Cutting Down Bamboo

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Today I took on a huge task. I promised my son I wouldn’t do it; but I did. I cut down a bamboo tree. Not only did I cut it down but I cut it with a huge kitchen butcher knife.
My son instructed me to get an estimate on having it cut down. But, stubborn me, I figured I could save him some money and get some exercise at the same time, so I did it my way.securedownload-14

I walked into the back yard and thought, “How hard can this be?” I changed my clothes, grabbed my work gloved and kitchen butcher knife. I hacked and chopped, pulled and snapped the branches then loaded ix bags worth of bamboo. Then I hauled it all down to his driveway for the trash men to pick up.

Four hours later, two skin abrasions and sweat pouring down my face and back, I finally came to a kick-in-the-pants conclusion; I should have listened to my son. Today I am very sore and am finding it very hard to move around.securedownload-10

I do the same thing with God. He instructs me to do something one way or not to do it at all, but I, in my own stubbornness, do it anyway. Been there? Just frustrates me when I know I should not have fast food and there I am in the drive thru of a fast food joint. It’s a never ending process with me; with most of us.

This new journey of mine is about my actions and listening to the heart of God before making decisions. I believe I cared too much about this bamboo task. Hear me out. Sometimes a person can be over-caring; especially women. I over cared too much that I put myself in danger. I took on a responsibility just because of my ego and to help my son. He knows my physical limitations and that’s why he said, “No mom.”

God puts boundaries all around us. His boundaries help create mutual balance in our lives. They help us keep ourselves accountable for our actions. There was a boundary set yesterday and I crossed the line. God has planted me here for a time to write, slow down, soul search, seek a forgiving heart and move forward in my life. In Ecclesiastes we are told “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” (3:1) Had I taken the time to relax, write, and do as I was instructed to do, I wouldn’t be so sore and tired today.securedownload-15

Today, I will stop struggling with having to slow down and stop taking on huge tasks when I’m still recovering. I will let go of my belief that I have to do everything because I am not paying any rent. I will replace it with the belief that I can walk this journey in ease and peace.

Have you crossed a line lately? Did you take something too far? Did you step over God’s boundary?

Psalm 78:1 O my people, hear my teaching, listen to the words of my mouth. NIV

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Map-quest…by Beth Farley

shan and alex

I am a free-lance writer who’s used to figuring out topics to write about. Sometimes I manage the risk of my options without including God. In other words, I am a control freak. I do not like walking through life feeling out of control and sometimes I manage my life with knowledge rather than faith.
I’ve been criticized for reading every possible side effect of every kind of medication I am currently taking. Knowledge is vital but my life right now is calling for more faith than knowledge.
Trekking this path requires me to allow God to walk side by side with me. I need to walk this trail because this Texas plateau is where God chose to take me beyond my understand; to trust beyond my control to faith in Him. I have been living in a world of understand, MY understanding, not God’s. God is asking me to follow Him, not myself to a world where only He can guide me. This is a world where I’m out of the management seat.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever been on the wrong trail? The simple proverb 3:5-6 is so underestimated. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
I remember when I taught in a Christian School I had to teach the students to memorize this scripture. Looking back, I remember doing that but can’t remember talking about the meaning. I wish I could re-do that but I can’t.
Walking the Texas trail with everything being new in my life, I have to trust in something bigger than myself. Again, trust in the Lord with all my heart…Even Solomon took a lifetime to figure out that he was too weak, sinful, and stupid to manage his own life. Ecclesiastes.
I am traveling with a new map; God’s map! It’s the map that navigates my travels with His direction. I will not read my own map with outdated streets. How about you? Are you feeling lost on your journey today.

Psalm 108:3-5 NIV

I will praise you, O LORD among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.

My NIV…by Beth Farley

There it was; way in the back of the closet. I had been longing to buy another NIV Life Application Bible but didn’t want to part with the enormous price.(my old one bit the dust) I love the Bible no matter what version and currently I am studying out of the HCSB, but I was in desperate need of some life application insight last night.

