Manasseh and Ephriam- The Goodness of God

My husband and I have taken up a new reading plan on the Bible App as of late called “Reading the Bible in Historical Sequence Part 1”. It’s one of those read the Bible in a year deals, but this time it’s arranged everything according to the Chronological order of events. We’ve hit the story of Joseph. One of my favorite characters in the Bible. He’s one of those people that I can look at and say “Look at all he went through. He had it a lot worse than I ever have and yet he remained true to God.” His story of abuse, false accusations against him, unjust judgements and unwarranted punishments, yet God’s continued favor towards him in the midst of his suffering speaks volumes to anyone, which I would imagine it would be everyone, who has ever walked through some hardships.

As I was reading this morning these verses jumped off the page/screen at me. I’m sure I’ve breezed by them time after time when I’ve read this story, but today it struck home.

https://www.bible.com/app

(Check it out! It’s a life changer!!)

“Joseph had two sons born to him before the years of famine came. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, was their mother. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh (Forget), saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.”” Genesis 41:50-52 The Message

Joseph had endured all the things I listed above, but when God had finally brought him to the place that unbeknownst to him, would be his defining moment as a hero of Bible history- the man second in command to Pharaoh and the rescuer of God’s people (his family) from a famine, he was blessed with a couple of sons. Joseph named his sons “Forget” and “Double Prosperity”. Kind of odd names if you think about it, but names that made a statement. “God has made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” and “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.” Joseph looked at his newborn baby sons with the awe and love that any new father would have and reflected on where he had been and where he was now.

I wonder how often Joseph thought of how unfair his situations were and how much had been taken from him as he worked as a slave in Potipher’s house. I wonder how many restless nights he may have spent remembering being thrown into a pit, sold to strangers, accused by his master’s wife, thrown into prison, on and on. Could he have had moments waking from nightmares of the ordeal he suffered? Or flashbacks of the horror? Yet in all that God had brought him out into a place of great blessing. He could “forget”/ leave behind the hurt and enjoy the “double prosperity” of his new life.

High school years were not among my favorite. I can remember a night that I broke down into tears over a broken car horn on my car. I told my dad how much I hated school, honors society tree planting (another story), etc. He told me, “I hated my teen years too, I don’t know why people always say these are the best years of your life. Mine have been since I married your mother and had you kids.” That stuck with me. I’ve even quoted that to my own kids as they have walked through that awkward time. There are some time periods of life that are just hard, maybe even traumatic, but I’ve found as Joseph and my dad did that better days truly were ahead.

Last night my son, his wife, and our grandbaby came over for dinner. We have 22 acres for roaming on, so my daughter in love asked if I would mind watching my grandson for a little while as she and my son went out to explore it. “Are you kidding? I’d love too!! When are you all heading out?” I sat in my rocker/recliner holding the sleepy 3 month old as he squeezed my finger, staring in his face. Then it occurred to me once again, just like Joseph did looking at his sons, “I have been blessed far beyond anything I could have imagined. Here I sit holding my son’s son. He’s beautiful. I can forget the long struggle it took to get here, because I am blessed with double prosperity where I am.”

Every once in awhile I feel like I almost need to pinch myself. I have a nice home, nice car, my needs met, sweet kids, a beautiful grandbaby, and a smoking hot husband (no exaggeration there). It’s not exactly where I’ve pictured myself being when I walked through the hard times of life and lived in the struggle. But I have been blessed. God has been good to me.

Understanding this and remembering it when the winds of adversity blow is a key to remaining in joy. I guess that’s why remembering the good and being thankful is so important. A practice that I would do good to diligently attend to.

Lessons Learned: the Birds, the Flowers, and a Stare Down With a Deer

What a evening for a sunset walk! It felt so good to listen to the birds singing as I walked by our pond. It reminded me of when I was a kid and went fishing at my Grandma’s Pond. Such a happy place of peace. As I strolled by our garden plot and looked over the fence to the Federal Forest land. I saw a deer watching me from a distance. So I decided to watch it. I’ve never really been in a staring contest with a deer before until tonight, and I have to admit. The deer won. It hit me as I watched the birds flying overhead and listened to the animal sounds. These animals don’t have a care. They do what they need to do for today and they don’t worry about tomorrow. Jesus talked about this very thing. He talked about how the birds don’t plant fields or store food in barns. Yet God takes care of them, and the beautiful flowers of spring and summer don’t work hard to clothe themselves. God does and He dresses them magnificently. He talked about how we aren’t to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow has enough worries of its own. If God has the birds and the flowers, and my stare off challenging deer, He has me.

My staring contest opponent

It’s Tuesday and it’s already been a week. I am fully aware of how blessed I am to be where I am during our national crises. But it is still hard not to let fear, anxiety, and worry creep in. I had to make a journey to town today. (Not that far away. Just 8 miles.) My daughter who is staying with us has a bad tooth ache. I was blessed to get ahold of our dentist, who called her out an antibiotic for the infection. It’s kind of unnerving not feeling like you can just take her to the local walk in clinic and have it looked at whenever you need to. Now it feels like a life and death endeavor. As I drove through town, our town had a large sign informing the residents of the Covid-19 threat. Displayed for all to see at the only roundabout in town. We’ve had an outbreak here. Not a whole lot of cases, but for a small town, too many. I’ve never been germ conscious in my life. But today I was not pleased to touch the gas pump handle, and pick up some necessary items at a local store. Not to mention go through a drive thru pharmacy window to pick up my daughter’s RX. Even though my social isolation with my husband and three of our kids hasn’t been that bad, (actually at times it feels like a vacation) I’m starting to feel the fear and paranoia of touching things in public and running the necessary errands. I have contemplated the hardships in New York as they struggle with their outbreak, Italy, and others. Then the weight of the heart break a family we are friends with as they struggle with the possibility of losing their husband, son, and dad as he fights to stay alive in the hospital 30 miles from my home. (Not covid related). So much weight…

Thus the walk… blue skies with light fluffy clouds and my prayer floats up too. “God everything seems to be just going on as normal. These are the same things I saw, the same sounds I heard a year ago this time on the walk I did back then. Nature has no idea the hardship and pain in our world right now. It just goes on.” Birds are preoccupied with singing and finding a worm here and there, and my deer friend: he’s concerned about whether a middle aged woman could be fast enough to bolt across a field and catch him so he’s going to keep an eye on me. All living in the moment. All taken care of by something much bigger than themselves, God.

What about me? The weight of the events that surround my heart could easily smother me if I let them. But I know I need to leave them in bigger hands than I have. My running ahead trying to figure out how this will all end up is futile. My looking back at how I could have, should have, would have done better at sanitizing everything around me is probably futile as well. Although I am a proponent of doing what you can.

Somewhere along the way I have got to just trust. I have to know that the same God that orchestrates the seasons, watches the animals scurry, and keeps the planets in their orbit so we don’t end up in an interplanetary marble game, with us riding on the blue and white ball. He’s the same God who numbers the hairs on my head (which happens to be a lot, thick hair) and watches me when I wake and when I lay down to rest. He will take care of me. He loves me. He has the current events. I must keep my eyes on Him and trust Him.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:26-31, 33-34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Nothing But Blue Sky Above the Storm

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2 NIV

Wow! What a week! At the beginning of the week, I was scrolling through Facebook and saw a meme that said, “Time change, a full moon, Friday the 13th…What could possibly go wrong?” I laughed at the pile of superstitions heaped onto one week, and scrolled on. I don’t believe that any of that had any weight to bear on where we are after this week of frightening announcements and unprecedented actions of our leaders. Gazing at the “natural realm” after the past week could make it quite possible for a person to be left shaking in their boots. But I can assure you that when I laid my head on my pillow last night I slept with perfect peace. Because I am assured that my God is in absolute control, and I know He cares for me.

I’ve openly shared in this blog that I struggle with the thoughts in my mind.  I think that’s pretty common for the human condition. It’s a struggle that I have, at times, felt very defeated in. I have tried so many different techniques to try to conquer the fears, anxiety, and at times torments that have existed in my mind. Some successful, some not so much… Recently, I have been approaching the fight with an all weapons out approach. Everything from uplifting music, self-care, and exercise, to Bible meditation, Bible study, prayer, counseling, etc. It really seems to help. One of the videos I watched recently on focusing our thoughts has had a profound impact on me.  Especially after taking the little gem of information it held and combining it with what the Word of God says.  

The video pointed out how our minds are like the blue sky. Occasionally we see a peaceful little cloud float by and that doesn’t bother us so bad because we can still see the blue.  However, there are times that storms rage and it seems the blue sky has disappeared, but just like an airplane can rise above the storms and see the blue again we know the blue is always there.  

I like this illustration better when I put God into the equation.  My mind focused on Christ is like the blue sky.  It’s the mind “set on Christ, Things above.” Occasionally cute little white clouds float by and get my attention.  They may be daily interactions with loved ones that are seemingly unspiritual, enjoying a cookie, laughing at a funny meme on Facebook etc.  I notice them, but over all the blue sky (Jesus) is the main focus of my mind.  Occasionally a storm starts to blow.  As it comes in, I find myself unable to see the blue sky (Jesus) and focus on it.  I know deep in my heart He is there somewhere.  But the Holy Spirit has given me the power to rise above the storm of my mind. He is the airplane that can help me to fly above the clouds and once again see the blue sky, Jesus, having confidence that the storm will pass in time.  But HE, Jesus, the blue sky will never leave me. 

I went grocery shopping Thursday morning, as the fears of COVID 19 were starting to ramp up in my area of the Nation. I was amazed at the similarities in the over all moods of my co-shoppers that were with me and the moods of the co-shoppers I felt the evening of 9/11/2001 when I went to Walmart, the somberness, anxiousness, etc. It seems that the over all feelings of uncertainty, panic, and being out of control had hit everyone. As I was checking out, I heard an older gentleman talking to his checker and discussing the current situation. After a few words, he said, “We don’t have to fear. God is in control.” He had his mind set on the “Blue sky- Jesus” that reigns above the storm. That impressed upon me the importance of this moment we live in. While talking to my kids that remain at home, trying to give them a sense of stability in a tumultuous week, where their social lives and school lives have been wrought with changes, not to mention, dad coming home to work for several weeks (something they have never seen), I quoted a Bible verse. “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 NKJV

This is our time to shine! It is the time I can point out how I have found peace in a mind that struggles. It is a time that I can speak peace to my neighbors, friends, and family that surround me. Jesus is the blue sky above the storm, whether it be anxious thoughts in my mind, or a global pandemic. I can rest in Him. Could I or someone I love suffer in the upcoming weeks? Yes, that is a possibility, but I know that Jesus is the healer. Whether HE steps in a physically heals our afflictions, or I stand face to face with Him in the time of my death. (Not that I’m afraid I’ll get sick and die). I am with Him. I can be at peace. I can let my mind rise above the clouds that try to keep it constrained, and fly high in the blue sky of God’s love knowing that He cares for me. I can be free from fear.

Peace Flowers Sprouting in My Mind

“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” I’m pretty sure that quote was about the weather in Missouri. Monday this week was almost 70 degrees, by Wednesday we had 4 inches of snow.

I value my sunshine. I probably have a touch of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) if I’m honest about it. I’m a warm weather, sunny day, good mood kind of person, which might necessitate a move down South when my husband retires, or at least a yearly Caribbean cruise in February. (hint, hint if you’re reading this Rich)

Anyway, during my one warm day I took a walk around and looked at my different flower beds which I discovered last year that I actually like working in and that I might possibly have a green thumb. (Long story). I noticed that I had some plants coming up. Plants from some Amaryllis belladonna “Naked Ladies” bulbs my son and I planted last spring. I was surprised to see them because the situation for that particular area I planted wasn’t the greatest, it didn’t drain well and was overrun with weeds at the end of summer. So, I chalked it up to a flower gardening fail. When I looked down and saw the small green plants poking through the soil, I thought of the verses in Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” What I planted really did come up even if I gave up.

I’ve been contemplating these verses a lot this week.  Mainly because it’s a part of a devotion book I’m reading Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge.  He was talking about how our time spent with God was like planting seeds.  If we are faithful to plant them, God is faithful to grow His character in us.  As he puts it, “This kind of sowing will produce a harvest in your walk with Him. It will change you and, in turn, begin to affect everything around you.” 

That’s exactly what I need. I’ve been looking at the things I struggle with mainly anxiety and depression, and how I long for God to bring out His fruit in my life: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Goodness, and Self-Control. So, I began to think about what kind of Seed I need to plant into my heart and mind to take the place of the weeds of anxiety and depression the enemy has sown. Where do I need to fix my mind when it tries to spiral down that path? I was reminded of another verse.
Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” Back when I was in high school, I stumbled across this verse and committed it to memory. I remember it being a source of comfort when I struggled then with the fears of What will I become? Where will I go? Etc. Typical teen stuff. It was what I needed then, but it is also what I need now.

Joyce Meyer wrote a book called, The Battlefield of the Mind. There’s a lot of truth conveyed in that title. My mind is a battlefield, and it’s not a war that will stop after a few good fights.  I will have to fight for my peace and my freedom within my mind until I stand face to face with Jesus.  I’ve got to decide if my happiness and joy is worth the effort to fight for it.  If so, how will I wage war? There are some victories that God gives us as we stand by and watch Him work with His power and glory.  But there are others that He wants us to take a stand in and rely on Him to arm us for battle.  

A few years ago, I began seeing a Christian Counselor for the struggles I have had within my mind. She’s given me a lot of practical ideas that help with my mood and attitude like exercise, sunshine, and gardening. But one thing she told me was how true Philippians 4:8 really is. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you.” She told me “It’s a matter of replacing the negative thoughts with the positive thoughts of God.”

I’m seeing a pattern here. If I am wanting to reap a harvest of peace, or see “peace flowers” come up in my mind, I need to keep my mind on the Prince of Peace, Jesus and think of all the qualities He has that are listed Philippians 4:8, and also because I am His, He has put these qualities within me. It might take a while, I may not see immediate result, and I can guarantee you that I’ve felt like many times that my mind was as ill prepared as the small flower garden area I planted the Naked Ladies Bulbs. But God assures me, What I plant I will get back. I can trust in Him to do just that. Keep looking. The green sprouts will eventually press their way through.

Grandpa’s Radio and Lessons in Listening


My Grandpa was a welder and a machinist. He worked out of a shop on his farm in a small rural community. He loved to be in his shop. When I was little I always found it intriguing to go out to his shop and watch him weld. He would give me a mask and the sparks would fly. There was a distinct hum of busyness in his shop when he was in it. It would drown out the one constant noise that was always present whether Grandpa was there or not, a radio. Grandpa had the same old radio on day and night 24/7 in the room, on a shelf, next to his lathe. I guess it kept him company as he worked long hours. He loved to listen to the local news, the swap shop, and the local personalities as they broadcasted daily.

I’ve been reflecting this week on listening to God and hearing His voice. As I contemplated how much I need to listen for God to speak to me, I thought about Grandpa’s radio. So many times I would go to his shop and it was always playing. For decades it played, with exception of the occasional power outage. Sometimes I would hear it distinctly. But other times I would not hear it over the humming of Grandpa’s lathe or the banging of a hammer. However it was always there. I would hear it if I chose to listen.

God’s voice is similar to Grandpa’s radio. The humming of life drowns out His still small whisper. Not because the humming is more powerful, but because I choose to focus on it. Sometimes the banging and clatter of life’s messy circumstances try to drown out His voice as well. They try to distract me from turning my ear towards God. It’s easy to get distracted.

The point of all this is God definitely speaks. He promises me in no uncertain terms that it is possible to hear Him. In John 10:27, Jesus promises that “My sheep hear my voice…”. It’s the way He has designed this relationship. He is the good Shepherd who calls to me and I am the sheep who hears. In fact, He encourages “Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear.” He wants us to listen to Him because what He speaks are words of life. I am the one who must pause and listen to hear what He has to say.

One of the voices that tends to shut out His words of life and peace is the voice of anxiety that tends to bang and clamor louder than Grandpa’s hammer on a busy work day. It not only shouts, but it consistently nags from inside distracting from the joy and peace that Jesus died and rose again to give. The thing about it is it can take willful practice to learn how to tune it out and switch the channel in your mind and heart to listen to the good voice of the Prince of Peace. For me, it takes a daily time sitting in the still of my house before everyone wakes up and my day hums at a volume louder than the constant quiet sounds of the gentle ticking of my wall clock or the air quietly blowing through our heat ducts. I sit in that quiet place and read a scripture and listen. Pretty soon I can focus in on His voice that has always been there. That same beautiful voice has the power to silence the storms inside and outside of me. The Gentle voice of Peace, Love, Joy, and Goodness has never stopped speaking to me. It was that He was only waiting for me to focus in and listen. Like I did many times as I stood in the open door of Grandpa’s shop wondering if what turned into a legend among us grandkids was true. “Does Grandpa’s radio always play?” Yes it does. It is a constant. His radio never was shut off. “Does God have something to say?” Yes He does. He never left me alone. I just need to listen.

I Am Afraid

Admitting a feeling is a risky business. Especially when you’ve lived your life with a “don’t ever let them see you sweat” mentality. Today I am going to risk appearing weak, faithless, and vulnerable by admitting I am afraid. I have a situation looming in front of me. It could go one of two ways. When I look at it, I have to admit… I am afraid. It’s ironic to me that David in the Psalms also had something he was afraid of and yet he didn’t try to ignore it. He didn’t try to play out the super spiritual person and not speak of it for fear of confessing bad things. He laid it out squarely before God. He told God what he was afraid of and presented every aspect of his fear to God. Then he told God in spite of what he felt, the fear, he was going to trust God. It’s little wonder to me that the Bible refers to David as a “man after God’s own heart.” God doesn’t expect us to try to hide how we feel. It’s much better to just step on out into the light and admit it’s there and let Him do what only He can do. For me to try to put on the brave face and suck it up is like the equivalent of Adam and Eve in the garden trying to sew some leaves together to hide their nakedness. God already knew what they looked like inside and out. There’s no hiding ourselves from Him.

Yes… I am afraid. But I also know that there is a God who is bigger than my fear. I’m pretty sure that He delights in showing me just how big He is. Opening the door and letting Him see my fear gives Him the opportunity to let His love fill the room in my heart where the fear has been. That love fills, floods, and flushes out the fear that is trying to infect the core of me. “Perfect love casts out all fear.” It’s that small movement of trust that opens the door to let Him in. I feel afraid, here it is. This is what I feel. You see it and I will say that it is there, but I chose to trust You in the face of that fear.

“But in the day that I’m afraid, I lay all my fears before you and trust in you with all my heart.” Psalm 56:3 TPT

Don’t Miss It!!!

I’m often stunned by how quickly beautiful moments come and beautiful moments go. This morning, after getting the turkey in the smoker, I was sitting in my easy chair next to my husband sharing time in the Bible and a cup of coffee. I looked out my window and saw the most stunning sunrise. The colors of orange, purple, yellow, and blue lit up the eastern sky. I mentioned it to my husband and he said “Yes, it’s beautiful.” We continued our conversation and then moments later I looked out the window and it was gone. The sky returned to a cloudy, overcast blue.

Today is a day of Thanksgiving. It is a day of reflection on the goodness of God in our lives over the past year/ years. It is a moment, just like that sunrise, where I can see unimaginable beauty, and then in another moment it will be gone. Changed by the March of time.

I’ve don’t this Thanksgiving thing for 48 years now. Each one is different. People have come and people have gone. Each one was a moment that I need not ever miss. Today as I reflect on the good things that have come to my life this past year I look forward to the good things that will come in the New Year, and most certainly I don’t want to miss the moment I have. I’ve went from a battle with 4 kids tearing through my house trying to keep the chaos clean for family to come for the holidays, to only two older teens being left. So many moments just like this morning while my husband and I sit side by side enjoying a cup of coffee and talking about life, observing a sunrise together. It’s so good but then it’s gone. So many moments have come and gone. So many I didn’t want to miss.

I am thankful for the blessings of God on my life. I’ve walked through good times and excruciatingly painful times. He has always been there. He’s given me many moment just like today that I need to just soak in and enjoy. Because 10 years from now everything once again will be changed, and this moment I didn’t miss will be a treasure I can reminisce about and be thankful that I didn’t miss in the years to come.

Don’t miss it today! All the business that perfection of the presentation of our feast, the cleanliness of our homes, the stress these things can bring, can be robbers of the moment that only will come once and then be gone. Soak it in! Embrace it for the moment you have! And Thank God for the life He has given that provides all these beautiful moments we have been blessed with. Happy Thanksgiving and Don’t miss it!