A Tree Falls And The lessons Continue / Fallen But Not Useless

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The tree that fell in the playground of the apartments I lived in continues to teach us lessons. Today as I looked at the branches cut and in piles and looked at the tree that they came from I received another lesson.

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Fallen does not mean useless it also does not mean that you have changed who you are. Your purpose may have changed, and your location may have changed and you may even feel separated from the source of life with your creator but you still have purpose and you are still His creation.

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He can take the broken pieces of your life and use them for many new purposes.  One thing that you can easily do with a fallen branch is cut it into firewood. This of course would be a one time use. Yet this wood can become so much more than that. I have already gathered branches from this tree and put them to use.

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They now have my grapevine growing upon them. Supporting life that is already growing its fruit.

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Previously I have used a fallen branches and turned them into walking sticks like my other had done when she was alive. Here are a couple I have previously made.

The wood that is used to build homes and and furniture all came from a tree. This chair, shop, barn and home were all built from wood that was once part trees. They all serve a purpose. A place to sit and rest. A place to work. A place to shelter animals and store supplies and equipment. A home to shelter a family or even an individual.

Whether that tree was cut down or fell that was used to build these I do not know. What I know is wood comes from a tree and eternal life comes from Jesus. There is one piece of wood that was used to bring us salvation. It was used to make the cross upon which our Savior was crucified.

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This cross is not that cross but it is a reminder to us of the price He paid for us and how He has forgiven us. Another tree that gave a piece of itself to be used for the greatest purpose in any trees life.So if you have fallen or someone you know has fallen do not write yourself or them off. You are useful and you have a purpose. Let yourself be picked up and make a new start. Become something new.

Proverbs 24:16 for though a righteous man falls seven times, he will rise again, but the wicked stumble into calamity.

Psalm 37:23-24 The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

Psalm 145:14-16 The LORD helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads. The eyes of all look to you in hope; you give them their food as they need it. When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Isaiah 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.

 

A Tree Falls

Okay it was not the whole tree that fell today but a large portion of tree did fall into our playground today. I actually heard a loud crack light lightning than a woosh as I watched it fall. I am thankful that all the children who live here in the apartments were not home but at school today. This however has lead me to a few thoughts. Here is the first of those.

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Thankfully when this large branch fell no one was hurt and no property damage was done.

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It missed the cars parked next to the playground.

No children were on the playground and it even missed the jungle gym and slide.

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As I thought about how thankful I was that no one was hurt I began to think about what happens when a brother or sister in Christ falls. Yes they are hurt and much damage is done to their life but how does their falling effect those who are near to them? Does anyone truly care or do they just receive judgment and condemnation from those who had said they loved them? Are they left alone to their destruction or does someone come and help pick them back up and begin to put back the pieces?

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Here you can see our handyman Sam cutting the branches and clearing the debris.

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This man came on his time off to help clear up a mess. It will take a couple or more days to finish the work but he will get it done because he cares about us and our safety.

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Sam is more than our handyman here, he is a brother in Christ Jesus. He is one if he sees someone down he comes and helps them up. He does not leave them lying on the ground. He sees a problem and he does not ignore it he does what he can to fix what needs fixing. Being a handyman suits him. Those  of us who know him count themselves blessed. He loves Jesus and the love of Christ flows through him.

So what if you or me falls who will be there to pick us up? If we fall how does this effect those who are close to us.? How many get hurt by our falling? Who will care? The unfortunate part of life is we will occasionally stumble and even fall. Sometimes we can keep the damage minimal and are the only ones who get hurt. To get back up we may need to be trimmed back. Cut some things loose so we can lift ourselves back up. Other times we will need help and God may send us someone like Sam. People who love Jesus and when they see someone down they go to them and help mend them and get them back on their feet and on the right path, like the parable Jesus told us about the Samaritan.

Parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) – Bible Gateway

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Footnotes:

  1. Luke 10:27 Deut. 6:5
  2. Luke 10:27 Lev. 19:18
  3. Luke 10:35 A denarius was the usual daily wage of a day laborer (see Matt. 20:2).

 

Rainy days

Okay today is Sunday but as I watched the rain this song came to me.

Psalms 135:7

He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses. NIV

Psalms 147:8

He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. NIV

Psalms 72:6

May he be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth. NIV

Sleep the elusive dream continued “A call to prayer”

How many of you find it difficult to find sleep at the end of the day? Insomnia as it is medically labeled is something more people than we realize suffer with. After not sleeping last night and my ramblings I posted during the night hours, I have a thought I would like to share. I know that you do not know me and I do not know you, but if you are like me and are awake while the rest of the world sleeps, why don’t we start praying together. We can pray for each other. We can pray for loved ones. We can pray for our leaders and for the leaders around the world. We can pray for blessings, for peace, and for healing. We can pray together for anything and for anyone.

Let us use this time in the night to good and not complain about the lack of sleep but pray together that God’s will be done. If Christ is in you as He is in me we are not strangers but are one with God who created us. With as many of us who live with the lack of sleep come together sharing each others burdens can you imagine what God can do with our prayers? Prayer is a gift and a weapon. Let us use it for good. If you will join me in this idea please post a comment. You can leave a request for prayer and I will pray with you for that need or the person who needs prayer. What ever prayer is needed there will be no judgment only loving prayers. If you know others who have trouble sleeping ask them if they will join in prayer. Let us instead of being insomniacs become warriors in the night. I hope and pray to take back from the enemy what He has stolen from us be turned into victory for Jesus Christ. Let us take back our nights. Let us pray! Please join me in prayer.

