“Clouds got in my way …”


In 1967, Joni Mitchell wrote the song “Both Sides Now”, a haunting song of many verses:

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

The song has several other verses.  She wrote it after reading a book where the author was talking about flying over Africa and how due to modern technology we can fly above the clouds and see them from both sides (verse 1) and then in day-to-day life (verse 2) what clouds mean.   She told in an interview that it occurred to her that we should see both sides to everything and not be afraid to die, it is just another side of where we are now.  What clouds are in your life now? Which one is the one to follow?  Do you ponder the clouds?

Over the past couple of weeks I have had clouds come up in several things I have read.  I found over 147 times in the Bible where God refers to or uses cloud(s). God used a cloud to guide Moses and the children of Israel through the desert. The cloud stopped, they stopped … it moved, they moved.  In a book I just finished reading the girl prays for God to guide her in choices by helping her follow His “cloud”.  I heard Joni Mitchell’s song on the radio this week and started thinking about the “cloud” God is using in my life now.  Then yesterday I was walking through Annapolis with my good friend Karen and looking at a clear blustering sky with varying sizes of clouds. I told her of God using “clouds” to guide me.

Figuratively, clouds are everywhere.  There is a “cloud” on my blog that helps people find this post based on the key words they put in their browser.  When I stare at the clouds in the sky I imagine I see shapes.  Phil and I sometimes look up and show each other those shapes.  We laugh and share stories based on what is brought to mind.

I can look to the sky and there are all types of clouds depending on the day and I decide if I need to dress for cold, rain or heat.  The weatherman tells us what clouds are coming and what to expect.  “Clouds” help us to decide many things if we consider them and look at them from both sides.  In life these “clouds” take many shapes. God places “clouds” and more specifically A CLOUD in our life to guide us.    Looking at the cloud from both sides  (His and ours) and taking the time to think about it in prayer with Him, helps us to make decisions.  God still guides us today through our “cloud”. You know what it is and you choose to follow the “cloud” or make a conscious decision to ignore the way you need to go.  When you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit will guide you in your daily and life’s decisions.  Remember, as parents, how you make your decisions  is how you teach your children to make decisions.   What do they see you do when faced with a choice?

The Bible says,

James 1:5 HCSB
“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.”

Unlike the song,

“It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all”,

we can look towards Him with full confidence; with no disillusionment and know our “cloud” will guide if we will only follow Him.

Does the Donkey Need to Talk?


What's He Saying?

Delores, my mother’s BFF of 85 years, was at her funeral.  They were maid/matron of honor at each others’ weddings.  Delores’ daughters and mom’s five grew up like cousins and in fact attended each others family events.  We have a lot of memories.  One of my favorite memories is from my bridal shower that Delores hosted at her home.  She invited about 60 women from our church.  At that time they had been BFF’s for over 50 years and Delores could not resist a good tongue in cheek joke on my mom.  As an ice breaker every woman had a Bible character’s name placed on their back as they came in the door.  Once everyone was in the door we were instructed to go up to people and ask questions to try to figure out whose name was on our back.  The women would look at the sticker on your back and answer ‘yes/no’  questions to help you figure out who you were.   Delores had put Balaam’s uhm … ‘donkey’ on my mom’s back.  Okay, think the GASP at the end of the horse race scene from My Fair Lady.

God has a sense of humor too.  In tough times, in our rebellious times, He gets our attention one way or another.  Numbers 22 tells the story of Balaam, a greedy man who the King of Moab asked to curse the Israelites because they were afraid of them.   On the trip to curse the Israelites God blocked the path of the donkey and when Balaam could not get the donkey to move he beat the donkey each time.   Then God had the donkey speak to Balaam and opened his eyes to the angel that blocked the path.

God blocks our paths and sometimes we try to bulldozer our way through in our own strength.  Got a toddler?  A teenager?  They just won’t listen … you know how God feels with you then.  Sometimes we forge ahead through all obstacles, standing on the belief that God is going to get us through.  But, you’re not on God’s path if you have to make your own way, if you have to beat the messenger.  God’s word says:

James 1:5-7(HCSB)5 Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

When you are in God’s path there will be obstacles, but there will also be ways around those obstacles made clear.  Beating your way through is not His way.

