A Rose From My Mother

my mothers rose

Photography by Julie Sheppard

I took this picture after the memorial for my mother in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. She had planted this rose bush in her yard. After the service this beautiful rose stood out against the desert that surrounded it. At that time my heart was broken and my grief was overwhelming. I saw only a rose and knew that she had planted. Today this picture spoke to me. Her life had many harsh times and she survived and even bloomed.

Mom Acton Ca

She was an amazing woman and she made sacrifices that cost her more than I had ever known for most of her life so that I could live and still be here today. Now as I look at this rose I see more than a rose. I am learning a lesson. Life can be harsh and cruel for many of us. Yet no matter where you are or what cruelty may surround you, love and life can still prevail.

I still miss my mom and always will but my thoughts of her bring me joy and she is still in my heart. She was a loving mother and a beautiful and hard working lady.

Advertisements

Being Broken

When you think of the term broken what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

Here are some things that came to my mind.

  1. Ruined
  2. Trash
  3. Destroyed
  4. Unusable
  5. Worthless

I could easily list many more things and you might have some of the same things on your list. Yet these are only the negative thought about being broken. Do you like nuts? I love them. To get to the nut you have to break the shell. Some shells are easier to break open than others like sunflower seeds or peanuts. Walnuts or pecans are are not so easy to break open. You need a nutcracker to get to the good part of these nuts, and if you don’t have a nutcracker a hammer works as long as you don’t hit the too hard. It takes effort to break their outer shells to get to the good part that you can eat and enjoy.

So being broken even though painful can lead to something good for you. The process hurts and is not fun. Imagine you are the nut and you can see the nutcracker coming for you. Then you feel trapped in its grip till you crack and break open. Scary thought. Most of us would run from pain if we knew it was going to happen was going to hurt. Yet if we all ran away from the possibility of pain we would cease to exist. Women would not have babies because labor is pain! Life is going to have some very painful moments. Just as a woman who goes from the pain of labor to the joy of holding her newborn baby, life can take your pain and turn it into joy.

Look at the life of Joseph. his brothers hate him and throw him into a pit, and want to kill him. Thankfully one brother suggest they sell him to travelers passing by. Then he is bought as a slave and goes from slave to prisoner. He lived a life under pressure of attack and rejection. Yet in the end he was lifted above his circumstance and placed in a position where he was able to save not only the people in Egypt but his own people. (Look up his story in Genesis.)

Sometimes we have to be broken to get to the good part of ourselves that is hidden deep within.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 51:8 Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

 

 

Self Examination / How honest can you be?

If you are a woman you have more than like seen one of these breast self exam cards. A woman will examine herself to check for cancer but how many of us examine ourselves for the cancer of sin that slowly eats way the life of its’ host. We are quick to point out others flaws and report the wrong doings of others but how often do we confess our own sins? Publicly admit any wrong doings on our parts. Yet we publicly point out the wrongs others may be doing. Thanks to the Internet and social media opinions outweigh facts. People write what they want and though each of us can have our own opinion it is just that an opinion not fact. The best lies have a grain of truth. We can ‘t even believe what we see in the news any more. Yet criticism, and judgments are made and the ones doing this believe they are right and just.  The bible tells us that none are without sin.

Romans 3:10 (KJV)  As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

1 John 1:7-9 (KJV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

One of the Bible studies called Self portraits discusses how we see ourselves.

https://emotionalpeace.wordpress.com/2015/08/30/self-portraits-bible-lesson/

I have gone back to this lesson to dig a little deeper. To examine myself once again.

