The Day the Horn Broke

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Life plans change at the breaking of a horn.

I woke up with a plan today; a plan to write on the fall Bible study and to edit, schedule, and publish articles for Titus II Woman. I had plans to lay low until I had to go in to work for a few hours and then after I finished working I had plans to take my kids to do a little black light miniature golfing.

My plans were interrupted when my little boy came in and said, “Mom! One of the goats is gone.” What do you mean one of the goats is gone? Did he break his line? Is he just lying in the tall grass? Is he in the road? Where did he go? So, we woke up my husband to let him know the news and then got the girls up to help look for the goat. Not even a few seconds later our little man found the missing goat, Sammy is his name, next to our only female goat. At this point I am just relieved that he decided to stick around and not take after our neighbor’s garden or mine for that matter.

Upon inspection, we found that our little Sammy had gotten into some kind of kafuffle. He had broken his horn pretty good and was bleeding quite badly. Y’all, this is the first time we have raised goats and we knew nothing really of caring for a broken horn. We never expected for our little guys to go and get hurt. Trouble? Yes. But hurt? Never.sammy broken horn

We got Sammy into a pen to keep him from running off and getting hurt worse or dying even and then did some research on what we needed to do to help him stop bleeding and start to heal. This would mean that we needed to run into the local feed store for some supplies and medicine. My plans were all but out the window at this point.

Sometimes things happen to change the course of our day and we will never truly know the full reason of why this will happen, but I believe that with every little change, God has a very specific reason. Today, I needed to give a little more attention to what was going on around me. God taught me a lesson in this. I need to trust Him with all the little details of my life. We live our lives as we please, but anything can happen at the break of a horn to change our course and alter our entire reason for living.

Sometimes we are so busy living out the plans that we have made, but God is just asking us to stop for a minute, breathe, and remember why we are here in the first place. Determine what matters most. Be intentional about making time for your family, friends, and church. Make an effort to sit at His feet and be in peace rather than miss Him. Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call on him while he is near.”

Lord, our desire is to serve you and glorify your name while we are here on this earth. Help us to recognize when the plans we make for our lives need to be altered to fit in the plans that you have for our lives. I ask that you speak life into my day and every breath I take so that I can breathe that life out for others to have as well.  Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God's Word. Favorite Quote - "Make history with God and He will make history through you."

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as the wife to David and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in Southeast Idaho. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women of all ages and customs. She loves to write and teach God’s Word. Favorite Quote – “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

 

The Love Hate Relationship

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28lovehate3

This passage and those following in Luke 6 will always point us to holiness and be edifying to our walk with the Lord as we journey through this life with others. I will transparently admit a most certain confrontation is to be had when dealing with the human heart and this passage. Because of my pride, there is nothing simple about responding to the above verse nor the remaining chapter. I have painfully wrestled with it to the point that the Lord, in all His grace and mercy, has had to extract an unbelievably large and deeply implanted log from within my own eye (Luke 6:41-42). While I believe the log has been removed, I honestly admit there isn’t a day that goes by that I must not watch out for the temptation to face plant right back into that state of clouded vision. My spirit is willing, but my flesh so weak (Matthew 26:41). People issues can be hard, no doubt. Maybe you feel like at every turn you are offending someone or being offended.lovehate1

When Jesus begins speaking he addresses those who have ears to hear. We need to approach this verse with a tender heart, humble and teachable, and an increased desire to respond to our Master. He asks of us to love our enemy and explains who that encompasses: haters, cursers, and those who mistreat you. Then Jesus tells us what to do: love, do good towards, bless, and pray for them. Really Lord? That is asking a lot! How can you call me to this high road when such hurt was inflicted? 

