The Wisdom of Fruit Trees: God’s Plan for You in 2021!

Hello, and blessings to you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ! Let me first start out by saying, I hope that you and your family had a wonderful and blessed Christmas and…

Happy New Year!

And I don’t just mean that in the traditional sense. I am speaking it over you and your family in Jesus’ name! The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” 3 John 2, NKJV, also says, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” So, I am starting this year off right. I am speaking life! That said…

I know that if you are anything like me, you are probably thinking something like, “well, we tried that last New Year’s Eve, and you see where it got us.” I know. I get it. I lost my precious husband and my dear mother in 2020, my husband due to complications from Covid, as he was immune suppressed, and unable to recover from the damage it did to his lungs, and my mother from strokes. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t suffered some type of tragedy or great loss and hardship in this past year. As a matter of fact, I don’t know too many people who have much of anything positive to say about 2020. In fact, I’m pretty sure many, myself included, have had thoughts of giving up…

But wait!…

Now, let’s just back that up a minute…(insert sound of brakes screeching, like when you didn’t see the stop sign – Go ahead and go YouTube that if it makes you feel better, just be sure to come back. You DON’T wanna miss this Word God gave me this morning for you). What if…WHAT IF…. there is a more positive way to look at all of this? (Seriously, you’re not going to give all these trials this past year threw at us that much power over you, are you?) I know I’m not! I said the rear view mirror of my life was torn off, and I’m not sitting here trying to glue it back on! Take a few minutes to listen to this song…

It ain’t over till GOD says it’s over!!!

The first time I heard this song, it was a home video of a little girl whose mother recorded her singing it and, with permission, shared it on Facebook. It was such a powerful message to me. A couple of nights later, I even dreamed that I was hearing that video being played, and I could hear the little girl singing it. I wrote the mother an encouraging message telling her how much it had touched me and thanking her for sharing it….

Look. I know that if you’re anything like me, you probably have a few choice words you could say to this past year (if only it were a person, let’s face it, some of us watched too many of those old cartoons). I can tell you, my husband and I certainly would not have been welcoming in the year 2020 so joyfully on New Year’s Eve a year ago if we had known what it would bring. But it’s not a person, and well, we can’t turn back time. I think we all can identify with these feelings. I’m pretty sure many of us who suffered significant losses in this past year would agree that in a sense, we kind of woke up on New Year’s Day feeling much like someone in the wake of the damage after a tornado or hurricane, surveying the damage it has left behind. But let’s just turn it around and see if we can’t get a more positive perspective on it all, shall we? (Go ahead and go do that brake screech thing again if you want. Again, just come back, you DON’T wanna miss this! 🙂 )…

I’m sure if we really think about it, we could come up with some good things we did in 2020. Or better yet, ways that God did bless us to make it through – you’re still here, right? Or you wouldn’t be sitting here reading this. The topic for our Women’s Conference at our church a couple of years ago was, “Kept”. Our speakers dove in to the study of the women in the Bible who were “kept women”, kept by God Himself through the various trials they went through. And God left His fingerprints all throughout the pages of time, in that we can learn powerful lessons from their stories. So, what all has God “kept” you through this past year? The best way we can break the enemy’s power to use these trials and heartaches we have endured over us is to give God the praise for the ways He has kept us through these things. What has He kept you through this past year? What is one good thing you have done in 2020? Here’s my list:

  1. I published a powerful book of my testimony of my Near Death Experience in a car accident that will help people who have been through traumatic events and are giving up on their faith – you can check it out here!
  2. I survived Covid. God healed me so that I could be here to encourage you, and bring more fruit in for Christ’s kingdom.
  3. I celebrated a year being healed and delivered from breast cancer.
  4. I finished a new book (fiction) that my dear late husband, Keith, and I worked on together that we both felt will help people see that no life is too hopeless for God to change. It’s still in the editing stages, so it’s coming soon!
  5. I have seen God’s provision in powerful ways in every area of my life since my husband’s passing, the more I put Him first.
  6. I have learned from it all through His grace, and yielded all the broken pieces to Him, so He can use my story to help you too.
  7. I have more great inspirational books coming, and I have accepted His call to yield my life to ministry to others, and I could not be more excited about all He is going to do through me in 2021!

