Faith During Trials

Welcome to Faith, Farm & Family Table!!

First let me say thank you to all my readers who stuck around during my blogging hiatus. I am slowly working my way back into a routine (and having faith during trials) after dealing with some crazy things in my life.

About two months ago my computer had some major problems, then one thing after another, things went array.  As the saying goes, “when it rains it pours” ….. and it poured!!!

Before the computer crash, I believed I was doing what God had called me to do with my blog. I was enjoying the time I spent writing and sharing. I felt I was making a positive difference in some people’s lives.

In fact, the week I had computer problems, I was nominated for a Bloggers Award and some of my posts had been featured on other websites. I felt accomplished and full of joy.

Unfortunately, all the stress with my computer caused me to question whether I should continue my blog. What if this happens again? Maybe I’m NOT making a difference? Maybe there is something else I should be doing with my time?

As I contemplated whether I should continue with my writing, this scripture came to my heart.

John 10:10 The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Then it dawned on me!!

Through my blog, I was working for the Kingdom of God, connecting with other Christians, sharing God’s word and sharing how He has worked in my life. I was making a difference. What does the enemy do when he feels threatened by our good works? He tries to steal our peace, causing us to question our purpose. He tries to do ANY thing that will take our minds off Jesus Christ.

Some stressful situations were presented into my life and the enemy just swooped right in whispering negativity into my life. One day I was blogging and believing God for amazing things. The next day I was worried about all the “what if’s” and filled with doubts. I had slipped away from trusting God and having faith during trials.

So today I took a serious look at my life – my crazy, blessed, chaotic life. I decided that I was NOT going to let the enemy steal my peace (or my blog!).

This is where I was two days ago. The temperature was 110 degrees. I sat on the patio and enjoyed this lovely view while I had my morning coffee. The baby quail feeding on berries, the hummingbirds sipping sugar-water, the baby bunnies bouncing in the rocks.

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This is where I am today. The temperature is 45 degrees. My jacket is in our condo 3 hours away and I don’t have any of my winter cloths here. BUT, I have a pot of coffee, a thick bathrobe and a new pair of warm slippers.

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And this is where I will be sometime next year (maybe).

Front yard

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Our cute little farm-house and garden. This is where I will grow fresh food for my family (hence, the reason for Faith, FARM, Family Table), breath in fresh air,  and watch wildlife passing through our yard.

Do you ever those days when you are “here” one minute, “there” the next, and then not sure where you will be tomorrow?

This is my life today! But through it all, I’ve been reminded of a few things.

God is faithful. He has brought me out of hundreds of trials in my life time with His unfailing love. Some of them HUGE. If He could pick me up out of drug addiction (over 10 years now!) and mend my life, surely He can handle anything.

When life becomes overwhelming,  all I need to do is stay connected with God. Regularly (daily, hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute) fill my spirit with the word of God. When the enemy comes to steal my peace, I need to stand strong with God and keep my faith. Turn off the computer, television, and phone. Open my bible and read, pray, then trust God has it all worked out.

He is my rock, my peace and  my wisdom.

The bible says God is strength in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and peace in my confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). He is the helper and upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4) and the provider of ALL my needs (Philippians 4:19).

God IS amazing!

How do you stay connected with God when life throws all its challenges your way?

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Chasing The Wind

Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the works that are under the sun, and behold, all is vanity, a chasing of the wind.

My car was a brand new Honda Accord Coupe and it was the first new car I had ever owned. I had struggled for years to pay off bad debts and increase my credit score. I guess you could say my car was the trophy for all my efforts.

After my car was a few months old, I found myself in a financial bind with the new car payment, rent and raising two children on a single income. Turns out my trophy was more of a bad decision, a burden on my already tight finances.

The days were becoming stressful, yet I was reading more scripture and trying to rely on God’s faithfulness. The more difficult life became, the more I delve into my bible, trying to find words from God that would give me hope and strength.

That’s when the book of Ecclesiastes came to my heart. The story of a king who had everything he could ever want (money, women, power and every pleasure known to man), yet he had an unexplainable void in his life.

In Ecclesiastes 2:17-18 the king says, “So I hated life because what is done under the son was grievous to me; for all is vanity and a striving after the wind and feeding on it….”

