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.

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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Putting the branches in a pile after cutting them.IMG_0006 (2).JPG

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).

 

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.

hypocrite

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.

 

QUESTION; Was there any protests when Obama was first elected or any other President?

There is so much division in this country I call my home. Pro-Trump verse anti-Trump. Marches in protest all across the country and even families and people who were once friends are divided. I have never known a President to be elected by a 100% unanimous vote. We start off with many candidates who run for the office and then it usually gets whittled down to just two in the last stretch of the election. One wins the other one looses. Not everyone is happy. Yet we are called the United States, that even though we are different and have different opinions as a nation we once stood together. We do not need a foreign enemy to do us harm any more because we are harming each other every day with hatred and fighting.

So I have a couple of questions;

Since Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War has there been protests and division like there is today?

Was there any other President who was immediately protested and marched against after winning an election for their first term? (Yes I know there were protests when Obama was re-elected but I am talking about first term before they had even been in office for more than a few months)

I know I probably stirred up a hornets nest but the question has been on my mind for a few weeks and I googled protests against Presidents and only came up with Trump and then Obama during his second term and not his first.

International womens day

So today we have people once again protesting. We have women who did not go to work today in protest. I read that some schools even had to close for the day because of this. I think the day would be better spent remembering women who made a difference. So today I am choosing to remember Esther. Here a young girl who had been an orphan being raised by her cousin is raised to the position of Queen. I  like to call it the first biblically recorded beauty pageant. She did not have to scheme or fight to win here title. She simply adorned herself and was presented before the king. A time comes when all the Jews in the land were to be executed. Her cousin sends her a request to approach the king and save her people. Now most know that if she was not called for by the king even though he was her husband she could lose her life. She had a difficult choice to make. The king did not know she was a Jew but if this execution would happen she would be found out and be executed as well. She did not approach the king with demands or outrage. She did approach him and invited the king and the man who had plotted to kill her people to dinner. She was received and the king accepted the invite. It was during the dinner that she revealed this plot and admitted to being a Jew. The king stopped the execution and the one who sought the lives of the Jews then himself was hung on the very gallows he had ordered built. A simple orphan girl grew into a woman who saved not only herself but her people as well. I have retold this story in a nutshell and I hope you will take time to read the book of Esther for yourself. This is woman is one of many in the Bible who has inspired me. Would you share a story of a woman who has inspired you?

Today’s thought – March 7, 2017 – Miss, Ma’m, Madame, Lady, Etc…

How many of us today remember being taught to call women by respectful names. I have lived in Texas for almost 20 years now. Calling a woman Ma’m has become second nature to me. Yet I have found many women who hate being called Ma’m or Lady. I personally like being called a lady. To me being a lady is not some uppity snobby woman who wouldn’t know where the kitchen or laundry room is. Being a Lady is being intelligent, well mannered, caring, courteous, and flexible. A lady can pick up a hammer and swing at a nail if she needs to, she can hunt and fish if she likes. Although her beauty may seem delicate she has strength that she does not need to flaunt. She does not look down on others but looks for ways to help those who she can. Her compassion and grace do not make her a door mat, they only compliment what makes her beautiful to begin with. They do not have to wear elegant dresses and have the hair and make up perfect. They are beautiful and shine no matter what their attire is. They are the wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends you meet everyday. Some go to work, and others take care of the home. To each other they are equals. They do not need to dominate others or tear another down. They keep away from gossip and do not spread rumors. They do not seek revenge when harmed. They cry when they see others hurting and are not ashamed when they cry because of their own personal pain. She can fit in without changing who she is. She is a Lady.

If you are a woman and someone addresses you by any of these names please do not take offense. You are being shown respect. A little while back a young man I work with called me a b***, I knew that he did not call me this to slander or insult me, it is a term many women call themselves today and even call their friend this. Yet when this young man did this I did not react in anger but firmly told him that he was never to call me by that name again, he of course said he only called me that because that is what he calls all of his friends. I told him that I was not one and would not be called one and that It was being disrespectful to me. We talked about if one wanted to be respected they need to respect others and not even jokingly disrespect another. When we call ourselves demeaning an derogatory names and then get offended when addressed with respect who is the one really in the wrong. There is also those who call themselves names that I will not list here but you know the terms and get outraged if someone else calls them the very same name. It makes no sense what so ever. Names have meanings and words have power, so when we speak negative, insulting, slanderous, and hurtful names even as a joke we are degrading each other and ourselves. You can cry out for equality while disrespecting others or yourself. If you do then you are actually saying that you want to be disrespected. For that is what you are doing to others and to yourself.  Be a real woman and be a lady.

One of my favorite scriptures regarding what a woman can desire to be is Proverbs 31. The Proverbial woman. It was not until years of insomnia that this thought hit me. This woman does not sleep. She is up before everyone else, cares for family and servants, works and cares for her home , and is the last in her house to go to sleep. Yet the one things that she is is respected. She was not complaining to her friends how terrible her life is and how unfair she is treated. She gets what needs to be done and demands nothing in return. She does not whine that she barely got any sleep or that no one helps her. She is caring and compassionate. She has an attitude I wish that I could learn to have. She is definitely a lady in my book.

