Tag Archives: Spiritual Growth

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The fruit must remain on the tree to become sweet fruit.

Sweet Apples. Sweet Peaches. Sweet Fruit.

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Labor Day weekend is Apple Festival time in North Carolina. We wanted to beat the crowds so we headed to Hendersonville before the weekend. Our first stop took us to Lake Lure, no apples, just lots of beauty to enjoy. I love  to walk along the lake flanked by gorgeous mountains. The Knock-out Roses and Brown-eyed Susans, still glorious were the last of the summer flowers.
Our next stop took us to our favorite apple grower in Hendersonville. A wrinkle faced man, in green work clothes greeted us when we got our of our car. There’s no sign beside the rickety shed where he lines the cardboard boxes and baskets filled to the brim with green and red blushed apples. We stop there ever year, first to taste and then to buy apples. He has the best prices I’ve found on apples in Hendersonville.


He named each apple variety and then encouraged us to taste each one. As we rubbed the apple in our hands and then bit into the crunchy fruit, the grower explained, “the rains have delayed the crop. They aren’t sweet yet.”
We still bought a peck of apples. Half Gala. Half Honey Crisp. We’ll get more from a later picking, when they have finished ripening.
apples-on-groundThen we’re off to Granddad’s Apples. It is the exact opposite of the shed. It is beautiful shop, flanked by beautiful orchards loaded with a variety of apples and peaches. The white fleshed peaches are Wayne’s favorite. And it just doesn’t get much better than selecting and plucking the sweet fruit from the branches. Still Granddad’s Apples is much more than just an orchard where you can pick your own fruit. There’s something for everyone. Kiddie rides. A corn maze. A bakery with apple turnovers, apple pies, even apple bread. Hot Coffee and ice cream complete the dietary food group necessary for a great bakery.And of course there’s apple cider. The  smell alone is worth a trip to Granddad’s Apples.


We heard the same words at Granddad’s, “Not quite ripe yet.” Even the Honeycrisp, my favorite eating apples were tart. We wanted peaches and hoped to pick our own. The peaches weren’t ready yet either. They planned to pick by Saturday. We would be gone, so if had to get them today.
The owner walked with us to the orchard. He spotted one beautiful red peach and touched it gently to test its ripeness. “Almost”, he replied as he moved to another tree. “They need a few more days.”
His wife explained, “They need the tree to sweeten the fruit. The nourishment they get from the tree sweetens the fruit as it ripens. The peaches will get soft off the tree, but not sweet.” I want sweet peaches, so I will wait.

Stay Connected

The fruit must remain on the tree to ripen and sweeten. I know you see it coming. the world is looking for fruit in a Christian’s life, just like we were when we went to Hendersonville. We can get apples and peaches in the grocery store, but we were looking for more than just fruit. We wanted sweet, juicy, mouth watering fruit. The world and Jesus is looking for fruit in a believer’s life, but not knobby, shriveled tasteless fruit. They are looking for sweet, crisp fruit.
John 15:4-5 NIV “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

Sweet Fruit

The fruit must remain on the tree to become sweet fruit.While I realize this doesn’t say anything about being sweet, the very purpose of fruit is its sweetness. Each variety of fruit has its own unique distinctive, but their common characteristic is sweetness. If the fruit  doesn’t stay on the tree long enough it won’t be sweet- period.
If we abide in Him, if we stay connected through relationship, conversation, worship, listening, obeying,then we will produce fruit. If we let it ripen or mature, allowing patience that comes from a strong confidence or faith to  produce her perfect work, it will be sweet fruit.
James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Galatians 5:22, 23 gives us the names of some of the varieties of fruit Jesus is looking for in the life of a fruitful believer: Love. Joy. Peace.  Patience. Gentleness. Kindness. Humility. Self Control.
Fruit. Lots of it. Edible and delectable. Satisfying and refreshing! His goal for every believer. But it will only happen when we partner with Him and make it our active goal. Connected. Believing. Obeying.

Sweet fruit anyone?


Another thought!

Is there a tall, foreboding fence around your fruit that prevents it from being freely enjoyed by the people that really need it?

