Aroma of Christ

On walks or bike rides, I take many pictures of trees, bushes and flowers. It never ceases to amaze me how a grand transition takes place every spring from the gray and brown, to tinges of green, and finally into the array of color we experience in late April.

IMG_8027

One especially beautiful flowering tree, is the pear tree. Its white explosions are bursting forth all over town. When walking downtown one day I was struck by the way the white buds shone against the sky and buildings. The blossoms seemed to inhale sunlight, exhaling in white as bright as glistening angel wings.

Then I walked under a few of them and I got a whiff of air that turned my stomach. I thought, there must be a nearby restaurant throwing out rotten food or something? When I walked back through that spot, I went up very close and took a deep sniff of a branch. It smelled completely different than I expected it would. I’ve admired these trees for so many years, but I never realized the stench they emanated.

The smell of the beautiful tree reminded me of how we can be sometimes. Is it possible that we are concerned about the looks of our church, our ministry, or our bodies, or the impressions others have of us? So much time is spent on our hair, what we wear, how our blogs and webpages look, the landscaping and carpet color at our church-the covers of our books. It seems so important to put a false front out there so we look like we have it all together, when maybe we are thinking and doing things that we wouldn’t want others to know.

Would I want others to know what I’m really like inside and let it show? Would they still like me? Would the thoughts and actions that flow out of me make someone want to know my Lord? I might want to look “religious” and have all my t’s crossed and i’s dotted. If I go to church each week like a good woman, give to charity, dress neatly, say the right things, or pray correctly, then people will think I’m a good Christian. Why does that matter?

IMG_8112

The pear tree looks beautiful but the aroma doesn’t do anyone any good. I love to look at these trees but don’t want to get close to them. You know how the smell of a pizza restaurant can draw you right inside? I’ve been reminded that I need to be a pleasing aroma of Christ to others. I need to show love, give love, and be like Jesus. If I am, then others will want to know my Jesus. It’s important that I speak with sincerity to bring life, causing others to desire to know the Lord. If I emit a negative odor by speaking about God out of pride or for my own profit, I am bringing death. What kind of odor do I put forth into the world?

Lord, please help me to be the aroma of Christ in my world each day.

Read it for yourself in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2Corinthians2:14-17&version=NIV

Posted in Aroma of Christ, beauty of nature, God's Love, Jesus, love, nature's beauty, seasons, Springtime, trees | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Last Lessons From Ebony Anne

There comes a time when dogs get old. It creeps up on you. Twelve years. My Ebony Anne has been an obedient, patient old soul. Her sleek black hair shone in the sun. She never had much time to stand still for brushing though. She was a fast learner. It never took much to house-train her, she just kind of caught on. She was polite and timid.

100_1871

She never ate anybody’s shoes when she was inside. Ebony wouldn’t bark at people she didn’t know when they came in the yard. But if someone she did know came, she sure barked to get attention. She was a shy dog. Afraid of cats. Wanted to make friends with most other animals and never dreamed of attacking them. Little dogs a fraction of her size could go after her jugular and she was surprised. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. I’ve never heard her growl. Not exactly a watch dog. When we had the boys’ cats in the house for a couple years, she stood still and the cats would be extremely ticked off. She’d look at them longingly wanting them to play and they would hiss and run away.

100_1865

Ebony was afraid of floors. Seriously would not walk on our laminate wood floor in the kitchen. I’d sit on the floor with a treat in my hand to get her to cross it, and then she would back her way out, shaking all the way. She didn’t seem to know how to relax and just walk on her pads. That could have something to do with the laundry door incident.

One time my two sons and their friend Justin coaxed her across the kitchen floor into the living room. Now she was trapped on the carpet and had to cross the kitchen floor again to get out. She began walking on the laminate and got really nervous, so she picked up speed. She slid into the laundry room door hard and fast, clonking her head. She scared herself to death and she ran out shaking into the backroom. All three of them were rolling on the floor laughing their heads off. I wasn’t home or I would have come to her rescue. Poor Ebs.

Ebony was afraid of water. Yes, a black pure-bred Lab, scared of baths. She had to be placed in a tub of water outside, leashed and held tight by a strong hand. James used to get into the kiddie pool with her to give her a bath outside. When I took her for a beach walk, she would go a couple feet into the water and then jump back out. In later years when I took her to the pet supply store for a bath she’d dig her heels in a paralyzing position, requiring two of us to accomplish a bath. She’d be shaking the whole time but also wagging her tail.2007_378

She was an anxious dog. If Ebony was in the house, she’d lay down on the floor if you were perfectly still but if you even moved your arm, she would be on alert. If you got up to do something, she’d be right there on your heels wagging her tail.