IMG_0007

So here is a self portrait that does not show my best side but it is honest look in the mirror. Each picture in this collage depicts a small part of me. It may be incomplete but as I made this and chose each picture as it reflected what I saw in my mirror. In the top row there is a picture of a woman who has a cap pulled down over her face with boss written on it. When I looked at it I saw how pride had blinded me. That I have been stubborn and let resentment and unforgiveness had bound me up like the straight jacket she is wearing. The pink boxing gloves represents the fighter inside of me. Yet why was I fighting and who was I fighting? The picture of a hunter with his bow drawn represents being constantly under attack. The train was my feeling of hopelessness. The ladder in the middle of the painting represents feeling like I am going nowhere. The shadow represents the darkness inside of me. The wolf howling represents like I am being hunted. The whitewater  canoe is me being tossed around by my own emotions. How turbulent they are.  The doll with the key in its back is feeling empty and like a puppet. The winding road is me getting off track. The picture of the woman drinking water is the unquenchable thirst. Looking to have my needs met by that which will never satisfy me truly. The man standing in front of the painting represents the mess my life is in. The scarecrow represents the empty fears I have. The woman hanging off the ledge is me barely hanging on. The black pig is the demons I wrestle with. Miss Piggy is that no matter what I do my past will always be my past no matter how I want to dress it up. The piggy banks in the soil being watered is all that I have wasted. A life of turmoil and under attack. Walking on the wrong road blind. Wasting my life, confused and hopeless. Bitter and filled with hateful emotions. Fighting the wrong fights. This is one part of me in a nutshell. Exposing my underbelly. Being honest with myself and the world.

IMG_2707

Sketch by Julie Sheppard

I don’t want to be a hypocrite anymore. Passing judgments on others while ignoring my own sins. So it is time to take the log out of my own eye.A self examination is not something to be done once, but like the breast self exam card says to do monthly, we need to do a self check on a regular basis.   Can you examine yourself honestly and then will you share your results?

Proverbs 1:8-9 Lesson 2

A lesson from Proverbs #2 Instruction and Teaching

Proverbs1: 8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. 9 They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

Instruction and teaching are they the same thing?

Instruction / noun

  1. the act or practice of instructing or teaching; education.
  2. knowledge or information imparted.
  3. an item of such knowledge or information.
  4. Usually, instructions. orders or directions:

The instructions are on the back of the box.

  1. the act of furnishing with authoritative directions.
  2. Computers. a command given to a computer to carry out a particular operation.

Synonyms directionstar disciplinestar guidancestar informationstar lessonstar preparationstar schoolingstar teachingstar trainingstar apprenticeshipstar coachingstar drillingstar edificationstar enlightenmentstar groundingstar tuitionstar tutelage

Teaching / noun

  1. the act or profession of a person who teaches.
  2. something that is taught.
  3. Often, teachings. doctrines or precepts:

the teachings of Lao-tzu.

Synonyms coachingstar cultivationstar culturestar disciplinestar guidancestar instructionstar learningstar readingstar schoolingstar trainingstar tutoringstar apprenticeshipstar drillingstar enlightenmentstar tutelagestar book learningstar

Looking at the definitions including the synonyms we see that they are the same. Then why in verse 8 is instruction and teachings mentioned?

שְׁמַע בְּנִי מוּסַר אָבִי וְאַל־תִּטֹּשׁ תּוֹרַת אִמֶּ  1:8 sh’ma B’nimûšar äviykhä w’alTi‡osh TôratiMekhä  1:8 My son, 1121 hear 8085 z8798 the instruction 4148 of thy father, 1 and forsake 5203 z8799 notx408 the law 8451 of thy mother: 517

Musar is the Hebrew word for discipline which is also instruction. Which you read in the English translation of the scripture from the Hebrew translation.  The word used in this translation for teachings is law. So as we go to the root of this scripture we see discipline and law are the original words used for instruction and teachings.

 

Tôwrâh – ‘instruction, teaching, guidance, law’

More than Just ‘Law’

The word  tôrâh (Strong’s #8451) means more than just ‘law’, its usual simplistic translation (always ‘law’ in the KJV 219x). It derives from  yârâh (Strong’s #3384) meaning ‘to shoot out the hand as pointing, to show, indicate’, ‘to teach, instruct’, ‘to lay foundations’, ‘to sprinkle, to water’, ‘to shoot, as an arrow’.