Is your fruit falling to the ground, rotting and wasting instead of being given away to hungry, needy people?

Your fruit needs to be shared. It is life giving and refreshing. You have something to give. Give it liberally and freely! It’s the best way to give and live.

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Pack Light

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Pack Light Alaska-nature-cruise

Wayne and I love to travel. We have been to some glorious places. We accomplished our goal to see all 50 states in 2011. Mono Lake, California was my favorite place, but I also loved the Sequoia’s and Yosemite. Then there was the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, Mt. McKinley in Alaska, the London Bridge in Arizona, Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts,  and the moose in New Hampshire. We don’t go for the touristy places, we want to explore nature, old landmarks, the capital buildings or museums.  I love meeting people and hearing their stories. But basically, I just love to “go”.

My grandmother loved to go places.I get my love for traveling honest.

My grandmother loved to “go” too.  I remember so clearly, my mother would ask Mama ( that’s what we called our grandmother) “Wanna go home with me?”

Almost, every time, she would say “let me change my apron.”
She’d find a fresh apron, lay some clean underwear inside her apron, roll it into a tight roll and tuck it under her arm.

She’d return to the living room with it tucked under her arm and a smile on her face and say “I’m ready”.

That woman should have won a medal for “lightest luggage” or something. That has to have been some kinda record. Maybe we could call her medal, “Ready to Go!” What da ya think?

I’m not recommending you travel THAT light, but with the fees airlines are charging these days for luggage we are all packing lighter. I have three suggestions to help you pack lighter.

Pack for where you’re going. Not where you are.

Want to achieve your dreams?

                How does a Florida girl pack for Alaska? She doesn’t pack shorts and sleeveless shirts, that’s for sure. I wanted to have clothes that would be warm enough and appropriate for where I was going. It didn’t matter that I was from Florida; I needed clothing that was appropriate for Alaska. So I called a friend that had just returned from Alaska. He knew exactly what I should and should not pack. But then on the other hand ,he didn’t know how cold natured I am either!

When you love to travel you learn to pack light. Life is like that. If you don’t learn to travel light, learn to detox the soul with repentance and forgiveness you be too exhausted from getting there to enjoy your destination.

     1. You gotta know where you’re going.

What do you want to accomplish with your life or ministry?
What is your goal?
What is God’s goal for your life?
What is your passion?

     2. Unpack your past.

This is a tough one. It will require repentance, forgiveness and faith.
Unpack fear, pain, offenses and prejudices.
Unpack jealousy, the dirty clothes, the scraps of paper and junk that litter the bottom of your suitcase from your last trip.

     3. Know what you need.

This one will take persistence.
What skill sets will you need for where you’re going?
If you want to write, take a course in writing.
Start sharpening your skill sets and your knowledge base for where you are going.

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Relationship- The Main Thing

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Relationship- The Main Thing


The rain had washed the pollen out of the air leaving the sweet fragrance of spring in its place. The azaleas were glorious pink balls of blooms as we drove onto the property! The naked landscape of winter was finally dressed in the splendor of spring and dark forest emerald greens, adorned with splashed of purple from the Princess Trees and white and pink Dogwoods.


I wanted to plunk down and breathe in the beauty of the mountains, but Wayne was anxious to check the fruit trees. So we walked through the yard, from tree to tree looking for fruit like children at an egg hunt. He pointed out the tiny apples on the newest Wine sap and Gala trees that he had planted just this fall. His Golden Delicious tree had lots of apples. The nectarine out by the road was loaded with tiny red, nippled fruit.


The first plum tree was loaded with plums. Wayne quipped, “I guess you would say, I’m plum blessed.” That guy is always coming up with something. We had to hunt to find the tiny peaches hidden under healthy leaves.


The cherry trees were just beginning to burst with blooms. Wayne stopped at his second plum tree, but could not spot a single plum. I never thought anymore about it. I had super to cook and a beautiful view to enjoy, but Wayne was concerned. Why doesn’t this tree have any plums?

Relationship- The Main Thing

It was obvious the tree was healthy because it was the tallest of the plum trees. The leaves were perfectly shaped and shiny green- yet it was unfruitful. But when he looked closer, he discovered two wild suckers growing from the main root. The suckers were covered with thorns instead of fruit. Gobbling nutrition from the root, the suckers towered over the struggling main stock of the tree. Imposters! Invaders!


