Thursday, March 08, 2007

Planting the Seed

Today, I shared with another Women's group in a small town not far from where I live. It was a good morning! God is sooooo good! The same passage of scripture I used to open my talk, the leader this morning read to us and prayed for me before I shared what God laid on my heart. You know, God has really been stretching me to begin sharing with other women in different communities - to start speaking at different ladies events. He does so many wonderful things each time!! Every time before I share, after I've written out what I want to share, the enemy throws so many lies at me throughout the day. Lies like, "Of they're not going to like what you say, or It's not good enough, or That sound so stupid"....and they go on and on. But God always confirms with me that what I've written out on paper, what He's laid on my heart is what the women need to hear that morning. He reassures me time and time again. God is so faithful!! So, here's what I shared with the ladies this morning:

Planting the Seed

I want to start with these verses that came to my mind as ideas have been compiling in my mind for this talk that I was asked to give today. What of my heart did I wish to share with you today on Planting the Seed. Let’s read:
Matthew 13:3b-8 “…A farmer went to plant seed. 4 Some seeds were planted along the road, and birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds were planted on rocky ground, where there was little soil. The plants sprouted quickly because the soil wasn't deep. 6 But when the sun came up, they were scorched. They withered because their roots weren't deep enough. 7 Other seeds were planted among thornbushes, and the thornbushes grew up and choked them. 8 But other seeds were planted on good ground and produced grain. They produced one hundred, sixty, or thirty times as much as was planted.”

When I think of planting seeds and of this passage, so many pictures came through my mind. What are the roads, thorns, birds, rocks, the sun, withering plants, good ground and grain in our lives, in my life? All plants start with a seed and I am a plant. There have been so many times when seeds have been planted in my life to help me grow or scorch or choke or wither but there has always been a gardener, whether I saw him or not. The planting of that tiny seed is where I want to begin.

As I was growing up, my mother was often too sick to take care of me. Aunts and Uncles would take me into their home and they would care for me and nurture me. They were planting seeds of love and care into my life that would affect me forever.

There was a minister in the church I grew up in and he always made me feel good about who I was. He did not portray a critical or judgemental spirit. He showed interest in who I was and I always liked him and looked up to him. There was something about him that drew me to him and what he had and believed in. He was planting seeds of acceptance and love and showed me that I was made special.

In my neighborhood, we often had children’s clubs, Good News Clubs and 5 Day clubs. I loved those as a child and looked forward to them so much. It was a very positive experience in my life. Those young people who taught those clubs worked through Child Evangelism and they planted seeds of God’s love and wonderful stories in my mind and heart. I will never forget those memorable seeds.

Even though my mom was often too sick, and not herself, she tried to plant seeds of love into my life. I didn’t always accept them well but looking back now I know that she did what she could and what she knew how in spite of her limitations of pain and sickness. She never gave up trying to plant seeds into my life – even though she often hurt so much. She taught me to pray – that’s often all she did because there were times she did not know what else to do. She also taught me to pray everyday for my future spouse – my prayer was that I wanted to be a mom and a wife and that I would marry a tall, dark-haired handsome Christian man.

As a teenager I was rebellious and I left home at age 15, there was the mother of a friend of mine that invited me to live in their home for a time and she treated me like her own daughter. She accepted me as her own, loved me, talked with me, cried with me and encouraged me. She was planting, sowing seeds into my life.

This mother’s daughter, a dear friend, who saw how messed up I was becoming because of alcohol, partying and other wrong choices I was making at such a young age, also planted seeds of love into my life. She was my friend and loved me but never took part in what I did. There came a point where she really encouraged me to go and work at camp for the summer. I felt I had no other place to go – my brother had just kicked me out of his home, there was no way I was going back to live with my parents, so I decided to go to this camp at the lake. That became a huge gardening season of my life that has brought in a harvest time and time again. The director of the camp at the time gave me his Bible, the counselors were my friends, cried with me and prayed with me, other young people that I worked with showed me the many different types of homes that we come from and that I wasn’t the only one. Because of this good friend’s persistence and gentle nudging, my life was blessed through this garden in a season of my life.

