Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 11

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Knowing through experience is far different than having knowledge of an experience.

You must experience God for yourself – this is not something you can pick up vicariously through others.

Part of differentiating the voice of God from anything <anyone> else is understanding that the message from Him will glorify and highlight His character. Anything to the contrary isn’t a message from Him.

This isn’t to say that the message is always leading us down the easiest path. In many instances, it’s quite the opposite. He will lead us into places where we are able to experience and grow with Him in powerful ways. This often means a challenge…a challenge that he will most assuredly  enter in to with you and see you through.

Dare to take the challenge – lean into him through the storm – and see the ways in which He will be glorified in and through you.

H


Discerning the Voice of God: Chapter 10

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Significance changes.

This is something I’ve come to know well in my time spent with the Lord, in study of the Scripture. I’ll come across a line or two previously underlined or noted and wonder why that was so significant to me at one time. It isn’t holding the same powerful punch in this moment – but at one time, it must have spoken loudly to my heart.

And, this phenomenon is how I’ve come to really understand that the Bible is LIVING.

I set a goal to finish reading the entire bible in 2016 – a goal I’ve set out with many times previously, even in my youth, but never quite accomplished. This time, though, I mustered up lots of determination and got crackin’ on the task at hand…only to realize I was sorta missing the point.

Okay, not sorta. REALLY!

So intent on moving forward with the reading, I wasn’t allowing time for the Scripture to penetrate my soul. To stop and examine why a particular verse stood out. For God to speak to me.

The Bible is the primary means through which God will communicate with us so if we don’t take the time to pause we may go speeding right past something really important. A personal message meant just for us.

Examining my goal through this lens made clear for me that I was missing the whole point and also the reason that I’ve probably struggled in the past with achieving the goal of “entire Bible = read”. The Bible doesn’t read like a usual fiction or non-fiction story book. It requires thought and openness to hearing what’s being communicated – and because the significance can change depending the time and situation – it really requires the intentional pause to listen and process.

For this reason, I have accepted that 2016 may not be the year I cross “read entire Bible” off my bucket list. I want my time with the Lord, spent in the Word, to be more significant than simply words on a page. I’m taking the time for the intentional pause; noting verses in my Bible, meditating on them and then pouring my thoughts into my journal. I love to go back and be reminded of God’s promise to bear the burden for communicating to me.

Lots of people have different methods for working through that intentional pause. I’d love to hear about the method for your madness as it relates to your quiet time with the Lord. Comments welcome below!

Love,
H


DIY: Plant Stakes

It’s no secret that the weather in Colorado can be a bit hit or miss…or a lot hit or miss. It’s not uncommon to see several seasons whip through the state in the span 24 <or fewer> hours .

Once Spring rolls around, I pay particular attention to the forecast. It’s important to be up to date on the highs and lows (for planting, of course)…and also helps to plan projects that may occupy an otherwise dull weekend when you’d hoped to be out in the sunshine, hands in the dirt, but instead are sidelined inside the house due to wet and cold weather.

A couple weekends ago were no exception, and the wet/cold blew in. Luckily, I had a fun project lined up to pass the time.

Plant Stakes!

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Always admiring the options on Etsy, and studying the tutorials on Pinterest; a weekend forecast promising time indoors seemed the perfect opportunity to exercise my crafty side!

What you will need:
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-Polymer clay (I used Sculpey – it was on sale at Hobby Lobby and I’m familiar with it as my aunt -the artist – works in this medium)
-Block of small alphabet rubber stamps
-Glass juice glass (or something to roll out the clay)
-Exact-o knife
-Stamp pad (optional)
-Oven

What you will do:
1. cut the clay apart at the grooves in each block
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2. roll clay flat (you can decide the thickness, but remember that you don’t want them too flimsy or they may easily break)
3. cut one end into a point so stake will easily push through soil.
4. stamp word with rubber stamps
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5. <optional> if you want color – add ink to the rubber stamps and go back over your original stamped word

6. bake in oven per suggested guidelines on the clay package

I made mine in a variety of shapes and sizes — and made a special ‘love u’ stake for a project I put together as a gift for my mama for Mother’s Day (which I will share with you in another post).

These are the perfect little addition to any garden – or sweet potted plant gift!


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 9

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Are you still struggling to hear from God? You’re hearing something but not sure if it’s God, Satan, your own flesh? Any chance you are focused on the wrong thing?

I am a details person. Being detail oriented is a strong element of my personality, so it’s no wonder that the things I’m often wanting to know most from God are…you guessed it…the details.

