I have finally allowed myself to admit that I enjoy gardening – not the vegetable type, but doing the lawn, taking care of the flowers, etc. It has taken me years to admit it, but I find it relaxing and rewarding. Several years ago, before I had fully embrace this understanding, I did have a rose garden. I was meticulous in my research, and had a variety in type, height, color, and bloom size. I think I had about 10 rose bushes. They were a lot of work, I battled black spot, bugs, heat, etc., but I would often have beautiful arrangements.
As is my normal routine, I did a lot of reading to find out how to take care of the roses, and one of the important tasks that I had to undertake was the annual pruning. I remember every year (late fall/early spring), I would clean the flower beds and do my pruning. My research told me the heavier I pruned, the more hearty, fully and health the rose would be that spring. I remember my Mom being horrified when she would see me pruning the roses, because it was seem so extreme. I have to admit there were a few times that I wondered if I had gone too far.
Since moving from that house, I have just recently planted a couple of roses at my new home, and have found myself undertaking the pruning ritual again. My neighbor, a woman in her early 80s will always make it a point to tell me how beautiful the roses are when she sees me cutting them. I know she is expressing her feelings with the hope that I will understand that I should not cut too much off. Every time she expresses her feelings/concerns, I try to reassure her by letting her know that what I am doing will result in a stronger, more beautiful rose bush in the future – even though it is hard to see that right now.
The last time we had this exchange, it got me thinking about the Christian walk. God tell us in John 15:2-3: "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. "
In order for a Christian to continue to produce, and to produce more fruit, God must prune him/her.
When I prune my roses, I am doing it carefully, with detail, attention, and love. I am cutting away dead canes, or canes that are blocking the sun and thus stunting growth, with the goal of giving the rose bush the best chance of success.
When God prunes us, He is doing it carefully, with detail, attention, and love. He is cutting away the dead areas of our lives, or the areas that are block His access and thus stunting our growth. His goal is to give us our best chance at Christian success.
The pruning I was doing to the roses looked drastic to the observer, and anyone walking by may have thought the rose bush was going to die. If however, they walked by the same rose bush in the spring, they would be amazed how beautiful and strong the bush had become. In the same way, God’s pruning can look drastic to the observer, and they may wonder how the individual will survive. If however, they see that Christian at a later date, they would be amazed at how beautiful, strong and full of faith the individual has become.
I remember when I was much younger in my Christian walk, my prayer was for God to prune me hard, because I knew that if He did and I stayed focused, I would emerge beautiful in His sight. Age has made me a little less brave, and I do not pray that prayer any longer, but the beauty is that with or without my prayer, God loves me enough to prune me whether I ask for it or not. I thank Him for the pruning, and am hopeful I will get to a state that I willingly seek it as well, because I know I will emerge Stronger Than Ever.
Glory To God For All That He Has Done
Blessings - Janice
I've been thinking about life a lot lately, how there is an ebb and flow to it; and how there are challenges and rewards. I have often heard it said that a “…Christian is either going into a storm or heading out of a storm.” It made me think about how we behave when we are told that a storm is approaching.
I remember years ago, when I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina and Hurricane Hugo was approaching. Many people, including me, thought that Charlotte was too far inland to feel any of the effects of the hurricane. My Dad; however, decided to “button down the hatches.” He removed all the items that could have been swept away, and made other preparations. To my surprise, and the surprise of many others, Hurricane Hugo had an overwhelming effect on Charlotte. When the storm hit, we had no idea how long it would last, and it was simply not wise or possible to try to make secure items in the midst of the storm. The only thing to do was to hold on, and withstand the storm. Those that prepared were less impacted and had less damage than those that did not.
Knowing that Christians will be facing storms in their lives, we should take the time of calm to make preparation for the storm. How should Christians prepare? How can they best withstand the storm? The best preparation is the word of God, which is a Christian’s sword. Ephesians 6:17 tells us to “…take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We should take the time of calm to rebuild and reinforce our foundation. We should study and mediate on the word of God, pray for others and ourselves, perform good works, and stay in fellowship with other Christians.
