Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Feed the Birds . . . and the Creatures, Too!


Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
~Robert Grant


Lately, I've been marveling at our Lord's provision for His creation. For those of you who follow this blog, you know that our family re-located from New England to the Midwest. Fairly recently, our family purchased a home in the country for the purpose of ministering to the Lord's people. The Lord has opened my eyes to so many wonders of His beautiful creation here. There is something about being out in the country that focuses one's eyes upon the Lord's handiwork in all that He has made. Truly, we serve a marvelous God and a Father who is abundant in His provision for all that He has made--as James Herriot would say, for "every living thing." 

My Mom instilled in me a love for birds and for living creatures when I was a little girl--she taught me and my sisters that it was good for the soul to preserve and to take care of our Father's creation in the best way that we could. She taught me about "birding" and gardening and gave me a taste for joy in what the Lord has made. 

One thing that my Mom always reminds me of is --leave that plant up! Don't cut it down yet--wait until the spring--the birds will eat the seeds in the cold winter months when they are struggling to survive. 

I've seen juncos (snowbirds) eating the seeds of perennials in my Mom's garden when we lived in RI. The flower heads were sticking up out of the snow on their stalks and they were aiding in the junco's survival. 

This has taught me to be a "messy" :-) gardener. I am trying to leave flowers up for as long as possible so the birds and animals can get the most out of them that they can. 

I believe that part of our purpose here is to take care of the Lord's creation, and this is just one small way that I am able to. It brings me joy--and I love to see the little animals given a touch of God's mercy and provision in the coldest months. 

The following are pictures and some descriptions of some of the Lord's bounty where we live--



The goldfinches love these seeds . . . they fall in our driveway and these little birds in particular enjoy them so much!


An apple from one of our trees . . . helpful for deer and chipmunks . . . 




 Hollyhock seeds . . . the ground squirrel loves them!


 


Hollyhock seeds--the flower heads become very dry around this time of year and the seeds are easy to access . . . 



Some various seeds in the field . . .





Dandelion seeds are a favorite of the little chipping sparrows and finches . . . 



An abundance of acorns for the squirrels, deer, and chipmunks . . . 







More seeds . . . 





Berries growing near the fence . . . 


The hummingbirds love the nectar from these flowers that grow on a vine against our house . . . 


 The squirrels eat this huge nut--it is funny to watch them greedily trying to hold it . . . 


I love pinecones . . . so many birds and animals benefit from their seeds--bluejays, squirrels, woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees . . . 




More berries--it always fascinates me how different berries ripen at different times for the birds and animals and the Lord provides for them throughout the seasons . . . 







A huge flock of Cedar Waxwings has been visiting us to enjoy these berries . . . 


 Animal/bird habitats in one of the pine trees . . . 



Finches love the seeds from Echinacea (Coneflowers) once they dry . . . 



More berries . . . it is true that some berries are poisonous, but most will feed some kind of animal or bird . . . 






Hostas attract hummingbirds--I never realized this, but their fluted flowers draw the sweet little birds . . . 

The butterflies and hummingbirds love the nectar from these blooms . . . 



This picture is a little blurry, but I wanted to include a picture of our neighbor's sunflowers--because the birds love the seeds from these! 


Milkweed pods-- monarch caterpillars and butterflies are drawn to these--



Something that I've also learned is that birds and animals love to live near a water source, so if you are trying to attract various kinds of songbirds into your yard, a birdbath (or two) is a very good idea. Just be sure to continually break the ice off the top in the winter or purchase a heater for your birdbath. And try to keep it full! :-)




And there you have it; I hope that you've enjoyed these pictures. Now, go and feed the creatures and take joy! 





You might find me on these link-ups:

Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Rich Faith Rising, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Coffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market FridayHeart Encouragement Thursday Sitting Among Friends Blog PartyFabulous Warm Heart PartyOh My Heartsie Girls Wonderful Wednesday LinkupWriter Wednesday

Friday, September 1, 2017

Live for Him As Only You Can

"Empty your life into the hands of the Lord Jesus--empty yourself out and you will be full."
~Ravi Zacharias 


When I was a teenager, super straight hair came into fashion. You know, that pin-straight hair that may only be achieved by using a straightening iron. And for me, the queen of curly-frizz, "the ideal" could never be achieved. I inherited thick curly hair from my Mediterranean Dad, hair that will not be tamed. :-) My Mom would say, exasperated, "Why do you want to straighten your hair? You have such pretty curly hair!" But straight hair was "in-style," and something within the human heart longs after something that it can't have. And so I tried to straighten my hair. And it didn't really work--it just rebelliously began frizzing at the edges and then the old curls tried to creep back in, and the rest is history. At any rate, I am back to "embracing" curly hair. It is how the Lord made me, what He gave to me. Something unique to my person, created in the image of Him. So I am content. 

