A Flower’s Life

Let’s look at the life of a flower and how it reaches the beautiful blooming stage that we all enjoy. Before we plant flowers, we need to cultivate the soil and prepare it to receive the seed for ultimate growth. If the ground is too hard the seed won’t take root.

Seed Stage: Every seed holds a miniature plant inside that needs the right nutrients to begin new growth. Some seeds are still capable of growth after many years if they are properly kept.

Germination: A seed in the earth will need warmth and water in order to grow. Some even need light at this stage. The seed will absorb water to split the outer shell, opening it up to a transformation as it begins to sprout a stem. The tiny root begins to push its way down as it begins to grow. According to an article I read, seeds have different needs; some need to go through a fire in order to sprout while others go through the stomachs of animals.

Growth: When the leaves begin to form, they convert energy from sunlight and water along with other nutrients to use as food. As the root system uses the food to continue to develop, anchoring the plant into the ground and uses root hairs to absorb water and nutrients. The stem is used to reach toward the light as it sends water and food to the roots and leaves. Then the buds begin to develop to later produce the beautiful blooms we so enjoy.

Reproduction: As the bud forms, it has a tiny but complete flower inside it. Over time, the bud opens and blossoms into a mature flower.

Pollination: Flowers depend on insects, birds, animals, wind, and water to carry pollen from flower to flower. Without pollinators, they couldn’t produce more seeds or new plant life. Even flowers that can’t produce their own pollen, rely on and benefit from other plants during the cross-pollination process, resulting in stronger plants.

Spreading Seeds: This is the final stage which is done in many ways. The wind can scatter the seeds, the fur of animals can carry the seeds to other locations, humans, water, etc. But once the seeds fall to the ground, a new plant life cycle begins again.

Consider the God-given design and the little details that take place for a flower to grow, bloom and thrive. Now think about how we are designed. Cultivating the hard ground to prepare it for the seed is like God cultivating our hearts- if it is still a hard and stony heart, the seed won’t take root. It must be rooted in fertile soil and be fed the right messages of His truth to grow to the full potential.

The roots send nutrients up through the stem so it can stand firm to produce the bloom. We also need to be rooted deep in the word to be fed and stand strong against the enemy to produce the kind of fruit that is pleasing to the Creator.

The flower needs the light of the sun to flourish just as we need the light of the Son in our lives. When we bloom where we are planted God can use us no matter where we are if we are standing tall and looking to Him. He provides the living water of the Spirit to nourish us and help us grow to our full potential, into the beautiful bloom He created us to be.

If we surround ourselves with the right pollinators (Christian friends) we can have a better chance of growth. At times in our lives when we are not able to self-pollinate, we have others to lift us up and help us through to the other side. It has been said that we are the average of the friends we hang out with the most. In that case, we need to find friends who are like what we want to become. Otherwise, we will be taken over by weeds and smothered and eventually wilt.

There is a full- complete flower inside all of us waiting to bloom in the light of Christ’s love. Some of us go through the fire to get there, everyone goes through different experiences that lead us to Christ. But it is our life experiences that helps us relate and we can share our story to help others, by spreading the seeds and message to lead others to Christ and ultimately the Kingdom.

Matthew 3:18-32

(Parable of the seeds)

(Reference: https://www.avasflowers.net/the-stages-of-the-flower-life-cycle)

Finding Favor

The Bible defines favor as ‘gracious kindness’; approval from a superior; a special privilege granted. (See also grace)

This has been on my mind a lot lately. What does it mean to have favor with God? Does God’s favor come in material things or in our gifts and talents and how He uses us? I think some people use it incorrectly and assume if someone has been able to purchase nice things, cars and a big house, they have found favor with God. I don’t believe God’s favor comes in the form of material things. He tells us to lay up our treasures in Heaven – not in earthly things.

I believe that the Lord’s favor comes in His perfect timing and not always when we are doing everything right. We always fail to measure up. He does it when it pleases Him. To bring glory to His name. To show others who He is. We know that grace is a gift and we can’t earn it, it’s the same with favor. God bestows His favor on who He chooses.

He saved me from a tragic car accident- not because of who I was but because of who He is. I am who I am today because of Christ and His grace. He uses us to show others who He is and point them to Christ- to glorify His name.

There are times when we are trying to achieve a blessing by our own strength or by the ways of the world, God may have to cripple our self-sufficiency to make us trust Him more. We see this in Genesis when God causes Jacob’s hip to render out of place- then He had to submit to God and trust Him. I feel this was what happened to me with my accident. I had gone as far as I could on my own, trying to control things myself, hold tight to things I needed to let go of. God showed me favor by saving my life but He used this accident to show me He is in control; not me. It took this to jolt me awake and make me pay attention to what He was doing in my life and made me trust Him more.