Her eyes were bright and expectant and her hair so shiny black. It seemed that she smiled at you. We laughed at how her tail would hit the wall so hard it was lethal. If you sat on the floor next to her, she couldn’t get close enough, until she was on top of you. If you rubbed her stomach, she rolled on her back expecting you to do it all day.

She liked to take walks, but never in twelve years has she gotten used to having a halti harness on. She fought it every time I walked her. When you’d pause in the slightest, she would rub her nose on the ground trying to get it off. But if you didn’t have the halti on, she would walk you, instead of the other way around. It was practically impossible to walk her without it on-you would get dragged every which way.

100_1969

How she loved those walks with the family down in the gullies. She would run ahead and explore, circle back and around and up and down the steep hills. Often she’d walk with me down the railroad tracks behind our house. Sniffing and searching, coming back to greet me and off again. She listened to me pray, cry, talk, yell, or complain. She never minded a bit. She loved people and was happy if she was included in any activity.

Taking her to the vet was a trip. She’d smell the place and didn’t want to get out of the car. I’d drag her in through the two doors, she’d cower by the scale afraid to step onto it. While in the waiting room she’d be afraid of cats and dogs much smaller than she was. When in the examination room she’d tremble by the door and the vet had to come to her.

100_1934

She was an outside dog the majority of her years. In the country, Cliff and the boys made her a doghouse which matched our house, made with the leftover tan siding. It was cute. But for some odd reason, Ebony kept chewing that siding off her insulated doghouse one by one until it was all off. Cliff would not put any new siding on. He said it was her fault. She would also get tangled around the end of the zip-line poles and sometimes we’d come home and there she was laying by the pole, unable to move. She’d wait patiently for us to come home from boating, snowmobiling, school, or the endless activities we had. Cliff wasn’t exactly in love with her and our boat was definitely a no-dog zone.

IMG_0807

On hot summer days, often I’d fill a kiddie pool with water and drag it out next to her doghouse. She wouldn’t go in it of course. She’d tentatively take a couple steps and drank some water, if no one was looking. When I’d spray out the garage floor, she would stand behind me or explore something out of the range of the hose. She was so afraid we would spray her. I wonder if the boys tormented her when she was young when mom wasn’t around?

She learned a couple tricks following hand commands. Ebony would sit. She would lay down but only stayed there a half second because she was so excited. Even when she was older and stayed at her second family for a couple years, the kids taught her to speak and handshake. She was always so hungry and the treats would tempt her to do about anything. When someone would throw a tennis ball with the “chuck-it” she would run and run for hours. When she thought it went down the gullies she would search for an hour until she found the tennis ball. She would not give up even if she had to go all the way down the very steep and deep gully. You could even fake her out and pretend you threw a tennis ball and she’d go searching for it. So funny.

005

Often Ebony would get a ride in the car. She would lay down in the passenger side floor, and curl up her tail carefully so it wouldn’t get caught in the door. She always laid her head on the shifter to watch me. One time when I was driving along the car was suddenly making a strange noise. Turns out that Ebony put me into neutral.

When Ebony was a puppy, we began throwing a plastic water bottle or a milk jug, when we sat on the pool deck. She chased it, stumbling into or over it, she’d miss the bottle and roll, landing on her nose. We would all laugh so hard. The boys would often throw a ball from the deck or pool. She’d jump off the end of the deck with a huge leap and bring that ball to the edge of the pool. She’d want to tease and not give the ball completely back. Sometimes dropped it in the pool by accident though and then she’d have to wait until the filter made the water circulate and she could grab it again. She even pawed at the water to draw the ball back her way. One time Andrew had to haul her out of the pool because she fell in while trying to reach the ball. When the boys had friends over to play soccer on the field, she was in her glory with all those boys who came specifically to play with her.

IMG_0413

Sometimes Ebony would bark at night if she heard coyotes or was spooked about something. Sometimes I’d go out there in my bathrobe to try to figure out what was bothering her. She’d stop barking for a time, and then resume barking when we were trying to sleep. If any of us were outside for any reason or walking to the barn, she’d bark wanting to be part of the action.