Two days after I read this book, I left my evening shift at work to find someone had slammed into my brand new car and drove away. They didn’t leave a note, just a huge dent on the side of my car.

I filed a police report and went home sobbing. My prayers to God that evening were prayers of frustration and anger.

“Why God? After all the trouble I went through to pay off my debts and buy something nice for myself – how could you let this happen?”

The next day I called the insurance company to report the hit-and-run. They sent out a claims advisor to do an appraisal on the repair. When all the paperwork was done, he said that the amount insurance would pay me was $1300. The damage to my vehicle was $1800 but I had a $500 deductible!

Again, I called out to God, “WHY??”

I couldn’t even afford to pay my rent, how was I going to come up with the money to get my car fixed.

With a subtle voice, God reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes – a king searching for fulfillment in worldly things and never being satisfied. Then he showed me how I had allowed my car to become more important to me that it should have been – my image, my material things.

Three days later, I received the $1300 check from insurance. It was then that I realized God had turned a bad situation into a blessing in my life. When I didn’t have enough money to pay my bills, he provided. With the check, I was able to pay my rent, pay my utilities AND buy groceries for my children!!

God doesn’t answer prayers the way we always want Him too, but he DOES answer prayers! When I received that check, I thought about the king again. How he chased after all those material things and was never satisfied. I became satisfied in God’s amazing wisdom and plan for my life.

The hit-and-run was over seven years ago. Since then, I’ve had plenty of financial opportunity to get the dent fixed, but chose not to. Every time I walk towards my car and see the dent, I am reminded of how faithful God is, how he took care of me when I couldn’t do it myself, how he turned a bad situation into a blessing.

What are some interesting and surprising ways God has worked in your life? Please comment below, I would love to hear some of your stories.

Thanks for stopping by, Rene’

My Mother’s Footprint

Today I started a Tribute to my dad (who is now passed) for Father’s Day. I thought about his voice, his laugh and how much I would give to hear him just ONE more time.  To look into his eyes while I told him how much I loved him. Then it dawned on me ………. How many people do I have in my life right now, alive and ready to hear those beautiful words?

It brought tears to my eyes as I imagined my mother and all the words I would say in her tribute. Words I wasn’t sure I had ever spoken to her.

With that, I decided to do something unconventional for this week and do a Mother’s Tribute.

For My Mother Cecelia

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I think back to what life must have been like for you, a young-single-pregnant woman in the 60’s. Pressure from society, judgment from random people (how the world is so different today)…… How you were going to give me up for adoption, to a family that would be “Whole” with a mother and a father, to a family that might have more stability, to a family that could give me a better life.

Oh the pressure you must have been under!

Feeling life grow inside you, those little baby kicks, the heartbeat. Falling in love with this tiny person you’ve never met. The dread of saying good-bye, then spending a life time wondering “what ever happened to my baby”.

How brave you were to take a stand and follow your heart – to keep me. Knowing people would judge and criticize you. Knowing that life would sometimes be a struggle.

You made the right choice Mom……..

We struggled for many things (sometimes it was for food and sometimes a place to live) and I know there were probably hundreds of times when you felt you made the wrong choice in keeping me. The guilt of taking me from the life I “could” have lived.

But God had a plan!!

I want you to know that I wouldn’t change ANY of my life with you. When I think about the struggles we faced during my childhood, I think about how resilient I am today, how strong I am, how compassionate I am. Every moment we shared together left a mark on my heart, my soul, my life. Today, I am the woman God created me to be, because you made a choice.

When I look at childhood photos, I look at all the cute dresses you stitched with your loving hand because we couldn’t afford to buy new stuff. You taught me that people can be givers even when there is nothing to give (because you can always give your time, yourself, your love).

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I LOVED this dress – And my hair!!!

When I think of my most favorite memories, I remember all the times we got to go to Disneyland because you were on a square dance team. !! How many kids wouldn’t love to go there JUST once! I remember one time when I was doing my homework and you came in, “wanna go to Disneyland today?” !! Such amazing times…

When I smell a home filled with the aroma of homemade bread, I think of the endless loaves you made, and I wonder how come my bread never smells as good. When I eat bread & butter pickles or apple butter, I remember all the canning you used to do when dad brought home bags and bags of fresh food. You made the BEST apple butter!!!