I believe if we think about it, we can all list some ways God has kept us through the storms of this past year, and the good things that did come out of it all, and in so doing, break the enemy’s power to use it to destroy us any further. That is simply “baggage” we are not going to drag into 2021. So, now, I will share with you the Word that God has given me, something I think will help us all. As a matter of fact, I felt His Holy Spirit nudging me earlier as I had my devotions, clearly letting me know, He had given me a Word and that He expected me to share it. So here goes. But first, I’ll give you a little more background information, so it will make more sense…

A LITTLE BACKGROUND INFORMATION: THE GARDEN OF YOUR HEART: A few years ago, as my husband and I found a good church and began to draw closer to God, He showed me a vision one morning that clearly let me know where I stood with Him. I think it will help you too, because I feel most of us can probably identify with this. So I saw what was supposed to be the “garden of my heart”. If you’ll just pick up your Bible and start reading it, you’ll see that Christ, our Lord Himself gave us teachings from this perspective. A good place to start is Matthew, Chapter 13. In this chapter, Jesus gave the Parable of the Sower. He led me to this several times over a period of time, and each time, His challenge was the same: “Which one are you?” For too long, I have been one to let too many of the “stones” the enemy had thrown into my path discourage me. I wasn’t standing on the Word as I should have been. If we keep on like this, those stumbling stones are what the enemy will use to snatch the Word away, so that it can’t be implanted deep into that soil of our heart’s garden. I also went for too long in the earlier years of my life not having the deep “rooting” of God’s Word in my life, so when those trials of life came, I didn’t have the root of that Word to guide me through it. —> (SPECIAL DEVOTIONAL SUGGESTION: I highly recommend sitting down with your family discussing this section of Christ’s teaching in Matthew 13. Don’t point fingers or judge each other. Just read it together, and talk about which of those types of soil characterizes that “garden” in each of your hearts. Then, pray together about it, and ask God to show you all ways to get that deep rooting in His Word that will help you grow stronger and stand together through the trials that may come. Get back together, in, say, a week or two, and talk about ways each of you have grown stronger in these areas. Give thanks as a family for the ways He has helped you grow together.)

So, what I saw, as far as the “garden of my heart” was a barren, desolate place, with dry, hardened, cracked ground. Nothing was growing. There was no “fruit” being produced. Then, I saw the “gate”, and Jesus standing on the other side of it, and what He said to me changed everything for me that day. He said, “I want to help you, but you have to let Me in first.” Did you get that? It is we who have to open that gate and let Him in. You see, for too long, I was, as I talk about in my book, “CPR for Your Faith from Beyond Death’s Door”, a strong-willed, stubborn, hard-headed little Ms. Independent who thought I knew how to handle life on my own. There are a lot of things that can make us that way. For years, I had been made to feel worthless and this eventually led to the mind trap of approval seeking, and way too much allowing my attitude, thoughts, and actions to be controlled by what others thought of me, etc., etc…

Now, I know better. That’s the “old” me. Let’s take a look at what Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:20-24: “But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus:  that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts,  and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” (NKJV) Now, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (NKJV)

This means that if we are in Christ, meaning, walking in His promises of His Word, and we have truly opened the gate of that garden of our hearts, then, and only then, He can come in and transform all of that barren, unproductive ground into a beautiful, lush garden, full of trees producing loads of fruit for Him. But He is a gentleman. He will not force Himself on anyone. It is you, and I, who must make that decision to open that gate of our hearts and let Him in. So, I began to get more deeply into prayer with Him, and I opened that gate of my heart as I finally realized I couldn’t do it on my own, and that has made all of the difference.

In the aftermath of all that had transpired in the past year, I will admit that I had, for a time, hardened to the point that I thought I had lost something very precious to me. I didn’t hear God speaking to me in the mornings when I woke up anymore. Truth is, I hadn’t lost it, or Him. He was right there all along, just as He is with each of us who will open that gate of our heart’s garden and let Him in. But when we start to try to handle things on our own again, look out! This is what the enemy wants. Over time, he sows his weeds of doubt, despair, and hopelessness, and even tries to make you think you can’t hear from God anymore. So, as I began to pray more and get back into seeking a closer relationship with the Savior, and put Him first again, and LET HIM HANDLE THINGS, instead of letting the enemy fool me into trying to handle it on my own (see Proverbs 3:5-6), I began to awaken in the mornings hearing my gentle, loving Savior there again, speaking to me, showing me things, and guiding me. What came to me from the Holy Spirit this morning is going to change your perspective on this coming year, just as it has mine. And now, the Word He has given me for you for 2021…

THE WISDOM OF FRUIT TREES: GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU, AND ME, IN 2021: As I awakened this morning, I was seeing a vision, as is often the case. At first, I was seeing what represented the garden of my heart, and I felt as God spoke to my heart that what He was saying applies for all of us. It looked like the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane. I had the feeling, as many of us do right now, of waking up after a terrible storm. I then saw a tall, flourishing fruit tree, and He said to me,

“I am going to take all of the broken pieces of your grief, sadness, sorrows, and broken dreams of this past year and turn it all into the compost that will enrich the fruit trees of the fruit you will bear for Me in this coming year if you will only yield it all to Me. Yield the broken dreams and the shards you have tried to pick up on your own to Me, and you will see what I will do, for I will take what the enemy meant to destroy you and turn it into the rich compost that will nourish the fruit trees of your heart’s garden. So will I take the weeds and the broken pieces of what was meant for your harm and turn it around for your good. I will make the heartaches, disappointments, failures, and broken dreams of 2020 into the powerful, divinely enriched compost of 2021 that will yield a greater harvest than anything you have ever imagined possible if you will only yield it all to Me, for there is nothing that I cannot do.”