Does God need to make the Donkey talk to you today?

Renee’ Green copyright 2011

 RBGreenDesigns.com 2020

 

R U A Fixer-Upper?


“I CAN’T FIX IT” … ever feel frustrated with your life … your family … your job?  Do you feel helpless to help? I hate that feeling.  I like to make things better.

Face it: You Can't Fix It

R. U. A Fixer-upper?  Do you try to solve all your own problems?  (Fix your children’s lives to make them smooth?)  Of course we are to be helpful, doing unto others as we would have them do unto us; loving and caring.  But, sometimes you can’t ‘fix it’, and you were not meant to fix people’s lives.

I admit that I have often said to the Lord in my prayer time, “Lord, if you’d let me I could” or “Lord, you know if this happened then …”.  I like to fix it.  Right now, if I could, I would give my husband his dream job, we would have all the money we need come in to fix our financial woes, I would save our house from the bank … I would fly to my daughter to help take care of my sick granddaughter.  Yet, as ‘noble’ as all those plans are, they are not God’s plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
What if we truly believed God’s word?  What if we fully understood that our soul is safe … that He is taking care of it and that our HOPE and FUTURE are in Him? Yes, sometimes we will not prosper and we will fall in harms way … but, that’s here … on earth.  And sometimes we will prosper and have everything going our way here on earth.  But God’s plan is that we all find His son and live with Him in prosperity in the future … in Heaven.  This life on earth is preparing us for that time.
So many times when we try to ‘fix’ things we break them … we make them worse.  God gives discernment to you through His Holy Spirit… if we would only listen.
God does not teach or guide you through doubt.  He gives HOPE.  HOPE is an action verb.  You stand before choices and ask God to guide you.  If you have doubts about a choice, you wait.  You make choices that He shows you.  When you read His word and pray each day, you are in tune with Him and the Holy Spirit.  As odd as it sounds, you have peace over even making a hard decision.
Why do we try to repair our broken lives when we not only know the best “fixer-upper”, but He is also the creator of what needs fixing?

Yield Your ALL to Him and He Will Direct Your Path

When Do You Get Directions?


Got Lost Lately?

Ever go on a trip with no plan?  No maps?  No guidance (GPS, etc.)?  I’ll admit to times where I ‘get lost’ to explore a town.  My sense of direction must have come from my father … I may make a few wrong turns, but I will get you there.

In life, unlike a car, wrong turns can have lasting consequences.  Raising kids without understanding choices and consequences leads to disastrous results.  People have asked me all through the years what books to read to raise kids or where did I get my ideas.  From the “manual’ that was given to us; His word.  Unfortunately, many do not seek the manual or the directions there until they are totally ‘lost’ … even after they are saved.

The Bible is plain about seeking direction.

 Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)
 “5 Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding:
 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths.”

God wants to direct our paths.  When you or your child need direction, ASK HIM.   Many of us are like the proverbial man that refuses to admit he’s lost and needs to pull in the gas station for directions.  He would prefer to wander around in circles and run out of gas rather then admit that he is lost and stop and ask for directions.

Many seek directions from others and never think to seek out God’s will.  He says ASK.  If you have no clear cut path, you have an answer … you are to stay where you are and WAIT ON THE LORD

Psalm 27:14 “Wait patiently for the LORD. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the LORD.” (NLT)

When you have more then one door open, ask God to close all but the one that is His perfect will.  You do not close the door yourself.  Wait on the Lord and He will show you the right path, the right door, the RIGHT DIRECTION.

Left? Right? U-Turn?  STOP?

I know it is hard.  Believe me, after Phil loosing his job in 6/o7 we have had several years of waiting on His direction.  We have had no clear path so we keep still and wait on Him.  Does that mean we are doing nothing?  No.  Phil applies to jobs daily.  He has had two interviews this week.  Doors open, they close.  No door has stayed open.  MANY have ‘advised’ us on what ‘they’ would do, or asked us why we have not done this or that … or have you tried this?  Our answer? “The Lord will show us and we will know it is what He wants us to do.”

When do you seek directions?  Daily, even hourly.  Do not wait until you’re ‘lost’.  Circumstances can change suddenly … be ready with an open line for directions. 