Because of you, I love spending time in the kitchen, being creative and using up all the left overs in my frig. I have made some of the most awesome casseroles (out of the most random things)!

Because we struggled with money, I am thrifty and creative. My friends tell me how impressed they are at my ability to turn nothing into something. I recycle and up-cycle. I don’t let anything go to waste. My footprint on this beautiful earth is minimal. You taught me that!

Because I saw you cry when I was a little girl, I have compassion. I want to fix people, love people, help people. My life’s work caring for seniors was born out of experiences from my childhood. In 20 years of loving seniors, can you imagine how many lives I’ve touched? God put me through the struggles with you so that He could create in me a heart to serve.

Because we moved around a lot, I am resilient. I can go anywhere in this world and find my place, find a church, find a way to make it feel like home. No matter where I am in life, that is where I am supposed to be. I don’t dwell on where I “used to be” or where I “think I should be”. I am content where ever God places me.

So ………. if ever you feel guilt for anything you’ve done as a parent, please remember this. I LOVE the person God has created in me and I wouldn’t be “me” if I had not been with YOU.

Remember when “Guy” moved in next door to us in Oregon. My sister came home and told us that GOD had moved in next door!!! You were like a mama bear, running over there “HOW dare you tell my children you are God?!!!!” You protected your babies 🙂

Remember that time when I was a teen and I slapped you because I was so angry, or that time when I ran away from home for a week and you didn’t know where I was? How about the time I smoked pot for the first time or told you that I hated you?

My heart breaks for those moments, those stupid, stupid moments!!!

I fear when you are no longer on this earth, those memories will come and haunt me. They will play in my head over and over and I will regret not telling you how sorry I was for hurting you. I will think about all the things I wish I would have ever said to you.

“You taught me how to have strength – not by your words, but by your actions. Thank you.”

“You taught me to love life, animals, people ……. not money or things or having the best material stuff. Thank you.”

“I’m sorry I hurt you Mom, you didn’t deserve the way I treated you sometimes.”

“I love you Mom, you are the BEST mom I could have ever had.”

“I love your smile (it’s just like mine).”

“I think you are beautiful inside and out. When people tell me I look just like my mom, I feel pretty.”

“I don’t know how I will ever live without you.”

“I need you, your support, your encouragement, your words of wisdom, your ear when I just need to vent, your unconditional love.”

“I love you forever Mom!”

Those are the things I will wish I would have spoken to her – those are the things I need to say now! While I still have a chance, while she still has breath, while I can still call her on the phone and listen to her voice (her lovely voice).

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My beautiful Mother

Who are the people in your life that need to hear how much you love them, how much you appreciate their presence in your life?

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Thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment below and tell me about someone who YOU love and why. Rene’

God’s Sense of Humor

When I first became a Christian, someone told me to be careful what I pray for because for everything I wanted God to show  me, the enemy would be there to make it more challenging.

For example, if I pray to God for patience, the only way I will grow in that area is if I’m subjected to things that would normally cause me to be impatient. If I pray to be a lover of all people, I will be surrounded by unlovely people. We can’t be strengthened in an area where there are no challenges, right?

Well, this leads me to a rather embarrassing story about something I’ve prayed for. As I lay my life open here on the internet, I pray that you will see beyond the humor of what I am about to share and notice how God speaks.

If you’ve followed my earlier posts, you will notice a common thread. I’ve called all Christians to stop being judgmental or critical, and to start sharing random acts of kindness to a hurting world. I’ve prayed that I too, be less judgmental, because (let’s face it…) we all judge to some extent.

The more I pray to be loving and accepting of others, the more I am being challenged in this area.

A few weeks ago, at a Sunday church service I was sitting in front of a guy who was singing louder than me. His tone was WAY off and (despite the fact that my tone is ALSO way off), I thought, “geeez, does this guy HAVE to sing so loud?”

Stupid, right??

After about two songs, he coughed in my direction and the wind from his cough blew through my hair. I thought, “this is IT”. I grabbed my bag and moved to a different seat so that I could “enjoy” the service.