I was having a “woe-is-me” pity party last night and instead of turning on the TV and doing nothing, I took advantage of the quiet house and dug into the book of James; not where I left off weeks ago, but from the beginning. I grabbed my journal and just wrote for ME.Holding Glasses over Bible

Before settling down, I had to clean out the closet in the spare room because our house is on the market. Low and behold, there it was; way in the back of the closet I found my daughters NIV Life Application Bible. Thank you Jesus that I didn’t have to buy another one but the biggest blessing was the words that leapt into my heart right off of the pages.

I was reminded in the beginning of James that the wisdom I need is in three parts.
First, I need practical wisdom…where I can overcome trials with God.
Second, I need divine wisdom; God’s Spirit lives within me to guide me right from wrong.
Third, I need Christ-like wisdom which means I am ultimately asking to be more like Christ.

If at first you don’t succeed, dive back in. I am staying in James some more today with the NIV Life Application Bible just because it is WISE for me to stay there until God tells me to go elsewhere. That’s wisdom!

James :1-1-2
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your developed perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything.

 

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Coffee Shop Freak

One thing I miss about where I lived is the Starbucks across the street, the Barnes & Noble around the corner, and the Caribou House two blocks down, oh yea and the Panera that I often walked to. I am a coffee house freak. I love to unwind and hit the coffee shops to write. I love to write at home too but there is something about “people watching” that inspires me.

I finally found a coffee shop within just about five minutes from the house. It’s called The Daily Brew. I ordered a plain cup of coffee, read my magazines and looked at their newspaper stand. There were several free hand out papers for people who are new to the area. That’s me; new to the area!

Feeling a little down while sipping my coffee, I opened up one of the freebee papers. Fumbling through the many adds for either churches, spiritual guides and Christian businesses I stumbled upon the page that talked about God’s Mighty Names. 
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I came to Houston for many reasons, which I would rather not discuss at this time but one was to find my relationship with Christ. I don’t want to be religious but rather engaged in a relationship with Christ. I don’t want to focus on rules, the style or the performance of church. I want to be in a church that puts me in God’s presence. I want to be fixated on the presence, willingly offering what I have to offer, bond with not only the internal but external and thirst for more.

Although I have been writing about Christian matters over the last two years, I still hunger for more. I love being in the hungry mode because then I know I’m on the right track.

I want to get so secure in my walk that I am able to lean on the entire personality of God with absolute trust. I want to have confidence in His power and wisdom.

How about you? What are you searching for? Are you looking for a church home? Are you looking for a quiet retreat with Him? I’d love to hear about what you’re longing for.

I really like my new coffee-shop hang out. I love that it is filled with good Christian literature and that I stepped into it today as it not only fed my need for a caffein fix, but it fed my soul.

John 14:6…Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: No one comes to me but except through the Father. K

At the Cross: by Beth Farley

 

 

cross

Do you eve sit back and wonder what in the world God is trying to say to you? What lesson are you supposed to glean from this particular time of your life? I admit it; I do. When I start to think about situations I’ve been through or am currently trudging through, I have to try to put it all into perspective, think positive and remember what Christ did for me on the cross. What does the cross mean to you?

Every Christian believer, it seems, has at least a basic understanding of the Cross. We know that the work of Jesus on Calvary is the bridge to God. But many of us tend to forget that a relationship with God without the cross is impossible, for without the shedding of Christ’s blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

The Cross of Christ is powerful. Just as eternal salvation can’t happen without the Cross, daily salvation can’t happen without it either. The Cross is not just a Biblical Story or an ornamental wall hanging. But rather, the Cross is God’s wonderful plan for our eternity and it is also His plan for a happy life for each believer.

Paul wrote in1Corinthians 1:18:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. HCSB

The Cross has the power to take us through any situation we are facing.

Paul’s first letter to the Christians in the Greek City of Corinth was written to people who had miserable relationships going on. There was no peace for them and much pain. Paul said this:

When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I didn’t think it was a good idea to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 1Corinthians 2:1-2 HCSB

We like Paul, sometimes stumble through our day lacking speech or wisdom, maybe even direction and knowledge. There is one thing though that we can be confident in is that Christ was nailed to that cross for us. Only the Cross can bring us together with God. Only the Cross can bring us forgiveness and peace.
What is it that you need to bring to the cross? What is it that you already brought to the cross only to take it back again? I can’t help but close my eyes and think of the chorus to At The Cross.

