Sunday, July 31, 2011

Home is Where You Plant Your Flowers--My Testimony

It has been an interesting three months here at my current residence, but as of tomorrow, I will be moving on to another location. It's funny that no matter how much I pray for stability, God still says that He is bringing me to the place He needs me, but it isn't right now...even though He does say it is soon. As much as it can be tiring, I will believe in and obey His command. Sometimes we are the shepherds and at other times we are the sheep. While in some places I am definitely the sheep, needing the protection of my Savior, I am also called to be a shepherd, guiding other lost sheep to the path home.


My fifth grade teacher always used to tell me that home is where you plant your flowers.

I actually didn't remember her saying that until about five years ago--when I originally moved to the county in which I now reside. Of course, as a grieving 10-year-old little girl, I did not understand fully the power of the metaphorical phrase "planting flowers," and furthermore, at 17, I didn't fully grasp the belly of the barrel on it either. Now, at 22-years-old, I am finding peace in the meaning, a deep, profound understanding, and even hope.

Planting flowers. 

In the Bible, there are countless scriptures that refer to sowing of seeds, sowing and reaping--sowing seeds as a metaphor for working hard and prospering in accordance to your works, sowing seeds of the Gospel to grow a Godly knowledge and understanding, to parables about not wasting your time while you could be productive.

Flowers grow from tiny little seeds that are planted. The type of flower depends on the type of seed, and the condition of the flower depends on the conditions in which the seed was planted. 

Luke 8:15 says, "And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God's word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest." (New Living Translation). 

As I look upon my life in the last year or so, the big difference I see in comparison to my tempestuous childhood, and my life now, is God. At the age of nine, I accepted Jesus in my heart to be my Lord and Savior. At that time I did not have a much of a relationship with Him because that wasn't a possibility at the time. Due to my upbringing, church wasn't a requirement, but more of a past-time. There were many trials and heartbreaks to come a year later, and in the most desperate of times that I really did need Jesus, I didn't know to reach out to Him. But, as I grew older and heard the Word of God being spoken through others, I learned more about Him, in subtle increments, but nonetheless, I began a slow journey into the Christian walk. 

Since I can remember, the most stable thing I have ever had was my family...mainly my mom and sister. I don't have a lot of memories of my dad when I was little as he worked a lot...and at other times, we had run away and hid from him that it made seeing his face either a scary moment or a joyous one. It was constantly an emotional roller coaster--he was an alcoholic and used to be very mean sometimes. We fled when his violent temper grew into rage...but when he began to recover, and I started to get to know him aside from the alcohol, he died.

My brothers are much older than my sister and I, and had both moved out by the time I was seven or so. One wasn't a big part of my life and still isn't to this day as he is 18 years older than I, and the other brother has had a larger role, but was in my life as a constant only momentously. He is 10 years older. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins--these people have fluttered in and out of my life. The only two people that I had close to me my entire life, since the beginning of fear and emotion, were my mom and sister. After my dad's death, Mom, Steph, and I were bonded as "the three."

The three of us had each other to be angry with, to be sad with, happy with, and to be stable with.     To me, this was my rock. My shelter. My refuge. Although I moved out when I was 17 to live here in this county, 130-some odd miles away from them, my heart was still forged into the trio of the strongest relationship I have ever known.

Grievances aside, and pain, anger, and irritability forgotten between us three for a moment, in all things considered, I had the bonds that most other families do not have...until last year.

If you have seen my latest Praise video on YouTube, then you'll know what an awesome miracle that has taken place in the past couple months. (The video is linked at the bottom of this post as well). I also stated that the enemy had stolen that single precious thing from me, but God chose to restore it only when I had learned of His will.

Revelation 21:1-5: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Aren't they adorable?!
These scriptures bring solidarity to people in mind when realizing that Jesus has come to make us new. He is the risen king. His example lives on in us to replicate every day. We are born to be reborn. We are born to be renewed. We are His. The sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100). For if we are new creations in Him, we must abide in and within Him, and He in and within us. We need to live in accordance to His ways in order to receive the glories and splendors thereof.

Acts 3:19-21: "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago."

When we turn away from sin and align our ways with God's will, He begins to work out the miracles in our lives. 

I didn't realize what sin I had committed. And until that knowledge could be brought forth, my heart grieved for my losses. All things felt dead to me...I was shaken and torn, hurting poetically because the very thing I had found stability in all those years was no longer there! It crumbled into dust, dissipating into the air.
Because my life form had taken a blow, all things I once had a slight grasp onto were much too hard to grip now. I finally let go because my heart couldn't hold on anymore. In the barren land I found myself in, I had no real hope until a voice called to me and told me to stop trying to carry that which isn't meant to be my burden...