Here is the fork in the road, friend; the place where we are called to be different than the world. Our answer is by His work on the cross. Jesus is the example of One who lived this out perfectly. He is not asking us to do something He Himself did not do. He did this on Calvary! Through the power of love for the Father and His redeeming love for His church, He sacrificially showed us real love for imperfect people; laying His life down for us while yet we were sinners (Romans 5:8). We too have been the ungrateful and evil (Luke 6:35) and He demonstrated mercy towards us. What then shall we say to that? Let the glorious weight of that sink in! When we look at the cross of our Lord, what He did for us while in such a state of unloveliness, deep in our sin, should cause us to pause and pause long. We cannot fathom the magnitude of His hurt. It is also difficult to grasp the magnitude of this kind of love, but to seek it is a must in our walk with Him. Oh, the power of this transforming love! In that thought alone let us draw near to the throne of grace and find help in time of need as you consider how to move forward (Hebrews 4:16).lovehate2

What if you and I sit at the foot of that cross for just a moment together and through that lens begin to let Him do His work of offering a hope that will utterly transform your heart and mine and maybe in the most miraculous way, the heart of our enemies and those most difficult to love. Most importantly as His follower, we glorify Him by choosing to obey the way in which He has called us to live in this broken world. It is a narrow path indeed, but assuredly it is a road that leads to an abundant life.

He isn’t asking us to muster up our own strength to do this. Let us place our faith in His word in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  We weren’t meant to live the Christian life in our own strength at all. That is impossible and ignores our need for Christ’s work in us. Remember it is He who gives us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 1:3).

Sister, you have undoubtedly been mistreated, possibly rejected and felt the sting of hate. If I could sit with you now and hear your heart’s cry, I most certainly would empathize with you that your situation is currently or has been extremely trying and difficult. I am sorry that you have had this experience. Know this, the Lord does not delight in this suffering, but He can walk us through it if we will trust Him with the process.

To be fair and balanced, at one point or another we have, whether intentionally or unknowingly, been the facilitator of hurt to others. I for one know that my words and attitudes have been stumbling blocks in the lives of people I love or am an acquaintance to and the knowledge of that reminds me that no one on earth is untouched by this condition of the heart.

A few points of application here are: 1) Let’s start with genuine prayer about this issue. Whether you are dealing with the pain of conflict or need to ask the Lord to survey your own heart to uncover the way you have possibly inflicted pain upon another; invite Him into this area. 2) Let’s admit humbly we need His help in moving forward. Confess how challenging it feels to follow the instructions above concerning loving His way. And 3) Believe in the miracle of His redemptive work! I think that writing out some of the scriptures above and others that you hold dear in the way of wisdom and placing them around for reflection is a great plan of action to move forward.

Father, As I gaze upon the cross of Your Son, Jesus, I am in awe of that kind of love. It is not natural in any way. No, it is supernatural and beautiful and oh how I’ve fallen short of it! But I know you won’t leave me in this state. You have a plan of redemption and it IS your desire to change me from who I was to one who is more and more like your Son with each day until the day of completion arrives. Cover my sweet sisters in Christ with your power and peace to journey through your Word and to be transformed by its power. It is Your faithful promise to do so. Teach us this lesson of loving our neighbor. ~ Amen in Christ

Cindy Nyberg

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her local church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

Cindy comes into Titus II Woman Ministry with a gift of writing and speaking. Her passion to share the goodness of Jesus Christ spills from the page and into your heart. Cindy is known to light up the room with the joy of Jesus and contagious laughter! Admittedly she says her one and only hobby is enjoying great conversation with friends over a good cup of coffee. She volunteers her time with multiple ministries within her local church. She is the wife to Tracy and mom to four amazing kids. Together, Cindy and her family make their home in Nebraska. “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”-Charles Studd.

A Tale of Two Women

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Sunny Saturday skies drew my man and I out on one of our motorcycles for a ride about town and a lunch date recently. We took the old bike that has so much character we usually cannot help but make a stop at an auto parts store for an additive “treat” or new part to give it one more life or a little more vim and vigor while we’re out.