During the service, the Pastor made a request for the following weeks service. The church was having a Gospel Music celebration and he wanted to put together a choir to perform some gospel songs. I got excited and figured this would be a perfect opportunity for me to sing loudly and blend in with all the other singers. At the end of service, I met with the music director and volunteered.

Later in the week, he sent me a song list and some links to videos, “practice these songs ……… oh and this will be a mini-choir since we didn’t get many volunteers”.

I went to my husband and told him I couldn’t do it. He said, “so you’re gonna be a quitter?” He was challenging my integrity!!! Of course I won’t be a quitter. I will do this! I prayed all week, studied the songs, and felt confident. I was even proud of myself because I thought, “the enemy tried to make me quit but I am stronger than that!!” In a sense, I was laughing at the enemy because I figured I beat him at his own game.

Unknown to me, that was not God’s intentions for the lack of other singers. There was a completely different lesson to be learned.

When I got to church early for our practice, the music director came to me and gave me a microphone.

“What do I need this for, there are other people singing right?”

“Well, not really, you’re the only one who volunteered. So we have you and the 3 women who usually sing.”

So now I’m thinking I REALLY cant do this, but my husband’s words echoed in my head and I didn’t want to be a quitter. I asked the music director if he could just shut the sound off on my mic. He laughed and said NO!

There we were “the mini choir” with our own microphones, practicing the song list. I’m terrified that someone will actually hear my off-tune voice and think “how embarrassing”. At that moment, a gentleman walked up to our group and said, “wow, you ladies sound so lovely. Great job”.

THAT is when it hit me…..the lesson God intended I learn from this experience.

The man who walked up and told us how fabulous we sounded was the man who was sitting behind me in church the previous week!! He didn’t hear my out-of-tune voice, he heard songs of praise and worship. He heard past my actual voice and heard a joyful sound.

If you haven’t noticed from my past stories, God doesn’t whisper in my ear because I’m a bit stubborn and don’t hear it. He puts me in situations where I am practically hit over the head with what He wants me to hear.

God says, “you want to judge your fellow Christians, well lets put you up on a stage with a microphone so the WHOLE church can hear you sing”.

As I stood on the platform, I prayed. I repented. “Oh God, I am so sorry for judging that man, one of your children. Who am I that I would judge someone else for something I can’t even do myself.”

After the service, I had a laugh with God because He made such a strong point. He wanted me to stop judging others but the only way I was going to hear Him was to be put into a situation where I thought people would be judging me.

Isn’t God amazing and beautiful. He has a sense of humor and He loves us SO much.

The point of this story is this: Don’t judge others. Humble ourselves to hear correction from God. We each have our God given strengths and our weaknesses and none of us is perfect. But we are all Children of God.

I hope sharing this story will help convince you to accept others (faults and all) …………. and if it hasn’t, I pray that you too, end up on a stage with a microphone in your hand (all your faults on display for the world to see)… Hahaha, really just kidding (and trying to make a point)

How does God get His point across to you when He needs you to hear?

Much love and blessings to all of you! Thank you so much for stopping by, Rene’

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The photo shared on this post came from this page. Thank you Filtered Flowers

Christian Hypocrites

At the age of 27, I walked into a church looking for help. I wasn’t there to find a close relationship with Jesus Christ, nor was I there to make friends or seek Christian guidance. I walked in 4 days clean and sober from drugs and alcohol, looking for a narcotics anonymous meeting.

This incredibly sweet woman greeted me with a smile and no judgment. Instead of seeing a person who had made bad choices, she saw a young woman in pain, desperate, and in need of some good ole’ Christian love. Alice (that was her name – my angel sent from above) told me when I could come back for a meeting, and then invited my children and I to the Wednesday Worship service. She said they served dinner and I would be on the guest list.

My boys and I went to the dinner and felt so welcomed and loved that we kept going back. Today, 18 years later, my world revolves with Jesus as the center.

This brings me to the dilemma I am faced with today (and I’m sorry to say, but a little bit of a rant).

Someone very dear to me (a long distance friend) called me the other day and wept about how lonely she was. She said she had tried to make friends at her new home but no one had time for friendship. They were just too busy to do anything extra. I suggested that she attend a church group meeting and reach out to her fellow Christians (as she had lived a Christian life in the past). Her response broke my heart.