Proverbs 31:10-31

The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10  4 uAn excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than vjewels.

11  The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

12  She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

13  She wseeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

14  She is like the ships of the merchant;

she brings her food from afar.

15  She xrises while it is yet night

and yprovides food for her household

and portions for her maidens.

16  She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17  She zdresses herself5 with strength

and makes her arms strong.

18  She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

19  She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

20  She aopens her hand to bthe poor

and reaches out her hands to bthe needy.

21  She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in cscarlet.6

22  She makes dbed coverings for herself;

her clothing is efine linen and fpurple.

23  Her husband is known in gthe gates

when he sits among the elders of the land.

24  She makes hlinen garments and sells them;

she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25  iStrength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

26  She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27  She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28  Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

29  Many jwomen have done kexcellently,

but you surpass them all.

30  lCharm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31  Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.

Righteous anger or just plain anger?

How do you know if your anger is righteous or if you are just plain angry? I know of many who will justify not only their anger but what is done in anger, and some that will even use scripture to give just cause. Yet is this right?

Along with fighting depression I have a major battle with anger. I have been told I am right to be angry for the things that have been done to me. That they understand why I have reacted in anger and that it was okay because I was hurt. Something inside of me says this is wrong. There is no excuse that I can give for any outburst of anger that I have had. No matter how minimal the damage I may have done when I have been angry I have still caused damage. Even if it was just my words and that I shot off my mouth, Wrong is wrong. Almost everything I have ever broken when I have been angry has belonged to me, It dos not matter if I threw an object and it shattered or I tore up clothes or burnt pictures. The damage cannot be undone. This damage is not as bad as the words that have come out of my mouth, and the cursing that I have done. Even the hateful thoughts are wrong. For it starts as a thought, then comes out in either physical actions or words and both can do irreversible damage.

They say to be careful with a cornered animal because you do not know how it will react or how bad it can hurt you. I used to be that cornered animal, and all the pain that was inflicted upon me to make me cower in fear. To control and manipulate me would eventually back me into a corner where I felt the only way to survive was to fight back with all that was left within me. The saying dynamite comes in small packages was one I used quite a bit yet I out my own spin on it. I would say, ‘Dynamite comes in small packages but nitro comes in smaller and has a bigger bang. Call me Nitro.’ That was when I was proud to be angry. I had every reason to be yet the person who I hurt the most was myself.

I thank God that I am not that woman any more. Yet I still fight the anger that sometimes still boils to a rage inside of me. The difference now is that I know it is wrong and I can acknowledge that the words or even the thoughts I have when I get angry like this are wrong. One saying I can agree with today is, ‘Two wrongs do not make a right.’

So how do I know my anger is not righteous? For one reason is because a hatred begins to burn inside. Then condemning and hate filled thoughts fill my mind. No one even has to be around, just a thought of something that upsets me pops into my head and a fuse gets lit and the anger begins. Thankfully this is not an everyday occurrence but when my body’s pain level rises I have noticed my level of agitation lowers and I become more irritable. Why share any of this with anyone? I learned a while back that by putting things out into the light exposes the darkness hidden within me. Then the darkness has to flee. Scripture tells us to take every thought captive. I believe this is good because not every thought that passes through our minds are good. We are to rid ourselves of the damaging thoughts and keep the ones that keep us focused on Jesus Christ. I would like to say that the war on my anger has been won, but I still have my battles. There are battles I have won and there are battles in which I lost. I thankfully get a reprieve from these battles but then the war rages on and the fight begins again. The thing I am learning is that I do not fight anger with anger and I definitely do not fight it with hate. I start with myself and acknowledge any wrong on my part and then repent and ask God for His mercy and to help change me into a more loving person, that can be loving and merciful to those who seek to do me harm. Learning that these people are just being used as weapons and that the real enemy is not human, and is nor the terrible and painful events in ones life. The really enemy will wear any disguise that will help him do the most damage. He will twist your hurt and pain and try to make you his puppet. Something I have learned is that he only has the power over me that I give him. Will I still feel pain? Yes, I will. Can this body die? Yes it will. James told us to count it all joy when we face various trials and tribulations. How can we do this?We turn to God. We believe Jesus. We allow His Holy Spirit to help and comfort us. We cry out to God. We tell Him how we are feeling and we pour out our tears at His feet.

I have not yet reached the goal but I get up each day and press forward. There are days I lay down weakened by my body, my mind and this life. Then the nest day comes and it is back on my feet, even if I do not feel like it. Of course that is when I think God has a cattle prod and gives me a loving jab. Yet I know those jabs are because He loves me and He does not want me to fall to the wayside. So I do no fight like I used to. I am learning that not only do I need to turn my cheek but as much as it pains me to offer up the other one. The battle is the Lord’s, I need to just trust in Him.