I grew up understanding all things that happened in my life were part of a karma circle and that I had no choice but to try and change what I didn't like, and to endure what I couldn't. It meant that I needed to show the world that whatever was flung at me was bearable, and I could keep going. But my strength was waning with the burdens packing on so much weight. I felt like Atlas, bearing the world on my shoulders...cursed for eternity.

God had other thoughts, however. He says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us..."(Hebrews 12:1). 

We are still meant to run the race, but we cannot possibly do it while carrying the burdens of this world. Those burdens are much too heavy. So instead, we must: "Come to [Him], all who labor and are heavy laden, and [He] will give [us] rest. Take [His] yoke upon you, and learn from [Him], for [He is] gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For [His] yoke is easy, and [His] burden is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30).

The sins can be laid aside as they have no place in our lives. The sins that were washed away in 2006 (when I was baptized) were gone, but the enemy still likes to tangle me up in new sins to keep me bound. 

When I had given my life to Jesus fully at 18-years-old, I, myself, was a new seedling. The old wilted leaves and pieces had been stripped away, and I had to be planted in Godly conditions to grow into what He designed for me. The soil had to be nourishing and I had to be fed with His gospel. When I left the first church I had been planted in, I left desperate for air. I had been too tightly compacted in soil that didn't have enough oxygen. Scared it would happen again, I took my time, waiting for God to show me where He wanted me. A year and a half later, after a poisonous greenhouse, the leaves that were grown after my baptism were wilted and sought after the living water again. I found myself at a new church...seeking God and hardly expecting to be rooted...Once I was rooted, my wilted leaves were stripped again and I had grown new leaves because I had the proper environment for growth. However, there were wicked weeds in my heart that did not belong, which starved the little seedlings in me that God had planted. He had purposed for me to grow fruits, but the enemy's seeds still remained and were poisoning God's garden.

When I lost my stability in "the three," I finally understood that all things in this world are easily manipulated as long as the enemy has control of that which is in this world. God expressed that He had plans for me, but until I started to allow Him to move in my life, weeding out my garden, those blessings would not harvest. And, furthermore, my flowers would not grow into fruits. 

At that point, I was blindly lead off course. I fell away spiritually but knew something had to change. I was determined to allow God to pull me back because the Hell I saw awakened me to the light I had missed and had not been regularly receiving in my heart. In order for plants to grow healthily, you need sunshine. In other words, joy. True joy can only be found in one place, as sunshine only comes from the sun, I needed to receive rays of Son-shine... and that I did. 

I found joy, and with that, peace, tranquility, love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, gratitude...grace.

I found my true saving grace. And that is what I have held onto so strongly for the past year and the best part is that it is truly a light load. Far easier than the burden I had once carried. Now I see flowers budding, more leaves sprouting, and best yet, a reconciled relationship with my family. While I still consider us to be "the three," it is not my source of strength anymore as it should not be. I can, however, show my strength to them and hope and pray for them to find the joy and grace that I received. In this sense, I am the shepherd, still a sheep in God's pasture, but in the world's pasture, I am a herder, not a hurter. 

As I move on in this journey to another residence, I am comforted with His will for me to always be stable in Him, no matter where I am. Home is with Him, the gardener. The one who plants flowers in my heart. There may still be things that I need to do before my residential stability is given, so until then, I will plant flowers for others wherever I may be, because it is God's will that we share the Good News with everyone.

Please be encouraged by my testimony to always look for the light in everything for it will strengthen and nourish your heart. Things may be stolen away, but God is waiting to restore them to you, plus extra! He pays with interest in YOU!

With many flowers budding,

Your Emmy.

My artificial flowers--packing these up was pretty sad :( (haha)

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm Wealthy! Yes!!!! Praise God!

Life gives us many gifts and very often those gifts are sporadic, quite unexpected, and more than likely to be blessings from God. Because of those blessings, I feel as though I live a wealthy life. No, I am most definitely not "rich" by worldly fact, I live at an income level that shocks most people. I am always looking forward to the days when my situation is "better" by the worldly stance, but looking around at my life now, I feel that I am, again, very wealthy. 

My life is far from glamorous and I wouldn't ever want a super glamorous life. It sounds like it would be extra work to keep it that way! =D And that's NOT fun! I am in my bedroom typing this from my four-year-old laptop, feeling so very blessed at the prospects God reminds me of...the gifts He has given to me and asks me to use. I think of all the material things I have and nothing compares to the riches of His kingdom! I may not have a car or a very big home; I may not even have a lot of money or even nice furniture, but I certainly do have His spirit dwelling inside me, and I wouldn't trade that for all the gold and diamonds on this planet! I know that I have more things than most other people in this world, and yet, with the materialistic society we live in, I am reminded by the world that I don't have enough--I don't offer enough--I am just not enough!

