"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Takin' care of me

My Father in heaven is always watching over me. Psalm 121 speaks of Him four different time as being the "keeper" (protector, or guard) of His people. He is my ward. My caretaker. He is my keeper.

Just as some days I seem to be more aware of my desperate need for His protection, there are days when I become keenly aware of His keeping. Today, His keeping has been tangible.

Yesterday I worried. I allowed the planning, the schedule and the future to overwhelm me and I slipped head-long into worry. As I fretted and worried, ... I schemed and planned... trying to figure it all out and make it fit. Did I even pray or ask Him to help? Yes. Yes, I suppose I did. But, not with much faith that He would, as sad as that sounds. I did bring it to Him a bit... but mostly, I just worried and calculated. How was it all going to fit? How was I going to get it all done?

Today He just showered me with gifts. He gave me answers and through His kids (my sisters in Christ) He provided help I wasn't even willing, or planning, to ask for. He just said, "Stephanie, here, my love... here is the help you need." He truly just put the help, the answers, "the scheme" right in front of me and gave me what I needed.

And, I am not worried tonight.

Last night I worried. Tonight I rest in the confidence that He provides. Simple grace. Undeserved blessing. Simple mercy from loving Father that gets how dull and how unfaithful I can be. Simple love through His hand, through His people.

My Father is always guarding me. He is always protecting me. He is my keeper. He does not sleep. Although this is always true of my Father, today my heart is full of this truth and rejoicing. May I grow in trusting this kind, loving, protecting Father.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Talking Creation

The heavens talk about God. They pour forth, gush speech. The "are telling" it says in Psalm 19:1 about God's glory.

I was so moved this morning when I read these words, as they jumped off the page and struck my heart with good, healthy slap!

The heavens talk. They declare. They recount and chat about the Glory of God. His Creation speaks.

And they speak not just once... not just every now and again. But, (v.2) "day after day" they pour forth speech. Day after day they utter, they whisper and they tell about His Glory. Night after night they tell about what they know! They boast about God and talk, and talk, and talk about Him.

And, heaven's words, Creation's speech, is not hard to understand. It isn't a foreign language that is difficult to learn or to take in. It is simple. It is profound, but simple. To every tribe, tongue and nation this speech goes forth. (v.3,4)

What does it say about Him and His glory?

What do the stars utter? What does the sun say? What does the wind and the rain recount? What is it that the planets are saying and what do the flowers whisper?

Jesus tells us to "consider the ravens" and to "watch the lilies". Look at them, He says. Think on them. Watch and listen... they speak.

So, this week when a fully arched rainbow appeared over my town and my neighbors commented and noticed in awe...I considered this! What do the rainbows say about God and His glory?! ... for the heaven's declare the glory of the Lord!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First class Suffering

A friend yesterday, through tears, shared with me that he believes that choosing faith and walking with God was most definitely "a first class ticket on the suffering train". I couldn't disagree with him. He isn't wrong.

Somewhere along the line we, in the West, we have believed that Christianity was a means to "happy families", "successful business" and "a healthy body". Don't get me wrong. It isn't that God doesn't bless. He does. He blesses and loves to bless. He absolutely does! And, I love to ask for His blessing.

I am living in blessing. I wake up with abundance everyday... food filling my cupboard, a husband I love, children that smile and laugh, and even a happy dog. I am living in green pastures. But, these physical blessings aren't really what I am talking about. And, even they certainly aren't a guarantee. While tremendously blessed, in fact, I do suffer.

I think the longer I walk with God the more I do truly suffer. I suffer deeply actually. As I soften to God... When I allow my heart to open up... If for a moment, I contemplate the eternal state of my family that do not know Him, the reality of my sweet neighbor boy that is growing up without a father, and the reality that in certain parts of India there are no little girls over the age of 5 because they have all been sold into sexual slavery. When I look about me at the innumerable empty eyes, the thirsty souls and the sad state of my friends and neighbors.... My heart aches and suffers. Sometimes, I feel that I can hardly stand it. As I pray, I suffer. And, this is blessing.

As I get to know the Father of Creation, His loved Son and the Spirit that lives in me... the aching increases. While I get to "taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8) and my taste buds more keenly register His goodness, so does my mouth sicken at the hint of sin. My stomach turns and my insides cringe at the evil, the darkness, and the dirt in this world.