Lately, the Lord spoke to me in a powerful way through a Ravi Zacharias message. I listened to the message over and over; he was addressing something that the Lord was pressing upon my heart. His peace came afterwards. 

Ravi was speaking about how the Lord created us as individuals. And I shared a trivial story about straightened hair at the beginning of this post, but sometimes, deep inside of our hearts, a battle is raging, more significant than curly or straight hair. An inward battle that can eat us up and consume us. 

The battle of who it is that God created us to be


Because there are times in our lives when we become frustrated with ourselves, with the distinctive personality that the Lord gave to us to be used for Him. We admire those around us who seem to exhibit the qualities we find lacking in ourselves.  Perhaps it is leadership abilities, maybe speaking abilities, perhaps those who seem to be "in control" of their circumstances and surroundings. Perhaps it is something else. It is natural to admire the perceived "strengths" of others. 

And maybe we struggle with speaking in public. Maybe we struggle with taking the lead or doing something independently. Maybe we struggle with understanding how to handle different situations that arise in our lives. Maybe we feel anxious easily. Maybe we are overwhelmed in social situations. These and other areas of weakness can cripple our souls. 

Each person has their own personal struggle unique to themselves. 

So it is tempting to see our own perceived "weaknesses" as a hindrance to spiritual growth in our lives. We think that if only our personality was different, things would be better, things would run more smoothly. 

But I have come to believe that the secret is not in trying to be what we are not, but in embracing who it is that the Lord created us to be--

We don't need to be like any other person, as admirable as they may be--we just need to be ourselves, embracing the unique personality that God has given us--surrendered each day to Him, filled with His Spirit, full of joy in Him, an obedient vessel of grace. The secret is not in a different personality but in an attitude of humility and surrender. 

And I think that many of us would begin to find great peace in the Lord when we embrace who it is that God made us to be --that "self" filled with the Spirit of Christ to be emptied out for others around us--our children, our husbands, our church families, our friends. 

Ravi Zacharias said in the message that I was speaking about earlier, "You are an individual, your face, your emotions, your way of speaking . . . He has made you that way. Accept who you are--and know that God has made you distinctive and unique . . . He made you that way; don't try to be anybody else."

We don't need to be like anyone else--except the individual the Lord created us to be-and then allow the Holy Spirit to fill us as only He can, with power and strength and love in and through our individuality. There is peace in that. There is quiet strength and joy in that. And there is hope. As we grow in our relationship with Him, He will show us areas that we need to change in terms of obedience and surrender. But in terms of our individual personality, He is working in and through it to accomplish His purposes. We may commit our self to Him. 



And again, we think that if only some aspect of our personality could be changed, we would "have it all together." Our homes would be clean and airy, our complexions would glow, our husbands would adore us, our children would be well-behaved. 

But friend, I have discovered that it is only in Christ that we have it "all-together," and even when the outside things seem to be "in order," (and they very well may be)  only He brings order and beauty to the inmost heart. He is the One who holds together, through trust, through obedience, through quiet determined dependence upon Him, day in and day out. 

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord tests the heart . . . 

Sometimes things need to fall apart before He pieces them back together in His beauty and order and peace. Sometimes we need to acknowledge that we desperately need His help, that we can't do it in our own strength, that we are limited simply by our human-ness. 

And sometimes what seems to be weakness and the stumbling block in your or my life may be the very thing that Christ uses to draw us nearer to Himself. When we surrender. When we admit our weakness before Him. When we stop trying to be strong in our own strength. When we admit our sins and shortcomings. When we allow Him to work through our weakness. 

And we embrace Him. Not our sin, but our makeup as a person created in His image with all of the unique personality traits He has given us--surrendered to His love. 



Lilias Trotter said, and I've shared this quote before, but it is so powerful, "Take the very hardest thing in your life, the place of difficulty inward or outward and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there, He can bring your soul into blossom."

Take the hardest thing, the very hardest thing, even the inward struggle of the way that you have been made and offer it to Him. He will use you when you surrender to Him and make you into a blessing for those around you. The Lord is using your weakness to make you realize how much you need Him--this is a gift, not a curse. As Ravi Zacharias suggested, we should pray to the Lord, "Help me to live for You as only I can . . ." Use your individual personality to bring glory to the Father and to show forth His grace and sufficiency. 

Ravi went on to challenge in his message, and this strongly challenged and encouraged me, "Do whatever you do for the glory of God. Do the best you can for the glory of God. Empty your life into the hands of the Lord Jesus and you will be full." 

