Persistent Little Pumpkins

If you read my post from February 13th of this year (click here to read it), then you know that pictured above are pumpkin plants beside the sidewalk leading to the front door of our house.  In February, I tried transplanting those first several pumpkin plants to the garden in the back yard.  Sadly, they didn’t survive my farming skills.

But to my surprise, three more pumpkin plants recently came up in the same place out front. I had to mow and weedeat but have decided to leave these alone and see what happened since my transplanting efforts failed last time. I just couldn’t bring myself to mow these down, even though it’s the “wrong place” to grow pumpkins… and the “wrong way” to grow pumpkins… and the “wrong time” to grow pumpkins.

PR31 thought it was funny that I left them because she didn’t think they would ever produce.  So I had to snap this pic this past Monday when I walked by and saw the one plant blooming.  They are some persistent little plants.

They remind me of what Jesus taught people about talking with God.  Matthew, one of Jesus’ closest followers, recorded in the seventh chapter of his account of the Good News about Jesus.  This is what he wrote…

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  You parents– if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.”  – Matthew 7:7-11 (NLT)

Sounds to me like God doesn’t mind if we are “persistent little pumpkins” when we talk with Him.  In fact, it sounds to me like He even encourages it.

So let’s be persistent today.  God won’t mind. And we can be sure that we will receive what we need when we keep on asking… We will find what we’re looking for when we keep on seeking Him… We will have doors of opportunity opened to us when we keep on knocking.

And when you are tempted to give up, just remember those pumpkin plants that just keep growing in my front yard… and ask, seek, knock one more time!

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Twenty-Two

Twenty-two years ago today, I heard PR31 say to me, “I do!” And each day since then, I have watched her live out that commitment to love me.  She is my dream girl.  I would choose her every day of the week and twice on Sundays for the rest of my life.

Proverbs 31, from whence I drew her nickname, says that the virtuous woman’s husband blesses her publicly.  And so today’s post is that… my public proclamation that God blessed me with an amazing wife to share life with… and twenty-two years later, I’m so glad He did!

Angela  is my best friend, as well as being my sweetheart.  She listens to and lifts me.  She cheers me on and challenges me.  She nurtures and nudges me.

She is a woman of God.  Her passionate pursuit of Him makes me want to love both Him and her even more.

She makes me a better man… a better daddy… a better son… a better brother… a better friend… a better preacher.  I wouldn’t be the man I am without her in my life.

Her beauty is not only skin deep, though she is indeed gorgeous to look at. (She doesn’t even need makeup or fancy clothes to look pretty.) She is considerate of others’ feelings.  She gives generously… regularly. 

Her talents are off the charts to me.  She is one of those people who can make any recipe taste great… make any Pinterest craft more personal and special… make any trip more fun.

And yet for all her creativity, her practical skills are second to none.  She is the budget queen… homeschool teacher par excellence to our boys… and able to use the riding mower.

I’d keep going, but you probably can’t handle anymore.  And I could write ad nauseum about my love for her.  And when she reads this, she’ll think it was over the top… because she is also a woman of genuine humility.  See? I can’t help myself when it comes to her.

So, today, I celebrate twenty-two years of committed love between us… and commit again to the same for the rest of my life.  There’s no one else I’d rather take the journey of life with.

Thanks for loving me, Angela!  I love you like crazy… and I always will!!!

Celebrating A Miracle

Like Abraham and Sarah…

Like Manoah and his wife…

Like Hannah and Elkanah…

Like Zechariah and Elizabeth…

We, too, thought we might be without children our entire lives.  But God gave us a promise. And then He gave us a miracle!  Like those listed above, He gave us a son.  Two, in fact! And today we celebrate the birth of our first son 9 years ago!!!

And in light of our celebration, I pray for those reading this right now who long for the Lord to give them a promise and a miracle.

Because I Just Know

Our family LOVES going to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO!  It so fits our family-friendly, Christian-values idea of fun.  And there is so much for the boys to do.

One of their favorite areas is Half Dollar Holler.  And one of their favorite things to do there is climb through and jump around in the suspended netting of the “treehouse.”  At least, it’s one of their favorite things now.

It wasn’t always Austin’s favorite.

Last night, we sat around watching “old” home videos (from three or four years ago) with the boys.  Captured on video was Austin trying to enjoy the treehouse but with great trepidation.  It was obvious that he was unsure of the safety of that netting suspended ten feet above solid earth.

As we watched, Austin told us that he used to be afraid of the bouncing treehouse at Silver Dollar City because he was afraid he would fall, but that he’s not now.  Sure enough, were you to watch more recent videos or travel with us to SDC, you’d find him tearing through there with no hesitation whatsoever.

I asked Him if he reason that he’s not afraid anymore is because he knows if it will hold me up, it will hold him up. (I mean, I might weigh a little more than he does. Wink, wink.)  I must admit that I was a little shocked when he replied, “No, it’s because I’ve been on it enough times now that I know it will won’t let me down.”

Tested, tried, true.

Reliable, dependable, trustworthy.

Because it has never let him down before, he has unwavering faith that it will never let him down in the future.  And with that, I sat back in my seat, having been schooled in faith by my six-year old.