Only yield it all to the Master Gardener standing at the gate of your heart’s garden now, and He will turn your chaos into the chorus of His praise, your calamity into renewed confidence, and your tragedies into triumph that will bring glory to His name, if you will only trust Him. He knows what is ahead, and He is well able to do above and beyond all that we can ask or think. We do not know what tomorrow holds, and no doubt, this year will hold challenges of its own, but we can rest assured that if we put our trust in the One Who holds tomorrow in His hand, we will make it through. Jesus said in these latter days, we would have trials and tribulations (Matthew 24), but He also said, “be of good cheer, I have already overcome the world” (John 16:33).

If you are still here, it’s because He still has work you can do for His Kingdom. It’s because He has a reason for you to still be here. You can help bring in the great harvest that will precede Christ’s return. So, as we are all thinking of those New Year’s Resolutions, why not make one to let Him back in the “driver’s seat”? This past Christmas, as we prepared to celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth and what it means for all of us, I have to say, after all my family and I have endured in 2020, I found myself going through my own personal advent season. As I prayerfully embarked on this journey, it was quite a revealing process as I discovered all that I had been allowing to be placed on the “throne of my heart” before Him.

So, this next time around, let’s not leave Him the “manger”, but may we all accept the challenge to graciously and humbly yield it all back to our Heavenly Father, the One Who created us, and Who sent His Son, our Jesus, to die for us, so that we could have eternal life in Heaven with Him. May we each find that new joy and healing, peace and comfort, encouragement, and renewed faith and vision for greater things that can only come when we finally open that gate to the “garden of our hearts” and let the Master Gardener in. We may not know what tomorrow holds, or which of us will be here next year to celebrate another year, but when we let Him back in, and give Him His place back on the throne of our hearts, we can rest assured that there is nothing that can stop the great things He can and will do in our lives.

Let’s let Him take all of the broken pieces of what the enemy meant to destroy us in 2020, and put it all through the “compost machine” of His power through the matchless and mighty name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and turn it into the compost that His Holy Spirit will use to nourish the fruit trees He has already planted in the gardens of our hearts. Then, and only then, will we see how truly flourishing and beautiful the garden of our hearts can be. Only then, will we see the great and powerful harvest we are truly capable of. May we each bring in a greater fruitful yield for His Kingdom in 2021 than we have ever dreamed possible.

Will your “garden” bring in a great harvest for the Kingdom in 2021? Let Him turn the heartaches of 2020 into the “compost” to enrich the fruit trees for what He will do through you this year!

The Light that Still Guides Us: Reaching Out to Those that No Longer Feel the Joy of Christmas

“When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:9-11

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Three wise men and the star

Well, here it is, Christmas time again, everyone’s favorite time of year…or not…

Unfortunately, with each passing year, more and more people I know have ended up in that second category. For these people and their families, the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays no longer hold the joy they once did. They are unable to feel the joy of the season because of the overwhelming feelings of grief and sadness. In many cases, the loss of their loved one has happened unexpectedly, only weeks or days before the beginning of the holiday season. Then too, others are unable to “get into the spirit” because they know they will be spending the holidays alone. Of course, being a “military brat” myself, my Dad having served fourteen years in the U.S. Army, I know first hand, there are many who have a loved one who happens to be deployed at the time of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I also know what it’s like to feel the pangs of grief because of a loved one taken way too soon, and the big hole it leaves in your heart, and your family. For these reasons, I couldn’t let this Christmas go by without at least offering my take on it all. I know that all the pretty words in the world won’t bring a loved one back, but still, a comforting word from one who’s been there can help more than you know.

