Please Don’t Bruise the Fruit!

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.   Galatians 5:22-23

 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

 On a late afternoon in September, my mother had just passed away at the age of ninety.  My sister and I had the privilege to be with her during her final hours in the emergency room.  Watching her peacefully fading away with no fear or evidence of panic or struggle, I felt remarkably calm, almost as if I could sense that she was actually seeing Jesus reaching out for her hand to take her home.  It was a beautiful experience to witness a faithful child of God embracing the next step in her journey of faith.
Leaving the hospital, we saw a couple we knew from our church with another couple we did not know and who had come to attend to someone in crisis there in the hospital.  Our friends asked us why we were there, so we told them our mother had just passed away.  We expressed our confidence in the knowledge that she was with the Lord, joy because of that assurance, and thanksgiving for the life she had lived.  Instead of screaming hysterically in grief or despair, we controlled of our emotions praising God even in the midst of our sorrow.  Our friends extended their sympathy to us, and we left.
Later on, I received from my friend a note of condolence, in which she added another chapter to this story.  She said the friends who were with her that day were not believers in Jesus.  But, because of our demeanor and words of faith, hope, and joy, the non-Christian couple were amazed, asking how we could behave that way immediately after our mother’s death.  Our friends were happy to report this experience had given them opportunity share the love and grace of Jesus!  Not knowing whether or not their friends chose to accept God’s forgiveness through faith in His son, I loved having a small part in their hearing the gospel of salvation!
How could this be. . . joy in sorrow. . . calm in unexpected circumstances. . . faith and thanksgiving in loss?  It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can exhibit these qualities even when it seems impossible.  Every Christian receives the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Risen Christ, the moment he or she trusts Jesus as Savior.  He is our Comforter, our Teacher, our Enabler, The Seal of our salvation, the Guarantee of our resurrection— and the One who brings the very expression of God’s nature to fruition in our lives.
The Bible often refers to seed-planting and fruit-bearing.  In Genesis 3:15, the “seed of the woman” is Jesus.  Therefore, since we are indwelt by the Spirit of Jesus, we can expect the “seed” to produce the “fruit of the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)  But we have a choice about that! Paul admonished the Galatians to “walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25) Wow!  This means that we are to be purposeful in choosing to behave in a way that pleases God’s Spirit, allowing His attributes to be displayed.  Paul warned the Ephesian believers not to, “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” (Ephesians 4:30)  Evidently, if we do grieve Him, He does not work in our lives as He desires.  But how do we grieve the Holy Spirit of God?  We grieve Him by being ungrateful, refusing to obey Him, neglecting to read His Word, and failing to pray.  If we choose to do the things that do please Him, then His character will be made manifest in our behavior.  Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16)  Others have said our circumstances do not determine our true character, but bring out the character that is already in us.  What good is it to enjoy the fruit of God’s Spirit only inwardly?  How we live our lives is how others know that we are Christians.  They can’t know that if our actions contradict our words.
In the upcoming months, some Spirit-led women will share how the fruit of the Spirit has been meaningful as they have “walked in the Spirit.”  I hope it will be a source of encouragement in your own daily walk.
I am reminded of the old hymn “Have Thine Own Way, Lord.”  The final verse goes like this:
“Have thine own way, Lord!  Have thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.”


About the writer:

 Diana is a former high school teacher, Sunday School teacher, and Women’s Bible Studies teacher. For many years a stay-at-home wife and mother, she is now also a grandmother to three young Oklahomans, who call her “Gigi” and currently serves as editor of Yada Yada.

The Parent-Child Relationship

As a parent, I am often cognizant of the responsibility that God has given me as a parent to train up my child in the ways of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). All throughout the Old Testament the Lord reminded HIs people of the importance of passing on the chronicles of Israel and what happened when His chosen people were careless to pass on the ways of the Lord. Destruction, chaos, and great weeping were always the result of a generation who did not know the ways of Yahweh.

I grew up in a Christian home where my parents and grandparents were faithful to teach the Word of God and who were living examples of believers becoming more like Christ in their attitudes and actions. I trusted Christ as my Savior at a young age. However, many years later, I found myself considering turning from the path of Christ alone as the way to God. Christ didn’t seem to have importance if I was able to perfect myself in my own strength and become one with God by just being more conscious, healthy—pure in mind/body/spirit. My reasoning had become much like that of the Church in Galatia to whom Apostle Paul wrote the book of Galatians to (Galatians 3:3).

There was a moment during that particular season of my life, that I most vividly remember, sitting on the cold rock floor of a world-renown “guru”. The man himself was not alive anymore, but I sat by and watched a room full of pupils become unconscious and loose control of themselves at the sound of his recorded lecture. They laughed, cried, chanted, fell to the floor and moved as he dictated—like puppets. When they came to at the sound of his cue, their hypnotic trance ended and they were completely unaware of what had just transpired. I remember in a room of several hundred, there were just a handful of us who did not respond and remained uncontrolled by him.

