As the temperatures cool and the world sports the colors of the Thanksgiving season, it’s always nice to take pause and thank God for our many blessings. And there is so very much to be thankful for. Leaves, for example. Starting as a tiny bud, new leaves spring forth around Easter time each year, literally breathing life into the world, not only preserving our very existence, but also providing us shade along the way. Indeed, every single leaf has an important, life-giving, life-preserving job. Perhaps that is why God gives them such a beautiful and colorful exit every fall. This year, as the leaves around you burst into an array of breath-taking colors, take a moment to thank God for them. And as they take their final bows, falling from the trees carried by the gentle winds of November, send up a bountiful round of applause straight from earth’s stage to Heaven’s ears.
Note: I have been reading through my God-Time Journals and seem to be getting just as much from them now as when they were written five months ago. I hope you glean something from them as well and that perhaps this will motivate us both to spend a little extra time with our Father in the coming days.
April 7, 2015 6:15 am – 7 am
Good morning, God.
I’m trying to start my day off on the right foot with time with you, but, truthfully, I am tired and feel a little unsettled. I feel like I have so much to do and am having the tendency to try and rush through our time; just to say I did it; to get a checkmark. That is so not cool and I am so sorry. This isn’t about a checkmark and I’d be better off getting up and doing something else than just going through the motions. Help me, Lord. Bring me back to you. Help me to spend the next 30 minutes with you and you alone. I LOVE spending time with you. You give me such sweet, sweet love and teach me such wonderful things. What are we going to learn today, Jesus? I am listening.
Ephesians 6: Regarding God’s Armor and Paul’s request for prayer that he continue to boldly preach and spread the good news to gentiles and Jews alike although he was in prison; for God to use him right where he was.
Lord, you know I’m ready to be in fulltime ministry, but I know that there is a reason I’m still here, in chains. Help me to accept my place and use me right where I am. Continue to train me and teach me, my dear sweet Lord and make every breath one that counts for Your Kingdom. Use me Lord, Amen and Ehmen!
Dear Child of Mine,
Good morning. I am proud of you, that you stick to our time together, though you are distracted. This distraction is a battle plan of the enemy, which is why I brought you to Ephesians 6 today. Child, always, always clothe yourself in my full armor, for the devil and his demons are very real. You may not see them with your naked eye, but they are just as real as I Am. But, they are nowhere near as powerful. I have and will always have the edge and, through Me, so do you. Don’t ever forget that. There is absolutely nothing that satan can throw at you that you and I cannot handle together; together being the operative word here. Alone, you are left defenseless, like a tiny lamb among wolves. But, with Me, you will always be surrounded by a hedge of protection. I want you to be like my son, Paul. I know it is hard, when you are ready to move to the next level of ministry, but you must continue to meet me here and throughout your day in prayer, so that I can properly train you. You are going to be a mighty warrior, but warriors must have training before they go into battle. Child, the closer you walk with Me; the closer you get to fulfilling your purpose which, in turn, will win more and more souls for My Kingdom, the more satan and his army of demons will pursue and push you. It is important that you spend this time in training with me so that you can withstand their attacks. I sense you getting anxious; fear not, Child. For when you walk with Me; when you step out on the battlefield in My armor; thine enemies will retreat; they will back away. They know that they can’t win even the smallest battle against Me! Keep Me with you always! They lie in wait, hoping to catch you with your guard down, but, never fear, I am with you always. I love you, child. You come to Me as a defenseless child and become a great warrior with Me by your side. Let’s go win some battles, child. It’s going to be a great and victorious day!
The other day, a friend was telling me that he gets his inspiration while riding his motorcycle to which I quickly quipped that I got mine on my riding lawnmower. And while I said it jokingly, it’s really very true. Indeed, sometimes God speaks to us in the strangest places—and, for me, it is quite often over the roaring of a lawnmower engine. Perhaps He finds that it is easier for him to “cut” to the chase as the rapid revolutions of the engine and blades drown out all the other noise of my world and I become more focused on Him and His creation. It really is a special time during which, over the years, I have received a lot of great insight.
This past weekend, for example, as I carefully and—I like to think skillfully—maneuvered my fire-engine red Craftsman mower with shiny chrome wheel covers tightly alongside the landscape timbers that separate the grass from my flowerbeds, I felt him nudging me to take a closer look inside the beds. Much to my dismay, what I saw was more weeds than flowers. It is then that I heard these words in my heart; words that flowed melodically and in perfect harmony with what was now just a backup hum from the mower.
Your Heart is like the flowers
The most fruitful of seeds
It will die if not tended
Choked out by weeds.
Stopping the engine, I immediately hopped off the mower and started tending that flower bed. I pulled, plucked and tugged every weed. And, with each weed I pulled, it was if God breathed new nuggets of wisdom into my soul. He explained that the enemy has one play in his playbook—to plant weeds anywhere He Himself has planted seeds. In the case of our own hearts, the weeds represent things like sorrow, regret and shame. The evil one knows all too well that if he can keep us focused on the weeds, he can keep us from growing into the creations that God intended.
But, oh no, you devilish one, you are quite mistaken. God is the gardener of my life. And where you sow a crop of weeds, God is always standing by to pull, tug and pluck every single one. In fact, Matthew 15:13 promises us that “every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.’”
Indeed, as children of God, we should forgive ourselves and each other, just as God forgave us through His son, Jesus Christ. By forgiving, we pluck the weeds of sorrow, regret and shame and free ourselves to give love to and receive love from God and others, just as we are commanded in Matthew 22:37-39:
“And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
By forgiving, we free ourselves to be more fruitful—to grow more and more into His image, the image in which we were created in the first place.
Ah, sweet Jesus, I have held this teaching close all week and, today, as I prepared to do my weekly mowing once again, I noticed those flowers and plants which I tended last week have bounced right back and are full of life. My heart is feeling pretty full of life, too. Thank You for loving me; for never giving up on me; for forgiving me through your Son and my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and for always being willing to tend the garden of my heart. Please help me to do my part so that I can produce fruit that will make You proud. Now, I’m off to hop on the lawnmower. You know, I’ve been thinking. Perhaps, I will give the ol’ Craftsman a name. Harley. That way I can tell my motorcycle friends that I, too, find my inspiration when riding my Harley! 🙂 Amen and Ehmen!
Have a blessed, weed-free day, y’all!
Writer’s Note: As we approach the first anniversary, I thought it appropriate to post something I wrote a few days after Robin Williams’ death shocked the world. It struck a deeply personal nerve for me, just as I know it did for the many who have lost friends and loved ones to depression and/or battled it alongside them.
Aug. 16. 2014
The recent death of Robin Williams has stirred up many feelings and emotions for many people around the globe, myself included. Suicide has taken or threatened to take people in my own world and so I know, firsthand, how very hard it is and how deep the wounds of those left behind. They not only are mourning the loss of their loved one, but they often are left to wonder if they somehow failed. If they knew there was a problem, why couldn’t they help? If they didn’t know, why didn’t they recognize the signs? Surely, there were signs.
The truth is there are some people you simply cannot accept at face value; those people who have become so skilled at hiding their depression and true feelings that others have difficulty seeing the reality of a hurting soul trapped in darkness. At least to those outside their inner circles, this seemed to be just such the case with Robin Williams as well as a young man with whom I worked. To the world, both were extremely outgoing, funny and loved by many. I can’t help but wonder if they hid behind a smiling mask because that is what the world expected from them. Did they feel responsible for being the happy one, even when they were feeling just the opposite inside? Did they help and inspire others, while all the while desperately needing someone to help them? Had the very thing that they had become known for become the burden that finally broke them?
Personally, I could see how that could happen. My friend whom I have come close to losing several times in the past few years became highly skilled at wearing a mask when in public. Thank God, she would occasionally slip it off, where we could try to bring everything she was hiding deep inside out in the open. It was hard. It was ugly. It was heart-wrenching. And it was impossible for her to shoulder alone. She needed something bigger than both of us combined. She needed God. Of course, God was always there, but sometimes she just needed someone to remind her; to help clear the fog and smoke so that she could see His sweet, sweet face; however many times it took. That’s where we can help. Is it easy? Absolutely not.
I can’t tell you how many mornings I felt a pit in my stomach wondering if this day would be the day I got “the call.” I felt helpless and imagined that this must certainly be what it feels like to have a loved one in a war zone. I suppose in a sense she was in a war zone. She was fighting for her very life, entrenched in heavy battle with satan and his evil army of demons. They surrounded her and, although they couldn’t physically lay a hand on her, they made so much noise and created so much smoke and fog that, alone, she found it hard to see her Creator. What she really needed was to be reminded that satan only turns up the heat when he sees time running out and her victory imminent. It’s his hail mary pass; his last ditch effort.
The thing is, we all have to remember that amidst all that smoke and noise, God is ALWAYS right there. He never leaves. Not even for a single second. Thank God, my friend found His hand again and made it back from many, many days, weeks and even months of wandering in a desert of hopelessness, darkness and despair. She made it to the other side of a very dark night and is today basking in the sunshine once again.
My prayer tonight is that the noise satan so loves to make will be squelched and the smoke dissipated so that all can see Him, in all His Glory. May God’s love and peace be with us all. Amen and Ehmen.
The most valuable building materials are not hiding on the other side of the world. There is no need for trucks or airplanes to get them to you. No, the most valuable building materials can be found right next to you; in your place and time. For, what you may see as mere rubble; cracked and broken pieces that can’t possibly amount to anything, God sees as gold. He sees promise. He sees the perfect stockpile of building materials from which to build new life and new hope. Our job is simply to hand Him every single broken, splintered piece; every fragment, no matter how wrecked or small. Indeed, no matter what it was that created such disarray in your life, God—the glorious and almighty Creator of all—is waiting to help you put it all back together and to build something beautiful, something better; a life that reflects Him; a life of purpose that brings you joy and brings Him glory. As His child, this is your birthright and the legacy He intended for you since before Creation. Let the remodeling begin. Thank you, Jesus. Amen and Ehmen!
And the Word of God Says…
Ephesians 1: 4-5: “For He chose us in Him, before the creation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.”
John 6:12: “…he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”
Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Writer’s Note: I have always hated stormy weather. I always found it frightening, and still do to some degree. However, about a year ago, as I sat outside on my patio and watched as a summer storm took over the skies over my home, God gave me these words and this “vision.” Makes me smile. 🙂
The darkness rises up from the horizon as if all the demons in hell are readying for battle. Rapidly they advance into the heavenly realms and the world beneath grows dim. The clouds loom darker as the sounds of battle begin. Thank God, the enemy has obviously met resistance. Thunder rolls as angels hurl lightning bolts at the aggressors and the sky lights up with instantaneous flashes of hope. The good guys are winning. They always do. And just as He has always promised, from the darkest of circumstances, the living waters of Heaven rain down on the earth. Thank you, God, for this day; for this storm; and for the beautiful things that will grow because of it. Amen and Ehmen. Have a beautiful day, y’all and embrace both the sunshine and the storms. Much love, Brenda.
Purposeful Pondering: Faith does not allow anyone to live above reality; it is instead a continuous fight. What distinguishes people of faith is not how rarely they hit the dirt, but how often they get up again. Just know that when the enemy flees to his corner, he is only preparing for the next round. Your job is to keep putting on the gloves. Do that and, no matter how bad those punches hurt, your rewards will surpass imagination. Have a blessed weekend and keep those gloves up! Amen and Ehmen!
Writer’s Note: As I have mentioned on this blog before, I often “record” my personal God and prayer time by opening a blank page and typing the two-way conversation that ensues. It amazes me how much I get from it as it happens as well as later when I re-read it. How do I know His part of the conversation is definitely His part?Well, simply put, I am just not that smart. If anyone finds it helpful, I will continue to post some of these “blank page” conversations on Amen and Ehmen! Feel free to comment and let me know if any of my posts ever help you. And, remember, prayer is just talking and listening to our sweet, sweet Father in Heaven. Talk to Him. He’s always ready and waiting. Amen and Ehmen.
January 23, 2015 7:32 AM
It’s me. I really am going to try and do better about spending uninterrupted time with you in the mornings; time when I can record on paper my observations and thoughts as well as your answers and teaching. It still amazes me, when I only give you a few minutes of my day, just as I did earlier this week, you still spoke and shared with me such wisdom and love. As you know, I shared what you told me on Facebook, and it obviously helped others. I love this about our “blank screen” conversations and I love you, wanting nothing more than to do your will. Why, then, oh my Lord, do I not sit in front of this page more often? Why am I not going bed earlier so that I wake up earlier and have this time with you? It’s always fruitful. Always. Lord, I pray that you help me overcome any satanic attacks or even just plain fleshly laziness, so that I spend more time learning from you, taking instruction and then sharing that wisdom and love with others. I know that this is your will for me and I want nothing more than to please you and bring your lost children to you so that we can all one day live in the heavenly realms with you as one big, happy family. Amen and Ehmen.
