Only by Grace Part 2

This past Sunday, my hunky hubby preached from Galatians 2.  Paul had much to talk about here, but the main thing that stands out to me is that Paul and the other leaders of the early church were concerned with the poor and needy.

 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor,
the very thing I was eager to do.'
Galatians 2:10

This causes me to wonder...

Do I remember the poor?  Am I eager to do so?

In our churches and communities there are opportunities every week to give and to collect and to serve those who are struggling to make ends meet, have fallen on hard times or are sick and cannot work.  Many churches have Food Banks or work with local organizations to help provide for those in need.  Our church has recently begun to support Woodmont United Care Ministry, a local food bank/assistance organization for those in our community.  But should providing for the needs of others stop in my community?

Woodmont United Care Association

Spreading Joy

Not for Sale

Compassion International

While I cannot give and serve in every area of ministry that calls for help,
I can do something.

Give Locally.  Look Beyond. Go Global.

The Word. Worship. Prayer.
These are my Roots.


The Big Oak Tree in my front yard is the most beautiful tree I've ever seen.  My husband doesn't think so.  He is always talking about having it "trimmed" or "shaped up".  I think it is perfect. 

Here is why.

A few years ago, we cleaned up the undergrowth around the tree and cleared an area for a patio.  We (I mean HE!) worked hard to scrape and smooth and level an area so that we (HE) could put down some flagstone pavers.  He then smoothed in some quick-crete mix and then turned on the water hose to make the patio come together. PERFECT! (in a rugged sort of way)

We had been given an antique metal glider and chair that we put on the patio and that is where we would sit at the end of the day, listening to the birds, talking, planning. Good times.

A Perfect Storm

We had a really bad icy storm one winter.  That storm took out power, kept us stranded at home for a day or so, and damaged trees through out our area.  Including my beautiful tree. 

Once the storm was past we looked up and the rough and rugged, now ugly tree standing in our side yard.  Would it live?  It did not look good.  At all.  Stripped bare of summer leaves. Naked in the cold sharp winter. Broken by the ice and snow. beautiful tree was

The Broken Oak

I remember walking in our neighborhood one day and looking up at that Broken Oak...At that time, I felt much like that tree looked.  Lonely.  Broken.  Would I ever be restored?

Spiritual Warfare was taking it's toll on my spiritual and mental state.  I felt as though the Winter Season of my Soul would not end...this is what happens when storms come...they are devastating, excruciating...testing us in our faith and faithfulness.

But as seasons go, they change. And God changes us during the seasons of our lives.  I began to see new growth bud out on the ancient limbs of this tree I had begun to love.  "Please Lord, bring new life into my soul..." 

Soon, the birds began to come back to nest as the leaves came out green and lush.  Songs. Sweet and clear.  From the tree and to my heart.  "Thank you Jesus". 

In no time at all, you could not tell that there had ever been an ice storm in months past.  Soon, the branches that looked so pitiful stripped bare and broken had become green and and full, hiding the brokenness. 

Not just the tree.  But me.

I had wondered if the tree would survive.  And God revealed to me that if the Roots were strong and deep..there was hope...AND...if my Roots were strong and deep, so would I. 

I praise God today for His faithfulness and loving kindness.  He is the glory and lifter of my head.

The WORD, Worship and Prayer
These are my ROOTS

God is For You

Romans 8:31 NIV

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Only By Grace Part 1

Galatians 1
Paul, the missionary gospel preacher, writes a letter to the church in the area of Galatia which is modern day Turkey.  The Church there had become a little “mixed=up” in their understanding and belief of the gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul had taught them.
Paul begins in verse 3 with the greeting  “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
I love that! He is already laying out to them the fact that..
“HEY!!! The gospel of the grace of God found only in Jesus Christ is
the only thing that brings you peace!”
LOVE it!
The church of Galatia started off well.  They heard the message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was crucified, buried and resurrected and received the truth with joy and faith.  But then…they began to hear that there was more to do than to simply believe. 
I am sure the teachers who followed Paul were well intentioned and meant only to help disciple the new believers in Christ.  Let’s just assume they were a lot like those we go to church with or our family members who feel the need to help us be good Christians. 
Growing up in a small rural church, I know all about the good Christian how-to’s.  When I was a little girl, I remember the preacher having a long pointy finger that he waved around to make his point a little more, well, pointed (no pun intended).  And what I remember hearing him say was that I should “do this” and “not do that”, because if I didn’t then “Gooodd is gonna get yoooouuu…..he will judge yoooouu and punish yoooouuu…yoooouuu can mark my words”. (I grew up in rural North add that country, long drawn out drawal for effect  to that last sentence!)
I grew up afraid of God. 
But  I knew that I had prayed to receive Jesus Christ as my savior. 
I remember the night I was baptized…I felt like a princess….I loved Jesus and he loved me and I was going to heaven one day.  But then, I heard that God was not pleased with me and that I needed to be good in order for Him to love me. God was pleased with me based on my ability to follow the rules and to not make any mistakes.  This was unclear teaching.
This was re-enforced at home.  No matter how hard I tried to be good and be perfect. I was not.  I never remember hearing a compliment that wasn’t attached to some form of critique.  The critique was the part that was emphasized and as far as my little girl self trying to please her parents went…the criticism totally cancelled out the compliment.  I was not perfect. 
So I tried harder and harder to please.  And the more rules I tried to follow the more rules there were.  So hard to keep up with. 
I never measured up.
For the church of Galatia, they had received salvation through Jesus Christ, but then other teachers had come along and added rules for them to follow too.  These were Jews who looked at salvation through Jesus Christ from The Law’s point of view. The church of Galatia was not of Jewish origin and did not have The Law as their point of view.  And so, there was confusion, frustration, a lack of peace. The Galatians were being taught to follow a list of rules they did not understand in the first place.  And this is what Paul wants to address in his letter to them.
Grace brings peace. 
There is NO Other Gospel. 
Salvation is ONLY BY GRACE through faith. 