She ate Cliff’s little Japanese maple tree one time….he’s never forgiven her for that. He never did like her much and that sealed the deal. I don’t know what got into her. She was playing outside with James once when he was a boy. She went over to the little tree and just decided it was her enemy. When James came back outside he was afraid his dad would be mad. He got some duct tape and taped the whole top half of the tree back on. It worked for a couple days until Cliff looked a little closer. Oh well, she wasn’t perfect.

Lately Ebony’s slow. In the last year we could notice it coming on. In the last few weeks she doesn’t have her voracious appetite anymore. I brought her to the vet last week and he said she wasn’t in pain. She has had achy legs and a swallowing/breathing problem of some kind. She’s losing weight. Her eyes are turning dim and cloudy, lots of gray showing through her black shiny hair. My Ebony-girl still conjures up some energy to run to meet me, wagging her tail, looking at me expectantly. She still seems to smile at me.

So cute how she hopped into Andrew’s car just yesterday, wanting to be included. I’ve never had a dog get old before. I’m not eccentric and consider her to be a daughter, but I do care for her. I’m not going to spend thousands to extend her life a little, but she’s not bad enough to be put down. I don’t like these “old dog decisions…”100_2573 (2)

It won’t be long now Ebs. Soon I won’t be able to look into your big, dark chocolate-brown eyes. You’ve been faithful and patient. You go down as an exceptional dog. I know that God loves animals because he created them, and he also let a pair of each kind go into the Arc with Noah to save them from the flood. I have to believe there’s a special section reserved for you in the skies.

Love you Ebony Anne.

100_2518

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_7705

 

 

 

 

Posted in caring, Death, Ebony, Family, Grief and loss, Lake Michigan, love, Memories, pets | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Words

Searching.

Grasping for words.

Seems they’re hidden in the depths of me.

Try to scoop a handful and raise them.

Hand comes up empty.

Where are you words?

Breathe deeply hoping words will be in the breath.

The exhale has no weight.

Hold still and listen.

The atmosphere is blank.

Silence that seems so loud.

Clambering.

Rise to the surface, settle back down.

Chasing.

Deafening void of quiet.

Where are you words?

Smoothing on lotion.

Touching.

Feeling.

Massaging the skin, moisture sinks deep.

Conscious awareness of circling motion.

No words surface.

Food slides down satisfying the hunger within.

Tastes familiar and comforting.

Ration slips in, the soul still longing.

Where are you words?

Blue and green flicker in the flames.

The bright orange log cracks.

Words dance but don’t bow down.

Breath in.

Breath out.

Fuzzy thoughts float.

Where are you words?

Rest in the Spirit.

Expectancy.

img_4743

Posted in Holy Spirit, poetry, writing | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Breathe

This week I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday. The prompt is ‘Breathe.’ If you’d like to join in the fun, press this link    http://katemotaung.com/2017/02/02/five-minute-friday-breathe-lisa-jo-baker/

 

PEACE. Hold up a hand, with the first two fingers in a ‘V .’ I wish people would just breathe when it comes to the state of our political/social issues. So many marches, sign waving, shouting, protests, angry rants on blogs, etc. I grew up in the sixties and seventies and I feel like we’re right back there again. The thing about this that bothers me the most is people stating their opinions in the news and on social media. I used to think my beliefs were pretty black and white, but lately that isn’t so for many. It’s one thing to have a strong belief that you are following what Jesus would do. I am disheartened by Christians, hurling bible verses at one another like flaming arrows to try to justify why they feel the way they do and why everyone should believe the same. I don’t think we’re supposed use the bible this way. They’re on both sides of issues, and many think they’re right in God’s eyes, even using evil words and actions. It makes me sad and I don’t wonder why unbelievers think we’re a bunch of hypocrites. I’ve consciously tried very hard to stay out of the political arena by not liking or posting anything political. I know I’ve made mistakes too. It’s really hard to get away from the bombardment.

Together now, 1,2, 3, 4, please take a deep breath in and blow it out. Breathe.

 

Posted in Bible, caring, Charity, Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, love | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Eyes of Your Heart

Would you please give me just a couple minutes? Look hard into my hazel eyes and listen.  Don’t be angry, the reason I’m saying this is because I love you so much. What I want to tell you is that I’m not perfect, I’m very prideful. I’ve made so many mistakes. Jesus is the only one who has those things ironed out.

