Knocked down but back up again

A while back I wrote about the tree that fell down in the playground at my apartment and how they had to cut the rest of it down.

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This beautiful tree lost a huge branch.

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So it had to be cut down because it was rotting on the inside.

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So to recap, large branch fell causing the tree to be cut down, chopped and ground to nothing. This tree is gone, or is it?

Here where a tree had fallen and was cut down to nothing is life shooting up out of the ground.

Many times in our lives we feel the pruning sheers of life cutting away at us. For some of us we feel like we are cut down to nothing and there is nothing left. Yet looking at this tree sprouting out up from the ground I am reminded that even when you seem to have lost it all and there is nothing left, do not give up and hold onto hope.

Job 14:7 For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease.

 

A Rose From My Mother

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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.

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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 that sounded like 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).

 

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.

 

The Day Says Goodbye The Night Says Hello

I was inspired to take a walk as the sun was setting and the moon was rising and this song came to mind.

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As I looked out my back door and this was my view.  So I went outside to capture the beautiful sky.

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Then I turned to go back into my apartment and I see that the moon is rising. I thought, ‘I say hello and you say goodbye’ beginning the song in my head.

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So I take an evening walk to get  better view. The moon is so bright I am even able to capture the water tower next to the moon.

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The moon is in the perfect place to see between the branches of a tree as I walk closer to the west. The view reminded me of lace.

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I turned back facing towards my home and this is the view I see in the sky to the east.

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The last traces of the sun on the horizon as the star first star shines bright in the evening sky.

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The streetlights come on as the sun disappears from the horizon and the stars come out.

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Goodbye day, and hello night.

As the day says goodbye and the nights says hello I can’t help but think about all the senseless hatred and strife that is going on today. We are missing the beauty of God’s wonderful creation. Not only in nature but in the people all around us. We are all different but all created equal in God’s eyes. Our Creator who has given to each individual free will. Does this mean each person will agree? Doubtfully, but that is okay. I do not have to agree with you and you do not have to agree with me. The only one who is every truly right is Jesus. For He is the Truth, the Light, and the Way. No one came come to the Father except through Him. No religion or doctrine can get me to my Fathers home. Only Jesus. I can argue with you until I am blue in the face and I will never be able to change your mind and guess what? It is not my job to make you do anything. I can share with you all of the wonderful things Jesus has done and continues to do in my life, but I will not try to force you to believe in what I believe. I do hope though when you look around this world and the mess it is in that you can see the beauty and His love despite what man has done to one another and to this world. It is still beautiful, and His love amazes me everyday. I am just thankful that He gave me eyes to see all the beauty and love that surrounds me.

Photography by Julie Sheppard/Bridgeport, Texas 2/10/2017

Ugly Or Beautiful?

When I made this cross out of clay you could bake in the oven I didn’t think much about it at the time. I have created crosses that looked better than this plane black cracked cross. I am not even sure why I chose the black clay that day.

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 Yet the other day when I picked up this cross and looked at it and thought you are kind of ugly. then I heard God speak quietly to me. The cross was never beautiful, the beauty came from the One who hung on it.
Many of us have crosses that decorate our homes. I have a beautiful one with wings that was given to me as a gift that hangs in my living room. I have made them myself as gifts for friends, and even made one as an emergency repair for a plaque on which the original cross was accidentally broken. These crosses are works of art and are beautiful.                       Let us not let the beauty of these crosses make us forget the ugliness of sin and what sin costs. Then remember the One who paid the price. Who let Himself be nailed to a cross. Who bled on that cross and finally died on that cross for you and for me.

That is love and that to me is beautiful.

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Art and poetry by Julie Sheppard

Question;

Is this cross ugly or beautiful to you?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

A Bright New Year

Okay it is January and here in Bridgeport Texas it is 70 degrees the gray sky is gone and it is a beautiful bright blue sky. Not usual for us this time of year but enjoying the sunshine, tank tops and flip flops.

I know winter is not gone but I am enjoying the break from the cold of winter. It is like God is telling me that this year is going to be a much better year than the past five. In a couple of days the freezing temperatures will return but today I am basking in the sun and enjoying its’ warmth Thank you Abba Father for this beautiful day.

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Genesis 8:22  “While the earth remains, Seed time and harvest, And cold and heat, And summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.”

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Photography by Julie Sheppard

Even the tree in front of my apartment is enjoying the sunshine and has decided to bud.

Matthew 5:45  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Giving Thanks December 30, 2016 – Thankful For Children

Psalms 127:3 – Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

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Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

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John 16:21 – A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

baby-me-n-momIsaiah 54:13 – And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great [shall be] the peace of thy children.

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Proverbs 17:6 – Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

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3 John 1:4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

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Matthew 18:10 – Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.

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Mark 10:14 – But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

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Children are gifts from God. They can bring joy and laughter. They can also bring tears and heartache. Yet life without them is empty. Thankful for all of the children who have blessed my life.

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They Came Back!

In two of my previous post ‘Giving Thanks December 27, 2016 – Thankful That God Is Always There’, and ‘God Speaks To Me’ I wrote about the doves in the tree out my back door. The first I was only able to capture a photo of just one of the doves, and in the second three doves allowed me to take their photo.

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I have seen a single dove and occasionally a pair while sitting on my porch but no more than that until this last week. The first day I had stepped out my back door to take the trash out I had wished that I had my camera on me but was able to quietly go back in my apartment and get my camera. When I came back out they were still in the tree until I stepped off my porch and all but one flew away.

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Then on another day the tree was filled with these doves again. This time 3 remained and though the sky is gray and the branches were making it difficult to photograph them the stayed until I was able to take their picture.

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Now a third day and they are back! This time not one dove flew away until I was able to photograph them. Yes once again the day is gray but these beautiful doves bring God’s beauty and hope into my life. Filling my heart with joy and peace knowing He is speaking to me of His great love and how this love is growing in me everyday.

Genesis 22:17  indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
 Genesis 1:28  God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
2 Timothy 2:2  The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Jeremiah 30:19  ‘From them will proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who celebrate; And I will multiply them and they will not be diminished; I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant.