. “Why the urgency?” … and I came to a few conclusions.
First, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. We live in the moment, and even that may be snatched away without warning.
Second, as human creatures we are prone procrastinate. James, the brother of Jesus, writes, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” When we are young we tend to believe we have all the time in the world, and then one day, as a fifty-plus year old we scratch our heads and say, “Where the hell did it go…”
Third, I wonder, if… perhaps…His message for me today will be somehow different from his message of tomorrow. If so…and I fail to hear it…then it is lost to me, forever.
I believe God tries to say “I love you,” MANY times a day. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing the different ways he expresses his love. Maybe it’s in a kitten’s purr, a gentle breeze, the flutter of a dragonfly, a bluebird’s serenade, or even co-mingled within a good cup of coffee.
Jesus and I have this thing between us…and it goes something like this:
“Whenever the dragonfly’s path crosses my way… Tis but Jesus saying… “I love you, today.”
You’d be surprised how many times I see them ….even during the winter months! When I do, I can’t help but smile and say, “I love you, too.”
The idea for today’s post came from, Seize The Day, found in Our Daily Bread Devotional Journal, and also from today’s daily prompt, infect. When I saw the word infect, immediately my mind thought, cancer.
Vernon C. Grounds opens Seize The Day with a paragraph about Jim Valvano, and it is that paragraph I leave for you in closing…
“Before entering the broadcasting field, Jim Valvano led the North Carolina State University basketball team to a national championship. Then cancer developed in his lower back. Invited to address the Duke University squad, Jim had this to say:
“Life changes when you least expect it to. The future is uncertain. So, seize this day, seize this moment, and make the most of it.”
The gospel of Matthew opens with the ancestral lineage of Jesus. Most of us just skim over these verses because, lets face it, its pretty boring, but often, there are surprises hidden within the mundane, and they remain unseen unless we are willing the thin the clutter, and look beneath the surface.
You may be shocked to learn from whom Jesus descended!
I love a good surprise. I love movies and books that end with a crazy twist that you just don’t see coming. I love writers like Stephen King are are masters of this.
Good surprises can also do wonders for stale relationships. Want to create sparks in your love life?…send flowers, write love notes, take them out for an unexpected date, pat their hiney, and grab a few stolen kisses… etc.
We all love these kinds of surprises.
As I read the Bible it seems to me that God also loves surprises. The wonderful stories between Genesis and Revelation are mostly about how God uses the mundane to confound the wise. He uses simple folk like you me to change this world for the better. We become vessels of the Holy Spirit to carry out the plans of His radical love.
Yesterday, my morning devotion just happened to be called, Surprise Me! It opened with a beautiful passage from the book of Ephesians that tells of Christ in our hearts, and how we become spiritually empowered through his love and presence. I’ll attach this scripture at the end with hopes that it will bless you as much as it blessed me.
In this devotion, Cindy Hess Kasper, associate editor for Our Daily Journey, writes,
“Do you like surprises? Would you dare say “Surprise me!” to God? Through out the Bible we read that God delights in doing the unexpected. Jesus’ time on earth was filled with amazing events…He turned water into wine, calmed the storms, healed the sick, and raised the dead. What kind of God do we serve? One who is not confined by our finite imagination. He wants to bless us…He delights in His children who trust Him and are willing to say, “Surprise me, Lord!”
God, open my eyes…Surprise me today!
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots do down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, and how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we world ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21
I think, perhaps, writers have a love/hate relationship with words. We love them when they flow, and curse them when they do not.
Words…they are fascinating entities.
Take for example, yesterday’s daily prompt, rebel.
Rebel can be used as either a noun or a verb.
As a noun, rebel describes a person who rises up against authority. For example:
As a verb, the word rebel is defined as…the action one takes in order to resist, reject, or rise against authority. For example:
Words such as this are called, homographs. (homos for short)
Homographs may be pronounced the same (homonyms), or they may be pronounced differently (heteronyms, also known as heterophones).
Whether homos or heteros, these words can prove to be tricky for any writer.
There are many homos lurking about, and they can easily be overlooked unless they are outed. I thought it would be fun to bring some of the homos out of hiding.
Please feel free to join in the fun!
Search your tack box of words, pick out your favorite homos, and tack them to this list!
Today I couldn’t see the forest for the homos!
PS – I’m as gay as they come, so nothing in this post is intended to offend any homo.