God, Why Fire Ants?

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Psalm 8:6-9  “You made him ruler over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet:  all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

There was a perfect balance of cool breeze running by me as the sun warmed my skin.  We were spending a few days at my mom’s place in Brenham, Texas and there were chores to be completed.  I jumped on the mower to clean up a couple of acres and enjoyed the alone time in nature to think.  The bluebonnets were about to make their debut so this would be the only time to cut the entire area.  As I surveyed the yard, I saw several black mounds rising above the ground.  I could not believe how many were in front of me and I thought to myself, “Well this will be fun-mowing ‘em down!”  FIRE ANT HILLS.  If you are not familiar with this creature, may I enlighten you?  In the south, this little booger has been a menace to both country and suburban folk.  It is astounding where they can build their mounds and mount stealth-like attacks on the innocent.  I can’t count how many times I have been stung by this little pest and I looked forward to creating havoc on their homes.  As the mower lurched to the first settlement, I silently asked the question, “God, why fire ants?  I can’t see any benefit from the existence of these mean little creatures which bring pain and anguish to those in their destructive path. “   As I was running over the fourth mound, I heard a whisper, “Learn about them”.

A few days later, I started researching fire ants on the internet.  I learned how they were introduced to this country back in the 1930’s from South America through the port in Mobile, Alabama and have spread over 260 million acres of land and in nine states!  The fire ants continue to move westward and will eventually make it to California[i].  In the area of Brenham, the ground is called Blackland soil or black gumbo.  It is thick clay which is difficult to dig down and plant any type of crop[ii].  The fire ants have no problem building above and tunneling below ground which helps aerate the soil.  I continued to investigate into their little pesky world and found they are beneficial in feeding on harmful insects which infest crops and in return, help in the reduction of using insecticides.  In suburbia, they feed on cockroach eggs, ticks, and other home invaders (can I get an Amen)!

After my educational quest to learn more on the fire ant I have come to the conclusion of what God was revealing to me; the ants are a part of His plan. I may have believed the fire ant is worthless and has no business being on this earth, but it does.  All it took was opening my eyes to a different perspective on the matter.

God created all.  He gave humans the ability to learn and understand the lower creatures and to maintain good stewardship over His land and take care of and respect the animals and insects.   God also gave us a brain to ask questions and solve complex problems.  I believe God welcomes my desire to unfold the mystery and questions about life as He holds the answers. If I slow down and be still, in turn, I can listen and hear His response.

Tweet: I believe God welcomes my desire to unfold the mystery and questions about life as He holds the answers.

I won’t be adopting fire ants as pets anytime soon, but the next time I question the existence of a creature or why some events happen, I should realize it is handled and God’s in control.  On the beautiful sunny country day, I was encouraged to educate myself and see a situation through a different viewpoint.  Now, I am working on my next question for God.

[i] http://fireant.tamu.edu/

[ii] Gardenguides.com

The Power of Prayer

Two hours or less

James 4:8- “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”

Prayer is powerful.  I love the term “prayer warrior” because I envision myself dressed in armor and waiting on my marching orders to pray again. Today, I feel empowered by praying, but it has not always felt this way.  A few years back I would catch myself saying casually to someone, “Oh yes,  I will pray for you” and not follow through.  As I spent time with God, it was pointed out to me in big, bold, letters, “Don’t say you are going to pray and not follow through”.  I got it.  My prayer life has changed dramatically.  I pray throughout the day and when a request comes through, I stop what I am doing and pray.  I believe in prayer and am certain of one thing -God answers all prayers.  I have learned there are different ways He answers prayer.  I have decided to share with you in a three part series my prayer life and how God answered my prayers; in three different, but perfect ways.    In developing my personal relationship with God, I have come to recognize how prayer is powerful and I am blessed to be able to lift up others.  My first prayer experience is when God and I saw eye to eye.