I know I am rambling a bit here... but, I do believe my friend is right. I believe that Christianity is a call to both blessing and suffering. Both. And. I need to grow in my understanding and grasp a theology of suffering and the theology of blessing. What is the true blessing and the suffering that He promises, exactly? From the Old Testament to New Testament he seems to promise both.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." Isaiah 43:2

God says, "when"... not "if". When you walk through the waters. ...it is a given. Trials, difficulties, suffering and persecution are a sure thing throughout Scripture. The question is what are "the waters" in my life... do they include suffering and blessing?Season to season the answer to this could be very different.

A first class ticket to suffering, my friend said. I am so glad that God says over and over again... "when you pass through deep waters, I will be with you".

So, I ride "first class" on the suffering train. (I have always, always wanted a "first class ticket!")

But, according to Isaiah, I don't ride it alone! And, I will not burn. The fire, or fires, will not consume me. This is blessing!! Presence and deliverance, protection and care are promised. This is the beauty of our green- pasture-and-valley-of-death Father! He is with us. And, on this train, this dark train... "darkness is as light to Him" (Psalm 139).

He is the one I want to ride through this life with! He is the one I want sitting with me in my comfy first class seat of suffering.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lame at Asking

I am really lame at asking for help. Seriously. This has been an issue for a long time. The Father has taught me much in this area, through some pretty dark valleys, (the hard way) I have learned about this, ... but, boy, I still have a long way to go!

It's pride. There isn't any question in my mind as to what keeps me from asking. It is my deep seated pride and a self-righteous, self-sufficiency that keeps me from telling others I need... I am weak and I need.

Father has kindly been re-showing me this physically with my "tennis elbow". Although asking for physical help, or outward help, is not as difficult... it isn't easy. To admit that I am in pain or to ask someone to help me "do this" or "do that" does not come naturally.

But more than showing me physically, I see my Father showing me spiritually and emotionally. I have been feeling under spiritual attack these past few weeks... the specifics aren't important. But, in each instance of this oppression, in order to find deliverance and relief, I have needed to ask for help. And, like I said, I am lame at asking.

In fact, once recently when my husband told our team-mates that I was struggling one morning, I was immediately angry at him for sharing my weakness. Anger welled up as I heard him share and ask for me. Angry? What is that about? These are our team mates, for goodness sake! We have committed to standing with each other, fighting for each other, walking this journey together. But, my immediate response was anger at my husband! Pride. Just simple, stinky pride!

And, of course, after bringing the struggle and weakness to light for my team mates, they prayed for me. They fought for me. They covered me and asked good things for my from our Father. And, I had immediate relief from any darkness. Deep joy. Deep peace. Relief.

Relief came when I asked for help. When I sought out help from my brothers and sisters, my deliverance was felt and realized.

Oh! that my pride would not get in the way of asking any more... and saying I am needy, too.
Unless believers appreciate their own weakness, that is, know how incompetent they are in themselves to encounter the supernatural, they shall be deceived.~Watchman Nee

Monday, October 18, 2010

Father's Shine

Listening to a sweet song called "Shine" today, I cried again. Oh! ... this ministry of tears! How can I express in words the deep joy that wells up, mixed with deep sorrow... Rain and sunshine stormed and shone in my soul as I cried and prayed over the nations, my friends, my neighbors, and my family.

The song is a simple verse put to beautiful music. Simply it says, it sings....

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine,
Make His face shine,
Make His face shine... upon us. (Psalm 67:1)
That Your ways may be known,
Your salvation among the nations.

As I prayed, in my mind's eye, I could just see His face, my sweet, dear, Almighty, loving Father's face shining. Can you just imagine it? Can you imagine His face shining in all His glory, His Truth, His light, His righteousness, His grace, His love? Imagine it a moment and sit in that for a sweet minute.

I could almost picture His face shining on... the nations, my family, my friends, my neighbors... and it was beautiful. Each one... one by one, I pictured His face shining on them as they came to mind. It was a beautiful picture and it was a painful picture. What it could be if they would reflect the shining? What could it be if He would shine and they would turn and look up?