James 5:15-17 The Prayer of Faith
15and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.…

Matthew 18:18-20 18“Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. 19“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

You were supposed to protect me

Many years ago while I was living back in California There was a child abuse case that had me enraged. I was not personally involved in it but as I read the newspaper article I could not believe who had been abusing these children. A C.P.S. worker whose job was to transport these children had been molesting children who were already victims of abuse during transport. This man who was supposed to be a protector had victims literally dropped into his lap. Though he was convicted he received a sentence that shocked me on how short it was and was being released to live in my neighborhood. As I read this article I remember my mother to telling me I needed to stop reading the news because it upset me too much.

The outrage was not mine alone neighbors were afraid of having a sex offender who victimized children in their neighborhood. This man was supposed to protect these already traumatized children. It was his job. He was a first responder to emergency situations where children had to be immediately removed from homes. In my eyes this man is a monster who preyed on the weak and injured. I could not believe that after being convicted this man was given such a light sentence which seemed to be not much more than a slap on the wrist.

So after all these years why write about it now? To be honest I do not know what brought this back to my mind. He was not the one who had abused me. Yet the memory of this incident is fresh in my mind today. There are so many children in the world today who are being abused in one way or another. Who is protecting them? Who is fighting for them? Thankfully there are some groups who are doing this but they are limited in what they can do. They can’t prevent what is being done and are not able to know about victims until it is too late fro some.

Those who are in the homes and lives of these children are the first line of defense.  Yet how many times is a blind eye turned. People do not want to get involved and even worse when one parent knows what is going on but does nothing. What are these children supposed to think? Who can they trust? What happens to them? How does this effect the person they grow up to be?

T.D. Jakes made a movie Woman Thou Art Loosed that was based on a woman who had been sexually abused as a child and how as an adult it was still effecting her life. Tyler Perry’s movie, Family Reunion included a story of one of the daughters who had not only been molested by her stepfather the mother even groomed her daughter for her husband. How unfortunate that even though these movies are fictional they are based on things that happen in real life. Real victims who have people in their lives who turn their backs on them. People who could stop the pain and suffering. Parents, family, friends, care takers, and neighbors to name those who are closest to these children. For what ever reason they do not get involved they do nothing to protect these children. Yet these same people turn and blame God not realizing that God wanted to work through them, to use them to protect and defend. In the movie, The Encounter, there is a scene that I remember vividly. In this scene a teenage girl who had been sexually abused by her stepfather was yelling at Jesus asking Him where was He? His response has stuck with me. He said, ‘I was there yelling into his ear to stop’ but because of free will, all He could do was plead with her stepfather. Yes God is powerful enough to stop us in our tracks but He does not because of the gift of free will. Something He won’t give to just one and deny another. We are His hands and feet. He wants us to take action to be watchmen and guards who protect.

Ephesians 6:4 ESV  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

John 17:15 ESV  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

I grew up believing my mother left me to my father who had abused her and then becoming the one he abused. Angry that she had left me behind only to save herself. Unfortunately it was only six years ago that I learned she had to make a sacrifice that she never spoke of. After one very horrifying act against my mother, he threatened her with me and my brother. Making it clear that if she did not leave us with him and give him custody I would not be alive today. There were relatives of his that knew what he was doing yet did nothing and even let me believe the terrible things he said to me about her. Even to this day they defend him. As I grew up my mother even let me speak any disrespectful words about him around her. She did not defend herself either. I am only sorry that we had only began to heal our relationship before she died suddenly of a massive stroke. I am still heartbroken that t took a tragedy inflected upon me by my stepmother and father to reveal what was done to her, how much of my life was wasted being angry at her and the guilt and shame she lived with so I could still be alive today. She couldn’t stop him from hurting me but she did keep me alive and for this I will be forever grateful. I know this is just a small piece of my life. At least I can say now I know she did her best to protect me. (I love and miss you Momma.)

 

Just a thought March 24, 2017

A thought just came to me. There are plenty of things that happen in each of our lives that hurt us and even turn our lives upside down. Things that we cannot stop and are out of our control. Tragic things happen and we do not know why. This is an unfortunate part of life. We ask God, why and we do not seem to get an answer. We wonder if God is mad at us and some may even think that He doesn’t love them. This is not true. Bad things happen and there is no explanation that I can give you. I know however in the darkest moments when all is wrong He is there with us. He cries with us and grieves with us. He does love each of us more than any of us will ever know.

Yet what about the things that we make happen? We know not to do something yet we do it anyway. We get into relationships that turn our lives upside down and tear us apart. We make choices both good and, right or wrong. Then when things fall apart and we get hurt we blame the other person or situation we willingly got ourselves into.

A relationship that already has problems yet the couple chooses to get married believing they can make the other person change or having a child in a vain attempt to hold on to the other person. Then the relationship still gets worse and we then continue to blame the other not taking any accountability for our own actions and choices. We work against each other and fight. Tearing each other apart and blaming each other never fixes anything. Homes, communities and nations are torn apart because we choose to fight against each other and demand our own ways. Refusing to listen or work with each other.We are right and the other is wrong. Proud and arrogant is what we have become. We lack responsibility and accountability. Matthew 7:5 teaches an important lesson Look at ourselves and actions and fix what is wrong with our own selves. Then we can be better help each other.

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Photography by Julie Sheppard edited with paint.

I cannot honestly blame all my pain and suffering on other and definitely not God. I am responsible for my own choices and actions. Yes I have been abused and this I am not to be blamed for, but what I did in reaction to the abuse is my responsibility.

 

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.