Evidence of God’s Love

I would like to take a moment and wish a Happy Father’s Day to dads.  Today will be bitter sweet as I remember my dad and grandfather treasuring the moments with my hubby.

Thank you Gwen Smith for today’s message…..

Our hotel room had a small balcony that overlooked the swimming pool. Early one lazy vacation morning, I grabbed my journal, Bible, and a fresh cup of coffee then headed to the balcony for some quiet time.

As I settled in, movement by the pool caught my eye. I watched as a maintenance man approached a palm tree and briskly pulled a brown, life-less branch from underneath the green leaves. Oddly, before he pulled the dead branch off, I hadn’t even noticed it was there.

After he pulled it off, however, the palm tree looked fresh and vibrant.

Seriously.

The pruning made such a difference!

Jesus spoke to His disciples and said,

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  (John 15:1-8, NIV)

Whom we spend time with really matters.

And what we say and do and how we say and do it also really matters.

Stay with me here! Don’t let the familiarity of this Scripture fade the impact it has on you.

I understand to my core how horrible it feels when my walk and my talk do not line up. Withered branches in my heart constantly need to pulled off and thrown away. You too?

In order to experience the blessings and power of God’s Spirit in our lives we must root our faith deep in the soil of God’s Word and then allow His truth to produce fruits that are ripe with evidence of His love. These fruits are clearly seen (or not) at the intersection of our faith and our actions. I’ve found that when I have those I-just-want-to-scream-because-everyone-in-the-world-is-on-my-last-nerve days God meets me with His grace when I whisper His name.

God will deepen the roots and increase the fruits of your faith as you spend time talking to Him early in the morning over a hot mug of coffee. When you pray and worship on the way to work or on your powerwalk. When you feel a prick of conviction in your heart about that behavior – or about that response – that tone – that act of disobedience. When you call out to Him for patience and strength as your teenager slams his door in rebellion – or when your adult daughter “forgets the morals she was raised with” and moves in with her boyfriend – or when frustrations mount up at work.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self control. To bring glory to God, this fruit of His Spirit must be seen in our lives.

Unfortunately, we have a keen ability to rationalize our less-than-fruitful behaviors.

But he… But she… But they… I just can’t…

Fortunately, God doesn’t expect us to behave like this without Him. In fact, we simply can’t. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Remember? (v5) But when we remain in Him – when we seek Him, obey Him, savor His presence, live for His glory, and prioritize Him above all else – we can and will make a big impact for God and experience the joy and peace we all long for.

The maintenance man at the resort didn’t pull the branch off to hurt the palm tree.

He pruned it to increase its beauty, health, and vibrancy. God does the same for us. He prunes His children to increase our beauty, health and vibrancy for our good and for His glory – to make us more useful to Him and more fruitful.

Pause to ponder this question: Are there any dead branches hanging on your tree?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Thankful Thursday: Be A Blessing

Some time ago, I did a blog post on packing a blessing bag…… It is something I wanted to do but just never seemed to get to.  This post inspired someone to make it her mission.

I met Maxine through this “purse gig”.  She was on my team for a little bit.  She and I stayed in touch over the last few years by praying for each other and just being there for moral support.  She reached out to me to ask for some suggestions on growing a ministry which is near and dear to her heart.   Here is Maxine’s story in her own words…..

Awhile back I decided to do bags for homeless people. Nothing elaborate just simple items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, small soaps, a pen, a little note pad, a pair of socks, a razor, a pack of Kleenex, a granola bar, some cheese crackers, small snacks, hand sanitizer, and a rain poncho.  I was working as a home health care  aide and traveled on the bus every day.  I always carried a couple with me and if I came across someone in need I would give them one . I don’t put cash in them simply because you just never know.  Many people hustle for money for other things. Fast forward to now. I’m driving for Lyft and I come across a good number of people so I started doing it again.  Handing bags out to those who are in need – usually when I stop at a traffic light.  You can kind of tell who’s legit and who’s not when you hand it to them.  But regardless, I try to help everyone I can. I use ziplock bags to hold the items. I want to continue this ministry but I am struggling.  I come across a great number of people every day while I’m out driving.  I’ve been doing this all out of pocket!   The time has come when I can no longer afford to do it and it is breaking my heart . We are ourselves are  living in a hotel.  God has blessed up and we  get through day by day.  He makes a way!  Even when I cannot see it, He makes a way.  I am reaching out to others for donations – monetary and for items to fill the bags.

The hotel where we are staying has offered to do some extra soaps and shampoos to help.  I am reaching out to churches and other organizations to see if they can help with individually packaged snacks and things.  But there is still a gap.  The need is so great….

I am reaching out to my readers and my friends.  Won’t you consider helping?  Maxine has set up a PayPal account to collect monetary donations (https://paypal.me/maxineniemeier?locale.x=en_US).  Every little bit helps.  She lives in Chicago, so if you have any suggestions or contacts please let us know.  I’m trying to help her keep her ministry alive….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

What is Your Life Purpose?

 

Have you ever wondered why you are here?  I don’t mean just in this house? Or in this job? Or with this person/ spouse/ partner?

In the movie The Color Purple, there is a scene in which Miss Celie finally musters the courage to leave Mister. He’d just finished saying some pretty nasty things to her (paraphrasing): “You’re poor. You’re black. You’re ugly. Nobody wants you.”

To which Miss Celie replied, “I’m poor. I’m black. I might even be ugly. But I’m here!”

There is a reason each of us is here.  Honestly, most days I wonder what my purpose is….I’m sure many have lost family and friends who were here last year and who aren’t now.  Many have passed on fulfilling their purpose on this earth.  But you are still here. And your most important job in life is to know why.  I know pretty heavy for early morning, right?