At the cross, at the cross,
Where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away –
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day. 

No! Not My Coupon Folder…Beth Farley

No! Not My Coupon Folder!!!securedownload-4

A few weeks before I moved to Texas my daughter gave me a crash course on extreme couponing. I took notes, clipped my coupons, browsed the web sites and became hooked. I didn’t think I’d become a “stockpiler” but guess what? I am. I am unemployed with very little means of money so this is a way of saving, BIG TIME. I only stock pile on things that we can use. Anything beyond that boundary is donated to the food pantry down the road.

I had an unsettling day this week. I was so distracted by the chatter in my head. I couldn’t settle down to my devotions or Bible reading time. I was bopping all over the house, trying to keep busy from my feelings. Have you ever been there?

There was one thing though that was pulling me towards sitting at the table; it was my desire to do my coupon clipping. I made a cup of coffee, started clipping and sorting and stacking. I began to feel peaceful and content.

Once this blissful task was done, which by the way, takes quite a bit of time, I went over to my desk to get my purple coupon folder only to find it wasn’t there. I went out to my car and checked under the seats, in the trunk and glove compartment. I retraced my steps for at least 45 minutes. My body was gripped with frustration and anxiety. I was frantically looking for my purple folder. All of the Sunday coupons were in that folder. I had not even redeemed half of them yet. I think I might have even spewed a few unnecessary words while in my crazy attempt at finding the folder.

Plopping on the couch and feeling deflated, I realized that I had been so engulfed in the tantalizing coupon folder that I kinda felt ashamed of my behavior. I had not done my devotions. I had not looked at my Bible. I had not prayed nor done any writing which God had called me to do. Why hadn’t I been as passionate about spending time with God this day as I had been about trying to find my coupon folder?

Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been so engulfed in something that you just can’t wait to dig in? You know, the Sunday football game, your golf game, your pedicure, shopping or craft project; these are all great things and God wants us to enjoy them but we all know as Christian we need to find the balance.

John 10:10…A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. HCSB

One of the greatest things about being human is our tenacity. Life goes on. Sometimes worse for the wear, sometimes better for our efforts, but it always goes on. God takes these things, these daily distractions and files them under the category of “GRACE”.

We are human; He is ALL. We make mistakes; He fixes them. We get distracted; He pulls us closer.

There are times where you just have to drop the whole thing and start again. The purple folder is still missing but today I’m writing. Today I’ve spent time with Him and today…I set out for a new folder….

Psalm 96:1
Sing a new song to the LORD Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

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Killing a Wasp with Oven Cleaner…Beth Farley

Killing a Wasp with Oven Cleaner

I was gripped with fear! With a cup of coffee in hand, I settled down on the couch to sink into my journal. I was all curled up in my favorite spot when something on the curtain caught my eye. What was it? The next half hour became one of the scariest moments I’ve experienced here, in this new place I now call home.

Have you ever been so gripped with fear that you began to panic? I have many times and this was no exception. There it was, a huge WASP hanging on the curtain. I don’t like bees, wasps or hornets because the few times I’ve been bitten or stung, I’ve had a reaction.

As I stepped toward the window, I knew I needed to get this wasp out. With a Quick faithful prayer, “Lord help me” I dashed to the kitchen sink, reached under and grabbed the can with the yellow cap. I furiously popped off the cap, and trembled towards my prey. I began to spray and the loud buzzing bugger wouldn’t die; it held on to the fabric. I then began to spray like a firefighter wrestling with a whopper of a fire. Finally, after a massive drenching, the wasp fell to the floor. Once I removed the killer wasp, I replaced the yellow cap onto the can only to notice that I just had annihilated the wasp with OVEN CLEANER!securedownload-3

1Sam 17: 45
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied”. (NIV)

Once everything was all cleaned up, I sat down and thought about the story of David and Goliath. When Goliath began closing in to attack, David ran to meet the giant head on. As he ran, he reached into his shepherd’s bag and took out a stone, placed it in his sling, and hurled it at the giant hitting him directly in the forehead. He used a stone, I used a can of oven cleaner. The moral of the story is that God was with us.

