Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Why Pray?



A few months ago the Lord gave me an assignment to go to the center of our small town and pray for her. He had called me to do this a few years ago and I did it for a while but then I quit because I became busy with a full time job and other things. When He "recalled" me to this assignment I argued and hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks, then He grew quiet...I know what it means when He grows quiet so I humbly repented and took my assignment.

The small town I live in has a heroin problem. Many young people are dying from over-doses and bad batches of the drug. Another thing is, some churches are dying or dead. There are many prodigals who have taken their spiritual inheritance and are spending them on the world. Many Christ followers have become pew warmers and no longer live in the fire of God; the passion is gone (I've been there) and they're no longer disciples (the desire to be taught, trained, disciplined, surrendered; I've been there too).

A couple of weeks ago I heard Abba tell me to "open the gate". I sat sipping my coffee and wondering what gate He wanted me to open. "Which gate Lord". Psalm 24:7-9 came to my mind: "Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let King of glory enter."  In my sanctified imagination I bent over, lifted the gate and motioned for the Kingly Rider to come in.  I welcomed the King of Glory to my town.  On my way home I considered maybe I had simply wanted this and over-did it.  "Lord, are you sure you called the right person to this, You know I can be imaginative".  No answer...yet.

I arrived home, took care of a few things and then checked the happenings going on with an intercessory group that I'm a member of. There, on the first posting, I saw this very same Scripture confirming the message I had received. 

7 Lift up your heads, O gates,
  And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
  That the King of glory may come in!

8 Who is the King of glory?
  The LORD strong and mighty,
  The LORD mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O gates,
  And lift them up, O ancient doors,
  That the King of glory may come in!

10 Who is this King of glory?
    The LORD of hosts,
    He is the King of glory. 

Why do I always question that it was from the Lord?????

Last Friday (4/21/17), I went to my assignment. I sipped coffee and prayed over my town.  I was reading the introduction of a book and it was talking about the rain...revival rain; I began to pray, "Lord let it start raining". I experienced a deep stirring of God in my spirit, deeper than other times I have prayed there. My spirit began to groan and a prayer of the Spirit rose up in me. I opened my mouth and released the prayer into the atmosphere of my town. I didn’t care if anyone heard me; if someone wants to know what that language was, well, that would be a great opening for a time of sharing my testimony. It was loud in the coffee shop with people talking and the expresso machine hissing.. I prayed there would be a rebuilding of altars to the Lord, a remodeling of spiritual lives.

Early this morning I dreamed that I was remodeling a house that belonged to my boss. It was finished and I handed him the key.  I woke up as we were planning a celebration of the finished work.

Today as I prepared to go to the coffee shop (Daily Grind) I was wondering if I was actually called to do this..."is this really an assignment, Lord". I got in my car and drove over; I parked and walked to the shop, IT WAS RAINING and the shop was closed for REMODELING.  I don't look for signs in things but sometimes when they are obvious all I can say is..THANK YOU LORD.  It's like receiving food so I can keep going in the strength of the Lord.

I know the remodeling dream was about me since most dreams are about the dreamer but this dream encouraged me, that God is hearing my prayers and is speaking to me about my town. Oh, while my hubby and I were on our little get away a couple of weeks ago, we went to see a local play....it was "OUR TOWN".

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Story of the Rose...


A few summers ago my husband and I made a quick trip to Target. As we strolled down the aisles with our buggy, picking up the items we had on our list, I could hear thunder rumbling outside. We don't have thunderstorms in our area very often but when we do they can be dramatic. The thunder was in the distance so I thought we had time to finish shopping and make it home before the storm pushed in. As we were checking out we looked out the store front windows and saw buckets of rain pouring down. We decided to wait out the storm in a Starbucks located at the front of the store. We ordered our coffee and sat down by the large wall of windows. The sky was blackened with storm clouds, the once distant thunder had closed the gap, lightening was streaking across the sky like bullets of light and rain was coming down in sheets. The storm had arrived. We watched as a few brave souls darted out the door and to their cars. Two small girls (about 9 and 10) ran to a car that had pulled up within feet of the store's door, they quickly turned and ran down an aisle in the parking lot. Poor dears had run to the wrong car. They must have been drenched when they hopped into the right one.

As we sat and watched the rain pound the pavement and sidewalks we thought that hail was falling but at a closer look we could see that what we thought was hail was actually raindrops hitting the pavement with such force they were bouncing up like hail does.