There was beauty in the moment because the picture is "as it should be"! I can almost see her, my friend, with His face shining on her ... and her face upward turned in worship. But the moment was mixed with pain and sorrow. Joy and sorrow meet. Painful, because she doesn't yet seek it, she doesn't see it, she doesn't know His love. Painful because the picture is the "not yet" and instead a hoped for "what could be".

What does it look like for the gracious face of God to shine on someone? I don't have to look far. He shone on me. He has shone on me so many, so many times. His face has shone. His face shines on me.

Make Your face shine my sweet Father!

"Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord." Psalm 4:6

To listen to this prayer song, go to http://www.owm.org/music-media/music and on the right click on Shine (2009) album and play "Shine" the song. See if you can't help but pray with them as they sing!! ...and you might even cry!

Or enjoy the video with the song.

"The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." Numbers 6: 24-25

Friday, October 15, 2010

What do you do?

What do you do? This is such a common question. It sits on the common-question-shelf with Where do you live? and How are you? We ask it without thinking, really. We generally ask and respond rather automatically to these questions, don't we?

What do you do? I was asked this the other day a fresh... I had a hard time answering the inquiry.

I find myself struggling when people ask me this every-day question? "So, what do you do?" they might say casually. Or, "What does your husband do?" When asked, I feel a distinct lag in my response... as if I don't really know how to answer. I stammer and stutter and try to explain what I do.

This morning I began thinking again about this question when reading 2 Corinthians 3-6. Paul talks about his ministry (4:1) (what he does). He describes it as "being transformed" or being changed into the likeness of Christ for God's glory (3:18). Paul explains that this ministry "comes from the Lord". Later in chapter 4, Paul describes what he preaches (or what he does) as simply talking about Jesus, his boss.

Can you just picture it? While buying bread at the local bazaar, trader-man 'Jo' asks Paul, "what do you do?" What might he say? How would he respond? Would Paul say, "I am transformed by God. And, I talk about His son, Jesus, my master"? It makes me smile to think of the scenario.

In later portions of 2 Corinthians 4, Paul continues to expound on this ministry... the glory of God changing us to be more like Jesus... and says His glory is given to clay pots. "Paul, what do you do?" "O, I'm just a clay pot. I am a jar made of mud and clay... filled up with God and shining forth His glory from all my cracks and holes." I wonder what tradesman 'Jo' would think about that response!

Yesterday, as part of my ministry day, I sat and listened, and talked, and prayed with a few women. I "journeyed" with them for an hour or so. I continue journeying with them today as I pray. As I spoke with these ladies, I distinctly thought, what in the world am I doing here? I really have nothing to give these woman, these dear ones who love Jesus so well. What am I really offering them?

What do I offer? Not much, really. I show up. I sit there. I pray. I offer myself... That's all. ...sorta clay-pottish, you might say.

So, I guess if I had the courage to respond honestly to that infamous question of "Stephanie, what do you do?" I might simply have to say, "well, not much really... I just sit here and try to get to know God better." But, I must add, "But, God, He does a ton! He is always at work... and once in a while He chooses to use me, to shine through me, to speak through me, ... and that is sweet. I don't do much. But, He does a lot!"

O kind Father, would you continue to use this dirty, broken clay pot. Would you enlarge my capacity to be filled by your Spirit, to know You Father, and to speak of You, Jesus? I don't do much, I know. But, all I am..., all I do..., I want to do for Your glory! Be glorified in me!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Posture of Dependence

I have read many times about the "posture" of prayer. I know many people who are very moved by taking a specific posture when praying... kneeling, face-down, and hands raised, for example. I have never really been particularly affected by a specific posture when praying, although I have tried a variety of suggested options and do appreciate the concept. But, just today, when speaking with a friend, I realized that the simple act of sitting down alone is a posture that requires surrender and is in-and-of-itself an act of dependence and prayer in my life. Let me explain.

Apart from my morning quiet times, I have been attempting (or floundering) to sit down twice a day for a moment of prayer, mediation, and adoration. In my desire to incorporate contemplation and quiet moments throughout my day, I have set an alarm on my cell phone to help remind me... to "call" me to prayer twice a day. I can't say I am always very obedient to that alarm clock. It is amazing how quickly a moment gets away from me and before I know it the day has gone with business!