I have been pondering this question for the last few weeks.  What is my purpose in life?  There are days (very few) when I think I know but more times then not, I’m clueless. I could blame it on the MS or the lack of memory or 100 different things but the truth is some days I feel lost.  Torn between what I think I “should be” doing and what I really want to do.  Torn between having the confidence to work my angel business releasing my creativity or just sticking with what I know works in my direct sales business.  Some may say do both BUT my MS requires me to keep things simple.  What about you, do you know your purpose?

Can you state your purpose in a single, simple sentence?  I know I can’t!  If you are like me, ask yourself this question:

How is someone’s life better when they cross your path?

Whatever your answer, is, can you say it quickly – in under 15 seconds.  Why so fast?  Because in most cases we only have a few seconds to share with people we meet.

I believe my purpose is “bringing hope and a smile to those who are struggling, reminding them they are special”. I like to help people.  Maybe it is the people pleaser in me.  Maybe it is just the “helper gene” LOL.  Or maybe it is just the fact someone was nice to me when I was struggling.

For some, it may sound kind of cheesy.  The simple gesture of bringing a smile to the face of others makes a difference in their life (and in mine).  It can make a dark day sunny.  It can dry a tear in their eye.  It can change their negative mindset to positive.  YES!  A simple smile can do it.

Your purpose is about how you uniquely serve the world and make it better in some way. It uses your unique gifts, strengths and experiences. It is something you do well. And it comes naturally to you.  It means you are willing to share your gifts and talents with others.  I am seeing new gifts develop or at least come out again – my creativity in making angels.  Seeing how putting the pieces together to form something wish brings memories to life is so humbling.

I think about my success as a Social Work….I know I made a difference. Some may think I am being conceited but I actually saw the difference I was making.   I am actually humbled by the blessing I am able to give to others.  Even when things are tight for me, there is a way to give back – a cup of coffee, a ride to a meeting, a smile, a thank you – everything makes a difference.

Today, I challenge you to take a few minutes and answer the question….Once you get the answer, write it down. Don’t forget it. Make it your mantra. A fulfilling life is a life lived with purpose.

How is someone’s life better because they cross your path?  Share your life’s purpose with us.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Tasty Tuesday: Clucking Good Balsamic Chicken

Today’s YUMMy recipe is from Rachel at Wicked Good Spice Mixes Company.  I love trying new recipes and her seasonings make it even easier.  One bag instead of lots of spices all over the cabinet.  This recipe makes 4 breasts.
Ingredients
Directions
1. Wash and pat dry chicken breasts
2.   In a large glass bowl whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and Clucking Good Chicken Mix.
3.   Place chicken breast into bowl, cover, refrigerate and marinate for 30 minutes.
4.  Grill over medium heat, (discard excess marinade) or bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (or until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees)
* A great companion dish to this is oven roasted vegetables seasoned with our Tuscan Bistro Blend
Rachel started this company to show people how easy, healthy and fun it can be to make a delicious meal at home!  Rachel always thought the hardest thing about cooking is how much of this spice and how much of spice you should add.  So go ahead and throw all of those spices you use infrequently and start using our spice blends! They are fresh and economical!  Our blends are perfectly formulated to use for just about everything you like to cook.

 

Live in Brick? OR travel to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday from 9AM – 2PM. Be sure to stop by and sample some of the vinegars or spices at their table.  If you can’t make it, check out these awesome products at these local stores.

502 Baking Company, 502 Brick Blvd, Brick, NJ 08724 (732) 477-4502

Berry Fresh Farms, 151 Brick Blvd, Brick NJ 08723  (732)477-0606

Cream Ridge Winery, 145 Route 539 (PO Box 98), Cream Ridge, NJ 08514 (609) 259-9797

Dearborn Farm Market, 2170 Rt 35, Holmdel, NJ 07733  (732)264-0256

Delicious Orchards, 320 Route 34, Colts Neck, NJ  (732) 462-1989

New Egypt Marketplace, 53 Main Street, New Egypt, NJ 08533 (609) 458-7900

The Lusty Lobster, 88 Bay Ave. Highlands, NJ 07732 (732) 291-1548

Twin Ponds, Rt 9 Howell, NJ 07731

Lovelandtown Grocery and Provisions, 219 Bridge Ave, Point Pleasant,NJ 08742  (732)903-6855
Princes Farm Market , 1123 Mountain Ave, Mountainside, NJ 07092
(908)358-3311
Have a great recipe you want to share?  We would love to feature YOU (and your business)!  If you try this, let us know what you think…
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Confidence

Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Confidence. There are days when we feel we don’t even know the meaning of the word.  I long for the days when I had some.  I struggle to remember when it was and what it felt like.  It is hard to stay confident when we feel so weak.  I believe God as a plan for me, yet I often feel incapable of caring it out (or sometimes I don’t even know what it is).

When I used to wear titles like “mom” or “Social Worker” or “employee”.  I had confidence most days to do my job.  I knew what needed to be done and did it.  When left to be “Hope”, the confidence quickly fades.  Comparison steals joy.  Inner gremlins run around in my head with thoughts of “you aren’t good enough”.  It is those times when I have to step outside of ME and rely on my Higher Power.  The Serenity Prayer helped to get me through the struggles in my early years of recovery .  I use it today just as I did then.

It is important we realize where confidence comes from. Our confidence comes from the God. It comes from no-where else. He alone gives the kind of strength necessary to meet every challenge. The things He overcame causes our struggles to pale in comparison. If we believe in God (or a Higher Power), then we will have confidence to succeed.

What are some of your struggles?  Share them with us so we can keep you in our prayers…..

Today’s thought: I can do anything I set my mind to because of Christ in me!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!