I love watching thunderstorms and rain, there is something completely powerful about it. The display of lights and sound from a thunderstorm, to me, is as captivating as any movie Hollywood could make. I watch a streak of lighting light up the sky and wonder where did it hit; I hear a roll of thunder and think of how that rumble will travel miles to warn others of the coming storm.


If this post is a "story of the rose", why am I talking about a storm? I can't tell the story of the rose without telling the story of the storm. They are connected.

After we arrived home, night had fallen and what was a promise of a full moon was hidden by the dark clouds. I began to think about my rose bushes loaded with fragrant blooms. I decided to wait until morning before venturing out to take a look at the damage. The next morning, with a cup of coffee in hand, of course, I walked out onto my front porch to take a look. To my surprise, very few blossoms had been knocked off by the driving rain. The leaves were radiant with the reflection of the raindrops sitting on them.  The pale petals were sun-kissed and seemed to be proud to hold their heads high after such a beating. I was amazed that such a fragile beauty could survive a tremendous storm of winds and rain. I sat down with my coffee and pondered a lesson from this. Life's storms happen to all of us. Sometimes we hear the distant rumble of them heading our way and have time to prepare and sometimes they arrive unannounced taking us by surprise. The shock and fury of them may cause us to lose our mental and emotional equilibrium. In our storm we may feel like a ship tossed to and fro in the fury, whipped by the winds, taken to the sheer, dizzying crest of misfortune's wave and then let go to slip down the slope of despair. Just when we think life's storm will never end, it passes. Often these storms leave a lingering sense of fear that another one is just out there past the horizon beyond our sight.

As I surveyed my rose garden and sipped my coffee I considered how those blooms made it through the storm; I thought about how I planted the rose garden. I dug down deep to give the plants a good foundation, I scooped out the clay soil and replaced it with good soil that drains well (just what roses need), I added nutrients to give them a good start; since their planting, I have added new layers of mulch each year which has broken down and add richness to the soil. I pruned them when needed to give the core branches strength and kept the suckers clipped off so the real plant would receive the water and nourishment and not branches that would never bloom. The bushes are healthy because they are anchored well and given what they need to keep them healthy. When we are anchored well and given what we need to be healthy in our body, soul and spirit, we can survive the storms of life. I am personally anchored in a faith in Jesus Christ. I depend on His Word to feed my soul and spirit. I believe He has called us to be good stewards of our bodies so I try to eat well and exercise. I try (but I'm not always successful, I must admit) to not allow "suckers" in my life that will deplete my time and energy and that don't produce what is fruitful for my life. I have recently come through a devastating life storm and because my roots sink deep into an unshakeable Faith I know that this rose will survive and thrive again. I know there are other storms that will cross the horizon in my direction, they are inevitable; I don't look forward to them but I won't live in a state of fear or dread. If you are going through a life storm, keep the faith, you will make it through.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Scars

Encouragement can come from the strangest place and just when you need it most. Isn't it funny how that happens? I bought this cutting board at one of my favorite local antique shops. Like most cutting boards it is well used, showing lots of cuts and knicks. If it had been smooth and unused I would have passed it by. Its well used, marred, distressed, worn look is that special something that I am looking for when I go to the antique store.

I will crawl under benches, and dig through boxes, move stuff out of corners to see what is hiding close to the wall; I'll stretch to reach the barely reachable top of a shelf and will step back, not to see the whole area, but to see individual items that I can't see while I am standing surrounded by so many pieces. Stepping back allows me to focus in on one piece among so many. Yes, I will search high and low to find those well used and scarred items. As I painted this board, I admired the roughness of it, the worn-ness, the scars and it brought to mind Christ's work in me. Like this piece I was scarred, forgotten, used, tossed away. But He saw me, one among so many lost and discarded souls, and He bought me when I was worthless; purchased me for a price I could never repay. As I watched the scars on this board change into something beautiful as I applied the paint, I thought of how He makes all things beautiful in His time; not removing the scars but using them to enhance the beauty. He would know about scars, He has scars made beautiful too.

When I was finished painting, I ran my hands over the scars on this board and was pleased with it. I hope when He is finished with me, He will be pleased. If you have scars that only remind you of failures, hopelessness, hurt, pain, loss; give those scars to Him and see what He will do. You will be surprised. After all, He will crawl under benches, and dig through boxes, move stuff out of corners to see where you are hiding; He will stretch to reach the barely reachable top of a shelf and even stoop to the lowest place just to reach you. How do I know? Because He did it for me.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Cup of Encouragement


I love winter mornings.  The cold air that rushes over me like a bucket of icy water when I crawl from under the warm covers.... makes me shiver thinking about it. The freezing floor that sucks the, cozy just out of bed, warmth from my feet....brrr..another shiver. What's not to love about that? Generally,  I hurry into the bathroom, brush my teeth, moisturize my face, consider brushing my hair but sweep that thought away and jump into my clothes.  Why all the rush? I need a cup of coffee, of course.  Hmmm....might be because I'm cold too.

