Uprooted

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“He replied, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.'” —Matthew 15:13

I saw the strangest thing the other day on the way to visit mom. There was a field full of uprooted orange trees. My heart was heavy.

I had to pull over. As the sun was setting, I looked at the trees and questioned why they were uprooted. Construction was going on nearby. Perhaps someone bought the field and didn’t want the fruit, but was there any good fruit?

I had noticed the field before. There were oranges on the trees but they didn’t look as though they could (or should) produce fruit. Perhaps they were diseased. I began to examine myself. Am I producing fruit? If so, am I producing good fruit?

In the verse mentioned above, Jesus was referring to the Pharisees who were offended by Jesus’ teaching about what defiles the body (Matt. 15:11). Jesus went on to say, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (v. 14).

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The disciples didn’t understand the parable and asked Jesus to explain it. Jesus asked them, “are you still so dull?” (v. 16).

Ouch. The truth of the matter is that what is not of God, will not last. It will be uprooted. Sometimes all something—someone—needs is a little pruning, painful as it might be, but often the roots go deep and must be removed completely, but there is hope . . .

The uprooting, the removal of what is dead, and the tilling of the soil leaves opportunity for regrowth—rebirth.  Ecclesiastes says there is “a time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted” (Ecc. 3:2). Sometimes the old must go so the new can come. Bad trees can’t produce good fruit, but new trees can.

As I sat there looking at the damage before me, the heaviness on my heart began to lift. It was a graveyard of the old, the dead, the barren, but oh the possibilities of what’s to come! I believe we can deal with root issues in our lives such as anger, unforgiveness, negativity, rejection, and ungratefulness that may be causing us to be barren, so we can have fresh soil to plant new seeds, grow new roots, develop new mindsets, and blossom with fruits of the Spirit. Can you see the orange grove now?

 

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Orange Grove in the Botanical Park and Gardens, Fournes, Crete. Photo taken by Rolf F. Katzenberger.

 

 

Companion

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I hadn’t planned on blogging today, but God had other plans.

I crawled into the corner of my war room this morning to spend time with the Father, read His word, and pray. When I began writing in my prayer journal, I decided to play some worship music from my phone. I chose one of Misty Edwards’ albums that I hadn’t heard, and streamed it from my Amazon music app.

Let me back up. Sometime last month during worship on a Sunday I received a vision of members of my church (not particular people, but everyone) coming out of a dark forest into a beautiful garden full of color and light. There was a look of awe on everyone’s face as they stepped into the garden in God’s presence.

Fast forward to that Wednesday night service. My church was in the middle of a 40 day fast and we were leading prophetic worship on Wednesdays during the fast. There came a time where pastor had the worship team come down and line up along with others to receive prayer and be anointed with oil. As pastor prayed over me I suddenly saw myself standing in the garden—the very garden I had just spoke about and prayed us into on Sunday. A peace like no other had come over me. I couldn’t stop smiling, crying, laughing, and saying, “I’m in the garden!” Never before had I experienced anything like that. Isn’t our Father amazing?!

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Beautiful flowers at mom’s old place.

I continued to walk in that peace for awhile, but as with many things in life, I began to lose sight of it.

I have been seeking the Lord for answers on several things for awhile now, but I haven’t been able to hear Him. I spend time in my war room daily. I fasted 40 days. I meditate on His word. I read spiritual books. Why am I not hearing Him? I recall last year when I got still before Him and a download of answers came on all of the things I was seeking answers on. Why can’t I have that happen again?

This morning I wrote in my prayer journal and prayed day 27 of the 40 Days of Praying God’s Promises challenge I am doing. Then I poured out my heart to my Daddy. I recalled a devotional day I wrote last week on the verse, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). Suddenly my heart cried out, and I penned the words, “I am seeking You Father.  Why am I not finding You?” Right after this I wrote/prayed my promise for the day: You delight to help me today. No sooner had I affirmed that I believe that, and He met me right where I was and spoke to my heart. 

I found myself in a torrent of tears as His love washed over me through a song that came on. It is “Companion” by Misty Edwards. How perfect.

I want to be your companion
Just like in the garden
So if you’re searching for Eden
Find it in Me
Find it in MeYou are as close as conversation
You are so close to Me
You are as near as turned attention
You are so near to Me
—Misty Edwards

It was as if He was singing directly to me. How personal He is! He’s not so far away, but we often think He is. He is crying out that He wants to be our companion just like in the garden! We have direct access to the garden through Him! He is as close as conversation! How glorious!

May this song minister to you today just as it has to me. I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe that it was by chance that I decided to put on some music while writing this morning in my war room, or that I decided to search Misty Edwards and listen to her latest album that I had only heard one song from. I don’t believe it was coincidence that it was a song about the garden, and about Him being right there, when I had just asked where He was. He is such a gentleman.

(She has another song called “Garden” that is great as well!)

 

 

Love Day

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Take time to stop and smell the roses! ❤

Yesterday I was blessed to receive these flowers from my hubby who was out of town for work. He actually returned a few hours later (a day early) which was a nice surprise. The day before, I had told him not to worry about getting me anything because we had enough sweets in the house, and I still have the orchids he bought me for my birthday in December. He informed me that there would be a delivery for me Saturday . . .

There is something about flowers, even if they die in a week.

Yeah, so they are often over priced (especially around the holidays), but there is something about flowers that lifts the spirit and brings a smile to the heart. I can’t stop smelling them, looking at them. I know they will soon be dead, but while they are alive I will cherish them. Isn’t our Creator amazing? He clothed the fields in flowers so beautifully dressed.