Know how to read His road signs.  Need direction in your life?  Ask Him … then be still, and …

James 1:19 “.. .Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”

?? What IF? ??


 

IF?

 

What IF?  I had a teacher that instilled in her class to ask, “What IF?”.   Basically, she was teaching us to ‘think it through’.  There are those that say, “if only I had”, or “if things were different”, etc.   But, what she wanted us to learn was to weigh the consequences.  God’s word has many ‘ifs’, too many to list in a short space like a blog.  But, here is the idea …

2 Chronicles 7:14

IF my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

“IF” … “then”.   That is a cause and effect.  Throughout the Bible God says, “if” we do something, “then” something will happen.  Society has forgotten there are consequences.  God expects us to teach our children to THINK through, to be responsible, to understand consequences.   This was one of my favorite object lessons in classes at the high schools where I worked.  There were teenagers following the crowd, the media, Hollywood.  They were not thinking for themselves.   IF only their parents had taught them to ‘think through things’, in scenario form, THEN maybe these students would have been making wiser choices.   Of course I was not allowed to teach morality.  BUT, I was allowed to teach them to think.  In fact I was encouraged to engage students in thinking as part of my job.

In almost every class somewhere during the day, students would get into an ‘current issues’ debate.  While I could not instigate the debate or ‘throw’ in my views (unless specifically asked), I could interject “WHAT IF?”   That would always get things going.   Their first question back would always be, “what if WHAT?”   At this point I would look at both sides of the discussion and ask them to explain, “what if you are WRONG?”  Here are some  brief examples from some of the classes to show you how we started (the discussions were much longer of course and they really had to think out why they believed what they believed):

ABORTION:   “What if you are wrong?”
ProChoice: “Then they have murdered innocent lives.”  ProLife:  “A baby will be born”.
JESUS IS LORD:  “What if you are wrong?”
Atheist, other religions: “They are going to hell.”  Christians: “They have lived a life of service, love, and good.”
PREMARITAL SEX: “What if you are wrong?”
Believe it’s ok: They are adulterers, fornicators, guilt, health risks for nothing etc.
Abstinence until marriage:  “They have purity, no guilt, little health risks.

Starting children when they are young to ask “what if they are wrong”, will help them as pre-teens and teens to handle peer pressure and to think on their feet.  It will help them as adults to make important decisions, especially when satan* is making everything ‘gray’.   When your little one is thinking about doing something wrong and you see them, do not yell “DON’T”.   Instead, use our Heavenly Father’s model.  “If” …. “then“.   (Now obviously, I am not talking about when they are about to reach for a hot curling iron, are touching a sharp tool, or doing anything dangerous.)   It is important to instill in them the ability to reason, to question, to make good decisions … to think on their feet.    So look at them and tell them they have the opportunity to make a decision like a big boy or girl … tell them to make sure it is a good decision and ask them, “what if you are wrong?”

Use every opportunity you can when your child is disobeying to look at them and tell them they are making a decision.  Make them aware of their actions.  Tell them IF they continue to not listen and to disobey, THEN you will have to punish them.  IF they obey, THEN they reap the good consequences.  PLUS, most little children like knowing they pleased their parent.   Children like to know their parents are proud of them.  Make sure you acknowledge their good decisions and tell them how proud you are of them.

As an adult this should ring true in your life.  Daily, we have decisions, choices … some we rationalize and make gray when they are not.  God’s word says “IF” … “THEN“.  We have decisions to make and God has filled the Bible with the wisdom we need to make those decisions.  Yet, like children, many times we CHOOSE to disobey willingly and then whine when we receive the punishment and consequences.  Why?  WE chose them, not Him.  He told us what would happen.   God’s word says in Isaiah 5 (and so many other passages) ‘woe be unto you’ when you make wrong choices.   Wrong choices, a.k.a. SIN.

Do you have a decision to make today?  Talk it out in front of your child.  Use it as an opportunity to teach them how to decide.   Take every opportunity to show your child and let them watch you asking yourself, “what if I am wrong?” … ‘what if I am right?”

*satan – I know people capitalize the “S” but, I don’t.  I refuse to give him any status of importance.  He’s a snake, so satan, devil, etc. are lower case, as he is one.