In the Season of Rain...pray

Meet my friend Lisa Jo who has given me permission to share her blog with you.

In the season of rain, pray for rain...Click on the picture above to be re-directed to her site. 
I know you will be blessed and inspired. 

Scripture Prayers for Seasons of Darkness

“I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons”
Psalm 16:8

 “By day the Lord directs His love, at night, his song is with me.
Psalm 42: 8

“You, O Lord, keep lamp burning, my God turns my darkness into light.”
Psalm 18:  28

 “If I say ‘Surely, the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
Psalm 139: 11-12

Summer Rain

There is nothing like a nice, steady, slow soaking rain in the summer time.  The way the clouds and rain bring about a shift in the air that makes the heat and humidity seem far away for a brief few moments. 

It is in those few moments that simple pleasures and priceless treasures can be embraced, if we will see them for what they are...

A good cup of bold blend with some cream.  A covered porch. A rocking chair.  A dog named Emma.

Children playing next door out in the rain.  Laughter.  Conversation with my son about stuff and nothing. 

Today is Sunday.  We worshiped.  We prayed.  A family meal was shared. A coma was embraced on the couch...then a quiet time of reflection...

Out on the porch.  Soft rain falling.  Sweetness in the air.  Refreshment and Rest in my soul. 

Isaiah 65
22 For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. 23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.

Welcome to LIFE Under the Oak Tree

In our front yard there is a huge, old, beautifully rugged Oak Tree.  Since the day we moved in to our neighborhood, this amazing treasure has captured my imagination, wonder and introverted thoughts...

It is amazing that this old tree has just stood its ground through many seasons and storms of the hot and freezing kind.

It is not only tall, but drapes its limbs out over a good portion of our side yard.  We have mulched around it, planted some ivy to cover the bear ground that is left from such a massively thirsty tree; we even "planted" a patio where the branches give way to a room like feel under the green leafy canopy.  We have placed an antique glider and chair there for times of quiet reflection or grace-filled conversation to be enjoyed while the birds have their home above in the towering branches.   

Under the Oak...a place to relax and reflect and find rest. 

Once while reflecting on the potential age of this beautiful landmark in the life and times we have had in our neighborhood, I began to notice a few roots peaking through the ground both near the tree and some distance away.

1. a part of the body of a plant that develops, typically, from the radicle and grows downward into the soil, anchoring the plant and absorbing nutriment and moisture.

This Oak Tree in my yard has deeply anchored roots that spread out to absorb all the nutrients and moisture that it's limbs require in order to provide the shade and refuge enjoyed there.
This Oak Tree has been a source of teaching for me in my walk of faith...some lessons pleasant and refreshing, others not so much.

As a Christ Follower it is good to go to church and be around other Christ Followers. 
There is so much more to learn and understand, however, about what
we are called to if we are to follow His Way.


Our roots must reach down deep if we are to receive the strength to bear the weight of
       this thing called LIFE. 
Our lives are to be strong enough to weather the gale-force winds that trials, trouble and
       adversity sometimes bring.
Our lives are to be a source of refuge to those in need of rest and refreshment from their
Our lives are to provide shelter for our family and friends who need Love's Embrace ~ grace,
       forgiveness, kindness...

We must have deep roots.

Isaiah 65: 22..."For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. 23 They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. 24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear."

Welcome to Life Under the Oak...were roots run deep and hearts open wide to the deep, LIFE giving, SOUL-satisfying TRUTH.

Root–verb to become fixed or established.

The Word. Worship. Prayer.  These are my roots.