Saturday, November 28, 2015


About seven years ago, we received a lemon tree as a gift from a dear family that lived with us for a few months while they were locating to Houston.  For years, the tree was about two feet tall, even though it was watered and in plenty of sun light.  Larry faithfully pruned the tree each year and we anticipated blooms and lemons.  It grew little by little through the years.  About a year ago, the tree had a major growth spurt, blossoms appeared, and tiny lemons began to form.  For months now, I have checked every day to see if there was a hint of yellow to show that the lemons were ripening.  I did ask Larry if he was sure it was a lemon tree and not a lime tree.  The yellow has begun to appear on the lemons and the first ones will be ready to pick this week.  We’ve noticed that the lemons that receive the most direct sunlight, are ripening first.  The tree was expected to produce lemons, the fruit turned yellow like a lemon, but it was when it was cut and tasted that it confirmed that we indeed had delicious lemons to enjoy.

Lessons I’ve learned along the way:
* It takes time and attention to detail for beneficial growth to happen.
* It’s important to keep up with preparation and care, even when you don’t see as much progress as you would like.
* Sometimes it takes a lot of pruning and time before you see successful growth and results.
* It’s important to stay in the Son’s light for growth.
* Trees aren’t the only thing God created to bear fruit.

Just like the ripening fruit on the trees, the children of God will be recognized by the fruit we bear and share.  People will recognize us as followers of Jesus when we produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
Genesis 1:11

I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.
Leviticus 26:4

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.
Matthew 12:33

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
John 15:4

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

Saturday, November 21, 2015

With a Grateful Heart

As our boys were growing up, it was important to teach them to be appreciative for the gifts they were given and to learn to express their gratitude.  Receiving and enjoying the present was just part of the process.  Thus, a check off list was compiled and the day after a birthday or Christmas they either drew a picture (when they were young) or expressed in writing their gratitude to the giver of their gift.  As they enjoyed their present, we wanted them to gratefully associate the gift with the giver.

A few months ago, Scott sent me an excerpt of N. T. Wright’s devotional commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-7a and said that it reminded him of what we had the boys do when they were growing up. 

Because, of course, there was a job to be done next day: writing thank-you letters. Many children have come to regard this as a chore, the unpleasant side of Christmas; but it is of course part of the essence of the whole thing. Teaching God’s free grace, and his gift of himself, by celebrating Christmas is one half of the story; teaching gratitude, and heartfelt thanksgiving, is the other half. Grace that doesn’t produce gratitude hasn’t succeeded in softening hard hearts.” N. T. Wright

That must be one of the reasons that in Psalm 100:4-5 David reminds us that we enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, but it’s when we praise Him for who He is and acknowledge Him as the giver of all we have that we are invited into His courts.  This season, as we count our blessings, naming them one by one, may we be quick to acknowledge and thank the Giver.  May grace produce much gratitude.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:13

I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness;
    I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High.
Psalm 7:17

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

Saturday, November 14, 2015

A Bloomer to the End

On Thursday afternoon, we celebrated and thanked God for the life and ministry of Vickie Bloomer.  Vickie was diagnosed with cancer in April.  From the beginning of the diagnosis, she knew that her medical options were very limited.  Her faith was not in what the medical field could guarantee, but rather in her Creator and Savior.  As she followed the protocol, Vickie continued coming to church and Bible study when she could, even when it meant using a cane and in later months a wheelchair.  Vickie majored in Bible Studies in college and attained the degree of Master of Humanities.  As a member of our Bible Study department, she brought much insight into the scriptures as well as sharing her talent of playing the piano.  When her immune system was fragile, she continued to spend her days reading and studying her Bible. She never assumed she had learned enough.  A few weeks ago, she planned her entire funeral service to ensure that scriptures, songs, and people that were important to her would be part of the service.  Even though her body was wasting away, Vickie’s desire was to be faithful and to continue to grow in her relationship with her Lord and Savior.

Street Reach, a ministry group at Tallowood, feeds the homeless in the Montrose area the last Wednesday of each month.  In December, they also provide hats, gloves, and other items to share with the people, in hopes of helping them keep warm.  A few years ago, Vickie approached the pastor of missions about knitting the hats instead of the church purchasing them.  She was undeterred when they told her they needed around 300.  Thus began “Hats 4 You” at church. Vickie talked with other people who enjoyed knitting and invited them to be part of the ministry.  By November, they had completed over 300 hats.  One of my dear friends, Cleo Heuschkell, (92 years young) is part of this group.  This year, she has knitted over 100 hats for the homeless!  Tim and Vickie’s first grandchild, Wade, was born recently.  Knowing that Vickie could no longer knit, Cleo made two hats for Wade to wear when the cooler weather arrives.  What a beautiful ministry of love from the heart that continues because Vickie saw a need that she and others could meet with time, love, and prayers.  

One of Vickie’s favorite scripture passages was Psalm 37.  Not only did she read and memorize all 40 verses, she also took it to heart, applied it, and lived by it.  Some of her favorites were:

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:

The Lord makes firm the steps
    of the one who delights in him;

 The law of their God is in their hearts;
    their feet do not slip.
Psalm 37:4-5, 23, 31

Vickie truly learned how to bloom, grow, and make a difference, no matter what stage of life or circumstance she encountered.  Well done, Vickie.   We’re grateful for the ways God worked in and through you to bless and make a difference in our lives.  You’ve inspired and challenged us to want to do the same.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Gift of a Sticker

Monday night, we went out to eat with Scott’s family.  After dinner, I gave Mary a page of stickers of the 5o states.  She thoroughly enjoys stickers and usually puts them on her hands and arms or on paper.  This time, she peeled off the first sticker and cheerfully put it on my hand and then peeled off one for her hand.  What a treasured, unexpected gift.  My sticker represented the state of Louisiana.  We told Mary that Granddad was born in Louisiana.  Arkansas was Mary’s choice for her first sticker, the place where her friend Caroline was born.

The stickers were a gift to Mary with no strings attached.  I didn’t expect her or ask her to share one with me, so it was a sweet gift from her.  Once again, God brought to mind why we need to learn from and be like children.  God must smile and be pleased when we willingly offer back to Him the gifts, talents, and resources that He has blessed us with and then gratefully and happily share them with His children. 

This season is a good reminder to thank God for the love and gifts he has blessed us with and then look for ways to share them with others, especially when they are not expecting it.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:14