That said, the days where I have made the effort to stop whatever I am doing and sit down, (..."put my rear-end into a chair and purposefully adore Jesus and worship"---is my mantra), ...those days have been very sweet. When I choose to stop the activity completely and just attempt to sit in His Presence, under His word and worship ...wow, what that has done for my heart, my life, the rest of my day!

I am realizing that I can learn to pray throughout my day, running here and running there. And, that is really good. It is a sweet discipline to learn to pray while folding laundry, teaching school, or driving the car. But, for me the act, ...the very act of surrender that comes with stopping (just stopping) and sitting down is trust and worship. When I choose to stop and sit down twice a day, just for a few slight moments, I am choosing to worship and adore God. And, I am trusting my Father. And, I am saying He is more important. ...more important than anything.

Yesterday, the alarm went off when I was stirring a pot of soup and making a shepherd's pie... all I would have had to do was choose to turn off the gas stove for 5 minutes and go sit down. I didn't. I missed that stolen moment with Him.

How does this work on those days when the running from here-to-there is intense? How does it work when guests are here? When I am out-and-about? I am not sure. But, I want to learn. ...maybe the toilet is the answer! Who will question my sitting an extra 3 minutes on the toilet--- they wouldn't guess I was adoring Him in there, would they?

In Mark 1, Jesus just snuck away... got up when they were all still sleeping and snuck away! They had to go hunting for him. I love that picture. Couldn't I just sneak away to the toilet?? And, they could come looking for me?

I do know that my busy life and it's many cares can take away these moments that Jesus offers me. Can I just sit down for a few minutes? ...a few minutes a day, could I take the "posture" of prayer and worship Him with my body as well as my soul. Not as another "to do" or guilt-thing, but as an act of love, dependence, and relationship.
O Father, teach me to pray!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Journey of Tears

For those who have read recently here, I have shared a bit of my "journey of tears" (as I am now fond of calling it). Today, I share with you a bit more.

If you knew me well, or know my history, you would be aware that weeping (or any tears for that matter) does not come easy for me. I have a sweet friend who is fond of telling me, "you need to cry more!... or you need a good cry!". She has been saying this to me for the last 10 years at least! And, she has been right. In the past, my husband has jokingly asked if he should just consistently yell at me or be unkind in order to get the tears flowing. Just to be clear, he hasn't actually tried this suggestion (for which I am grateful ;). But, it makes my point!

Tears have not come easy for me in my adult life. I don't have memory of them coming often as a child, or a pre-teen... I am assured by my father that I did in fact cry as a child. ...and he describes me, in my childhood, as a "sensitive child". For whatever reason, as a growing woman in my home, this was discouraged and diminished. I have few memories of crying in my late teens. It seemed that I received the message that crying was not a good thing somewhere along the line. And, when I entered the church at the tender age of 15, the message of "no tears" was most definitely (and unfortunately) reinforced. Verbally, or more often non-verbally, other Christians were markedly uncomfortable with strong emotion and tears... it was a weakness, maybe lacking faith. I can't really articulate the "message" I received exactly. But, the tears distinctly stopped when I crossed the threshold of the church.

I can note occasions in my life where tears flowed... very marked occasions. And, through the years, there have been some significant healing moments where tears began and blessing flowed as I wept some pent up, or even ripe, emotions. In fact, I would say that the more health and wholeness defines me, the more I have been released and my soul (and eyes!) had cried.

But, all said, I don't (or haven't) cried much... regardless of the pain... in the past 20 years. I have wept very few tears. Until now.

I seem to cry a lot these days. I wept again yesterday and it was deeply spiritual and without a doubt from my Father. Is it possible that instead of speaking in tongues, I have been given the "gift of tears"? I don't know. But, what I do know is that yesterday as I walked the fields near my house, I wept... I cried uncontrollably and those tears were prayer in and of themselves.

It is berry season here and the hedge rows that separate field from field are full and fat with deeply purple berries. They really are a beauty to look at and amazing to eat! So, yesterday, I walked and picked and ate... and prayed. As my hand reached out to pick the 4th or 5th berry, I burst into tears! Taking it to my mouth, I plopped it in and began to cry and cry and cry... The only words I can express or use to describe what filled my heart was a weeping for the nations, for the lost. I wept and ate and picked and prayed... and wept as I walked along. (Luckily this portion of my journey was a lonely one, not a soul around but me and my dog!)