In Deuteronomy 31:8, Moses… the guy who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, through forty years of wandering in the wilderness, and all the way to the edge of the land promised to the Israelites by God… looks Joshua… his successor who will actually lead those people into conquest of their homeland… in the eyes and tells him, “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Never.  It just won’t happen. God won’t let you down.  He is incapable of failing you. And He chooses to never abandon or give up on you.  He will go ahead of you and clear the path.  Then He will be right beside you every step of the way.

We can trust God because He has never let us down.  In fact, He has never let anyone down.  So unlike those investment commercials on the radio, His past results are indicative of His future performance.

This means you and I can relax and enjoy the ride now.  We don’t have to stress.  We don’t have to panic.  We can romp through life full of joy and hope and peace, knowing that He will neither fail us nor abandon us.

If you’re battling a lengthy illness, He won’t let you down.  If you’re dealing with a difficult divorce, He won’t let you down.  If you’re having trouble passing that class at school, He won’t let you down.  If the bills are stacking up higher than the paychecks, He won’t let you down.

So go ahead… climb the steep ramp of the treehouse of life… crawl into the netted area… and jump with confidence alongside Austin… because it hasn’t let him down before and it isn’t going to let him down this time either.

Neither will God.

Enough For Today

Anne Shirley Cuthbert says to her friend Diana in Anne of Green Gables, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a brand new day with no mistakes yet?”  I don’t recall Diana’s response, but I know mine… YES!!!

As a self-professed guy who tries to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, do right, be good, help others, love and lead his family, and the list goes on… I for one am glad that each day the sun rises and brings with it a fresh start. Sure, I cannot undo my yesterdays, but I can choose each day to point myself in the right direction and start heading that way.

I resonate with Anne’s question. It reminds me of what the prophet Jeremiah wrote in the Old Testament book of Lamentations… “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”  In other words, no matter how yesterday went, the Lord loves us and gives us hope for today.  He helps us today.  He forgives and forgets.

That’s good news for imperfect people like me… and maybe you.  It’s good news for those who have a lot of days left. And it’s good news for those who have less days ahead of them than they do behind them. Each day is full of new, abundant mercies for all of us.

Bad day at work yesterday? Get up, get dressed and go back to the office or store or worksite because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Feeling like a lousy parent for mishandling a situation with your kids at a crucial moment?  Roll out of bed, give them a hug, and ask their forgiveness because He has new mercies for today!

Broken relationships that have remained shattered for years due to your negligence? Make the call, send the text, get together for coffee because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Failed a test at school?  Load your backpack, grab your books and get there before the bell rings again because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

Staring at a bad prognosis and a lifetime of regrets?  Pick up the Bible, bow your head, ask for forgiveness and a fresh start because He’s giving you new mercies for today!

His love never quits… He won’t run out of mercies… He is always there.  So lift your chin… and lift your heart… and lift your hands… because He has new mercies for you today!

Need Some Light?

PR31 and I LOVE the Smoky Mountains.  I don’t think I can overstate how much we enjoy it there. We would probably live there if we could. So, needless to say, we vacation there as often as possible.

Years ago… like B.C…. you know, before children… we had rented a house in Pigeon Forge for a week.  It was just the two of us that trip and so we had the whole house to ourselves.

One night, I got up in the middle of the night to make a visit to the facilities (aka, bathroom).  And since I didn’t want to wake PR31… because that’s how sweet a husband we all know I am, ha… I decided to navigate the trip through two doorways and back completely in the dark. I was successfully halfway through the adventure, feeling more relieved and incredibly sleepy, but as I turned to go out the bathroom door and took a step, my whole world suddenly came crashing to the floor.

My foot lost its footing… I stumbled… my shin hit something solid… Losing my balance as my body lurched forward, my face slammed into something metal and my nose exploded in pain… This was followed by my face sliding down a wall of some type… ending with me in a heap on the floor… growing… and feeling a little damp.

I was dazed and confused. I couldn’t figure out where I was or what had happened.

Till the light came on.  Angela said she heard a loud thud on the wall behind the headboard and then me groaning. It startled her, and so she came to see what had happened. It was only when she brought light to the situation that we discovered what had transpired.

In my semi-comatose state, I forgot that we were on vacation… in a different house and turned to the leave the bathroom where our door was in our house.  The only problem is that where the door was in our house was where the shower stall was in this vacation rental. I had stepped on the ledge at the base, lost my balance, hit my shin on the base, slammed my nose into the hot or cold knob, slid down the fiberglass wall and landed in a pile at the still damp floor of the shower.

PR31 laughed as she helped me up out of the shower and back to bed. I did not laugh at the time… but it’s hilarious now.

The truth is… I just needed light. Even a small nightlight would have done the trick.  Light would have pointed out where I was and where I needed to go.  (In fact, if I recall correctly, we bought a nightlight to put in that bathroom for the rest of the vacation.)

We all walk into some dark spots in life.  We’re not really sure where we are or how to get where we need to go.  In the dark, we get turned around and confused.  We cling to what we have known, but that may not be where we are at the moment.

We need light.  We need someone outside of ourselves who can bring light to the situation so that we don’t stumble… and fall… and hurt ourselves anymore.  We need God.

I love what the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 42:16…

“I will lead My blind people by roads they have never traveled. I will turn their darkness into light and make rough country smooth before them. These are my promises, and I will keep them without fail.” (GNT)

God wants to shine the light in your dark places today and make rough country smooth before you.  He’s promised to do it… and He always keeps His promises!

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