Reflections on Kudzu

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• Sometimes we feel swallowed by circumstances
• Too much of a good thing can bring dissatisfaction
• Getting carried away can result in more than expected
• Climbing over others can cause great harm to all
• Cooling off can put things into better perspective
• Good can be found in unexpected places
• Sinking our roots into good soil encourages growth
• Healing comes when we realize potential
• Tenacity can get us through difficult times
• The Vine is our source of strength and life

Fret

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Oh Lord, when I worry
And my world is spinning ‘round
Please cease the racing spirals
That try to make me fall

I know You say to trust You
That in troubles I’m not alone
But like great gobbling monsters
They rise to tear me down

So, Lord, when I worry
When I fret that all’s not well
Please touch me with your presence
And strike those monsters down

Remind me just to trust You
Discover calm amidst those storms
For in Your quiet presence
There’s strength to carry on

Gentleness?

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“Ouch! That hurt!” …Whether a scrapped knee or elbow or a stumped toe, childhood memories for this tomboy keeping up with three brothers included the inevitable mishaps. My mother’s gentle, but no nonsense, ministrations with band-aide or ice packs taught me of compassion and strength. Care and concern was mixed with encouragement that all would be well.

Jesus modeled this gentleness and strength throughout his ministry. He reached out to heal and to provide for those who came to him. He also called them to show by their good life that their works were done with “gentleness born of wisdom.” *

Wow! That’s not so easy! We have all had our rather “unwise” moments when we’ve blurted out things without considering their consequences. “Bite your tongue,” people used to say when less than thoughtful words came out, or “I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I was thinking!” In listening to people, especially in news reports on television, it seems many are talking at once with little respect for others. Self-control and kindness are often disregarded… Our words and actions do not always reflect wisdom or a gentle spirit!

It can be tough to say or do things in a gentle (and more positive) manner, rather than just from a “self” focus. It seems significant that when Paul told the Galatians about the “fruit of the Spirit,” the last two fruits he listed were gentleness and self-control… We have to work at it, but the results are worth it.

One thing that helps me, is to take time to rest and de-stress as regularly as possible. It’s so much harder to respond in positive ways when I’m overly tired! Sometimes I need to remove myself from a situation or conversation, if only briefly, so I can calm down or take time to think first. We all learn what works best for us.

Gentleness? God grant me a gentle heart, so I can serve You better!

*James 3:13

Cling

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“Ahhhh!” Tearing plastic wrap off to place over a plate of food takes a knack! Have you ever wrestled with it, only to end up with a wadded mess or pulling out half the roll in attempts to get off a small piece?! After carefully pulling the mess apart or taking the whole roll out of the box and rolling some of it back up, the job is finally done.

I am reminded of a young child fearfully clinging to a parent when faced with a new situation or new people. It may take time to calm those fears as hands pat, kisses convey love, or words explain. That clinging speaks of a trust and a need which is basic for us all.

The psalmist spoke of clinging to God. “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” Like the child clinging to that source of security, when we hold determinedly to our source of help and strength we are comforted.

Likewise, when I climbed the ladder to the roof of our house to clean out the gutters (Yes, I did that!) …I clung to the ladder and to the snow guards, secure as the work was done.

We have that same security in God as we cling to Him and to His words. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, said to “cling to what is good.” Sometimes things may seem to be a wadded-up mess, but when we stick with God, He helps us work through our difficulties. Our lives reflect His presence… Because He is our help, we can sing, confident that His hand holds us up.

Hold Us

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Hold us, oh Lord
In your encircling arms
So wide so strong
Hold us, oh Lord
Quiet shelter

Hold us, oh Lord
We rest in You
Your unfailing presence
Hold us, oh Lord
Do not turn away

Hold us, oh Lord
We rejoice in You
Secure and protected
Hold us, oh Lord
Block temptation’s sway

Hold us, oh Lord
When doubts say flee
When fears would darken
Hold us, oh Lord
Your hands to calm

Hold us, oh Lord
Strong ship in storm
Firm tower in battle
Hold us, oh Lord
When our soul would faint

Hold us, oh Lord
We abide in You
Source of life and hope
Hold us, oh Lord
God Eternal

DIGGING IN MY TOES!

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Ah! The joy of releasing tired, hot feet from the confines of shoes and socks! My mom and I used to kid about our “hillbilly blood” because our shoes inevitably fell off when we came home. Warm summer rain showers were the perfect opportunity for my brothers and me to splash barefoot up and down our gravel drive in town. On summer trips with the family, I remember digging my toes into the soft warm dirt of my grandparents’ country drive. Have you ever walked through a wet vegetable garden and ended up doubling the thickness of the soles of your shoes with mud?! Just walking becomes an effort.

Sometimes our lives get like that, mired down with stuff that drags us down and overwhelms. We splash barefoot before God in our pain and doubt and it is difficult to see joy. When His wonderful grace and love showers down upon us, we in our weariness do not always see it. We may be unable to receive until it has had time to soak in. I love the words of the psalmist who wrote, (God) lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. * Like on those warm summer days, we can dig our toes into the strength of His being. God lifts us up and sets us on solid ground. What joy and release when we stand with Him in faith, free of the confines of life which weigh us down!

* Psalm 40:2