Whatever your calling is--do it for the Lord. Whether you are a mother with very little children, struggling to overcome tiredness and drudgery, or a missionary laboring to bring the Gospel, or a Pastor, or a truck driver, or a waitress, or a single woman or man finding rest in the Savior, do it for the Lord. Empty yourself out. Give everything that you can, through His strength alone. Obey with all your heart; go from strength to strength and trust Him--not yourself,  for the results. 

He honors those who honor Him. And they and all around them, are blessed. 

Your personality is a gift; use it for the Lord. Empty yourself out. Embrace whoever it is that the Lord has made you to be--and be used for Him. 





You might find me on these link-ups:


Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Rich Faith Rising, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Coffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market FridayHeart Encouragement Thursday Sitting Among Friends Blog PartyFabulous Warm Heart PartyOh My Heartsie Girls Wonderful Wednesday LinkupWriter Wednesday

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

A Brief Update . . .

Lord, we adore thy boundless grace,
The heights and depths unknown,
Of pardon, life, and joy, and peace,
In Thy beloved Son.

O wond'rous gift of love divine
Dear source of ev'ry good!
Jesus, in thee what glories shine!
How rich thy flowing blood!
~Anne Steele

Every once in a while, I've been trying to write an update on how our family has been doing in the great Midwest :-) as we seek the Lord for further direction in our ministry here. I call it the "great" or vast Midwest, as I lived in tiny Rhode Island all of my life--Wisconsin is huge in comparison! I remember the beauty of the ocean and the smell of the salt waves, the loveliness of the old towns and villages and the tight-knit-ness of Italian and Portuguese families "back home." 

And yet, the Lord is opening my eyes to different beauties here--His creation, all un-tamed all-around, the beautiful fields and hills, the glorious sunsets, and the sound of the wind through the trees. His handiwork never ceases to amaze my soul. 

We live on almost 4 acres in the country, and we are visited by many "members" :-) of our Lord's creatures--here is one that I have met in the Midwest--a little ground squirrel visiting my flowers. :-) They are very friendly and industrious--and quick! 

My Mama always planted zinnias in Rhode Island; they are easy, she said! Their cheerful faces remind me of her beautiful garden back home as I was growing up. 



These sweet little birds were in a bush just outside of our house--daringly perched right on the edge of the bush! Their innocent expressions and determined "chirpings" :-) for food gave me joy. 



The field behind our house . . .  our neighbor "hays" this field occasionally. 



These puffy things fascinate me; they feel a little like lamb's wool. 




This little guy loves to come and visit us; I discovered that he also enjoys saltines with peanut butter ;-). 



That's a big apple for a little chipmunk . . . :-)


He resembles my expression here, when I am contemplating a full plate of brownies . . . :-)



A butterfly in the garden . . .


Hanging laundry on the line has become one of my favorite things to do . . . I love the "feel" of the sun's gentle warmth on the clothing as I fold it and the way that the clothes sway in the wind. 



This spider showed up near our flowers! I keep a safe distance . . . ;-) He is welcome to eat the gnats and flies, but not me, please ;-). 



The Lord's glory in the sunset . . . 


And these are pictures of the outbuilding that I have my eye set upon right now .  . . :-) We call this the "Missionary House." We have been praying about converting this into a place for fellow believers to come and stay. We are excited to see how the Lord is going to work through all of this . . . 


And lastly, I'll leave you with a song that the Lord has been using to minister to my heart. An old friend introduced me to this group years ago--this is one of my favorites of theirs--

https://youtu.be/CgmTYeLU7eA

As always, I am so grateful for your prayers for us. Truly, He hears the prayers of His people and "leads His dear children along." Please let me know if I can pray about anything for you . . . 

Much grace,
Rebekah






You might find me on these link-ups:


Strangers and Pilgrims on EarthInspire Me MondayLiteracy Musing MondaysThe Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Rich Faith Rising, Mom's Morning Coffee, Raising Homemakers, Classical HomemakingA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries,  Testimony TuesdayTell His Story, Women With Intention WednesdaysMessy Marriage,  Graced Simplicity, Imparting Grace, Thought Provoking ThursdaySoul SurvivalGood Morning MondaysThe Weekend BrewCounting My BlessingsThe HomeAcre Hop, Mommy Moments Link UpGrace and Truth LinkupFaith Filled FridayTell It To Me TuesdaysSHINE Blog HopTGI Saturdays Blog HopRaRaLinkupWord of God SpeakBooknificent ThursdayLiving Proverbs 31Coffee For Your Heart Weekly LinkUpYou're the Star Blog HopHomesteader HopFresh Market FridayHeart Encouragement Thursday Sitting Among Friends Blog PartyFabulous Warm Heart PartyOh My Heartsie Girls Wonderful Wednesday LinkupWriter Wednesday