This morning I chose a cup of cherries as a prelude to a piece of toast and boiled egg for breakfast.  Cherries are one of my favorite fruits. I love plucking the stem off and popping them into my mouth.  Yum!

This morning along with my cup of cherries I enjoyed a remarkable passage in Zechariah 4.  A few days ago while I was praying about things that were heavy on my heart, the Lord directed me to this chapter in Zechariah.  What an encouraging portion of Scripture!  Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judah, was given the task to rebuild the Temple after the Jewish people were released from a 70 year exile in Babylon. The Temple had been destroyed along with the walls of Jerusalem. The once beautiful Temple built by Solomon was a charred mountainous heap before Zerubbabel. The gold and silver had been stripped from the temple and carted off to different kingdoms.  The beautiful fragrant cedars of Lebanon and the large quarried stones crafted into the foundation and walls of the Temple, the pride of Israel, laid in ruined heaps...all of it.  

The monumental task of removing the debris before re-laying the foundation must have been overwhelming to Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest. Perhaps a larger mountain was the opposition the returning captives faced from their neighbors the Samaritans.  Once the foundation was laid, the Samaritans began to oppose the rebuilding and frustrated the work by sending false and negative reports back to the governors of the King of Persia, the ruling kingdom at that time. The work on the Temple was halted for 7 years until King Darius became Ruler of Persia.  God gave a word to the prophet Zechariah for Zerubbabel; a word of hope and encouragement.  God said "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of Host".  What a Word!  In essence, Zerubbable, it's not going to be by your own might or your own strength that this work will be done.  It's going to happen because My Spirit is working on your behalf, helping you, giving you all that you need including favor with the new king of Persia, Darius.  As a side note...it is mind boggling how kingdoms rose and fell during this time.

When King Darius received a missive from the leaders of Israel, he had the scribes search the archives and discovered that King Cyrus had given edicts for the House of God to be rebuilt at Jerusalem. So, Darius issued a decree for Cyrus' plans to continue.  Not only did he approve the Israelites continuing work on the House of God but he footed the cost; Darius also released the articles belonging to the House of God which had been taken to Babylon! Plus, he decreed that

"whoever alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this. And may the God who causes His name to dwell there destroy any king or people who put their hand to alter it, or to destroy this House of God which is in Jerusalem. I Darius issue a decree; let it be done diligently."  

 That's the Spirit of God at work upon the heart of a king. Don't interrupt this venture again...or else!

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Host", a great promise to a nation trying to rebuild their country again, but, God didn't stop there, He also said Zerubbable would be the one to add the capstone to the finished Temple.

"And he (Zerubbable) shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" "

  From a mountain of ruins and a constant battle from opposing forces the building of the Temple and walls were completed. I can imagine the celebration as that capstone was set in place.

When the task we are facing looks bigger than a mountain, God's word is still true to us today.  "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of Host". We can accomplish that task, not because of ourselves but because of Him.  It will take effort, it will take working in spite of  opposition but we will finish and we will look at what is accomplished and say "grace, grace to it".

~willa~

Monday, November 21, 2016

From Behind

The story of the woman in Luke 8: 42-48 has always captured my attention.  Many times I have imagined her touching Jesus, imagined her hand reaching out and touching the hem of His clothes; imagined her slipping through the crowd that jostled around Him; imagined her stretching her arm out as far as she could, hoping it was far enough.

I've imagined her hopelessness with the medical situation she was in.  As a woman I could imagine that very well.  I imagined her hoping that each time she was treated by a doctor that it would work this time.  I imagined the 12 long years she endured this "issue of blood" and the uncleanness she was forced to live with.  I imagined her counting out her coins and putting them into the hand of the doctor, a payment that was futile. I imagined the bloody rags she changed often and the tears that probably rolled down her cheeks.

I imagined her letting go of hope.

I imagined her hearing about Jesus, maybe just maybe.....

I imagined the day He came to her town; I imagine her cleaning herself up and walking out of her home, dare she do it since she was unclean.  I imagined her slipping into the crowd.  I imagined her hearing Him speak, He's going to heal Jairus' daughter;  I imagined she knew Jairus; Jairus wouldn't ask Jesus to come heal his daughter if Jesus couldn't, would he?  I imagined faith flaring in her heart.