Noah found favor with the Lord because he walked in close fellowship with God. He is an example of righteousness, obedience, courage and faith. The closer our relationship with God and the more we use what He has given us the more we will receive.

Favor goes hand in hand with blessings, which can look very different depending on the circumstances at the time. Do you think accepting a ride with a stranger in the middle of a bad part of town is a blessing? I didn’t either, actually it was one of my greatest fears at the time. But to the homeless woman I was shadowing, who had a broken foot, it was one of the greatest blessings she had in a long time. We can’t look at what others have or don’t have and say they aren’t blessed or have more things and say they have more favor than us. Each person has his own journey. You never know what led them to where they are today. I came through the fire to get where I am. Not everyone has the same experience or journey but we all have the chance to live close to God and follow Christ. We all have unique gifts and talents to be used to help others and glorify God. So don’t look at your neighbor and think they have it all, I wish I was her. She is already taken. Be you. You do it better than anyone. Let God lead and see where He takes you.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need. Luke 12:31 (notes: Life is not measured by how much you own.)

…to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. Luke 19:26

The Truth in a Nutshell

Let’s get straight to the point. God is bigger than ALL of this! Anything to the contrary comes from a place of fear and panic and is nothing but diabolical.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) God has always provided. He will continue to provide and protect His people. This is the same God who shut the mouths of lions. God is not the author of confusion and chaos.

Let us be the calm in the storm. Let us sing praises to His name and be grateful for the little things we usually take for granted. Don’t drink the chaos Kook-aid, ya’ll. (I am pretty sure that is a long, lost proverb.) We can be smart, stay safe and not be fearful.

No matter what happens, God is with us. We can trust Him with the outcome. Share this truth with someone today who might need a word of encouragement in the middle of the storm.

When this is all over, go on that trip you’ve been thinking about for years, take the leap of faith and do that thing God has been nudging you to do, get out and enjoy God’s creation in nature, see other parts of the world…start marking those items off your bucket list. If you don’t have a bucket list, it is an excellent time to make one.

Be kind. Share with others in need. Show love. God’s got this…and us!

By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Hebrews 11:33-34

Colorful Communication

I find it fascinating that dragonflies communicate using the vibrant colors of their bodies through infra red and UV spectrum. They also have tiny antennae, so vision is their primary means of navigating and capturing prey. Remarkably, they can rotate their heads nearly 360 degrees, giving them an almost limitless field of view. What a great perspective in a colorful, unique form.

I have always liked rainbows. Their colorful message gives us a great perspective on God’s promises. I can also relate to color in a different way. I think color represents creativity and gifts from the Spirit.

I realized that all my gifts are a form of communication. The way I express my creativity to encourage others in various ways. I think God is equipping me with all forms of communication that honor Him in everything I do and is answering my prayers in profound ways.

How ironic to be given such colorful forms of communication for someone who went from never communicating on one end of the spectrum to being forced to fully communicate every thought on the other end of the spectrum.

Neither of these were a healthy form of communication. I began to pray about it and ask God to help me have healthy communications – I knew there had to be a middle ground in there somewhere. I just needed help figuring it out. I also pray that I never hurt anyone with my words but lift them up, encourage and inspire them.

I believe God has poured out His precious gifts upon me in a delightful, colorful array of communicative expression like I have never experienced before. I am so grateful and want to be a good steward of each one.

The magpie is a colorful bird, related to crows, which uses its voice to express itself in sometimes loud fashion. It encourages us to speak up and be creative with our spoken words.  I believe I have found my voice and am using it to the best of my ability to serve my Heavenly Father.

But there is another expression of communication I am working on- listening. I also pray that I listen to understand and not to respond. That I listen to discern God’s voice. That I listen and respond with courage to be obedient and follow where He leads. Sometimes listening is more important than speaking. I pray God will show me when to speak up and when to listen and give me the right words at the right time to help others in profound, beautiful ways.

When the Spirit reveals something to me it’s like the early morning sky opening to a new day with an elegance beyond words. Brilliant hues of early morning colors revealed in a moment of clarity unlike any other thought or word. An idea so wild and beautiful it could only come from Him. I am in awe of His glory and goodness towards me every single day.