No matter what reason a family you know might find themselves with an empty chair at their Christmas table this year, we cannot forget the reason we are celebrating Christmas in the first place, and it is because of Him, our Savior, Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us, that was given so that we could receive the gift of eternal life. We cannot forget that if we have that light of hope in our hearts that comes through having a relationship with Him, then we can share that light with others who are less fortunate than ourselves, those who are hurting, and those who are so overcome with sadness and grief, especially when it involves one who was lost way too soon, who had their whole lives ahead of them. I know several classmates (different schools) who have tragically lost a child. I also know from experience, what my family, especially my parents, went through when we lost my brother, Charles, at only 9 years old. The Christmas of ’77 is forever etched in my memory, and at times over the years, it has seemed almost as if I have been unable to move past that point. There were 3 of us kids, I was the oldest, 12 at the time. Our younger brother had just started school. Charlie’s passing left a big hole in our family that nothing can ever fill…that is, except the love and comfort of our Savior, the “peace that passes understanding”. But those who are hurting will never know we care, and that He cares, if we don’t share it with them.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14-16

For those families, friends, or others we may know who are going through this, it goes without saying that it can be rather painful, to see all of the photos posted on (I’ll just say, “social media”), of the seemingly picture perfect families, and the beautifully set holiday dinner tables. Then too, even for those who still manage to gather together for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or even a New Year’s party, no matter how nicely and festively, or sparsely, their table might be set, it does nothing for the emptiness and pain of grief they feel because of that empty chair, where someone they loved should have been. Whether it’s a family grieving the loss of a loved one, a family facing Christmas without a deployed parent, husband, or wife, or someone spending Christmas alone for the first time, (I’ve been through my share of “Hard Candy Christmases”, too) it can be all too easy to label them a “Scrooge” or a “Grinch” when they post on social media about how they are unable to get into the Christmas spirit, or something to that extent (Okay, so you just thought it, that’s still just as bad, but hey, we’re all guilty on that one). I’ll even go so far as to say that with all that has been going on lately, and having just lost a cousin on my Dad’s side, I will admit I myself have been feeling more like a “Scrooge” at the beginning of the season. But let’s just back this whole thing up a minute…

This morning, my husband and I were led to Matthew, chapter 18. At the beginning of the chapter, Jesus calls a little child to Him, and tells those listening, that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must all become like little children. So, to illustrate my point, I am going to do just that…

My youngest grandson recently spent some time with us during a period of transition with his daycare, and during that time, he wanted to watch “The Grinch that Stole Christmas”, the movie version with Jim Carrey as the Grinch, again and again. So, after awhile, I found myself really thinking about that story. I still remember the cartoon version of it we used to watch as kids. In the story, of course, we all know how the Grinch went to all that trouble to steal all the Christmas gifts, the turkeys and fixings for the Whos’ Christmas dinners, and even the Christmas trees, down to the last ornament, which he snatches up with glee, yet in the end, Christmas still came, without all the boxes, bags, bows, gifts, Christmas trees or decorations.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

Perhaps, if we really stop and think about it for a moment, we can really begin to see how the moral of this story applies to all of us. Christmas will come, whether or not our tables are decorated with all the fancy fixings, or the least that could be afforded. It will come whether or not our homes are all aglow with lights and decorations, and it will come, no matter what is under the tree, or how many or how few gifts there are. And it will come just the same, to those who have empty chairs at their Christmas dinner table.

For those of us who have the Savior, our Lord, Jesus Christ living in our hearts, it is that same light that lit up the night sky those years ago as the bright, shining star that the wise men followed until they came to where the Christ child lay, that is still guiding us. (And by the way, as far as I have been able to see, the Bible does not actually say there were “three” wise men. It doesn’t even mention how many there were, or if they actually rode camels. In fact, although most pictures we’ve seen depict three wise men on camels following the star, and the “stable” in the distance, the Bible actually seems to indicate that it was probably sometime later before they arrived to see Him. Note that in verse 11 of Matthew 2, above, it says, “and when they had come into the house…”, not a stable. Click here to read more on this.)

So what I am saying is…if we truly have His light shining in us, then it goes without saying that we will be looking around us and taking note of those who can no longer feel the joy of Christmas. We will be His hands reaching out to help them in whatever way we can, whether it’s through sending a card, providing some needed food supplies, or a meal. We will be His mouth speaking a comforting word, and His feet walking to do whatever we can to show them we care, for if that light is truly shining within us, then and only then, will they see and feel the true, healing, and comforting joy and peace of Christmas.

That light is still guiding us, for the same Christ that the wise men worshipped that night, is the One Who lives inside of each of us, and “Christmas” is already inside of us. It is that light that they’re looking for, not what’s under the tree or on the table. So, think of this, next time you wish someone a Merry Christmas. And if we can’t show that love of Christ to others in need, whether they are friends, family, or people we don’t even know, then perhaps we’re the ones being a “Grinch” or a “Scrooge”. Besides, if we take even a moment to look at Christmas through the eyes of little “Cindy Lou Who”, perhaps it is then, that it will all make a bit more sense.

If the light of His love, the light of God’s hope that lit that star up those years ago, is truly shining through us, then every day is Christmas! Why wait for that one time of year to actually reach out and show His love to others? With that said, thanks for stopping by, feel free to share this with anyone who could use it! I hope you and your family have a truly wonderful Christmas, and a blessed New Year!