This time, while we were in the store, everyone within its walls were accosted by the strains of a woman cussing and bellowing about an elusive part she needed for her truck. The clerk helping her was going out of his way to be obliging, which dampened the tirade she had worked herself into, but didn’t quite dull the edge on what she was saying and how she was saying it. This clerk even went so far as to call another store in town to see if they had the part in stock so she wouldn’t have to wait for it. She was impatient while he dialed the phone and stalked to the door to yell something at someone waiting outside. I took the opportunity to give the clerk assisting her a thumbs up of encouragement before my husband and I left after making our purchase. The clerk smiled back, and then made his request when the other store answered his call.

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My husband and I walked out to feed our bike the additive we’d purchased it, and while he nursed the motorcycle, I observed that there were two vehicles parked on either side of us now. A newer full-sized truck with waiting young woman gabbing with someone on a cell phone to the left of us, and an older compact car with waiting elderly woman people watching on the right side of us. Always thinking in stories, I was struck by the irony of the ages. The younger in the newer vehicle, and the elder in the older vehicle. Both women eventually looked over. It took me a bit, but I was able to coax a smile out of the younger, the elder freely gave of her smiles.

The door of the store opened and the caustic woman that had been making a scene inside, began yelling obscenely at the younger woman in the truck beside us. Put out, the younger woman slammed her cell phone down and answered her with a roll of her eyes and a muttered curse word. This exchange happened a few more times before the woman inside the store crashed out to her truck and tore out of the parking lot with as little thought for anything or anyone around them as she had during her time in the store. We all moved out of their way and breathed a sigh of relief when they were gone.

Meanwhile, my husband had been trying to get our motorcycle to start. Our bike was being obstinant…it needed a nap, and we knew this but wanted to get to a restaurant down the way for some lunch. The elder woman in the car next to us was making small talk with us and trying to be positive and encouraging about the bike starting. Eventually, we chose to walk to the restaurant and wished her a good day. She jokingly said she would watch our bike for us and waved us off. I thought about how classy the older woman was and how genuine and kind she seemed. I couldn’t help but compare her with the two women who’d been parked on the other side of us. Their truck may have been fine and new, but they lacked class – sadly, they lacked love and respect for anyone else, and they lacked the truth.

Jesus said in Luke 5:31-32, It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. LORD, I pray the response the caustic woman received for her tirade softened her to hear when you call. I pray that these young women see that the things they have are not making them happy. I pray that they fall to their knees before you in submission very soon because I want for them the joy of knowing You and serving You. I pray you keep us all vigilant of our responses to people like them. That we are able to obediently love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who mistreat us. (Luke 6:27-28) Thank you LORD, in love and honor for You I pray in your holy name. Amen.

Lorinda Freeman

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God.  She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them.  Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.  As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.  We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.  You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.  For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Lorinda has a passion and desire to teach children about the love of God. She is a homeschooling mom of four and together as a family they work within their church with the children’s programs making sure the hearts of all the children are being taught God’s love for them. Lorinda and her husband, Chris, make their home in Hibbing, Minnesota after Lorinda had endured extensive travel growing up as a Navy “brat”. 1 Thessalonians 2:6-13, “We are not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Raspberry Blessings

There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.  Ecclesiastes 3:1

It’s July in Minnesota and that means that for a few precious weeks we can enjoy summer!  Although I’m not a fan of such a short summer, it does indeed help me to really treasure the sunshine and warmth…and the raspberries.  My Grandpa Bud planted the original raspberry bushes in the early 60’s and they are still going strong.  He had other vegetables, but we’re not really good farmers…so we stick with what we do best…a 20’ x 30’ raised bed of large, luscious, labor-intensive anti-oxidant rich red berries!

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My husband and I picked over 3 gallons yesterday but this morning I realized I needed to get out there again!  I began picking by myself and at the first bush I started praying.  Prayers of wonder and thanks for these berries.  When we first moved to Minnesota in 2000 neither of us had a job and this Mama got very creative to feed our four little man-cubs.  Now the berries are a luxury, but no less appreciated.  Those prayers of thanks for the berries and the sunshine and the butterflies turned to prayers for my boys and my husband and my marriage and as I picked I realized how, once again, God was showing me His work in nature, just like our lives.