“There are too many hypocrites in church and I’m just not interested in going back.”

I found myself defending Christians, and encouraging her to go back to church because I knew (or prayed) that someone would reach out to her and her loneliness would subside. The truth is though, I knew the awful truth. Even Christians are too busy to add extras to their schedule. Many Christians speak words of faith, but then their actions contradict what their words are saying.

What my friend was saying was true. (now please don’t get me wrong. I am not passing judgment on Christians or saying that we are ALL guilty of this. I’m just saying, as a general rule, Christians don’t have a good reputation in the secular world).

Let me give two examples from my own life.

1. Tattoos

While I was out making bad choices as a young adult, I got a few tattoos. Thankfully they were nothing hideous, but they are there for the rest of my life. I made those choices before I became a born again Christian.

Some time into my walk with Jesus Christ, I was approached by a fellow Christian that was told me I was a sinner and what I did was wrong. He began quoting scripture from Leviticus 19:28 which says, “you must not put tattoo markings upon yourself”. This guy was passing judgment on past mistakes I had already been forgiven for. Thankfully, I was strong in my Christian faith and I was not offended by what this person was telling me. I KNEW the word of God and I knew that I was saved from all that I had done in my past.

But here is my dilemma.

What if THAT was the person who greeted me when I first walked into the church? What if, in my brokenness, I was greeted with condemnation and judgment instead of compassion and the love of Jesus? What if I was made to feel like I was tarnished forever because of a mistake I could never erase?

I would have walked out and thought just what my friend had said, “Christian hypocrites!

2. Music

As a teenager, my favorite bands were Judas Priest, Metallica and Megadeath!! Yes it’s true, I was a total rocker!!…

When I began attending church regularly, a new friend (who was strong in her faith) began to plant seeds that maybe my music was not pleasing to God. She introduced me to a few musicians in the church who shared their vast collection of Christian CD’s with me. I was amazed!!

Christian music that wasn’t hymn music??? It was straight up – Rock & Roll!! (DC Talk – Jesus Freak, Jars of Clay, Kutless, Thousand Foot Krutch). I traded in all my Secular Rock CD’s and began to worship with Christian Rock. I found a way to connect with God through music and it was so exciting.

Years later, a woman said to me, “that music does NOT glorify God and you should be ashamed of yourself!!”

Thankfully (again) I was strong in my faith and was able to discard what she said as judgment (that was not hers to make). I explained to her it was through music that “myself” and thousands of young teenage kids were coming to the church’s because they were able to connect with the sound. The message in the music glorified God – really, it did!!

She was solid in her convictions and continued to pass judgment on me.

Here is my point…

This last week has been heartbreaking for me as I watch loved ones avoiding church because of “Christian Hypocrites”. What does that say about the job the church is doing (as a whole)?

The scripture says that we are to wash the feet of others as Jesus washed our feet (John 13:14), we are to love one another as Jesus has loved us (John 13:34), we are to stop passing judgment on one another (Romans 14:13), we are to be completely humble and gentle and patient (Ephesians 4:2), we are to forgive grievances (Colossians 3:13), encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11), not slander anyone (James 4:11) and live in complete harmony (I Peter 3:8).

As a church, I am pleading that each of us walk through our days as a shining example of Christianity. A billboard for Jesus Christ.

I don’t mean with bumper stickers or jewelry or those little Jesus fish that people have on their cars. I mean with our actions, with our words, with our unconditional love for others. We can give correction without condemnation. We can plant seeds of love like my friend did with my music. We can greet someone with a smile like my sweet Alice did. We can share God’s word without making people who don’t know Christianity feel “less than”.

We need to take a stand and help the world see that Christianity is not full of hypocrites. I am not perfect and I fall short all the time (this message is for me too!!). My prayer is for all of us to reach out to that new person in church, make time to share with others, be kind to strangers for no other reason than your love for Jesus Christ.

Let’s take a stand Christians!!!  The world should look at us and be SO amazed that they want what we have 🙂

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Thanks for stopping by! Many blessings, Rene’