During those moments, the Holy Spirit reminded that I belonged to HIm and to no one else. He said I was His chosen child—set apart and sealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22). He reminded me that I wasn’t a Christian because my parents taught me to be—it was the personal decision I had made in response to the grace of God to offer me forgiveness and salvation through Jesus Christ.

For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ…But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me…  Galatians 1:11-12, 15-16a

He reminded me that He had no intention of letting go of me (2 Timothy 2:13) . Such comfort  we can have for ourselves or when believing children, spouses, or loved ones are living in disobedience or denial (Philippians 1:6).

What a blessing to know that God holds His children with an eternal grip and remains their Lord. What a blessing to know that our salvation isn’t a knowledge-based faith that we subscribe to or are born into, but a relationship with God through faith in Christ’s gracious forgiveness that has NO end.

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Lost Laughter

boys-on-beach“I don’t know what your laugh sounds like.” These are the words my 5-year-old son said to me the other day. I brushed it off when he first said it. Of course he knows what my laugh sounds like. He was just being silly. Right? When was the last time I laughed with him?

“Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you had then?”  Galatians 4:15a.(NLT)

I have joy. Do my boys see it? Unfortunately, they probably do not. They don’t see the light-hearted, joy-filled, easy-going, full of laughter me. They see this stressed out, overly frustrated, high strung, over committed shell of a mom. Where did the real me go? In my mind, I’m the mom I want to be, but, in reality- I’m barely surviving, struggling to keep my head above the waves of our hectic lives and full schedules. And I’m not doing a quarter of the “Things Good Moms Do” to have well rounded, happy, morally sound children, or whatever is trending now. Read to them, get them into sports, let them create, challenge them, let them read to you, listen to them, feed them (at least 3 times a day, every day), encourage them, help them with homework, humble them, comfort them, set boundaries for them, teach them manners, pray with them, teach them how to become responsible and productive members of society…and the list goes on. My own personal list-the one in my head-goes on. I dwell on so many expectations, so many ways I am failing as a mom. I have hidden my joy under this list. I have prioritized this list over my joy- over my kids’ joy.

Feelings of guilt and inadequacy are red flags. I need to check my focus. Am I living by faith in Christ or by trying to exceed the expectations and demands of this world? I seem to spend all day on the toils of life, without enjoying the rewards of the toil.

“What profit is there to the worker for that in which he toils? … moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor,—it is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 3:9,13

Without God, I find no relief from the toils of life and have no direction to guide me through life’s complications. Satisfaction and joy are lost.

With God, I realize that each day is a gift. I can find pleasure in what I am doing now because this work comes directly from God’s hand. He has given me this life, my husband, my children, and our home. He will also give me the strength to complete the work before me and the wisdom to discern priorities. I will serve Him through my work here at home and through the rearing of my boys. I will find satisfaction and joy, and I will laugh again.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

About the Writer:
Meghan is a former art teacher who feels blessed to now be a stay-a-home mom to her two boys. She loves volunteering at her sons’ school and with the First Baptist Dallas Women’s Ministry and First Impressions Team. She is passionate about art, cooking, working out, and playing volleyball.

Lessons From the Garden

When my husband and I moved into our first home together, I was eager to garden. I knew that it would take a little hard work, but I was enthusiastic about the opportunity that each dry, forgotten flowerbed carried. From a distance, I had watched how my mother’s garden developed over time into a beautiful oasis. Every year she would add a few new plants, and continue to tend to those she had already established.

And so, with this quaint memory, I began to work on my own garden. I first began with a charge of energy. Daily I would spend time turning over the soil with my hands, fertilizing and preparing it for the plants to come. By transplanting cuttings from family members’ gardens and gathering a few freebies on Craigslist, my garden slowly began to take root.

After just a few years in our home, I have watched a story take place in our garden that can be reflective of our lives in so many ways. Within a year of being in our home, my eagerness to garden was replaced with the sleepless nights that arrive with a new baby. It was no longer my priority. The plants became an afterthought and weeds began to set in.  ‘At least they are green’ I would tell myself as I walked past the window.

In looking back on my mother’s garden, I see now that it was with continual and tender effort that she reaped a beautiful vision for all to enjoy. She cultivated her garden daily, and her diligence and hard work was evident. In order to grow and develop in our spiritual lives, we must continually water, prune and tend to the gardens of our hearts.

So, here are just a few of the spiritual lessons that I’ve gleaned from the garden.

  1. Some plants will take over your garden, so be cautious what you choose to plant.

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:8-9

                   2.  Pruning allows the plant to focus its energy and growth in fewer places.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

                    3. Gardening takes patience first before you will begin to see the rewards.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

About the Writer:
Audra has a passion for encouraging women in their roles at home in both marriage and motherhood. She enjoys sharing her journey of refinement and learning through these important transitions on her blog called The Homegrown Project.