I imagined her desperation as she weaved between humanity that crowed around Jesus.  I imagined her being shoved, pushed aside, each shove feeding her determination to reach Him.

I imagined her coming from behind, the tips of her fingers touching Him and the feeling of the issue of blood drying up.  I imagined her hearing Jesus say "who touched Me".  I imagined her fear as everyone denied it, I imagined her guilt. I imagined Jesus' eyes connecting with hers as He said " I felt power go out of Me".  I imagined she knew because she felt that power charge through her.

I imagined her coming forward, afraid, He is a clean man, a holy man and she had touched Him. I imagined her falling down, her bowed head; I imagined her confession, a silent plea for mercy.  I imagined hearing Jesus' words to her "Daughter, be of good cheer, your faith has made you well.  Go in peace".

I imagined her getting to her feet, cherishing the thought He called her Daughter.  I imagined her joy at being healed, changed, free, at peace.

Then, I imagine my hand reaching out to touch Him.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Chop...Chop. Collection of Cutting Boards.





It's been a windy day here at Maywood Cottage, a good day to stay indoors and watch life outside from my kitchen window while sitting at the bar.


I can hear the chimes on the front porch and on the arbor at the side of the house.  They are keeping time with the gusts that are sweeping through.


I've seen this idea for storing a collection of chopping boards on several blogs listed on Pinterest.  Some are stored in baskets, others in sewing drawers and some in crates or wooden boxes.  I found this beachy style wooden box at Target in the 3.00 - 5.00 section of the store.  I fell in love with the rope handles and knew I wanted to use it somewhere in my kitchen.


I painted the box with a sage green color, then varnished it.

Thorough the years I have found a few chopping boards in my favorite vintage/antique shops that I frequent.  I have painted designs on a few and sold them in my Etsy shop.  They are one of my favorite surfaces to paint on.









Create...Inspire...Share...Believe

~willa~

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Vinegar...Plus...Herbs...Equal...Infused


I love infused vinegar and olive oils.  I've bought them from speciality shops but have aways wanted to make my own.  Finally....I did!!


Step No-1 in making these infused vinegars was to research how to do it.  And research I did...lots and lots of research.  While there are many recipes for different flavors out there on the ever expanding and seemingly endless information highway, there is also lots of debate about keep these fresh and uncontaminated by bacteria....that's scary, huh!!  While I definitely want the wonderful flavor, I definitely don't want the bacteria.


So, after miles and miles of travel down that information highway, these are the articles I found that best suited me for my quest in making these wonderful infused delights...HERE and HERE But, be sure and research because there are lots of recipes and great advice out there.


 Step No~2 in this adventure was to decide on what bottles I would use.  I looked on different sites that sell speciality bottles but just couldn't get away from the desire to use a couple of recycled bottles.  I prowled through some of my "stored away to be used later" glass jars but none of them screamed "pick me".


Not long after this search I was looking through my cabinet for a bottle of Balsamic vinegar that I needed for a recipe.  I pushed canned goods out of my way in this direction and that direction looking  for a bottle of the vinegar I just knew I had...hadn't I just used it not too long ago.  Finally, I found what I was looking for.  I pulled it out of the cabinet and noticed the bottle looked kind of old.  Hmmm..what's the expiration date on this thing.  2011....what?  That was that....I might have used it if it was stamped 2014 but....nope, not 2011.  I poured the liquid down the drain and rinsed out the bottle.  Wait a minute....that's a nice looking bottle, it would be perfect for my infused vinegar.  So, I washed it and set it aside.

That same day looking through the fridge I spotted a Jarritos flavored soda and had the same heavenly musical thought ring through my head....that's a great bottle for my infused vinegar so I chugged the soda down and washed and de-labled the bottle.

Step No~2 accomplished.

Now for a  step No~3.  What about the lid?  I tried a wine cork in these and they fit but it wasn't the look I had in my creative thought bubble for these. Then, I remembered... I had purchased a package of wine toppers at Target a few weeks prior to this adventure and knew these would be perfect, they are colorful and fit these bottles like it was meant to be.

Step No~4.  A label.  Scrubbing a label off a bottle isn't my favorite thing to do so I eliminated that idea...no sticky labels.  I created these labels in PicMonkey, printed them out on card stock, placed a piece of masking tape to reinforce where the hole would be, punched a hole with a hole punch and used some jute to loop them on the bottle.

Simple, simple, simple!  Now...to use them.

Next, I'm looking forward to making some infused olive oil.

Create...Inspire...Share...Believe

~willa~