Survivor

As an abuse survivor, I began looking back at my life to see how I got there. I didn’t just wake up one day in an abusive relationship. The layers I am peeling back are a much longer story, but it started with my definition of love being distorted at a very early age. For me, it wasn’t one big thing that happened, as a child, that I can point to that caused me to become that person. It was a million little things. That were just subtle enough to not be perceived as a problem at the time. But overtime, layer upon layer they escalated into the big thing-my darkest moments.

I still couldn’t recognize it- until I was out of it. Looking back- hearing the truth about love- real love, biblical love; God’s love. I began the process of peeling back those layers- digging in and taking a deep dive to figure it all out. I still don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, but I can see the big picture forming. I know it’s going to all come together someday, but it probably won’t be this side of Heaven. I do know all of Heaven is celebrating with me each time my healing goes a little deeper. I also know the enemy is lurking and attacking me each time I get a little closer, because he knows I am that much closer to helping someone else.

I feel compelled to share what I am learning about the subtleties of abuse, and the red flags, I could only see in hindsight. I share my story to make others aware, to break the generational cycles and repetitive abusive relationships, that will only continue if we don’t shed light on them. I will shout it from the mountaintops if I need to- just to be heard. It’s important to speak up and speak out to help other women who might be experiencing some of the abuse I endured and allowed in the name of love.

Not all abuse is as obvious as a black eye. In my case, the abuse came in the form of control and manipulation. The abuser knows all the right things to say- it’s called ‘grooming’ their prey/victim. They learn all too well how to sweep us off our feet and make us think they are in love with us so they can put us in a position to do anything they ask so we won’t be rejected. This type of emotional and mental abuse can ultimately lead to other forms as well including physical or in my case sexual abuse.

Here are a few of the red flags I experienced:

  • Said ‘I love you’ too early in relationship
  • Overly romantic
  • Verbal criticisms (loss of self-esteem, belittlement, shame)
  • Picked out all my clothes
  • Wanted to know everything about my past and then used the info against me
  • Said if I loved him, I would do anything for him
  • Isolation from friends/family

This is not a complete list- if you are interested in learning more about the red flags and read more about my experience – you can request a free copy of my e-book, From Victim to Victor- recognizing the red flags of abuse.

For me, a big key to my healing has been validation. I blamed myself for so long- but it is never the victims’ fault. I hope something I said shined a light on other forms of abuse- awareness and recognition are important to help break the chains.  If you resonate with any of these signs in a past or current relationship, please seek a counselor or other professional for help.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. I Corinthians 13:4-5

Anticipation

In today’s world we have instant everything. We want it now without waiting for it. Whatever ‘it’ is. But we sometimes must ‘wait’ on God and that isn’t easy, mostly because we aren’t used to waiting on anything else for the most part.

We can’t run ahead of God when we don’t know where we are going or what to do when we get there. Shortcuts just don’t work out as well in this arena. It reminds me of the story in 2 Samuel 18:21-32 when Joab was sending a messenger to let David know about the battle and his son’s death. Ahimaaz wanted to run and kept begging Joab to let him go too. Finally, Joab just told him to go ahead. He took the less demanding route and got to the King before the messenger but he didn’t have the message so he couldn’t tell David anything about the battle or his son– he only saw confusion. The King told him to step aside while he waited for the real messenger.

Allowing God to lead means just that- let Him lead. Sometimes that means waiting to hear from Him or making small steps towards a bigger goal, as we trust in God to show us the next step.

Since ‘wait’ seems like such a harsh word to us I decided to look up another word to use or think of instead. I like the word ‘anticipation’ as it seems more exciting. For me, it puts waiting into perspective. If we can anticipate God’s next move with excitement, we can find joy in the ‘waiting’ if you will. It’s like when we were kids and anticipated our birthday or a surprise gift.

God won’t let us down. He has the best laid plans and gifts.

Let’s look at different versions of this scripture: Psalm 27:14

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. NLT

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God. MSG

So, you see in this illustration another way to look at waiting- as stay with God. If you look at the definition for the word wait you see 1) stay where one is or delay action until a particular time. (Merriam-Webster)

Hopefully, in looking at it in the light of honoring God and His best plan as a gift that will be for us- it will make the waiting season or anticipation easier.

5 Day Devo for the Burdened Soul

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Times are tough. We all need peace and rest. But it’s hard to fully let go and release it to God. I love this verse about about releasing our burdens to Him.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. …For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28;30

I am offering this 5 day devotional about learning to let go – please share with anyone you think needs this.

Contact me to request your free copy.

I am praying for you as you dive into it.

In gratitude…peace be with you!

Angela K. Crow