Jesus really really cares about you. He’s preparing a huge dinner feast for us. Yes, you and me. I really want to see you there. I can’t begin to describe to you how much I long to see you there. You see, Jesus invited many many people to heaven, the great and important. Many of them said no, I’m too busy or you are not real, you’re a fairy tale. So then he invited people like me and you. He opened the gate and said, come in, all you who are weak and have heavy burdens.

IMG_5840

 

You don’t have anything to lose by saying yes to Jesus. He loves you with such an abiding and everlasting love. He created you and knows every hair on your head. He will never leave you or forsake you. YES, YOU. My heart aches for you and I want to hold your hand as we walk together. I’m only going there because of his great grace. He has infinite amounts of grace left for you.

Why are you walking through life saying you don’t need him, that you’re too young, too old, too busy, too many dreams to chase, my sins are too bad, or I’ll accept him later? Why is it so risky for you? Why is it that you are running from the Holy Spirit? You knew him, he knows you. All shame and guilt can be erased. He knows everything and yet he loves. He’s holding his hand out to you.

img_1786-3

It takes one whispered word- Jesus.

He loves you much more than I ever could. Again I’ll love you. Again I’ll pray that he opens the eyes of your heart. I’ll never stop praying for you. Forever in his arms is an incredible place to be.

Posted in faith, forgiveness, heaven, Holy Spirit, prayer, salvation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Control

This week, I’m linking up again with Kate Motaung for the “Five Minute Friday!”

I know, I’m a little late and it’s already Saturday night…that’s ok!

You can take part in the fun here .http://katemotaung.com/2017/01/26/five-minute-friday-control-a-guest-post/

The prompt this week is “Control.” Hmmm…..lets see…

GO-

When I first saw the prompt word, “control,” I thought immediately of giving God control over my life. As if I ever had control to begin with? No, I really don’t. My life and all my activities, words and actions are totally in His hands. But then, He did give us free will to choose how we want to live. Each of us has a choice, will we live for Christ or for ourselves?

The Holy Spirit is gentle and loving and does not come crashing in on us. He’s never forceful and He doesn’t push His thumb down on us. He is the soft whisper in the dead of night, the tender voice in our heart that leads us to make good decisions. He is never a controlling task-master. I have known the Lord since childhood, but just really coming to a full internal knowledge of how much He loves me lately.

Yes, I decide every day to give Him control. When I keep a tight grip over my life I make lots of mistakes. It involves trust, to place the control back where it belongs.

He is a gentleman waiting for me at the door of my heart.

I had this song going through my head the whole evening. It’s performed by Hillsong in this video. Here’s a few of the lyrics… “In my heart and my soul, I give you control, consume me from the inside out Lord.” Enjoy the song here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-afZJ9_TIM

STOP.

Posted in control, Five Minute Friday with Kate Motaung, music, trust | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Word of God Speak

The apostle John records…”the angel said to me, Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb…these are true words that come from God.” Revelation 19:9 (NLT)

bible public domain pic
The written word was so important to God, that he gave us the Bible. It was recorded by over 40 authors who lived during a 1,500-year period who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is regarded as a highly reliable book by Christians and historians alike.
In John 1:1, it says, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NLT) God is the very essence of the writing.

There are many references to writing, words, speaking and relaying messages in the bible. It is amazing that the Holy Scriptures are God’s actual words for us to read. He loves us so much that He revealed Himself to us in the Bible so we can know Him intimately.

img_7113

When Jesus came to earth, he fulfilled many prophecies from the Old Testament. In Micah 5:2, the prophet Micah prophesied that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel…”

Isaiah 9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” We can have complete faith in God’s word because he has proven Himself trustworthy.

img_6848

In other places, God shows his concern for accurate speaking and writing to make things clear to people. Habakkuk 2:2-3, says, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (NIV)

In Acts 2:17-18, it says, “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.”(NIV)

img_4797

God is interested in what we speak and write. We need to let Him infuse His Holy Spirit through us so that we are saying exactly what He desires.

My prayer is: Word of Life, help me to write and speak the words you want to convey. May I be a vessel of your Holy Spirit. AMEN.

Posted in Bible, God's faithfulness, God's Holy Word, Holy Spirit, speaking, word of God, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments