A Snarled Life

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Screaming erupted,

accompanying the morning’s hair brushing session. Neglected only one day, my granddaughter’s long blond hair had turned into a tangled mess. We thought it would be okay to ignore our normal routine. We were just hanging out at home. It wasn’t like anyone would be seeing us. No big deal to let her hair go unbrushed. No big deal, that is, until it was. Now pain and tears were involved in the whole process of combing out the snarls.

How quickly life can end up the same way.

Our days seem smooth and easy. So much so, we begin to neglect simple ‘grooming’. We forget to pray; we put off looking into God’s Word; a day or two won’t really matter much. Before we know it, quite a few days have passed without God’s input. Without it, life begins to get tangled and snarled. To make it smooth again, whole lot of ‘brushing’ will need to happen. It’s a good thing the One doing the combing has a gentle touch.

As I consider this whole picture, I am reminded that it takes some time to work the tangles out of my granddaughter’s hair. There are some unpleasant moments, to be sure, but there also is quite a bit of time spent talking as we work on the tangles. Moments of I remember when are shared. A closeness is created through the process, and trust is developed. Before we realize it, beauty emerges from where the tangles once were.

Are you leading a snarled life?

I have been there. Yes, I believe it might have involved some screaming and tears, but God eventually smoothed out the tangles. One thing I know—I never want to go there again. To avoid the snarls, constant maintenance is required. I can’t allow much time to pass before I am in the Word and praying for guidance. Without it, I just feel unkept and disheveled, unable to function, and certainly not looking my best.

If you are unsure of where to start, begin with prayer. It is true, confession is good for the soul. A simple, “Hello, God, it’s me,” will get the process started. You’ll know what to say from there.

The practice of meeting with God . . .

on a regular basis to pray and study His Word takes time to develop. Once it is a habit, you will wonder why you ever neglected it. Peace is one bonus to regular ‘grooming’ your life with the Word. And that is a beautiful thing.

No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

Victorious Hearts

The end of the soccer season comes this week. The last game will be played and the cleats will be put away. I’m not sure what the ranking is for my grandson’s team. I think it’s somewhere near the bottom. But it is not the final outcome of these games that will measure the success of this team. It will be the heart and perseverance and team work that made them true winners.

At one of their games last week they were set to play the number one team. In past years, it was a day of annihilation with the ending score double digits to zero. After the first few goals, our players would begin to waver, slow their pace and then eventually give up. Their team would become just a group of individuals taking matters into their own hands trying to somehow diminish the loss.

But this year was different. The young men and women of the team took control of the field keeping the opposition at bay. They moved together as an ominous force working as a unit. There was one point when things began to turn against them that they started to falter in their resolve, but the coach cheered each play with praises reminding them they were good players and he was proud of them.

In the end, the final score was not what they would have chosen but they were champions. They played the game in the best way possible using everything they had learned from their coach. The outcome was not in their hands. The thing they did have control over–the way they played the game—they did very well. Each one was a winner as they stepped off the field.

This made me think about how we conduct our prayer lives. We have been coached by Jesus himself on how to pray. He even demonstrated it to us in his resolve to look to the Father every time He came up against something difficult. We need to follow his example even when things go in a direction we would not choose or expect. The outcome is not up to us. The way we pray is.

Prayer can be a funny thing. To some it may be a going-through-the-motions cadence that remains the same day-after-day.  Not really heartfelt rather a fulfillment of a duty.  Others implement the laundry list approach asking God to act, supply or rescue on their behalf. In each of these methods, they simply pass the ball to God with the thought that He will make the big play and save the day.

Perhaps there is another possibility to consider. One that is much more integrated– A team building of sorts. In this method of prayer, an exchange of information and encouragement takes place. This is the ” Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you” approach. It is a cooperation in which we work together with God to reach the favored outcome–being like Jesus.

Second Corinthians 9:8 tells us, God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.  God has given us just what we need to play out this game of life and do it in victory.

That you may excel says it all. You will surpass others, be superior—win—just because of what He has given you. With that in mind, ask and receive. Pray with the knowledge that victory will be the result, thanking God for all he has provided. Your perspective in those tough moments of life will never be the same. Teamwork with God produces a force to be reckoned with.

I love how my grandson’s soccer team demonstrated that attitude by playing as if they had the win in sight. Although they knew first place was a long shot, they still ran the field with victorious hearts. The real trophy was to be seen in their character.

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Your victory brings him great honor,

and you have clothed him with splendor and majesty.

Psalm 21:5 NLT


My grandson, Simon, continued to play for his school’s soccer team into his senior year. Their team advanced in standings each year eventually coming in third at the CIF playoffs. They played like champions to the end. At the present, Simon, serves in the United States Marine Corps. He is hoping to tryout soon for a position their soccer team. No matter the outcome, I will be proud of him. I know he has what it takes to be victorious in all life’s endeavors.

Generously Sow

I fed a homeless guy last night. His name was Edward.

It isn’t unusual for me to feed someone I see that might be hungry. Maybe it’s because my mamma taught me it was impolite to eat in front of others, though I don’t really know if that applied in this situation, since Edward was sitting alone on the dirty curb, and I would eat my meal at a nice clean table surrounded by a large group of people who were laughing and chatting with each other. It doesn’t really matter, but I think the reason I fed him was because God placed him in my path to feed and so I did.

A passage found at the end of Deuteronomy 24 talks about making provision for the foreigner, fatherless, and the widow from the excess we find in our own “fields”. It is just one passage out of nearly 100 found in the Bible that address our responsibility toward caring for the poor. One thing I would also like to point out, it doesn’t say those who are rich be generous. It makes a statement to us all no matter where we find ourselves economically. If you have a “field” big or small God’s talking to you.

I have found that the most generous people are actually the ones who can afford it least. I’ve seen those who had very little of their own divide and share what they had with someone else in need.

A few years ago, I worked with a small church in one of the poorest areas near my home. We ran a midweek children’s service with singing, games, and stories. At the end of the evening, we fed the children supper along with some home baked cookies. Every single time they would ask if there was enough to take home. Some refused to eat what we offered so they could carry it to a mom or dad, grandparent or sibling who was not in attendance. I can just see them running into their houses making their little offering to whoever was there, becoming givers themselves.

Giving is a simple matter really, but it’s no small thing. Even though each of us may only have the capacity to make a momentary difference in the life of one, man, woman or child—it is still worth the effort. It adds up. Most of us have more to offer than we think. A hamburger, a smile, a dollar or two, a moment of your time to give recognition. God has placed what others need in our “field” so we get to be generous and practice love. It grows us up a little more into the image of His Son who gave everything.

The feeling you get when you follow through with God’s will in your life is exhilarating and makes you want to do more, give more, love more. I can’t describe it. You just have to experience it for yourself. And in case you didn’t realize, caring for the poor is God’s will for everyone–you, me, everyone. Remember he says it nearly 100 times.

After my encounter with Edward, I thought about him all the way home and prayed for his life. Would he always be homeless? Would he someday have a wife? Children? He was a very young man. Where was his family? His parents? His siblings? Would he make it through the cold night? Would he know Jesus just a little more because someone fed him a hamburger and asked him his name? Only God knew the answers. What I do know for sure, that night, Edward’s name was in God’s ears and on His mind.

. . . whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

2 Corinthians 9:6

Old Espalier Apple Tree Grove, Bakersfield, California

Old Espalier Apple Tree Grove, Bakersfield, California