TWO HOURS OR LESS

My desire was to be a mom.  When I was pregnant with my first child, I asked numerous friends to give me the details of going through labor and delivery.  I did not care how horrible the experience was detailed.   I wanted to prepare myself for the worst in pain level.  Sufficient to say none of the horror stories prepared me for the inducing of my labor, screwing up the epidural (so I had to lay flat on my back through labor, pushing, and the unplanned C-section) severe shakes in coming off the medication, the stitches, and the long recovery process.  As I looked at my beautiful nine-pound baby girl, I told myself-NEVER AGAIN.  God had another plan.  By the time my daughter was a year old, the horrific experience of giving birth was a faded memory and my husband and I talked about another baby.  I started praying to God if he could let me do the entire labor and delivery process in two hours or less, I was game.  I also told him I knew it would be extremely painful with no drugs and as long as He was with me and it could be done it two hours or less, I‘ve got this.  I prayed this prayer for two more years and when my daughter turned three, I was pregnant with my first son.  The pregnancy was relatively normal and uneventful, meanwhile, I was praying my two hours or less prayer.  When it became close to the due date, my doctor discussed the different paths I could take with pain medication.  I smiled at him and said, “no drugs for me, thank you.”  He promptly chuckled and said I would change my tune when the contractions were going down.  In the wee hours of September 16th, (around 3:00 AM) I was the most uncomfortable I had been all evening.  I did not know what it was like to go into labor (my daughter was induced) but a little voice told me this was it.  I woke up hubby and said let’s go.  We got our friends to come get our daughter and we were off to the hospital.  I arrived at 4:00 AM and my husband dropped me off at the emergency entrance and left to park the car.  I could barely walk down the hall and a nurse saw me and grabbed a wheelchair.  At this point the pain was excruciating and I kept holding my breath.  I was put in a room and my hubby was given the paperwork to fill out while the nurse examined me.  “Wow,” she said, “You are at eight centimeters!”  I remember, okay God we have got this!  It was me and my husband in this quiet little room and then it happened.  My water broke (more like exploded) and I started pushing (uncontrollably) and my poor husband faded to white and screamed for help.  In less than 20 minutes, my beautiful nine-pound son was born!  Let me tell you, I could have jumped up on the table and fist pumped while celebrating.  I felt awesome!  No drugs needed and my son was born forty-six minutes from the time I arrived at the hospital.  You might think this was a coincidence, but let me share one more piece.  Seven years later, I was pregnant with my youngest son and I started the same prayer request again-two hour or less.  Guess what?  Same scenario, I arrived at the hospital at 6:30AM and at 8:04AM he was born.  No drugs and I wanted to jump up on the table again and celebrate: two for two!

There are times in our lives where God’s answer to prayer lines up with our heartfelt, desired outcome. And it is worth sharing an answered prayer to bless others.   I love to hear about uplifting and positive stories and when it revolves around an answered prayer-SCORE!!   I encourage you to share an answered prayer with others.  There may be someone out there who needs to hear and experience another God moment.

I want to pray for others so I have added a prayer request to my blog site.  Please let me know if I can pray for you.  Come back next week as I share another example of the power of prayer in my life.

A Process for Patience

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“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.”-Romans 12:2

I miss having little ones in the house during this time of the year.  I remember when I had a six and a three-year-old who loved to watch the Christmas specials, go to the mall and make their wish list, and drive around to look at the Christmas lights.  We would attend Christmas Eve service at church and then go to Mimi’s house to open up her presents and gorge ourselves full of savory southern cooking.

I also remember feeling panicked, rushed, impatient, and frustrated.  I tried to be Super Mom and pull off every little Christmas detail, attend school activities, and work full-time as a corporate billing manager.  I wish I would have slowed down and enjoyed the time when the children were small because it definitely flashed by quickly.

This week my two grand-daughters and all three of my children are coming for some early Christmas fun.  My daughter and grandchildren live eight hours away so I want to cherish this time with them.  During my quiet time with God, I was reminded to embrace the fruit of the Spirit.  In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul writes about the traits of God, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  These are all wonderful attributes which should be practiced daily.   The one which glares me in the face and stirs up my love/hate relationship with is patience.

I can look back at my past and see unnecessary frustration due to a lack of patience with my children, husband, employees, and strangers.  I was constantly rushing someone to operate at my speed and get it done without extending any empathy or grace.  Not a good look for someone who wants to reflect the fruits of the Spirit.  I have been practicing some exercises in patience and will be using the tools with my family this week.

Serve others- Make sure everyone is physically and emotionally comfortable.  Listen to their words and understand their needs.  Give someone the needed time to speak their thoughts and requests.

Take turns-When there is a large gathering, some structure is needed in order for everyone to be heard and recognized.  Take the necessary time for all parties to be understood.

Enjoy the wait-If large groups are dining out, there is definitely going to be a wait.  Be prepared with activities for little ones and use the time to talk and catch up.  Introduce yourself to a stranger and invite them into the conversation.

Be a buffer- If a situation becomes heated, step in and redirect.  Sometimes siblings can continue their fighting from early days (even as adults) and need to be reminded to set good examples for little ones!

I think patience is sometimes learned for some people, like me, through experiences as we grow older and wiser.  I have learned many lessons through trial and error in situations which have challenged me in the self-control arena.  So, what is the benefit of being patient?  For me, it is not forging ahead on MY will but waiting for the revealing of GOD’s will.   I keep pressing forward and relying on God to show me ways of improving my fruits of the Spirit.

A Thankful Choice

leaves

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I lay curled up in a fetal position in my bed.  I had no desire to get up and face the world.  My daughter had been missing for a month with no calls, letters, or texts.

Gone.

I was too tired and weary to pray or ask others for help.  In the farthest corner of my hurting heart, I felt my faith seep out.  “She is okay and will come home” a voice resonated in my head.  My fear and anxiety melted enough for me to sit up and gasp for air.  I immediately lifted my arms in prayer and thanked God.

I am to praise Him and give thanks in all circumstances.  The good, bad, beautiful, and ugly reality we call life.  Simple words to say which I have experienced repeatedly, and it became a part of who I am.

I believe in order to freely give thanks for all in my life, I must accept God’s will and believe His will is best for me.  Even when I don’t FEEL like it is the best option.  In surrendering to Him I have given myself the opportunity to live this life with assurance and peace.  God gives me peace in Him because I choose to give Him the gratitude for my daily existence.

It is easy to give God the glory in the awesome moments such as a healthy baby, job promotion, or a Dallas Cowboys win.  What I have to remember is to default in praising Him when there is the disappointment, pain, and utter sadness.  In those instances, I have to choose to worship Him, see His control, and find the nugget of comfort and peace.

When my father passed away two years ago I was able to give thanks in the midst of my grief.  I was so blessed to have had a father who loved his children and grandchildren and who wanted to be surrounded by his family.  It also warmed my heart as I witnessed dad’s relationship grow with God.  I have no doubts where he is today.  My dad had a great life and he shared his blessings with me.  I miss him, his phone calls, his wisdom, and his dry, weird sense of humor.  I am thankful for the years I had with him and give God the glory for allowing our time together.

When Paul wrote to the church in Colosse, he mentioned as one of the rules for Holy living, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”- Colossians 3:17 NIV.  He would go on to mention giving thanks to God several more times in many of his letters to the churches.  In all I do, good and bad, it is who I am, and God is the one to thank.

My daughter did return five weeks later and a few days before Christmas.  I knew in my heart she was okay and she would call and want to come home.  It would be a start of many painful and therapeutic years, but it was all a God thing and I give Him the praise.  I am blessed to have a close relationship with my daughter today and I give God the accolades.

My prayer is for you to live in thankfulness for all of your circumstances.  I wish all of you a blessed and heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Taming The Tongue

 

The prompt today is “cut”.  I have chosen to “cut” the distractions out of my life which steals my joy and peace.  I am so thankful for God guiding me in this needed action.  Blessings!


//No more. I made my list of items and actions which needed to be removed from my life.  I could no longer continue with the toxic emotions inside of me when something made me angry.  And lately, it seemed everything made me mad.  It was time to cut and purge the negativity.

I loved to argue and have the last word.  In hindsight, I bet I was obnoxious at times when I felt I had to prove my point.  Years of living with this mentality wore me out and I could no longer thrive in this manner. One of the items for review was my interaction on social media.  So many of my “friends” would post completely ridiculous arguments and statements and I felt I NEEDED to respond. Nope.  I made the decision I would only post uplifting and encouraging items on my pages.  I would not fall into the negative trap of arguing and offering up snarky comments.

When I feel like snapping at someone, I give it to God.  I do feel a peace come over me and the anger subsides.  Spending time daily with Him has helped me immensely in this area.  I am learning to prioritize the important life happenings and not dwell on trivial and petty items.

I have learned to cut out the extra anxiety around circumstances which I have no control over.  This is what is beautiful about God and His plan.  He knows what is happening now and in the future so I will let Him handle it and I will live to honor and worship Him.//

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”-Proverbs 15:1-NIV

Beautiful Arrangement

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//Looking at the beautiful arrangement brought a huge smile to my face.  Who does not like fresh cut flowers?  The little bouquet was arranged perfectly to allow each flower to shine in its glory.  I wonder if God looks at us as a big beautiful bouquet.

I personally like an arrangement of different types, colors, and heights of flowers.  Each flower is unique and different from the other because of its color, petals, fragrance, and stamina.  Some cut flowers will last a week or so, others will wilt and shrivel up after a few days.

The human population is like a bouquet.  Each of us is unique and different from our color, stamina, height, and fragrance.  When gathered together in a group setting, we look as a beautiful as a floral arrangement.

I think God wants us to recognize how beautifully He has created us and when we work together how we complement one another.  I like being part of the arrangement which Jesus prunes and God admires us daily.//

“For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalms 139:14-NIV

Global Trot

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The prompt for today is “global”.  Sometimes it is hard to comprehend how big our world is and how we are such a small, but an important part, of God’s plan.  Blessings!

//I love to travel and explore new and exciting places.  There are so many countries I want to visit, I am afraid my life is not long enough (nor my wallet big enough) to accomplish this feat.  I want to experience other cultures, customs, and terrain to see what similarities we have in common.

Going global is also a way to experience God’s majestic beauty.  To see the diversity in the people, civilizations, and architecture continues to amaze me in how awesome is my God.  For Him to create so much beauty and uniqueness is beyond comprehension.  I want to emerge myself in learning and exploring this vast world and grow closer to Him.

In reality, there is no way I can accomplish my bucket list, but with technology, I can investigate and learn about some of the places which fascinate me.  A virtual global trek will be a good substitute for me and assist in expanding my traveling escapades.//

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”-Romans 1:20-NIV

Who I Am

 

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The prompt for today is “off”.  I have discovered if I try not to be who I was made to be, I feel off and discombobulated.  I am learning to embrace the real me and it is freeing!

My typical to do list looks something like this:

Milk

Pick up medicine

Check-in to Southwest

A Man Called Ove (for book club)

Dentist appointment @ 3PM

I admit it, I am a planner.  My family makes fun of me, but if I don’t make lists to organize my thoughts, delegate job responsibilities, and plan menus for holiday gatherings, I am at a loss.  To be specific, I am off my game.  I wish I could be spontaneous and jump in the car with my sunglasses and a smile and not know where I am going or what I am doing.  Sigh, it is not who I am.

I am in the zone if I have my to-do-list and arrive early for my appointments.  I have the ultimate purse stocked with any items which could be potentially needed.  In my “bag of tricks,” you can find a band-aid, ponytail holder, gum, snack, coupons, fingernail file, or the basic montage of medicines. If I am going to a nice dinner and need to carry a daintier bag, it takes me a while to figure out what I can leave behind, even if it is for only a few hours.

When I go to a sporting event, I carry an additional bag full of suntan lotion, reading material (between games or halftime), extra water, and bug spray.  I also make sure the teams have drinks and snacks so they can be on their A-game during competition.

Sometimes I grumble how my family turns to me to plan everything.  I sometimes wish someone else will pick up the slack, but alas, it is who I am.  I can’t turn off how God made me.  Blessings!

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”-Psalms 139:14 NIV

 

Nature Calls

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The prompt today is “park.”  I love the outdoors and have a magnificent recollection of the many hours spent in parks with the people I love.  Blessings!

//I have fond memories of visiting the park with my children.  When they were little, we could walk to the park and they would swing, slide, laugh, and play with others.  I loved watching them enjoy themselves and the added bonus of being exhausted when we returned home.  There is something magical about being outdoors and hearing the giggles, screams,  and laughter of children as they play.

