Monthly Archives: August 2014

Blackberry Pickin’

One of the things I enjoy about living in Eastern Washington is the four seasons. My favorite is summer! Of my most loved summer activities, making jam and canning peaches is at the top of the list. First in the middle of June is strawberries, then in early-to mid-July is raspberries, followed at the end of August with blackberries and peaches. It’s a really good summer for me when I have had the opportunity to jam or can each of the above listed fruits. I am happy to report it has been an excellent summer!

jam and peaches

Just this Friday my hubby (willingly) and son (not as willingly -smile-) joined me for an afternoon of pickin’. We went to the farm stand to get our buckets. As we were there a lady ahead of us was asking if the raspberries were in season. I have to admit pride reared its ugly head as I thought, “She is obviously a novice, everybody knows the raspberry season is over.” The worker informed her raspberries were over but blackberries were ready to pick. She asked if they were picked over and the worker said that people were finding blackberries but you had to look for them. She got her buckets and was on her way. We then visited with the workers, got our buckets and were also on our way. By the time we got to the blackberry patch, the lady who was ahead of us, was already done picking. She had about a cup of blackberries in her bucket, said they were slim-pickings and asked me if I would like what they picked because they were leaving. I gratefully accepted her offerings, but got a little discouraged because of her report.

We got started walking down the rows of blackberries. Look at these cute little fellow-pickers.

fellow pickers

As we walked we saw many berries that were not quite ripe yet. The farm worker was right, you did have to search for the ripe berries. We spent about 30-40 minutes searching for the ripe berries. This entailed work on our part – squatting down,

Mark

looking at each bunch

blackberries

and plucking the ripe ones into our buckets.

plucking berries

As we did, our son kept us going by asking questions, “Daddy, is it true that a fly’s life span is only 24 hours?” and sharing little known facts he has picked up in 12 short years, “Mommy, did you know Febreze also kills wasps?”

Once in a while, I would call out, “I found the grand prize winner!” Each time, my son would say, “Mom, there can only be one grand prize winner.”

Grand Prize Winner

Finally, we had found enough fruit to make at least a couple batches of jam.

Mom & Tim

As we were paying for our fruit, the worker said, “Wow. You did a good job, how long were you out there?” I replied, “About 30-40 minutes, but we had three pickers.” “Still, that’s pretty impressive,” he replied.

I smiled as I left and thought how his “well-done” somehow made the work of pickin’ worth it.

Ministry can be a lot like blackberry pickin’:

  • There is a lot of fruit in our ministries. This fruit is also known as people.
  • In order to be effective in finding the fruit, you can’t give up too soon. Much like the lady who handed me her cup of berries, if you are unwilling to invest time and effort, you will have a small harvest. Don’t let others reports of “slim-pickins” discourage you from looking for the fruit among those you lead.
  • People, like berries, take time to ripen. Adequate watering in the Word and Sonshine will do the trick, turning under-ripe people into those who are ready to be plucked into Christ’s service by the hand of the Master. You are incredibly privileged to be used by Him in the process.
  • To God, each of us is the grand prize winner! The fruit of our lives brings Him much joy, just like making jam does to mine!

blackberry jam

Be encouraged! I know sometimes working with people can be a challenge. But, one day, Jesus will say, “Wow, that’s impressive, good job!” and present you with a crown that represents your obedience to Him in discipling, training and helping others grow. What a beautiful token of your faithfulness that will be, but in light of His glory, it will mean nothing as you look upon Jesus Who was so worthy of your hard work and you will lay that crown down at His feet.

Be blessed today fellow fruit-picker!

Your Friend in Ministry,

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The Effects of Pride

I almost couldn’t believe my eyes! What I was reading on one of the blogs I follow seemed so out of place, that I couldn’t believe it was true. An on-line ministry that was committed to holding women accountable in their daily time in the Bible was imploding from the inside out. As I continued to read the accusations that were being made between the founder and the dear friend and sister she had brought along side to expand the ministry, my disbelief turned to grief and then, dare I say, righteous indignation. How could these women do this to each other, their common ministry and the cause of Christ? Because I was more fascinated by the unfolding drama than I probably should have been, I proceeded to read the hundreds of comments also posted on the blog. What I read literally made me sick to my stomach. Women taking sides, making inappropriate comments, questioning the Christian faith…saying that Christian women were no different than other women, etc…

I have followed this blog for a couple of years and I believe I know the heart behind it. How could it come to this – something so ugly and hateful? As I prayerfully considered this, one word came to my mind – pride. Because pride is something every person struggles with to one degree or another, Scripture has a lot to say about it. In fact, Proverbs alone mentions the following truths about pride and its effects:

  • When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Prov 11:2
  • Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Prov 13:10
  • A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. Prov 14:3
  • Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov 16:8

As I continued to reflect on this situation, I came to the following conclusions:

  1. We are all prone to pride, it is part of the human condition.
  2. None of us are beyond the opportunity to stumble and fall now and then. No matter how many followers you have on social media, there is no magic number where you become suddenly immune to the effects of pride.
  3. The larger your platform, the more opportunity you have to influence others, both positively and negatively. That’s why it is so important to regularly and carefully examine your heart and the motives therein.

