June Bug Shell

Several years ago my 8-year-old grandson and I found empty June bug shells on the patio, split down the back, with the feet still attached to the columns.

“Oh, the poor bug is dead,” he said.

“No, he is still alive,” I told him. “He grew a new shell and slipped out of his old one and left it behind as he flew off on a new adventure.” I picked the June bug shell off the post and laid it down on the patio table for a lesson on insects. “See this split on his back? That is where he escaped the old shell.”

“Why did he do that?” Zac asked me.

“His old shell was wearing out and getting too tight, like the way you outgrow your clothes, so he grew a new shell while he was still inside the old one. When it was ready, he took off his old shell, like taking off a coat, and left it hanging here on the patio post.”

This explanation seemed to satisfy his curiosity and we went on to other things, but I couldn’t get that June bug shell out of my mind.

Someday my old shell will be worn out and too tight, just like the June bug’s shell. When my time has come, my spirit which is the real me inside will step out of my physical body.

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “So also is the resurrection of the dead… It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. ..As we have borne the image of the man of dust, [meaning Adam] we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man [meaning Jesus Christ.] So when ….this mortal [body] has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'” I Corinthians 15: 42-54 NKJV. (Inserts added by Lavon for clarity. Read it all for yourself.)

When you see my unoccupied body lying there, you will know it is only my June bug shell. It isn’t me; I am off to a new adventure in my new body.

Total Makeover

Make-overs are all the rage these days. Make over your home, your garden, your hair, your clothes. Some people need a major overhaul, a total make-over, from their hair to their homes to their lives.

I had a major over-haul in 1975, when I rededicated my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him to change me, because I had made a wreck of my life. I needed someone to take control of my life and work out all the kinks, to show me what I was born for, what my life meant. It wasn’t just my looks, although the Lord surely changed those too, but my attitudes and thoughts and feelings were all scrambled up, until I truly didn’t know what I wanted or how I felt.

He didn’t change me overnight like they do on those TV makeover shows, but little by little, my life started getting better. Oh, there were still bad times, when I regressed, two steps forward, one step back.

One day years later while I was blow-drying my hair in front of the mirror, I started singing a little song, “Little by little He’s changing me, line upon line He teaching me,” My heart leaped in my chest and I started to cry. Jesus really had been changing me, while I wasn’t looking. Jesus was making me into what He had intended for me to be all along.

II Corinthians 5:17-18 says, ” Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. Now all things are of God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ. . .”

The moment you ask Jesus into your heart, you are born again and become a new creation, a new creature, a new species of being that hasn’t been known of before. Your spirit is changed and made new, but it takes a while for that change to work its way outside. I am just now beginning to be the woman God wants me to be.

Jesus changed me from the inside out.

Shod With Good Shoes

My first memory of shoe shopping is leaving the store crying because Mama bought the ugly tie-up shoes instead of the cute Mary Janes I wanted so badly. Another time when I was being fitted, the man pressed on my toe and I pulled it back, so when I got home that pair of shoes was too short for me and I couldn’t wear them.

When I was born my feet were crooked.  My older sister said, “They shipped her in too short a shoe box.” Mama said she held my little feet in her hands to straighten them out, as she rocked me and prayed over my feet.
I wear narrow width, so it is hard to find odd-size shoes in a small town. I usually buy a pair of shoes anytime I go to the Big City, but mainly I order my shoes online. Mama always said to dress your feet first and she always bought the best shoes she could buy, even if it meant doing without something else.
A horse is shod by attaching horse shoes on his hooves. Or he is s-h-o-e-d; that is where that  ‘shod’ came from. We are “shoed” or shod when we put our shoes on our feet. Shoes protect our feet, give us stability, allow us to stand a long time, help us be firm-footed. Shoes stand between us and obstacles, such as thorns, sharp rocks, broken glass, biting insects or animals. Shoes also keep the soles (or souls) of our feet soft and pliable.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:15-16 NKJV.

Put your shoes on in preparation and plant your feet firmly, so you will be ready and prepared to resist and stand your ground against evil forces that come against you, by the power of the word of God.
If you have your shoes on, you are ready to face the day. Whatever comes, you will be prepared.