Yârâh begins with the letter ‘y’ yôdh which is the picture letter of a hand whilst another word sometimes used for teaching and instruction lâmadh (Strong’s #3925) begins with picture letter ‘l’ of an ox-goad, used for disciplining and training an animal or soldiers. How much better to be taught by pointing than by poking, by the demonstration of the hand rather than the discipline of the rod.

Tôrâh then derives from a root verb which has more to do with ‘hand’ led instruction than ‘rod’ following legalism. It means:

  • ‘instruction’ as from a parent to a child (Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 7:2).
  • ‘doctrine/instruction’ via the prophets (Isaiah 1:10; 8:16,20; 42:4,21)
  • ‘legal instruction’ as in the ‘law of sacrifice’ (Leviticus 6:7; 7:7)
  • ‘the Pentateuch/Mosaic revelation’ (Joshua 1:8)

First Use

Regarding the last definition, it cannot exclusively mean ‘The Law’ as its first use predates the Law and is used of Abraham’s obedience to God’s revelation:

“…And all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my torah.” (Genesis 26:4-5)

So Abraham was renowned and the world blessed not because of mere ‘faith’ but, in agreement with the early rabbis and the apostle James, because of his obedience to God’s torah. Torah is not just law and faith involved action and obedience.

It was also broader than ‘a Law’ for Jews only as its second use in the Bible says that there was “one torah” (Exodus 12:49) for the Israelite and for the stranger in their midst.

Summary

Its basic idea, then, is ‘instruction’ or ‘teaching’ to a valued individual rather than to a beast of burden. Even when it is legitimately translated as ‘law’ the emphasis is still on instruction. The Torah/Law of Moses might better be translated as ‘the instruction of God by revelation through Moses’.

In the modern Christian church ‘law’ has become a negative word and ‘revelation’ a positive one. But they are both the same. The famous verse in Proverbs 29:18 is usually quoted as half a verse only. Its second half, written in parallel terminology, says the same thing so that revelation and torah instruction are virtually identical:

So we listen and do not forsake the instructions and teachings of our parents. Continue reading verse 9 and we see that we are to wear these upon our head and around our neck. So what comes to your mind when you read this?

I thought about the Helmet of Salvation. How you wear the helmet on your head and then I thought about how some helmets include a collar. How do we guard our minds? We keep the Word of God in the center of our thoughts. We focus on His teachings and how He disciplines us in His love. Athletes and soldiers discipline not only their bodies but their minds. They train themselves to be able to do what is needed to perform their tasks. When we look to the Proverbs we look to the wisdom of God. For His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 We lean not on our own understanding. Proverbs 3:5.

There are some who think we do away with the law because of grace and that the law being fulfilled we no longer need the law. The commands of God to me are eternal. Jesus said, ‘If you love me you will keep my commands.’ John 14:15. He went further when He added a command. John 13:34-35 (NKJV)  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The 10 Commandments

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
  5. Honor your father and your mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

God’s instructions are to teach us how to live life and how to love. We look to His Word for guidance. Jesus is also known as our teacher. John 3:2.  He is also the Word of God made flesh. John 1:1.

Discipline – Law / Instructions – Teachings

What do these mean to you?

Acceptable Loss?

When is loss of life acceptable and meaningless? The world treats life as it is expendable. Your life an my life mean nothing to this world. Drugs both legal and illegal taking lives everyday. Babies thrown away through countless abortions. Lives lost to murders. Fatal car accidents caused by careless drivers who are to busy on their phone or devices. This list goes on and you know of ways lives are wasted or destroyed everyday.

