Keep Your Heart

Heart made with stones_beach_by AnnaER_Pixabay

When I was a teen, I helped my neighbor clean her home on Saturday mornings. She was a retired teacher and the bit I earned gave me a little spending money. My parents had taught us the importance of keeping our own home as well. We were expected to clean our rooms each week and beds must be made before we went to school or did anything else for the day. Keeping our home clean, and helping outside the home as well, taught us the importance of caring for what we had. Some seasons or days were busier, but the established pattern of keeping our home in order helped ensure that we would catch up. Of course, a bit of prodding and reminders from our parents were sometimes needed!

There was much more involved in keeping a home than cleaning! My dad was a handyman and he made sure the house was cared for, involving all of us in that work as well. Maintaining a home was a continuing job and safety was important too. I remember always checking that the doors were secured each night.

Like keeping our home, keeping our heart is important too, and it impacts how we develop and grow as a person. For me, this is a life-long challenge! What we allow to come in – our thoughts, what we see, and what we listen to – has an effect for good or harm. A favorite verse in Proverbs says, “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” *

Good “heart care” prepares us to face temptations and difficulties in life. Leaving my “windows” wide open to negative or unhealthy influences when storms of life come or when things seem dark does not protect or keep my heart. Throwing open the doors to them allows the prowlers to come in. What situations are we putting ourselves in? What do we listen to each day? What are we watching? … I so need God to help me with this heart work!

God reminds us of the importance of examining our heart and allowing Him to guide and help us. I am thankful to Him for giving us positive influence and support of parents, mentors, friends, and Christian community. We can all help each other to “keep our heart” so that what flows from it is good and life-giving.

*Proverbs 4:23

Reflections on Popcorn

popcorn-57290_640_by Picdream_pixabay

• Youth is full of energy
• Energy can be guided to much good
• Things bursting upon us may catch us unprepared
• We build hard exteriors to shield our inner being
• Holding onto bitterness will cause us to explode
• It is difficult to grow when dry and malnourished
• Accepting our imperfections develops inner peace
• Beauty can come from brokenness
• Cracks allow access to nourishment
• Opening up enables us to receive as well as give
• Things which bring joy are the seasonings of life
• The Spirit within ourselves is the source of good

Reflections on Dirt

pot of dirt soil gloves_ca

 This place where we are planted needs nourishment
• As we are nourished, we grow
• Sometimes things are rocky, and it is difficult for our roots to grow
• Our dirt can become toxic and in need of cleansing
• Tensions and stress can be released by working in the soil
• For positive results plant and water regularly
• There are many byways and wonders within the earth
• These ways can be places of peril or roads to safety
• Carefully tend your homeplace which is your support and foundation
• The Gardener watches over the plants in His garden

Draw Near

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I love the scents and colors of herbs. In recent years, I have begun learning a bit about how to grow and gather a few of them and about some of their uses. I enjoy my little spots in the flower garden and pots on my sun porch and I help with some at my in-law’s home. “It’s a happy,” as my daughter would say as a child to describe something she liked. Not all my growing attempts are successful, but repeat attempts are sometimes more fruitful after I learn more about them. Some creature (perhaps a rabbit?) thoroughly enjoyed my in-law’s basil this year, which had to be replanted two times! Then too, I find that some plants are just not suited for the areas available, so other plants are found that will flourish there. Herbs, used from ancient times to improve health, to treat illness and injury and to cook with, have much to offer. Like insects, we are drawn to them because they can provide comfort, healing, and enjoyment of growing things.

As I was considering this, I thought of how God wants us to draw near to Him. He loves for us to come to Him and to thank Him when we are enjoying the scents and colors of life. When we draw close to Him we are recognizing who He is. God can show us where we will flourish when we are receptive to His offered gifts and guidance. He is the source of comfort and healing. Have you ever been to the point where you just didn’t know what to say or do, or even if you wanted to try?! While all our “growing” attempts are not successful, God helps us to thrive. I am so thankful for those around me, people who reach out or give a hug or word to help through difficult times and to join in times of celebration. Sometimes we need to be “replanted” and sometimes we need to be faithful and to learn so that we can thrive where we are. I’m so thankful that He is with me, especially on my “I’m just done” days! Draw near. Like insects drawn to herbs, we are drawn to the One who provides, who is the source of life.

But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works. Psalm 73:28

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… James 4:6a