God rescued me from a very dangerous sting. Even thought I feared the wasp who had become my Goliath, I jumped into action with faith.

What is your Goliath that you are facing?

Psalm 121:2-4
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven & earth.
He will not let your foot slip
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep. (NIV)

What assurance do you find in these words regarding God’s care for you?

God in the Nail Salon…by Beth Farley

nails

While tootling around this new huge city that I live in, I decided to go treat myself to a pedicure. Now, I don’t normally throw money around like that but let me tell ya, these feet were killing me and looking pretty bad.

I had been on my tired worn out feet for weeks non stop. With packing and loading boxes and then unpacking and putting things in their proper place; I’ve been overdoing it and my legs and feet were in chronic pain.

Not sure of where to go, I found the closest salon, which was right around the corner from the house, and parked myself down. First of all, the salon was beautiful as well as incredibly clean. I’ve been to some nail salons where it looked dirty and unsanitary, but this one was very clean and smelled delightful. I began to panic about how much it would cost though.

They called me back, made the temperature just right, turned on the massage chair and I began to relax. At that point it could have cost $100.00 and I wouldn’t have cared; Bring it on! I was just relaxing in this threshold of pure bliss as I received my hot stone foot massage.

Twenty minutes into my wonderful pedi, a woman sat next to me and we began to visit. She was so kind and very knowledgeable about the area. Come to find out she lives just a few block away. Who would have thought?

Sometimes God shows up in the strangest places or at times when we least expect Him to. God was spending time with us in the nail salon.

This woman told me about the neighborhood pool, the community face book page and where the churches are. Yes, A Christian! God had brought a Christian to the nail salon and she even gave me her name and contact information. That is an awesome God!!!

Not only did God bring a Christian to the nail salon who was willing to give me her contact information, but pedi package I chose came with an unexpected shoulder rub. What? Yes, while my feet were drying under the light, my shoulders were rubbed. All for $32.00! I let my head hang and repeatably thanked God for the pleasurable experience.

I will thank the Lord because He is just;
I will sing praises to the name of the Lord Most High.
Psalm 7:17 NLT

Where have you seen God show up unexpectedly? We’d love to hear your story.

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Bring on the Hospitality…by BethFarley

 

cookies

I offered to stay home today, (son’s house) because a new washer & dryer was being delivered. I found this to be a perfect time to do some writing. After starting on a draft to an article, there was a knock at the front door.

It was the delivery man. He said to me, “I am here to pick up your refrigerator.” With jaw dropping and eyes open wide, I said, “What?” He looked at me very serious and then cracked a smile. “I’m just kidding.” He proceeded to visit with me a little bit then got down to business. He unloaded the washer and dryer and hooked them up. When he was finished, I signed the paperwork and he was back to his truck and down the road.

After starting some laundry in the new washer, just about the time my thoughts for my article were coming together there was another ring of the doorbell. Being in a new location and no peek hole in the door I was hesitant to open the door but it rang again. I nervously made my way to the door, cautiously opened it just a crack only to find biggest smile ever and a plate of cookies on the other side.

Hospitality is a lost art. I remember the days when new people would move in and I did the same thing. I either brought them a baked good or just went over to introduce myself. Not too many people have the time or perform this lost art or rather MAKE the time to welcome someone new into their neighborhood.As Christians aren’t we supposed to be hospitable?

Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
1 Peter 4:9…HCSB

The smile behind the door with the homemade cookies stayed for a while and shared some conversation with me. She was the nicest person and I am very thankful for her true kindness. She gave me her phone # just in case. She gave me some tips about the community and offered to go with me to my first kidney appointment in Texas. Now that’s hospitality!

For my friends back home, thank you for praying for God to bring a friend to my doorstep; He literally delivered