If Christians take the time of calm to prepare, when the storm hits, they will be able to withstand its assaults, to grow, and to have a deeper relationship with God as a result of the storm. James 1:2-4 says “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
If you are in a time of calm, use the time to rebuild and reinforce, in preparation for the upcoming storm. If you are in the storm, hold on and withstand it, and use the storm as an opportunity to grow your faith and trust in God.
Glory To God For All That He Has Done
Blessings To You - Janice
All Scriptures in King James Version
I have been thinking about the word “witness” for months and pondering the importance of a witness. I remember being young and wondering why my Grandmother would go to the hospital and sit for hours when the person was not even awake. I remember understanding that she was serving as a “witness.” When I am at various events, funerals, weddings, graduations, etc., I am there to celebrate with the individuals, but in another sense, I am serving as a “witness.” A witness to their happiness, their joy, or their sorrow.
So, what is a “witness?” Merriam-Webster defines the word “witness” as someone having personal knowledge of something, and who gives evidence or testifies. Often when you think of a witness, you think of a trial (either criminal or civil) and a person testifying to what they have seen, heard, or experienced. I recently had a car accident, and when I was providing the information to my insurance company, their first question to me was if there was a witness. Although I told the truth, the decision was not in my favor. What I understood quickly, was that if there had been a witness to validate my account, I would have likely prevailed. There was power in having a witness.
The word “witness” is used over 100 times in the Bible. John 1:7-9 discusses one of the roles of John the Baptist:
"The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
Although John the Baptist was not the Messiah, one of his roles was to serve as a “witness” that the true Light had come to the world.
In the same way that John the Baptist served as a “witness” for Christ, Christians are to serve in the same way. Although our witnessing is different, it can be every bit as powerful. We witness, by giving our own personal testimonies, but we also witness, by sharing how we witnessed God moving in other people’s lives.
I have been witness to several individuals who have experienced incredible trials in their lives, and have grown stronger in their faith and belief in God. During and after their trials, they sang the praises of God. I often share (witnessed) those faith stories to others, which have encouraged and strengthened both the listener and myself. Although the listener does not have first-hand knowledge, they are able to learn about the person’s life through my witness testimony.
The only way to serve as a witness, is to (1) be present and (2) be willing to share what you have seen, heard, and/or experienced. There are untold benefits to being a witness, and for heeding the words of a witness.
Please take a look at the Testimony and Lean on Me blogs, which complement this one.
Glory To God for All That He Has Done
Blessings To You - Janice
All scriptures are in King James Version
I have been thinking about how much I rush. I rush from the house to the gym, then from the gym to work, and then from work to the store, and then from the store to the house, and then rush around the house to organize things, and then rush to go to bed.
I rush from one thing as if I believe the next thing has more importance, and so on and so on. I have recently come to realize that one moment is not necessarily more important than the next, but rather all the moments make up my life. I have come to realize that instead of rushing, it is absolutely critical that I am fully present in the moments and take time to embrace and enjoy them.
We tend to move through life, only highlighting the major events in life, such as marriage, the birth of children, new jobs, graduations, anniversaries, death of a loved one, travel, etc. However, the majority of our life is made up of everyday, smaller moments.
The word “moment” is defined as a minute portion or point of time. Clearly our lives are made up of a series of moments. It has often been said that we should “…stop and smell the roses.”
Psalms 118:24 reminds us that “this is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
I Corinthians 10:31 states "whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
I was thinking about a dear co-worker that passed last year, and when I think of her, I think of the small moments that we shared, I remember sitting and talking, about her love of my chocolate chip cookies. When I think of my grandfather, I remember his asking me to get him a bowl of Blue Bell ice cream, and on and on and on. The things that make me smile are related to moments. moments that I did not understand the importance of, at the time. I wonder how differently I would have lived, moved and experienced life, if I understood their importance at the time.
We should not rush through our lives, but attempt to be fully present in the moments that ultimately make our lives meaningful.
"Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment that you breathe is a gift." – Oprah Winfrey
"The only time in which you have to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to any event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment." – Jon Zabat-Zinn
Glory To God for All That He Has Done
Blessings – Janice Caldwell
All scripture is in King James Version
Over the past couple of weeks, I've had conversations with two individuals in which the idea of stillness has been discussed. We talked about it in the context of being still when you are unsure of your next step, and in the context of being still when directed by the Holy Spirit.