Maybe you are reading this and rolling your eyes. Maybe this is another Valentine’s Day that you will be spending alone and the day really makes you sick. I’ve been there. Trust me. But you know what? You are LOVED no matter what your relationship status is. You have a Father in heaven who loves you more than any person in the flesh could. He wants to lavish you with gifts that far surpass flowers and chocolate. His love isn’t temporary. It won’t die after a week or add pounds to your figure. For that I am thankful! 🙂

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You may be thinking, “Easy for you to say. You have a husband.” Beloved, I was able to come to a place in my singleness where I was content with the Father’s love. I poured over His word, searching for what He thought about me. I read spiritual books that built me up and affirmed His love for me. More importantly, I trusted that He would bring the right man into my life at precisely the right time. He is a gentleman.

Celebrate this day of love! You are someone special! Buy yourself some flowers and chocolate if need be, but take some time to dig into the greatest love story of all time—God’s word. Don’t settle for curling up on the sofa for a movie binge of love stories that will have you in tears and longing for that fairy tale romance. You are His beloved, and He loves you with an agape love—the highest form of love!  ❤

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. —Ephesians 3:17-19

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Happy Love Day from the Degs!

The View from Here

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View from the plane on the flight to Iowa last December.

One thing that I love about flying is that I feel a little closer to heaven when I do so, especially when I have a view like the one above. For a brief period I am taken away from life as I know it and lifted high above the clouds. It is so peaceful up there—clouds stretching out like cotton candy as far as the eye can see.

And then the landing comes. Back to reality.

I often wish I could suspend time, especially those quiet moments where the hustle and bustle of life is silenced. You know, those moments where you can hear God and nothing else matters. I long for more of those. I try to slow down often enough to hear His voice and speak to Him like a friend. I love the fact that Papa is never too busy for me.

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” —Jeremiah 29:12-13

Many know Jeremiah 29:11, but fail to read the two verses that follow. How glorious they are! He hears us when we pray. He draws near to us when we draw near to Him. No prayer is too small for Him to hear. He sees all. He hears all. He knows all. Best of all, He has the ability to give us a heavenly perspective when we aren’t in the clouds. Through Him, through faith, we can pull the unseen into the earthly realm, manifesting heaven on earth. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we as believers exercised our faith and pulled a little bit of heaven down to earth in the process? Revival! The view from here has never looked so bright!

Lord, give us the discipline to seek you with all of our heart and the faith to access the storehouses of heaven while here on earth. Help change our view of life to one of hope through Your lenses.  You are good. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

“Measure not God’s love and favour by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof.” —Richard Sibbes

 

 

 

Trust without Borders

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9

One song that has always resonated deep within my spirit is Oceans by Hillsong. No matter how many times I hear it (and it played a LOT on Christian radio for awhile there) I can’t get tired of it.

The song played while guests were being seated at my oceanfront wedding. I was married on Pass-a-Grille beach in Saint Petersburg, Florida where my hubby and I spent many days while courting. I’ve always had a love for the ocean. I’ve always wanted to learn how to scuba dive so I could explore the unknown.

This past Sunday I had the honor of leading my church in worship with Oceans. Before I started, I encouraged everyone to ask the Lord to take them deeper—to truly trust Him without borders—to trust Him with their marriage, their family members, their healing.

And that is precisely what I am learning to do.

Thirteen days ago I began the Trust Without Borders Experiment from fellow blogger Arabah Joy. Through this I am learning to truly trust God for His promises, and trust who He says He is. Proverbs 3:5 hangs in my living room, the vinyl letters stuck to a mirror by the front door, a great reminder to trust the One who knows all.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;” —Proverbs 3:5

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It was a housewarming gift from a friend of mine who had asked what my favorite verse was. I told her Proverbs 3:5-6, however, the two verses couldn’t fit on the small mirror. While the above verse is very important, I think the next one is equally important:

“in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.” —Proverb 3:6

Not only do we need to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, but we need to submit to Him and He will make our paths straight. That doesn’t mean there won’t be rocky paths, or that there won’t be a cliff at some point, but what it does mean is that as long as we are leaning on Him we have nothing to fear. When we trust Papa, we can get to that cliff and soar on wings like eagles to the other side.

Back to the ocean. It’s so peaceful and calming. There’s nothing I enjoy more than the sun on my shoulders and sound of waves gently lapping the shoreline. Although it’s difficult for me to get to the water and out of the water due to my fused ankle and pain level, once I am in there I am free. I can swim until my heart’s content. Swimming comes much easier than trying to walk, even though with a fused ankle it can still pose a bit of a challenge.

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Pass-a-Grille beach

One time while standing out in the calm gulf water, I looked out as far as the eye could see. I began singing Oceans to my Father.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I sang the whole song, and it was just me and Him there in the calm of the ocean. But what if the waves were crashing hard, the sun was hiding it’s face, and I was in the middle of a squall on a fisherman’s boat? Would I be so peaceful then? Would I trust Jesus to call me out upon the water where feet may fail, and keep my gaze on Him, or would I look down into the deep as Peter did and start to sink? I don’t want to sink.

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Lord, help us to trust you without borders. Give us the courage to head out into the deep of life knowing that no matter what awaits us there, You will be right  beside us. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

What are you trusting Papa for? If you need help in this area I encourage you to follow the link I posted above to Arabah Joy’s Trust Without Borders Challenge. We can form new habits, and what better habit to form than trusting our Father who has our best interests at heart! 🙂