I sensed the Holy Spirit asking me to take the focus off of the drama being played out on this well-known blog and look to see where pride needed to be uprooted in my own life. It is easy to see the pride in other’s lives, but to be forced to deal with it in your own, now that’s going a little too far (-smile-).

In response, I wrote this prayer:

Gracious Father, my heart is broken over the division I see on this blog. I pray reconciliation and Your peace and truth over all parties involved. Lord, yesterday, I was struggling with pride over an area in the ministry you have called me to. I wanted it to be known that it was my idea!! When I see how destructive pride can be to individuals, ministries and those who follow them, it makes me want to beg You to strip me of all of my pride. When I say, “strip me of pride”, I know that it will be painful. To remove something so deeply engrained in our flesh doesn’t come without pain. Yet the secret pain that comes from getting over myself is preferable to the public pain that is bound to happen if my pride is not dealt with. Remove my pride Lord. Your name (not my own) and Your renown are the desires of my heart (Is. 26:8). May I be able to say that in all humility and honesty. It matters not whose earthly name is attached to an idea or decision, as long as it is Jesus Christ Who gets the credit and is exalted. In Your Name and for Your sake, Amen

The prayer I prayed over myself is the same prayer I pray for you, dear friend. Don’t let pride take root and take you out of His service.

Your Friend in Ministry,

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Are You Road Weary?

We had been in the car all day, and when I say all day, I mean ALL DAY LONG! We traveled from Boise, ID to Duck Creek, UT – 600 miles as part of our 2500 mile summer road trip. I don’t know about you, but I am not a very good long distance traveler, for a variety of reasons:

  1. For one, I can get car sick, which makes reading or other sorts of entertainment difficult. So, it’s either take Dramamine and be a drugged up fool for the whole day or play it safe and stay away from looking down at books and electronic devices.
  2. Public bathrooms (need I say more?).

 

Rest Area Who would “rest” at the rest stops along interstates? I say do your business and get back to the safety & cleanliness of your car ASAP, especially if there is a sign like this one on the outside of the door!

Rattlesnakes

  1. I get bored and when I get bored I eat, M & M’s, licorice, chips, goldfish crackers, etc… Even when we have a cooler full of healthy fruits and vegetables.

Also, when I get bored, I think of random things to do. When I asked my husband, who was driving, if he ever had the urge to do strange things like scream really loud for no apparent reason, he gave me a strange look and said, “No”. He then asked why I would even think of doing that. I said, “Just to see people’s responses”. He got a frightened look on his face and asked me to please not do that in the car.

One of our traditions for long road trips is to get bubble gum. While I prefer grape Hubba Bubba, all we could find was original Bubble Yum, so I was resigned to blowing bubbles with that. Did you know that bubble gum loses its entire flavor in about 18 minutes?

bubble

popped bubble

By the time we had arrived at our friends’ cabin in the mountains of Utah, we were exhausted. Normally, I am an early riser, but the next morning I did not get out of bed until after 10am. When I finally did rise, our friend Kristen made the comment that we were “road weary travelers”. She then proceeded to feed us and take care of us for the next few days, allowing us to rest and recover, just in time for us to get back on the road again.

That phrase, “road-weary”, stuck with me as I began to think about life in general. Sometimes, we too, become “road-weary”. Maybe you have been on the same road for many miles, whether it may be a difficult road, a lonely road, or even a road that is boring. If you are “road-weary”, consider the following suggestions:

  • Take care of yourself. Figure out what fills your tank and what drains it. When you are already at the point of weariness, it takes a lot longer to fill back up. Give yourself time to get filled, but be intentional to make self-care a priority.
  • Surround yourself with others who can help take care of you. Who are the people who will pray for you and encourage you, lightening your load? Do they know that you are “road-weary”? It is your responsibility to let those close to you how you are doing and how they can help you.
  • Press deeper into Jesus than ever before. Remember His invitation from Matthew 11:28 . . .

Matthew 11 28

You may still have many miles on the road ahead of you, but in your soul you can be at rest. That’s a promise straight from Jesus!

And if worse comes to worse, get yourself a pack of grape Hubba Bubba; or scream at the top of your lungs just to see how people respond.

Your Friend in Ministry,

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