When Roger, the tall, dark-haired handsome man came into my life, neither of us were living a life honoring to God. But there were many people who planted seeds in our lives, many examples around us of God’s love and acceptance. We knew we did not want to continue in this lifestyle, but it was hard to draw out those roots, those seeds that were buried so deep into bad soil. The dear Friend who had encouraged me to go to camp, invited Roger and I to go to an evangelical meeting in the city and that night, my tall, dark-haired handsome man had many questions. Later, after he went home, alone in his bedroom, down on his knees he invited Jesus to be a part of his life. I phoned my mom and said, “Mom, I’m marrying a Christian man.” God had answered my prayer. He had given me a tall, dark-haired, handsome Christian man. That seed that my mom had planted had grown and blossomed. J
So many of these seeds that were planted in our lives, drew us out of our partying lifestyle which we were choking in and slowly, through good times and in bad, released us of their hold and we began growing together into trees that grew near the water. Even though our roots were continually reaching for that living water, there were many times in which our branches would try to grow through thorn bushes and thistles. The winds would come and bend us the wrong way, and often break. But then the sun would come out after those rainy, windy days and have us yearning for, thirsting for and reaching out for that living water again. The gardener would come and prune those dying branches, take away those dying, unfruitful limbs and nurture us to blossom as our roots continued to stretch towards the water and our branches reached towards the sky.

Times were not easy – life was not easy. We both had a career, we were trying to find new friends, trying to establish ourselves in a church, buying a home, beginning a family, and continually trying to break free from the thornbrushes and rocks of our lives. But life was never meant to be easy, we were never promised an easy life. God’s Word tells us that it is a rough, narrow way, but a blessed path to eternity and He is there with us every step of the way.

Over the years, many, many people have planted seeds in my life, in our lives. The list is endless. Friend’s parents who were like parents to me. Women who have been a mentor to me and been a godly example for me as I grew into womanhood learned how to be wife and then into stepped into motherhood. There are women that have laughed with me through the silly and joyful times and then cried with me through the tough, rough and sad times. Then there are the older women that have taught me how to love my husband and take care of my home and raise my children. The couples that have reached out to us and have been friends to us. There are men that have been a part of my husband’s life and the older men that have been like a father to my husband. Oh the pastors and church leaders that taught us so much and planted seeds of discipleship and nurturing into our lives. Then there are those parents that are an example to my children. Those lovely women and young ladies who have watched over my children when they were young so that I could have some time away or take part in or lead a Ladies Bible Study group. The kids that have befriended my kids, the youth that have been godly examples to my kids, the adults at church that have encouraged my kids and have taught them Sunday School and clubs. The teachers that have come through my children’s lives at school…..the list could go on and on. So many good seeds that have been planted into our lives and that we have been so eternally grateful for. For all these seeds, there will be a time of great reaping.

When I think of the passage of the farmer sowing or planting the seeds, I think of the times that I have been that farmer. What kinds of seeds have I planted and dropped along the way and what part do I play in nurturing those seeds. At times I’ve been the rocky ground, the withering plants, and the thorn bushes – not being good food for seeds that have been planted. And thankfully, at times I’ve been the seed in the good ground or I have planted good seeds – yearning to produce a large wheat field full of healthy grains of wheat. Anyway that you look at it, I’ve been some type of seed in my life and I’ve been some type of plant in my lifetime.
Now I’ve reached a point of growth in this plant of life to be planting seeds of my own. Many seeds I’ve already planted. These haven’t always been seeds from the Fruits of the Spirit. Unfortunately they’ve been seeds of discord, of jealousy, of hurt and of pain and frustration. When seeds have landed on rocky soil, I have at times been the thorns that have choked the life out of them because of the sour seeds that have been sown in my own life and the wrong choices that I myself have made. Again, the Gardener has come along and restored and pruned those lifeless branches and has thrown them away. I am eternally grateful for that.