Some of the berries, picked and eaten had "names" attached... those I love in my family that don't know the deep, deep love of Jesus. Some of the berries were picked with a someone in mind and wept over. Some of those berries had no name... they were a nation, a people, a lost and hungry soul in deep need of God's love.

I picked... and ate... and prayed and cried... asking God to harvest His children, to pluck them out of darkness, and to enjoy His kids as I enjoyed these berries. Harvest, I wept! Your harvest, I cried. Bring in Your harvest, Lord Jesus... they belong to you.

It was glorious and freeing... and sweet... and painful... and confusing... and glorious.

So, I walked yesterday another short jaunt on this journey of tears. And, I say to my Father today... I will be used by You however You want! Cry through me. Weep with my tears! I give myself to You completely without holding anything back! Please keep teaching me to pray.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lingering questions... difficult dream

My early morning dream left me afraid and heavy as I woke. Both in body, mind, and soul I seemed to carry a burden to my Father as I dragged myself out of bed. As I sipped my strong coffee and attempted to rouse my slumping self, I began to wonder what God might be prodding in my heart with this dream. It didn't feel like a dream "from Him" necessarily, as much as a dream He might want to use.

My personal experience with dreams has been that often the Lord allows dreams and uses them to bring out truths, hard truths usually, from my heart... stirring my conscious and bringing things to the surface that I might be more inclined to let lie uncovered. This dream felt like one of these night-time lessons, or a mid-night prodding.

Essentially the dream was one where something frightening was happening to my family... and in particular to my child. I was distraught in the dream. I was afraid. And, I was crying out to God for His help... and the dream didn't end well.

The early morning fear that lingered as I opened His Word took quite a while to dissipate. In the quiet of my prayer chair, I was reminded of how much I still don't trust my Father. His finger was gently pressing on the "trust" place that is still underdeveloped or sometimes tender. Do you trust me now? He whispers... Yes, Lord. I would say. Yes, Lord, I trust You, I want to say. But, with this... with this?... with the safety of my child. With the evil of this world and Your allowing it in their lives. Can I trust You to choose or allow that in my child's life. Do I trust You that much? No, Lord. I don't. I want to... but, I don't.

Questions lingered as I got up from that quiet morning time with my Father. Questions still linger.

What is it that my kind Father promises exactly? He promises to rescue and deliver? Right? He promises to be a strong tower and a refuge? He promises not to let my foot slip. In my western mind, my wealthy church mind-set, I can't help but naturally or automatically think this means (or certainly want it to mean) that He will protect me and my kids from physical harm. But, I know better. I know if you asked the other 2/3 world, my brothers and sisters in non-wealthy churches, they would have a very different perspective on what this means. Oh! I have so much to learn from these brothers.

So much to learn about trust.

This morning, after sitting in His Word and His Presence, I did walk away deeply relieved of fear and renewed in my commitment to move forward in trust. I did ask that He teach me to love Him more, to trust Him more and to see things as He sees them. But, questions still linger and a burden still sits on the edges of my heart tonight as I am reminded of that cloudy, darkened dream that woke me this morning.
Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence.
- Charles Spurgeon
**Interestingly, the next night after this post, I had a powerful, significant dream that showed forth God's ability, and desire, to protect His children physically. I can! my heart heard as I woke. And I do! my heart was filled with praise and hope, literally waking up singing. Ah! the learning curve ...trusting Him that He can... that He does ....even when He doesn't and chooses not to.

A song that speaks words that I long for my heart to continue to learn... Gratitude

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who can He use?

Last week during a powerful musical worship session, I was pummelled by memories of my past... "from where you came..." The destitute and dark sins and soul-holes left from my past; as well as, the sins of my forefathers, haunt me sometimes. The enemy of my soul uses them as a weapon.

My current weaknesses are used as flaming darts, as well. I am very keenly aware of my weakness. Sometimes I feel that my consistent struggles with old sins, wrong thinking, behavioral patterns, and insecurity are certainly an indication that He can't use me... or at least He can't use me today (maybe later when I become more holy and more whole).