You can heard it said in our government and big business the term acceptable loss. It is usually a financial loss when it comes to business but not always. The bean counters calculate the costs of lawsuits to be filed against the company. If the pay out to the law suits is less than making the costly changes that may prevent the loss of life then they proceed and subtract the legal costs from their profits.Then there are casualties of war. Innocent lives of no combatant people, the nonmilitary residents of a war zone who are injured or worse killed due to battles happening where they live.Once again you can hear the term acceptable loss.

The unfortunate fact that lives will be lost and people will be injured and killed everyday is going to happen. Even people who live in peaceful areas still face death. Most hope to pass from this world peacefully.  Yet I do not believe that any loss of life is acceptable and I believe God feels the same. If He did not He could have wiped us out  years ago before He sent His Son to pay the price for our sins. Yet He is merciful and patient. He is not slow as we count slowness but patient that all call to repentance.2 Peter 3:9.

As frustrating as waiting can be, I am grateful God is patient, loving and merciful or none of us would have a chance. Your life and the lives of those around you, and not just the lives of those you like, all life is precious to Jesus. He died for you and for me so that we can live and not perish. Life is a gift and we should treasure all life. No loss is acceptable.

Matthew 18:12-14

John 3:16

Romans 6:23

John 6:35

Criticism verses Loves

Do you realize how critical and judgmental people can be? I know I can be. It is not my intent and it is an area I am working on.I have to take the time to look in the mirror at myself or it is easy for me to argue and become less of a person than those who criticize or judge me.

Have you noticed that we all have some great reasons to pass judgment on each other? We are quick to criticize those in the world for how they live. We even turn on our brothers and sister in Christ. We spread hate and not His love by slandering each other and the we use the excuse of having wisdom and understanding and that we have to expose sin. Yet we do not deal with the sin in our own hearts.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a]but have not love, it profits me nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:12(NKJV)  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

The body of Christ is divided not because of the world but because of our own demanding ways and holding on to the small part of understanding we have. We cling to religion and legalism or we go as far as saying we do not have to obey the law.Jesus said ‘If you love me, you will keep my commands’ He added one command and that was for us to love one another as He loves us. I have been criticized and called a number of names and the sad thing is more than half of those who have done this call themselves Christians. Does this mean I am to hate them? Definitely not! /these people do so out of their own limited way of thinking and that I do not fit their mold of what they want me to be. I am definitely a unique individual. God has taken the broken parts of my life and transformed them into a working vessel He can use. My obedience is to God first. My life is to please God and I do this by living my life in love. I have learned that I will never learn everything there is to learn in my life on this earth. I know in part and I will spend my life seeking God and His instruction. Life can be compared to a puzzle, we all have a piece and we can only see what that piece shows. Then another comes and we are able to put our pieces together and the picture grows. This continues until all the pieces are brought together. What happens if a piece or more turns up missing? The picture cannot be complete. I like to think that Jesus holds those missing pieces waiting for us to work together so He can then finish what He started.

If you look only to find what you do not agree with you will find it every time. It is so easy to find the flaws and wrongs in others. It is even easier to justify your judgment. Remember this though Satan used scripture against Jesus when he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

Matthew 4:1-11 (NKJV)  Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”[a]Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’and,‘In their hands they shall bear you up,Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”[b]Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”[c]Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you,[d] Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”[e]11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Here are a few things I am turning to work on my own self.

One learning to listen to ALL another has to say as well as how they are saying it because no two people communicate perfectly and even when they are saying the same thing due to lack of understanding and problems communicating they can still fall into a argument disagreeing over something they actually agree upon. If I interrupt or dismiss what they have to say before I have listen to all what they have to say. Another thing is by listening not just hearing I am validating the person and this does not mean I agree but accept that what they have to say is important to them

The next is acknowledging I do not know everything, that what I know is only a small part of all the wisdom God has. For His thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. I need a spirit of humility and compassion.