What is His Will for me? Am I on the right path? Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

So many requests – except for the one that matters most: making that relationship with Him stronger.

Not just knowing OF Him but really knowing Him…His Word, and what He’s all about. Not just knowing the stories of the bible but allowing that Truth to penetrate into the deepest reaches of your soul. To speak in a way that is rich, and peaceful and full of meaning.

I crave hearing from God. I pray often for my eyes, ears, heart and mind to be open to receiving whatever message He has for me. And just when I began to struggle to decipher his voice, there was the answer….focus on your RELATIONSHIP with Him, rather than expending so much energy straining to HEAR Him.

KNOWING Him is how HEARING Him happens!

Focus on the wrong thing creates a distraction from hearing him, as do spiritual strongholds. Also known as spiritual warfare – the handiwork of Satan. The insecurities and negativity that are so profound, they drown out the sound of anything else…unless we tear them down.

Chapter 9 references Ephesians 6: 10-20 for the fight against spiritual warfare and I wanted to share with you some sermon notes I took quite some time ago on this very thing…because being armed with God is the only way for this battle to be won – He will fight the battle, in fact, He is the ONLY one that can!

Do yourself a favor and pull out your bible – refresh your memory of dressing for success with the Lord (Ephesians 6: 10-20) and while doing so, note the following:
v. 14 “the belt of truth buckled around your waist” : have TRUTH at the core of your life
v. 14 “the breastplate of righteousness” : Live with integrity and you will never have to defend yourself. The righteousness of Christ will answer for you.
v. 15 “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel” : wherever you go, take the word of the gospel. You don’t have to know everything about the Word, but share your story. God will use it for glory
v. 16 “shield of faith” : apart from faith, all the information in the Bible is nullified. It does no good to know it and not live it – don’t be a ‘culture Christian’ (i.e. scripted prayer, going through simple motions and ‘checking the boxes’ until you no longer really care). READ the word, be in CONVERSATION with Him. Counter what the enemy says with what God says.
v. 17 “helmet of salvation” : the devil will attack an unprotected mind. He can distort thinking about everything. Put on the helmet which is the covenant of salvation, protecting us spiritually.
v. 17 “sword of the spirit” : The word of God. Get up close and personal and engage in the world with confidence in His word. You don’t have to convince anyone, just drop the word and let it work!
v. 18 “pray” : this is a vital part of armor as it impacts the attitude. Prayer is an act of worship – getting our hearts and minds right.

When you are facing overwhelming odds, check your stance. Don’t rest in your feelings. Put on the WHOLE armor of God!

Attributes of standing on God can be found in 2 Chronicles:
20:14-15: Promises (the battle is the Lord’s)
20:17a: Power (rely upon His power)
20:17b-18: Presence (He is with us, do not fear)
20:21-22: Praise (worship Him)

Faith means always moving forward. There is no pleasure in falling back – and while falling is inevitable –  if you fall, fall forward.

Any favorite versus you’ve committed to memory that you might suggest we all memorize, sharpening the “sword of the spirit”? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below!

With Love…
H

 


Mid May Already??? And Seedling Update!

Hi Friends!

It’s been more than a minute since I’ve even logged on to my blog. A couple weeks ago I thought I was getting my feet back under me, only to totally disappear all of last week again. Ugh! I’m soooo sorry!

Life happens tho. Am I right? Anyone else totally surprised to fully  partially comprehend that we are officially half way through the month of May? If I’m honest, I think part of my brain is still stuck in late March.

So much is happening around here. It is Spring, after all! And with Spring comes much to be done. Battling Colorado weather (you never know what you’re going to get), I’ve been trying to take advantage of every opportunity to get outside and get things rolling in my veggie and flower gardens. I’ll have much to update you on in the coming weeks…

I think I promised many, many weeks ago, an update on the seedling project. With Spring planting upon us the seedling project has mostly wrapped up so this is more a final post on the project than it is an update, but as I indicated above, time is flying by.

I’m quiet pleased with how the seedling project ended up. There were lessons learned, for sure, but it was mostly a success. A success very much felt <by my bank account> as I checked out at the nursery last week. I had to buy very few plants — and if I hadn’t had a total lapse in judgment, I’d have bought even fewer than what I ended up needing. As I said, lessons learned.

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As my seedling project wrapped up, I took care to acclimate my plants to the outdoors before sticking them in the ground (a step I’ve mostly neglected in the past – and likely the reason my previous attempts have been such a disaster).  I think a solid week of acclimation is the way to go. Find a place that gets some sun (but isn’t blazing hot) and is somewhat protected from the wind and just let the plants sit. Remember that being outdoors will also likely mean you need to water a little more frequently – but only do so when the soil has mostly dried out.

Where I went wrong was with my veggie plants. My tomatoes were struggling anyway (for reasons unknown) but my pepper and cucumber plants were going crazy….and then I put them outside too early. Well, not too early, but had my head been on straight, when the weather cooled off again (and didn’t warm up for 2 straight days) I should have brought them back in…which I didn’t….which is the reason I had to buy new pepper and tomato plants (GRR!) and will be a month and a half behind with my cucumbers (double GRR!). Oh well.

Everything else is doing wonderfully – I’ve even planted quite a few of my seedling babies and they are going strong. Aside from a couple plant varieties that didn’t come up at all (?) I’d mark my first run at this project a HUGE success and will probably look to expand on my efforts next year!

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Did anyone else take on a seedling project? Any final notes or updates from your end?

Happy Planting!
H

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 8

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Hey there – it’s been a bit since I’ve been on the blog. You know how it goes when life sweeps your feet out from under you…anyway…I’m hoping to get back on a more regular track here very soon. In the meantime, thoughts on Chapter 8:

God’s communication with us is personalized, repetitive, peaceful and….challenging?? Ugh!!!

That’s right folks, just as the journey isn’t always easy, so too is His communication for us challenging.

Don’t confuse peace for comfort – or following God’s will with agreeing with it – or assume the peaceful way is the easy way. How many times have you felt God leading you down a path you’d much rather avoid? You looked left to stormy weather ahead, and right to the sun shining brightly and balked at God’s idea that you should head for the thunderstorm..and then you turned, disregarding his direction, and set off for sunshine and blue skies…all because it would be easier?

Yea, me too.

Many times in life God means to lead us down the bumpy road. Without that journey, we will never reach our full potential (reference the story of the butterfly in Chapter 8 – also found on another devotional I read regularly). Almost ALL of us NEED that journey. Sometimes we face the journey via decisions we must make (left into storms, right into sunshine) and other times there is no decision involved and we must embrace the cards we were dealt.

Challenge is part of the plan, and I love, LOVE the following taken directly from chapter 8: “God will place extraordinary tasks on the plates of ordinary people so ordinary people can see what an extraordinary God can do through them”.

Not just tasks, situations.

I remember facing several different, though similar, situations in my recent past — all of the “embrace the cards you were dealt” variety. Each time confessing out loud, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t go through that ever again, I’ll never make it”, and “He must have me confused with someone else, there is absolutely no way I can endure, again”.

And you know what? Not only DID I get through each rocky circumstance, I came out the other side stronger. AND, while definitely not my first choice, I’m now positive that if faced with another similar trial, I could do it again…and again…and again. Because I have Jesus!
Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go

And how about times when we are faced with a choice to make – left storms, right sunshine?

Adding a spirituality component to my blog is one such example. The idea flashed through my mind, totally out of left field, and I wrote it off because it didn’t immediately add up in my brain. I have a LONG ways to go in growing spiritually and I am in NO WAY qualified to take on something like this, right? Does this topic even fit with the flavor of my blog? Would my readers embrace this turn of events? Would some of my followers fall out? (thanks, Satan, by the way).
But, He was persistent and before I knew it I was getting lost in blogging about this incredible book – regardless of whether or not I am qualified, what people might think and if some of followers dropped off. And, I am NOT qualified…but HE IS…and “God will provide where He guides”.

This chapter ends with a profound statement, “It is better for you to choose the challenging road – if God is in it – than to select the route that is easier and more convenient but lacks the presence of power of God”.

Facing a difficult circumstance – decisions or cards dealt? Look to Him, follow His direction and you will never go wrong. He will ensure shelter through those storms and they never last forever.

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 7

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I remember when I began this book, and the excitement I felt as I finished Chapter 2 (and then another chapter down the road; which one specifically, I can’t recall). While it’s true that every chapter has brought excitement; I’m talking about EXCITEMENT!!

It was all because of the peace I felt within. The comfort in knowing that what I was hearing was, in fact, His voice/guidance/direction. The relief in having it re-confirmed that He has it all under control, and is even letting me in on some of the details. That ‘ah-ha!’ moment when what I think I know is confirmed.

PEACE.

Not only a characteristic of our Savior, but an indication that he has spoken.

