Months ago I planted this scrubby shrub in a pot on my patio. What grew up from the soil is this towering, thick-stemmed mystery, which we’ve named “The Beanstalk.” It has wide and round, velvety leaves, dainty yellow flowers, and round green fruit that has yet to mature. I suspect my neighborhood squirrel left behind a forgotten seed; but I have no idea what it is, and I won’t know until the fruit reveals itself. Meanwhile, I faithfully tend the growing plant. I wait and water, watch and wonder, eagerly anticipating the day the fruit will ripen.

A life of faith is like this flowerpot. We never know what will grow from the seeds we have planted. We take an action, make a decision, or join a conversation with no way of knowing what will develop from our efforts or what the conclusion will be. Often we begin a season looking forward to one outcome, only to discover something completely unexpected growing in its place. We may be surprised by what we harvest at the end of a growing season, but God always knows the potential that lies beneath the surface.

 “So you do not know the works of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, And in the evening do not withhold your hand; For you do not know which will prosper, Either this or that, Or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:5-6).

While we wait to see what blooms, our purpose is to faithfully tend the garden we have started. We continue to nurture relationships, take actions, serve others, and pray constantly. We can eagerly anticipate the day we see what blossoms from our efforts, and we can be confident that when God gives the increase, whatever grows will be good.

This season, I pray you are faithfully tending the seeds you have planted. Know that your work will be rewarded with a rich and bountiful harvest.

What are you hoping will grow in this season? How do you know God will give the increase?

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I’ve survived 48 years on this earth, and I’ve learned many lessons during that time. Today I’m sharing some of the wisdom I’ve gathered.

Find something to be grateful for every day.

Be honest with yourself. You and God both know the truth.

Keep trying.

Keep praying.

Take care of your teeth.

Appreciate time with your children when they are small. You will miss their sticky hands someday.

Everyone has a story to tell, and every story has meaning.

Don’t sabotage yourself with impatience.

You are loved. God does notice and care.

You can’t reason with unreasonable people.

Toxic people are not worth your time and effort. Shake the dust off your feet and move on.

Have your car’s oil changed regularly.

Listen more than you talk.

Pray more than you worry.

Forgiveness is a process. Honor your own process and acknowledge your true feelings.

Show up every day and work hard.

Pay attention. The best moments often happen when we are focused somewhere else.

Life is not fair. Some people seem to have it easy, and some have more than their share of struggle.

But everyone has some troubles, and I wouldn’t really want to trade mine for anyone else’s.

Do the best you can in whatever circumstances God has given you.

Believe God knows what He’s doing in every situation.

Everything works together for the good of those who love God (Romans 8:28).

Always be willing to learn something new.

Always be willing to encourage someone else.

It is easier to clean the house a little every day than face a big mess on the weekend.

That goes for life too. Deal with small issues before they become big problems.

Take off your sunglasses before innertubing on the lake.

Turn off your phone and talk to your children when they come home from school.

Be happy to see them when you’ve been apart a while.

All people want to be seen, acknowledged, and heard.

On a long hike, a slow and steady pace will get you there. Keep walking.

You will grow and learn as long as you live, so be patient and go easy on yourself.

Walk more.

Read more.

Eat more vegetables.

Friendships are fluid. Some people will come and go throughout our lives.

But the right people will always be there when you need them.

You are wise.

You are capable.

You will fulfill the purpose God has planned for you.

Do the most difficult part first and the rest will seem easy.

Whenever possible, invest in quality shoes. Don’t waste money on shoes that don’t support you.

Whenever possible, invest in quality people and relationships. Don’t waste time on people who don’t support you.

Be at peace today.

Look forward to tomorrow.

Have faith for the future.

Remember God is with you always.

Say thank you, be happy, and know you are blessed.

What have you learned in the years of your life?

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This week’s post is the continuation of a regular musing on my former blog: lizology101.

As I often do when facing a difficult decision, I called my old friend and mentor, Vivian. I explained the situation and described my uncomfortable feelings about it, detailing the sense of unease that had haunted me for weeks.

“If you are uncomfortable, listen to that feeling,” my friend advised. “You are hearing from God right now. That feeling is his Spirit telling you what decision to make.”

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

God speaks to us in many ways: through circumstances, closed doors or wide-open opportunities; through conversations, the advice of trusted friends and mentors; and sometimes through the emotions that guide our choices and direct our progress.

Hunches and gut feelings, nagging dissatisfaction or discontent can be God’s way of alerting us to make a necessary change. My misgivings and discomfort about the situation I faced told me it was time to alter my path. When we listen carefully to our emotions, we can identify the promptings God provides.

Discerning our feelings takes time and practice to develop. It is important to be aware of what our hearts are saying, evaluate the messages our emotions express, and consider carefully before making a choice. Listening to the language of our hearts is the way to hear God’s voice.

Today I pray you hear what your heart is telling you. Know that God is always speaking through his Spirit.

When have you known God was directing your steps? When did you hear God speak to your heart?

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I recently returned from a road trip through South Dakota. We explored the Black Hills on winding, tree-lined highways and snapped pictures of rock formations while I contemplated the lessons I learned from my travels.

What is built on rock endures. Gutzon Borglum carved Rushmore into the granite of a mountainside. The memorial to our nation’s leaders has endured decades of driving rain and lashing winds. God tells us when we build our lives on the rock of faith, we will endure the decades of life’s storms and challenges. We succeed by building our lives on truth, trust, and commitment -- the foundations that last.

It’s a long, hard walk to the top. We joined the Volksmarch at Crazy Horse Mountain and hiked almost six miles over rough terrain, struggled up steep mountain trails, and finally enjoyed the view from the outstretched arm of the Crazy Horse carving. Life is often like that climb: exhausting, difficult, and dangerous; but if we persevere, we are rewarded for our efforts with a greater view of God’s purpose.

 

Some mysteries will never be explained. At the Cosmos Mystery Area, trees lean sideways, cabin walls slant crookedly, tennis balls roll uphill, water defies gravity and pools in odd formations. No one can explain why this place is strange. No one can understand why some events occur. Only God knows the wisdom of his greater plan, and we will never comprehend all the mysteries of his ways.

Enjoy time with family and friends. The best part of any journey is exploring new roads and sharing experiences with our traveling companions. In South Dakota, I most enjoyed sitting with my family near the campfire at night, talking about our adventures of the day, and planning new excitement for the next. I am grateful for the people who share my life. I know I still have much to learn, and I’m looking forward to everything the road ahead reveals.

This summer, I pray you discover wonderful new vistas. Know God is always with you on your travels.

What have you learned on a trip or time away? What do you look forward to discovering in the future?

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