Another thing I contemplate is 1 Corinthians 13 Love does not demand its own way. God gave me free will,  who am I to demand another to see as I see and not allow them to have their own opinion.. What I mean is that I can say what I have to say and another can say what they have to say. If we do not agree I do not need to repeat myself or use every argument I can come up trying to force them into agreement with myself, or to make sure I have been heard. A term a friend taught me some years back is sand paper people and what is even funnier to me is that a majority of my friends fall into this category. The fact that we are friends is that we have learned that we do not have to agree but we respect each other and our different opinions. We all come from different backgrounds and have had different life experiences. Unfortunately the majority of us have lived through one form of abuse or another. How we have developed and healed has been different and at different times in our lives. I would be wrong to tell them they need to be where I am because I had already been there and done that and I know the right way, Yet I would be wrong. How I was hurt and how I was healed is not the same. Similar yes we have both been hurt by abuse but how my abuse effected me is going to be different than how they were affected. The time it takes me to heal is dependent on the degree of my wound and God’s timing.

God is our Judge, Jesus is our Advocate, the Holy Spirit is our Helper, and Satan is our accuser..I have to ask myself am I being any one of these.

Does this mean I do not call sin, sin?  Sin must be addressed and not swept under the rug but I have to ask myself am I trying to help another out of the ditch or am I standing above the one in the ditch kicking dirt down on them burying them with my judgment. Do I get down on my knees with an outstretched arm and help them up. Think about the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’.

None of us are without sin and none of us is perfect but we hypocritically demand others be perfect and agree with us. Where is the love of Jesus in this. He did not choose the elite or highly educated. He chose men who were rough and ones who were even despised by their community. You even have women from backgrounds not acceptable by religious standards. Rahab the harlot,who hides and protects the spies Joshua sent into Canaan.Then Ruth the Moabite who becomes the grandmother of David. The woman who anoints Jesus is despised by those who are with Jesus. The Samaritan woman at the well would not have even been spoken to by the religious. She even tells Jesus if you knew who I am you would not speak to me. Jesus does speak to her and He speaks to her with love.

Man or woman. Adult or child. No matter your race or background  or opinion, Jesus loves you. Can we learn to love each other as He loves us or we continue to justify our actions no matter who we may hurt or keep from coming to know the love and mercy Jesus has for all of us.

 

How to stop or avoid an argument

Love does not demand its own way.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7New Living Translation (NLT)

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

These verses describe what is and is not love. My focus today is on the sentence – It does not demand its own way. How often do we argue with one another? An argument consists of at least two people in a disagreement. Both feel that they are right. The arguing is each one demanding they are right. Yet once you have entered an argument you have already lost even if you may be right. The other person may hear you but they are not listening to you and vice versa. This is just one example of a person demanding their own way, so I am going to keep on this topic. Say I do not agree with you. Instead of walking away or moving on to another subject, I keep persisting on you agreeing with me. I finally irritate you until you are upset and a full blown argument takes place. I might have been right but the way I handled this conversation was absolutely wrong. I was not getting the response I wanted, so I kept nagging you and insisting you agree with me. You may have had something for me to listen to but I was refusing to hear you. Now both of us are upset and nothing more than irritation, hurt feelings, and anger are left. So what was the point? I was demanding my own way; I was not speaking in love.

It is not easy when you have something to say and the other person is refusing to listen to what you have to say, but at the same time how often do we really listen to the others need? Is it just about what I want? When we take the time to listen to each other, and care about the others needs and wants as much as our own, this is just one way to show love. I have not perfected this quality but I am working on this personally. Of course since I have decided to make this change in myself I have met many challenges. I regularly find people who want nothing more than to argue. So I have had to either move the conversation to a more positive conversation, or politely end the conversation. Neither is easy to do, and takes effort. Yet I remind myself of this scripture and focus on the sentence-It does not demand its own way. I also ask myself when I feel like an argument is about to begin, if I am trying to demand my own way. I cannot control how another behaves, but I can choose how I will act or react. I hope that there is someone else this will help.

Proverbs 15:1-2 (NKJV)

15 A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.