A common definition for stillness is “the absence of movement or sound.” This definition reminds me of my childhood and when my brother and I would dare each other to be still for a period of time. Usually the dare was for a short period of time, but inevitably one of us would move.
Being still runs contrary to our human nature, which is why we find it so difficult to accomplish. This is probably never truer than now, in this ultra-busy culture, where every minute of our time is filled to capacity.
It takes much more human effort to be still than not, and yet God frequently admonishes Christians to be still. As humans, we want to feel as if we are doing something to move our lives forward, and being still is often viewed as the worst thing that a person can do.
There are numerous benefits for Christians being still:
1. It is during those periods that we are able to most clearly determine God’s direction for our lives, through meditation and prayer
Numbers 9:8 “And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.”
2. It is during those periods that we allow God to have the space to take action
Exodus 14:13 “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.”
3. There is no confusion concerning who took action, the Christian or God.
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”
When you are unsure of your next steps – be still and wait for direction from God. When the Holy Spirit directs you to be still – be still.
Glory to God for All That He Has Done
Blessings – Janice
I recently had reason to think about “pride” – from what it is, to what role or place it has or does not have in the Christian’s life.
The general definition for pride is “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” The general definition for achievement is “a thing done successfully, typically by effort, courage, or skill.” So when we put these two definitions together we get the following:
A deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from something done successfully by one’s own “…effort, courage or skill.”
I think the key to this is that it is tied to the feeling/belief that whatever was accomplished was done so because of your or someone else’s effort. A Christian can quickly see the issue with pride, because it is based on the person. A Christian understands that nothing is achieved without God!
John 15:5 reminds us that we can do nothing without God - “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
Pride holds so many pitfalls and dangers for the Christian, and God provides many warnings and describes the consequences of pride.
God’s view on pride:
Proverbs 11:2 - "When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom."
Proverbs 26:12 - "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him."
The consequences of pride:
Proverbs 16:5 - "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished."
I John 2:16 - "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
Pride is a dangerous thing in a Christian’s life, because it separates you from God, from His blessings and from being able to do His will.
It can be a struggle to resist being prideful, because the world encourages you to think that what you have achieved, you did so by your own efforts and skills. While it can be a struggle, it is one that must be won. If you are struggling with pride, it is important to identify your condition, and then be prayerful to God that He help you root out the pride, and to humble yourself before Him.
Glory To God for All That He Has Done
Blessings - Janice
Life Transitions Christian Coaching
Jesus Take The Wheel
I often hear people say “Jesus take the wheel.” It is generally said when a person feels overwhelmed, unsure of their next steps, scared, etc. The idea is that the individual is no longer able to steer their life, know which direction to go; has the strength or will-power to continue forward.
During a recent worship service, my Minister referenced the idea of Jesus taking the wheel, and what it really means. Whenever you allow someone else to drive you somewhere you are subject to several conditions.
· Going where the driver wants to go
· Stopping when the driver wants to stop
· Slowing down when the driver wants to slow down
· Speeding up when the driver wants to speed up
You are totally vulnerable to the driver’s agenda. When you ask Jesus to take the wheel, you are asking Him to take over, and you must be willing to:
· Go where Jesus takes you
· Go at the speed that Jesus determines is best
· Stop, slow down, or speed up when Jesus determines
In essence you must trust that He knows best and that you are never safer than when He is driving. There are several scriptures that confirms the need to allow God to direct/drive us:
Proverbs 16:9 - A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 3:6 - In all thy ways acknowledge him, and He shall direct thy paths.
Jeremiah 10:23 - O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Our continual plea should always be “Jesus Take The Wheel” – I surrender!
There is a familiar song entitled “Lean on Me.” Some of the most significant parts of the lyrics include:
Lean on me, when you’re not strong; And I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long; ‘Til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on. Please swallow your pride, If I have faith that you need to borrow. For no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.