For the longest while I’ve struggled to let go of my burden – or I would set it down for just a short while, only to run quickly back over and pick it back up. How much of my hyper-organized, need to be in control, urge to analyze every detail has done nothing but get in His way? I suspect all of it…

And then something amazing happened! I reached a point where I <finally> acknowledged I am just too drained…physically, mentally and emotionally…to continue running interference. To continue getting in His way. And because I have <finally> been <metaphorically> beaten into submission, I’m just not anymore. Not that I no longer care about things – because I surly do – but I find I’m better able to take only the steps He directs me to take and leave all the rest to him. He is the one in control, after-all.

I have laid my burden at His feet, just as he instructs us all to do.
Matthew 11: 28-30 – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

It doesn’t feel “amazing” to come to this point via the road I chose to take, but it is quite incredible how it’s worked for good. I am finally feeling an inner sense of PEACE like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Yes. Me.

The hyper-organized, need to be in control, urge to analyze everything….Me.

 


Discerning The Voice of God: Chapter 6

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Six chapters in – are you feeling the Holy Spirit stirring within? Are you noticing His voice interjecting among the chaos of your life? Are you finding yourself taking more intentional pauses and quieting yourself so you can hear from him?

I am.

And, just when I think this book can’t possibly have another valuable nugget, I turn the pages through the next chapter and there they are!

How blessed are we that God has forgiven us of our sins and remembers them no more once they have been confessed and repented of?

How incredible that His guidance comes wrapped in love (rather than riddled with guilt, shame and anxiety) AND he will connect with each of us in a personal way? One that we can hear, that matches our individual circumstances and aligns with His unique plan for our lives.

And, when we follow his voice we can move forward with confidence regarding the decisions we make?!?!

Oh, and quiet possibly my personal favorite: we aren’t going to get it right ALL the time, and regardless, He will use whatever way we might mess up for ultimate good. He will blaze a trail back over to the right path!!

Having faith means pushing forward without seeing what’s ahead, trusting that each step of the way will be met with a foothold, keeping us safe! Believing without seeing.

Any thoughts on your journey of spiritual growth? I’d love to hear from you – chime-in in the comments section below.

Just getting in on the blog posts related to Discerning The Voice of God? Get caught up with the links below:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Love and blessings to you all on this beautiful Wednesday morning!
H

 

 


Crab Salad

I stumbled across this incredibly fresh looking crab salad recipe on the Skinnytaste.com website.

I couldn’t wait to try it – and then try it again with my own modifications (recipe below) – and then share with you all!

After a couple rounds I’ve decided I love it AND the flavors are so wonderfully intense that a little goes a long way (when I used as a lettuce salad topping I could only eat about half). I’d recommend serving this on little buttery crackers as an appetizer or finger food for parties. It’s easy to make and comes together quickly but is also totally fancy and people will be in awe of your over-the-top party food!

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Ingredients:
8 oz lump crab meat (REAL crab, not Krab with a “K”)
1 avocado, chopped into smallish pieces
3 T finely chopped red onion
Juice of 1 lime
2 T finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 finely chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
2 T mayo (more or less depending on the volume of all your other ingredients, you want everything just very lightly coated – you may also sub olive oil for mayo as the original recipe suggests)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
*Note: If you are serving on crackers as an appetizer, you want everything chopped very small so as to allow you to get a bit of all that goodness in each cracker serving. If you want to swing for the fences and eat this over lettuce as a meal, feel free to chop the ingredients larger.

Instructions:
-add all ingredients to a bowl, minus mayo, and toss to combine
-add enough mayo to lightly cover everything and gently toss
-taste and adjust any flavors according to your preference
-top crackers with crab salad mixture and serve cold

 


Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

Asparagus is a perfect springtime veggie, and being ‘in season’ it can often be found in grocery stores for ridiculously low prices.

With Easter dinner right around the corner, here’s a simple side dish that’s a wonderful compliment to any main dish offering.

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Ingredients:
-1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
-Olive oil
-Garlic powder
-Salt
-Black pepper
-Finely shredded Parmesan cheese

Instructions:
-Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil (you want all spears to have a light coat of oil)
-Season with garlic, salt and pepper (to your taste preferences) and toss to distribute seasonings
-Place in 400 degree oven for 10-15 min
-Remove from oven, stir and sprinkle with cheese
-Return to oven for 5-10 minutes
-Serve hot

I hope this holiday weekend finds you renewed with the promises that come from our RISEN Savior!

H


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