And that makes me even happier.

I thank God for the truth! The truth is that even if I were enough for the world and had all these things, I really wouldn't be living a good life anyway! My life would be wasted trying to keep ahead of my neighbors, competing for the very best of the best, never having a moment of fun. What a sad and boring life that would be! 

1 Tim 6:6-8 says: "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."

What's more, is that there are things far more important to me than televisions and cars: they are the wonderful people who saturate my life with interesting days and loving moments. They are the people who make my life worth living. I say, let the televisions stay off and the ...yes, even computers ..*ahem, this is my downfall...hahah* stay hibernating, and let us enjoy one another, in real time, no pixels and signals between us. 
Yes, you can definitely read my blog before turning off your computer! =D That would make my day! 

I wanted to share with you a few pictures of my daily reminders to keep CONTENT in the things I am given:

Even though it's super blurry, and you probably
cannot read it, this is a collage poster I painted
a few years ago as a reminder to always be

This hangs on my wall and it says:
"With God all things are possible"
~Matthew 19:26.

A reminder to always remember that
I am very blessed!

And when they fail, I have a selfless
little poochie here named Dazie
whose cuteness always shows love!

And a picture of my little sister and I when we were ...little.
This photo is so precious to me!

So I hope you all are encouraged to find the wealth in your life, and contentment with your blessings! Don't ever let the world tell you that you don't have enough because the truth is that you actually have so much more!

Buckets of blessings,

Your Emmy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Who's On Your Team?

If you didn't know, I am very dependent on public transportation to get my booty to and from places, town to town, and have been known to travel over 120 miles via public city buses... One thing I actually do like about public transportation is not having to worry about gas, insurance, car payments...nor do I have to pay attention to the road when I'm starting to daze off into La La Land. 

Another upside to public transportation is that I have come to meet a few fascinating people. There is one person that I remember the most because she has been a God-send to me, in small, yet significant ways. She is a bus driver and she has worked for my county's public transportation department for years. What resounds to me the most about her is that she isn't afraid to share her Christianity with anyone who needs inspiration or uplifting.

Today while on the bus, she was talking to another lady about how she tries to keep her spirit up and her heart on God because, even though she doesn't feel well with her kidney and liver problems, she knows that He provides comfort and peace. It touched my heart because when I see good Christians doing God's work, being selfless people who go out of their way (unpaid, might I say) to give people a ride home in the pouring rain, or give encouragement in a Godly way, it shows the love and compassion of Christ's heart, and it saddens me to see them struggling with their health and finances.

I have known this driver for a long time, although with my moving to and fro, changing hairstyles and colors, gaining and losing weight over the last four years, she doesn't remember me. I understand that as there are over 30,000 people who ride these buses every month. It would be hard to keep up! However, a few years ago, the first time I ever met her was when I was lugging two heavy suitcases and my backpack about 3/4 miles from my old house to the nearest bus stop. She was off-duty, a common citizen in her own vehicle, and stopped and asked me if I needed a ride. Not only did she give me a ride down to the bus terminal, but she had also uplifted spirit--and I had been having a rough day. I think back to that day though and remember how it turned out for the better because someone had allowed God to use them in a kind and amazing way. It really shows that we never know how God is using us to be lights in other people's lives and that we should always expect to be of His purpose (like Jeremiah 29:11 says, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'they are to prosper you and not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future.' " No matter where we are at in our day, we should always be grateful for the little things that God provides unexpectedly, and be joyous for the fruits that other Christian soldiers bring. 

After all, we are the saints in this world and are an expanded team--God's team. Team Jesus! Now that's the team I want to be on! When we see another team member struggling, we need to be prepared to help them, not stopping our walk or place in the brigade, but to uplift and bring encouragement, as well as help the other person up and shake off their pains. (Ephesians 6:18: And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (NIV) )

That's the kind of teamwork that gets things complete--in the name of Jesus and in God's will for His people. He loves us all so much and has a purpose for each and every one of us. Let us open our hearts and ears to Him and see the miracles we can do for each other. After all, He has equipped us with His power: the blood poured upon us. The baptism of the Holy Ghost. We are ready to bust out our biggest weapon of all: prayer! So that is what my heart says to do--pray for the saint who does God's good works. =]

Hut, hut...Pray all! =D (sorry if that's kind of a lame was a pun in reference to American sport lingo. "Hut hut, play ball!" hehe)

I hope you all are having wonderfully blessed days!

With much love and my mightiest weapon, 

Your Emmy.

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