I absolutely love this song, and have sung it many times. What comes to mind now is that the above type of relationship requires a giver and receiver. The very premise of the song is that there is someone that is ready and willing to be of assistance, and someone ready and willing to request assistance. Both should be the on-going position of a Christian.
Giving: Lean on Me; I’ll Help you Carry On.
There are numerous scriptures to speak to Christians being willing and ready to help:
Matthew 5: 41-42 – And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of the turn not thou away.
Proverbs 3:27 – Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.
Galatians 6:2 – Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Acts 20:35 – I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive
Asking: Please Swallow Your Pride; For No One Can Fill Your Needs That You Won’t Let Show
I think Christians find it easier to be a giver than a receiver, but in the same way that God calls Christians to be givers, He calls us to be humble enough to ask for help. I read somewhere that God designed us to need help, and it stuck with me. The writer reminded me that God created Adam and then created Eve in recognition that Adam needed help (Genesis 2:18). His design was for people who would give and receive help.
We understand that God calls Christians to help others, and blesses them for doing so.
Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
By not asking for help, Christians don’t allow others to be blessed as a result of their giving. Additionally, the act of asking for help, involves the removal of pride, which is pleasing to God.
Proverbs 18:12 – Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility.
It is important to remember that assistance/help comes in many forms, only one of which is money. One definition of assistance is “…the provision of money, resources, or information to help someone.” Time, energy, and talents are also forms of assistance.
The questions that each Christian should ask are:
Glory To God for All That He Has Done!
Blessings – Janice
I have been hearing over the past several months that the United States of America is a divided county. I have been pondering this and generally thinking about division.
As is my normal course of action, I looked up the definition of division. The most common definitions of division are: (1) the action of separating something into parts, or the process of being separated; (2) disagreement between two or more groups, typically producing tension or hostility. Then I started thinking about why divisions occur. There are no easy answers for why divisions occur. They happen for a whole host of reasons, some that seem to be reasonable and some that simply defy comprehension. Whatever the reason for the division, there is a price that is paid.
The Bible has several scriptures that speak against division.
Romans 16:17 – Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them
Luke 11:17 – But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.
Mark 3:24-25 – And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
I Corinthians 1:10 - Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
God is clear that He wants His children to live in unity, and encourages this behavior:
Psalms 133:1 - Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity?
Ephesians 4:3 - Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Amos 3:3 – Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Philippians 2:1-2 – If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies. Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Ecclesiastes 4:10 – For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
I am particularly moved by Ecclesiastes 4:10 and the reminder that if you fall and are alone, there is no one to help you up, but if you fall around others, you should expect and believe someone would help.
God admonishes His children to, if at all possible, live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). Christians are Ambassadors for Christ (II Corinthians 5:20), and as such, should speak to and encourage unity. It is in times of division, that Christians have an opportunity to let their light shine and be a walking, living, breathing example of Christ. Take every opportunity to speak in ways that unite and in so doing, bring Glory to God.
Glory To God for All That He Has Done
Blessings – Janice
I have always been a morning person – to the great consternation of my friends and family. I have always started my day in the wee hours of the morning. I generally get up between 3:00 am and 3:30 am. On the weekends, I tend to sleep late and get up around 5:00 am (as I write this, it is 3:38 am).
It took my husband a few years to get use to my morning routine! He still says he doesn’t understand how I operate so early in the morning, but it is truly natural for me. There is something about the freshness of the morning, about the newness of the day, the crispness that exists, and the limitless possibilities that float in the air. The morning represents an opportunity to deal with the previous struggles, problems, and disappointments in a new and different way.
My personal vision, for several years, has been “to promote a world in which God’s love is demonstrated and the power of the morning is realized.” If God has seen fit to allow you to arise in the morning, you have an opportunity to do any and everything to make that day worthy of the sacrifice that was given for you. You are not here by coincidence; God has purposed that you are to still be here, that there is a reason why you woke up this morning!
There are numerous scriptures that speak to the power of the morning:
Psalms 92:1-2: It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night
Lamentations 3:22-23: It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
Psalms 30:5: For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Praying that you see and embrace the power of the morning.
Blessings To You – Janice
Associate Certified Coach, ICF