Dear Child of Mine,
You are learning. Just keep your eyes trained on me. Keep your heart and your ears tuned to me. Together, we will overcome the temptations that threaten to steal the mission that I have assigned you. You can do this, if you just stick we me. That is the key, however; sticking with me. Apart from me you are nothing. And, in sticking with me, you must fully and completely trust me. This is where most of my children, including you, go wrong throughout life on earth. You say you trust me, but then you don’t listen to my instruction; you don’t obey my word. Do you not see how hypocritical this is? Now, don’t be deceived. You are not the only one who lives like this. It began with Adam and Eve and has continued throughout history. Even those after my own heart fell and still fall prey to this. I say this not to offer you an excuse, but to make you understand that this is not unique to you. And why is this important to understand? It is important to understand, because Satan will unceasingly and unfailingly try to convince you otherwise. Satan will tell you that you are a failure; that your disobedience is a sure sign that you must not love Me or believe in Me like you should. Or, even worse, that I, your Creator, could not possibly love someone like you. This is a lie from the deceiver; from the enemy. I love you unconditionally. No matter what.
This, however, does not mean you won’t be tested.
Everyone, my child, is tempted and tested, because everyone who has and will ever live has a purpose and a part to play in fulfilling my plans. Absolutely everyone. Satan, on the other hand, seeks to kill and destroy; not because he hates you, but because he hates Me and will do anything to try and thwart my plan. You are just a toy to him, a tool to be used and discarded. He even tried it with my own Son. Why, on earth, do you think you’d be immune?
Note what I just said, he “TRIED” it with my son. To try is to attempt and his attempt failed miserably. My son is pure and my son died for you, giving you the promise of eternal life and the ability to also fight back and come back. You can’t lose with Me on your side. Together, we turn temptations into failed attempts. And, I do one better than even that; for, if Satan is successful at tripping you, I will be there, not only to help you back up and to dust you off, but to use the dirt, the muck and the mire into which you fell to build something more; to teach you and those who witness or hear your story how to move even closer to me. I will never turn my back on you. Ever.
But, know this, too, My child, Satan is the quintessential deceiver and once he gets you down, he will use every trick in the book to keep you there. He is a master of smoke and mirrors and will turn every human weakness into a tool to keep you in bondage; to keep you wandering in the desert and as far away from your mission and path as possible.
Do you remember when my people wandered in the desert for 40 years on their way to the Promise Land? It took 40 years, a whole generation, to traverse a section of land that should have only taken a few days, had they followed my lead and direction. And, because of that, the majority of the generation that left Egypt for the Promise Land, died before they were able to enjoy the promise. This is to be a warning to you. Your life is a journey to your final destination, the promised land of heaven where you will live in peace and joy with me for all of eternity. But, you must follow my lead and fulfill your purpose of leading others into this glorious kingdom. If you don’t, you, too, may very well spend a lot of unnecessary years wandering in the desert where you are easily swayed by Satan, perhaps convinced that you are lost forever when, in reality, you are on the fringe of where your heart longs to be, with me!
You are close enough to touch me; to grab my hand. Don’t let the deceiver use your weakness, your hunger, your own personal pride to convince you otherwise. The desert, you see, can be simply a place you pass through on your way to Me, a place of training and learning. Or, counter-productively, you can allow it to simply become Satan’s sandbox.
May we all reach for His Hand today and stay far away from satan’s sandbox. Amen and Ehmen!
I am finding more and more truth in the old saying, “time flies” these days. In fact, the older I get, the old tick-tock seems to sprout bigger and faster wings, hijacking the moments and carrying each and every one of them far, far away. If we’re lucky, the good ones land somewhere in the recesses of our memories to be retrieved and enjoyed many times in the future and the not-so-good just keep floating into the dark abyss of time never to be recalled again or, better yet, they wind up in God’s toolbox where He repurposes them and turns each into something useful.
Actually, the truth is, God promises to always use our stuff. He says so many times throughout the bible and most expressly so in Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to his purpose.” Notice, He says ALL things; not just some things, but ALL things. All He really wants in return is our unwavering love, another fact that He reminds us of throughout His word, such as in Matthew 22:3, when Jesus himself spoke the greatest and foremost commandment of all: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
My prayer today is that all of us learn to love God just like that—with all our heart, soul and mind—for I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is that kind of love that leads to full trust, obedience and dependence on Him and full dependence leads to guaranteed fulfillment of the purpose for which our Father created us. And that, my dear friends, will ultimately lead to the words we all long to hear straight from the lips of our Awesome God: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done!” Oh, how incredible that will be! I know it’s almost July 4th here in the United States, but this year, I say let’s forget Independence Day and start celebrating Himdependence Day!
Amen and Ehmen!