And yet, I know that this way of thinking is so far from the Truth we find in Scripture.

Who is it that God uses? I needed reminding of this.

This morning the visiting pastor at church spoke to this questions and his words were a balm to my thirsty soul. Who is it that God uses?

An old man like Abraham?
A young boy like Samuel?
A proud liar like Jacob?
A adulterer like David?
A polygamist like Solomon?
A prostitute like Rahab?
An outsider, a foreigner, like Ruth?
A fisherman like Peter?
A demon possessed one like Mary?
A divorcee and outcast like the woman at the well?
A persecutor like Paul?

Who is it that God uses? He takes that which was and is broken and makes it whole... and then He breaks it again to fill it and shine through.

God did not see Abraham as old... He just saw Abraham. He did not define Samuel as "just a boy". He saw him as Samuel. He did not think of Rahab as a prostitute. He saw, knew and loved Rahab. And He used her greatly.

Jesus didn't see Peter as a fisherman... He saw him as Peter. He saw all of Peter... the whole of Peter. Jesus saw and knew the good, the bad and the ugly. And, in Luke 5, Jesus asked Peter to do one simple thing: put your boat into the water. Jesus knew he would obey. He knew Peter. Peter did what Christ asked. And, then Christ asked him to do one more thing... "put your nets into the deeper water". Jesus knew Peter's heart... and Peter's heart said, "if you say so, Lord, I will".

This is what God sees. He sees the heart. He describes this adulterer, murderer David as a "a man after God's heart". What did God see in David? He saw his heart! He saw David as he truly was.

He knew that day (Luke 5) that Peter's heart would and wanted to trust and obey. So, he asked him to put the nets out and Peter obeyed. And, then he asked him to do something harder... to follow him. And, he knew Peter would. He knew his heart.

Who is it that God uses? He sees the heart and the whole person. I am not defined in God's eyes as "the silly boy-crazy girl prone to seek love in all the wrong places" that I was at age 14. I am not defined in God's mind as the "wounded and hole-filled soul that questions her worth". I am not defined by "the non-believing, divorced and dysfunctional family" I came from. This is not me. This was me... or a part of me at one time. But, I am not defined by this any longer.

Last week in that worship session, I was hit with memories of my past. And, in that same worship time, the Lord of the Universe spoke deeply into my soul a whisper that was freeing and powerful, That is not who you are any more. That is not you. You are not defined by those things any longer. I have made you and am making you something different, something new, something beautiful.

And I want to use you. You, Stephanie.

Thank you Father for using weak things. Thank you for using broken jars of clay. Thank you for rescuing and redefining. Thank you for seeing all of me and being willing to work in, with and along side this girl. ...this God's girl. I belong to you! I am defined by you.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Giving from Plenty

Our apple tree has been amazing this year. The crop has been crazy big and so fruitful, I can't seem to get all the apples peeled, chopped, and frozen before I need to harvest a new batch. The funny thing about this blessing is that it can be overwhelming... how can something so good feel like too much sometimes!

I realized again, as I harvested (the last?) ripened fruits from this flourishing tree, that I had freedom... maybe even leading.... to give away more and more. These past 6 weeks I have given bags and bags of apples away. And, filled my freezer! ...abundance. I get tired of the abundance. I get tired of the giving. I think to myself today "with these last few... should I just trash them?"

Do I really have to be a good steward of ALL the blessings, ALL these pesky apples!! Or, can I just choose to throw them away. Can I just be done giving today? Certainly I am sick of seeing apples... aren't my family, my neighbors and friends sick of them too?!

Give them away. This is what I believe He whispers into my heart and I must obey. To continue giving away the blessings I have received and to never scorn the abundance that is dropped in my lap. I must continue to give... as Father continues to give, both apples and otherwise.

If my friends, my family, and my neighbors are sick of my giving... my apples, my prayers, my service, and my statements about faith then they can deal with those "blessings" put in their laps. I suppose it is their job to choose to trash it or to use it or to give it away themselves. I just know I need not stop giving.

Father, I will choose to be a good steward of the abundance of blessings you have showered down on me! I have been given so much! I will...freeze some, eat some, and give lots away...
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