Your Bucket Your Heart

Most people in a small town don’t drive badly, but the ones that do irritate me no end. Small-town drivers stop where there is no stop sign and run stop signs. They pass on the right, where there is pavement but only one lane, especially where someone is making a left-hand turn. They don’t signal or give any indication that they are going to turn, because they don’t decide till they get to the intersection whether they are going to turn or go right through it.
However, the rule has always been that we don’t call anyone stupid in my house, so I have to be very careful that I don’t use those words that are floating around in my mind while I am out driving with my grandson.
What words float to the surface of your mind when something irritating happens? When your “bucket” is kicked, what comes out? Just like a water bucket that the oldtimers used to carry water from the well, your heart is a depository. What are you putting in your heart, your “bucket?” Are you filling it with the Word of God, with songs of praise and worship of the Lord, with words of gratitude and thankfulness?

Or are you filling it with words of complaint and grumpiness? With feelings of irritation, stress, and aggravation? Do you go about your day grumbling about being mistreated and abused by your co-workers? Do you complain about the weather, the economy, the IRS and income taxes, the price of gas?

In Matthew 15:11, Jesus said, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man: but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
Whatever your heart is full of will come out when somebody kicks your bucket.

Daniel Repented

Daniel was one of four most prominent Jews in Babylon. He and the three Hebrew children–Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—obeyed the law even in a foreign country where they had been carried captive. Through the lions’ den and the fiery furnace, they prevailed and were admired by the king who promoted them, with Daniel rising to rank right under the king himself.

Daniel stayed loyal to his faith, yet served the king faithfully for many years. He kept the commandments of God, followed the guidelines of his religion and studiously read the Torah and prophets.

One day while Daniel was reading the scroll of the prophet Jeremiah, he discovered that Jeremiah had foretold the captivity of the Jews in Babylon and had predicted right down to the very year when the captivity would be over, which was very soon. Then Daniel did the only thing he knew how to do—he prayed.

The prayer of repentance in Daniel 9 is an example to us all. Daniel prayed, “We have sinned.  We have not obeyed Your voice. All Israel has transgressed Your law.”  Daniel identified himself with his people. Although he was probably the godliest man in the whole nation of Israel, he repented.  He repented for himself and for all of Israel as their representative.  Then he called on the God’s mercy. “O my God, incline Your ear, for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.” Daniel 9:18 New King James version.

That is not the typical Christian’s prayer these days. What do we pray? “Lord, do you see those heathens who are killing unborn babies and promoting sex and violence? What are you going to do about it? We want justice. Get ‘em, God.”

Le’s take a lesson from Daniel. Let’s repent for our nation including ourselves, even if we are not personally guilty of the sins that have been committed.

Father, have mercy on the United States. Forgive us for we have sinned.”

 

Beauty for Ashes


Last fall when the peonies died, I was struggling with allergies so I didn’t pull or cut the dead stalks. I didn’t pull grass out of them. Okay, I didn’t do anything, I just let them die and lay there on the ground,reminding me every time I got the mail that I needed to do that. Now it is spring, almost summer, and the peonies are blooming on new stalks that grew up through the old dead stalks.

Keeping up a yard is work. My husband is wonderful with the lawn, and trimming shrubs, but I have usually worked with the flowering plants.My plan has always been to plant perennials so that they don’t have to be replanted every year, and will bloom with the seasons without my extra work.The previous owners had planted beautiful shrubs in the front yard and some blooming shrubs in the backyard, such as Rose of Sharon and flowering hibiscus.I have planted roses, daylilies, and a few other things that sadly need to be replanted for various reasons.

Rose of Sharon, peonies, hibiscus, roses—those are old-fashioned names that bring back fond memories. Mother loved her flowering gardens. Mother had one rose bush by the back door that had miniature wild roses that she had named the Edward roses, after my little brother Ross Edward.

Peonies were always Mother’s favorites and this year they were in bloom for Mother’s Day, but she moved to heaven two years ago. I planted peonies and daylilies on her grave and they were doing well a few weeks ago when I went there.

“To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1 New King James Version.

Just as the peonies can bloom through the dead stalks of last year’s growth, so through the struggles and deadness of our lives, we can bloom. God gives us beauty to surround us.