I have often sought the purpose of my life – the reason for this plant to be in the garden of life. My purpose, my reason to live is to plant seeds – I am a planter. How am I dropping those seeds in this journey through the garden of life?
* When I wake up each day, talk to God and am thankful – I am planting a seed.
* As I go throughout my day, cooking, cleaning, worshiping my God and being a wife and mother – I am planting seeds.
* When I have devotions with my children and pray with my husband – I am planting seeds.
* When I am a loving, submission wife with a desire to be my husband’s helper – I am planting a seed.
* As I look out the window, watching for my children to come home after school to share their day with me – I am planting a seed.
* If I pick up the phone to listen to a friend – I am planting a seed.
* As I followed God’s nudge to invite a woman over for coffee and listened over the next few weeks of her pain and hurt and continued to be her friend – I am planting a seed.
* On days where my camera is calling me to come along and capture memories of God’s creation – I am planting a seed.
* When I take those photos that I’ve captured and bless someone’s day with a print or a card – I am planting a seed.
* When I spend some time typing at my computer, putting my thoughts of God and life and sharing photos on my website – I am planting a seed.
* When I create greeting cards and encouragement cards with the photographs that I’ve taken and share them with others – I am planting a seed.
* When I was preparing for a trip to Bolivia, my father and his brother were dealing with unforgiveness in their hearts. I listened to each one and I encouraged them to make things right before I left to find their brother in another part of the world – I was planting a seed.
* In Bolivia, I was staying with my dear friend who so long ago helped me in my rebellious teenage years and steered me towards God. I listened to her, cried with her, talked with her, laughed with her and spent precious friend time together – I was planting seeds and as she was reaping what she had sown in a friendship so many years ago.
* While I was traveling by myself going to Bolivia and talking to others on the plane or in the airports and passing on my photo cards with scripture verses and handing out my business card sharing my website address – I was planting a seed.
* When I was in Bolivia, I had the unique opportunity to go to a Ladies Retreat with 44 missionary ladies in the Santa Cruz area. A speaker from Texas walked us through this book she had written called “More of Christ” and I took it home with me and taught it to the ladies in Bible study here in SK. Now we are studying another book from that church in Texas called “Titus 2 Woman”. I was asked to write an article for a women’s magazine in that church in Texas about our Bible study group here – I am planting a seed.
* Many photos that I’ve taken in Saskatchewan have been saved on a disc and are now in Bolivia being used on Sunday mornings on a screen with the words of Spanish worship music – they are being used to plant seeds across the world.
* While I continue to follow God’s calling in my life to lead Bible studies with women, learning together and teaching them His Word, listening to their hurts and praying with them – I am planting a seed.
* A woman had moved here from England and had joined our Bible study group for a time. She has now moved back to England with her family and has taken the “More of Christ” study with her to teach it there – I planted a seed and now she is planting a seed.
* As I pick up the phone to listen to my mom or to go and pick her and dad up for an appointment – I am planting a seed.
* If I allow myself to be used through my gifts and talents that the Good Lord has given me and am involved in my church, blessing others through Christ’s ministry – I am planting a seed.
* When I put together a calendar with photos that I’ve taken and put scripture verses on them – I am planting a seed.
* When I call a complete stranger and ask their permission to use the photo that I’ve taken on their land and share with them who I am and what I do and who I live for – I am planting a seed.
* I’d taken a photo of an abandoned home and as I was on the yard, an old, bitter, foul speaking man shared with me from his hardened heart. My heart went out to him as he cursed and swore. Some time later, I took the pictures of that abandoned home and knocked on his door. He stood there as I shared with him how I’d been praying for him and how I wanted to be a blessing to him that day. His whole body just melted as I gave him some black & white photos of the home that I had taken pictures of. I did not know his name and I have not seen him since but I was an angel to him that day planting seeds of love.

I have so many examples and stories that I could share of planting those seeds. Unfortunately, the seeds that I’ve planted have not always been good seeds of love, acceptance and forgiveness. I am not perfect and I have made many mistakes. I am often sad from missing certain plants that have been picked up and moved elsewhere to bloom and to be nurtured. At times they’ve been moved because of my bad soil and other times my work with those plants has been done. But God is continually bringing in new plants to be nurtured through this farmer. He extends His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love to me so faithfully day after day. I am eternally grateful and I will keep trying to be a humble servant, serving my Lord and planting His seeds in this garden of life here on this earth.
Thank you for having me share with you this morning.
God bless you!

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