When we moved from Texas to Louisiana, going to the park took on a whole different meaning.  The beauty of the swampy areas, huge cypress, and oak trees draped in moss, and the wildlife!  I have seen everything from alligators to snakes in the state parks in our area.  I love to watch the critters exist and survive in their natural habitat.

I can see why people love to take professional pictures with the beautiful, natural, scenery of the huge trees and the lush green background.  When I am outside and walking around a park, I feel closer to God.  I notice the tiny details of the wildflowers with the bees buzzing around them to the vast trails which will take me on exciting adventures.  I notice the large birds flying overhead to the slithering snakes in the grass and how they  all exist in perfect harmony on this beautiful day.   I am in awe He has made such beauty on this earth and I am so blessed to be able to soak it up in through my eyes, nose,  and ears and tuck it away in my brain and heart.

I feel a little giddy in imagining heaven will be the most beautiful park created.  I look forward to exploring the heavenly park with my Father for eternity.//

“And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’  And it was so.  God called the dry ground “land,’ and the gathered waters He called ‘seas.’  And God saw that it was good.”-Genesis 1:9-10-NIV

It’s a God Thing

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“The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.  The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food at the proper time.  You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”-Psalm 145:14-16

Over the last couple of weeks, my family and I have been assisting flood victims in Louisiana.  Some people lost all possessions, but by God’s grace, they have their health and each other.  Perhaps a first thought is “it’s all materialistic and can be replaced.”  Imagine everything you intimately know – your house, furnishings, pictures, and treasured items, GONE.  It is easy to get overwhelmed and depressed when looking at the destruction and loss.  God is good and in the midst of the chaos, He prevails.  I thought I would share with you some “It’s a God thing” moments we have experienced over the last week.

My husband coordinated collections at his office for the flood victims.  One of the donations received was a brand new Red Rider tricycle.  He thought to himself, who is going to need this item?  During his weekly bible study, there was a discussion about a particular family who lost their home.  He pulled together items from the office’s collection and knew they had a two year old, so he grabbed the tricycle.  When the delivery was made, the dad saw the tricycle and a big grin broke out on his face.  It turns out his four-year old’s bike was salvaged, but the two-year old’s bike was lost.  Now he has a new tricycle!

We drove to Texas this past weekend and picked up donated items from my mom’s church.  We initially were renting a tiny U-Haul to bring back some furniture and told her we could bring back some items, but keep it small and simple-cleaning products, toiletries, and gift cards.  We said no clothing because 1) we won’t have the room and 2) none of the staging centers are accepting clothing at this time.  My husband received a call from the U-Haul place and they did not have any of the small trailers available for us so they would give us the next size up for the same price!  Guess what?  We had PLENTY of room to bring back all donations!

Even though we specifically said “no clothing” someone donated four trash bags full of various clothing items.  We knew of two families with a total of five children who could use clothes.  Since we had the room in the U-Haul, we decided to bring it home and sort through it all.  Would you believe the majority of the items were the perfect size for at least two of the children?   To think we were not going to bring back any of the trash bags filled with the hidden treasures!

Mom’s church also donated several gift cards.  As we were driving back home we stopped in Rayne, LA for gas.  We pulled up to the pump (remember, we have the U-Haul) and an older gentleman on the other side asked my husband, Randy, if we had been flooded.  Randy had a puzzled look on his face and said “no, why do you ask?”  The man pointed to the U-Haul and Randy clarified we were bringing back donations from Texas for the flood victims.  He then told Randy he lived fifteen miles from Rayne and they received 5 inches of water in their home.   I heard the last part of the conversation and asked Randy if they had flooded and he said yes.  I took a gift card out and handed it to Randy so he could give it to him.  They pulled away from the pump and came around to talk to me.  He and his wife thanked me and said it would be put to good use.  She asked me where I was from in Texas and told her I grew up in Spring, Texas.  She had a big smile on her face and said their son lived in Spring, Texas.  God sure does make the world seem smaller!

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It is a blessing to look back and see God’s hand at work.  This is what I choose to focus on, the good news, not the devastation.  A few weeks back all I could hear God tell me was “be the hands and feet of Me” and I now see the fruit of following His direction.   We will continue to reach out and help those we can, one family at a time.  Please continue praying for the families and businesses who suffered losses due to the recent floods.   Blessings!