I know that some of you are smiling right now because 1) you think I’ve been in the sun too long, or 2) you already know where I’m going with this.  The summer harvest is just the culmination of our berry tending, it really begins at the end of fall when the weather is getting bitterly cold.  We have to wait until this summer’s stalks die.  We go into the prickly bushes and trim out all the dead branches, and then we tie up the new growth (which will produce next summer’s berries) with garden twine to the stakes in the middle of the ever-expanding bush.  It’s a painful process which leaves us scraped and itching!  But the fun comes at the end of the day when we have a massive bon fire of all the dead branches.  So even in the not-so-fun pruning there are bright moments.

Over the winter the patch is warm and cozy under a blanket of thick snow.  From what I’ve heard (remember, I am not a garden-gal) we have such great raspberries here because of that hibernation and intense cold.  My sister in California told someone at a nursery that she wanted “raspberries like my sister in Minnesota” and was told it wasn’t even a possibility.  A blessing under the cold, harsh, LLLLLOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNGGGGGGG winter!

In the spring the new growth from the last summer begins to grow anew, and there is also new-new growth that, once again, needs to be tied up.  One thing that always amazes me is that the weeds never really die under the snow…they are the first green things to start their happy growth in the spring.  This spring the weeds and grass almost over-took the berry plants; but that actually began last summer and fall.  We were so over-whelmed with our life – read between the lines things like poor choices and dire consequences for our adolescent boys – last summer that we didn’t keep up with the weeding…we didn’t tend the garden like we should have and the stuff we didn’t want to grow went crazy! But my most-awesome husband decided to use some of his pent up frustration to rip out those unwanted weeds and grass…cathartic and helpful!

Then we patiently wait for the berries.  It seems like it takes forever to be honest.  The plants are so green and lush…the little buds appear…and for a long time it seems like nothing is going to happen.  There is no red, juicy fruit…just these bland looking grey lumps.  If we haven’t tied the plants adequately, when the rain and wind come they’ll just break off…and those grey lumps will remain just that, grey lumps of never-ripened fruit.  But the plants need the rain, and lots of it.

Back to today’s picking and God’s hand in my raspberry patch.  As I’m praying for each of my boys…first recognizing God’s majesty in creating them to be just who they are, acknowledging those character traits that make them unique and at times challenging, His masterpiece given to me to “tend” for a short while.  Thanking God for all He is doing in them and through them (whether they chose to recognize and acknowledge that or not), asking for His protection and guidance and the “whatever it takes” to bring them to where God’s purpose and plan is for them.  Asking the Lord to help me see those “bright moments” in these not-so-fun times.

As I prayed I thought about the fruit I was picking.  The delicious fruit that would not be there but for the pain of tending them through the fall and winter and spring.  The pain that’s caused in the pruning and tying.  The dormant time during winter when it’s cold and there is nothing to do to help the plants and little hope of anything growing again.  Then finally spring with its anticipation and new growth, the dangers and possibility of failure.  But the miracle comes, eventually.  God has created and God is sovereign, and God’s timing is perfect.

Hope flourished in my soul this afternoon while picking raspberries.  God reminded me that there is a season for everything under earth and just because this season isn’t bearing fruit there is every reason to believe that after the pain, and the barrenness, and the weeds, there will be fruit…wonderful, bountiful, overwhelmingly sweet fruit!

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Father please forgive my lack of faith.  My tendency to control and hold on to things I really have no business controlling.  Just like the raspberries, you see everything and know just what it will take to bring those berries to perfection.  Thank you Jesus for holding me in your arms when the pain is too much to bear alone.  Thank you Holy Spirit for the truth and encouragement and hope you whisper to my heart that keeps me going…waiting for the harvest.  In Your Precious Name, Amen!

Stacey Ray

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband.  Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development.  With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram:  “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”