If You Water It, They Will Come

13906830_10208793252601631_8219072198248097418_nI didn’t expect to see him squatting there with his green and brown spotted coat blending in with the still-damp soil and tiny weed sprouts. I had come to the gardens early in the day in search of red, juicy tomatoes for a salad lunch later.

“Well, hello there, little frog,” I murmured. What brings you out this morning?”

Then I remembered how I had watered the garden last night, and the plants and soil were still moist. It’s been a long, hot, dry spell in northern Indiana. We haven’t seen rain in days, and the lawn is sun-bleached and brittle. The vegetable and flower gardens with their bright greenery stand in stark contrast as they get watered nearly every day. Naturally, the frog set up shop where there was a source of water and refreshment.

I thought back to yesterday morning as I peeked out the kitchen window, the first rays of the sun promising another steamy, scorching day. The gardens were full of birds. They flitted in and out, disappearing momentarily among the green beans and bell pepper plants. Cardinals, sparrows, robins, and finches with little mincing steps danced choreographically in and out of the garden for this audience of one. Tiny droplets of water lingering on the plants washed over their feathers. This was their way of taking a morning shower, I surmised.

“If you water it, they will come,” the words sifted down upon my mind. “The water is intended for the plants, but so many others benefit from and depend upon it especially in the drought seasons.”

Ah, yes. I see where this is going…my life, my parched soul, my desperate need of living water. Intentional, daily watering (worship, meditating on Scripture, practicing the presence of God) is necessary for any hope of fruit. But something I hadn’t considered was the secondary by-product of this watering. Others nearby, namely my spouse, my kids, friends, and strangers alike, all benefit, too. When I am well watered, I bring a refreshment to others.

As I reached for a tomato, my little spotted visitor hopped away. I breathed a prayer, “Father, when the heat is on and souls are withering, help me live in such a way that when anyone comes near me, they come under the influence of living water.”

“The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.” Isaiah 58:11,12

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Doors, Collectively Speaking

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IMG_0478Happy New Year! My husband and I spent a little time yesterday on a New Year’s Eve tradition we call dream casting. It’s kind of like vision casting, only it’s dreaming with God for what our new year might hold, turning the dreams into prayers, and writing down the themes we are seeing in a special journal just for dream casting. It’s not the same as goal setting, but it can turn into that.

During our dream casting session, we first review all the previous years’ prayers and themes and see what God has done. There is always a mixture of, “Wow, that happened! Hmmmm, nothing happening here that we can see. And stuff is happening, but there is so much more to come.” And sometimes there are seasons when God just steps in and does something so unexpected and completely off the radar, it’s radical! Because He’s God!

Another one of the ways I review the old year is by looking back at the photographs I took. One thing that stood out to me from 2015 was the number of DOORS I photographed. I wasn’t aware that I was taking so many at the time. I created a folder of these door photos and decided to share some of them and what they speak to me.  You can find them on my Facebook page under albums.

Doors are entrances, exits, portals, openings, and invitations. They can be simple or elaborate, tiny or humongous, high or low. They can be closed, locked, barred, left ajar, or wide open. They can be preceded by a pathway or a stairway requiring a protocol to enter. Some doors require a key or code to enter, some just a simple knock or ring, some multiple “hard knocks,” and others we always have complete access to enter immediately. To use a door always demands two things…to leave one place and to enter another. Doors both define and decide movement, although I suppose one could stand in a doorway and not move in or out, but what an awkward place to spend much time!

Some of the doors I photographed I admired from a distance but never entered or even approached. Others, I enthusiastically strolled through, still others I waited until an invitation was given to enter. Doors, whether entered or not, have defined my past year. My decision to enter some of them has determined where I am today.

Jesus once told a parable of a shepherd who entered the sheep pen by the door, not by climbing in some other way. The Pharisees didn’t get it. So Jesus had to spell it out for them clearly, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:9,10)

Another time, Jesus inferred that we are doors. “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

My New Year’s prayer for you comes from Revelation 3:8, “Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open door that no one is able to close.” May it be so for you in 2016.

Of Praying and Prying

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Recently, when I wanted to open the heart of someone I love, I placed some Scrabble tiles in my kitchen window frame to spell the word, PRAY.  Just a simple reminder to pray whenever I stood at the kitchen sink.  One day as I was dusting the window frame, I accidentally knocked over the letter A.  Now it spelled PRY.  In that moment God asked me, “Which will it be?  PRAY or PRY?”  To pry means to move, raise, or open by leverage; to obtain, extract, or separate with difficulty, for example, to pry a secret out of someone.  Was I going to turn to Him to open the heart of someone I love or was I going to turn to the leverage I have to do it?  If through leverage, I am able to get the result I want, will it be the result I want years from now?  Will it be genuine heart change?  Will it come from the free will of the individual?  We all have been given good gifts that can serve as leverage to open difficult situations and people.  Things like wisdom, beauty, intelligence, education, wit, knowledge, strength, finances, and yes, even love.  How and when we wield them and whether it is in our own strength and will or in God’s way and time, determines the effectiveness.  And sometimes God does things without any of our help.  Because He can.  Because He is God.  He has been doing this for eons of time:  Opening hardened, encrusted, glued-shut, darkened, deceived, blinded, broken hearts.  Changing circumstances that have been set in stone for years, impenetrable, immovable, and seemingly unchangeable.  This one is no exception.

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