Wayne was looking for fruit –not shade.


The next morning I saw Wayne standing in front of the beautiful plum tree. Two tall suckers. Too beautiful to remove. Too barren to remain.


There was only one option- the suckers had to go. I watched while Wayne sawed. It was sad to see the lush tree–like sucker tumble to the ground. It was tall. It was so beautiful.– so healthy–so big. And when the second sucker was removed, I realized how small the plum tree really was. It looked frail in comparison.


I realized I was watching a powerful visualization of the power of diversion. I prayed as I pulled weeds, Father, what are the distractions that I have allowed in my life to suck time and energy away from my ultimate purpose of knowing you and out of that relationship bearing fruit? What are the big thing that I’ve nourished and allowed to grow tall, yet they remain sterile and unfruitful? What are the beautiful things that I’ve made “sacred cows”? Beautiful things that I’ve enjoyed so much I didn’t even realize they were unfruitful, no fragrant blooms–only lush leaves! What are the things in my life that steal my time? Steal my faith? Steal my hope, because my energy is diverted. Not sinful things good things beautiful things, but not the main thing the important thing.


In every season of our lives, we must keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is not ministry. The main thing is not even my family or any of the other really important things that I am called to do. The main thing is Jesus.


I understand that trees are made to produce limbs growing in all directions. And not just limbs–but branches–and twigs–twisting—reaching–growing to crown a tree with regal beauty. And like a healthy tree we were made to accomplish a lot of different things–ministry-jobs-family-fun. But we will not be fruitful if the main stock has to compete for sunlight and nutrition.


We sometimes forget that all of life flows out of a relationship with Jesus. He enriches, energizes and affects everything that is important or that makes life meaningful.


As I close, I ask you to ask Father the same questions. Listen. And when you see, I hope you’ll saw!

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Growing Grass 101- Light

Growing Grass 101- Light

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Wayne and I love trees. When we built our home, we were careful to leave every tree possible on the lot. We wanted lots of trees and we got them! Huge live oaks, bay trees, I hate those huge rubbery leaves, loquat, fig, orange, lemon, pine, hickory and scraggly scrub oaks.


But what we don’t have is grass.

Growing Grass 101- LightWe have installed sod twice. Seeded it. Fertilized it. Prayed over it. The man that sod our yard the last time promised that this special grass, which we paid extra for, a lot extra, would grow under trees! Well, the truth is– nothing much grows under trees and I have the bare spots to prove it!

Because the reality is– green plants need light.

Even big trees will twist and turn to find some sun!


They need it to grow. Some trees will shoot up tall to reach the sun they need. Others, will twist and turn, leaving limbs and branches twisted and turned permanently as it grows toward the light. Look at this tree. Joy Hemler and I think it did this trying to grow toward the light.

Growing Grass 101

I’m not telling you about anything new, you know plants need light. You check the light requirements on the back of the seed package or plant tags. You plant in full sun or partial shade according to the directions, or you WILL watch the plant refuse to grow in spite of watering and fertilizing.


But do you realize that if you want to grow, if you want to be fruitful– you need the light?


Look at Ephesians 5:8 in the King James Version “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)”


It says the “fruit of the Spirit” which is referencing the Holy Spirit. But NAS says (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth).

I love that it uses the word light here for two reasons.

  1. One of the major roles of Precious Holy Spirit is to “turn on the light” or be the light that opens our understanding to truth that is hidden in the context of Scripture.
    • He wants to reveal truth.
    • He wants to show us Jesus.
    • He wants to give practical understanding, so we can live out the truths of Scripture.
  2. If you’re gonna grow fruit, and every believer should, then you must have light. If we walk with Him, we walk in the light.


But walking in the light isn’t always easy.

Sometimes the glaring truth I see makes me want to put on sunglasses so I don’t see what I see. Sometimes I see things makes me feel uncomfortable. I see needs that made me feel sad. I’d rather be happy, so walking in the light can be challenging. Often it means something in my life has to die-habits, attitudes or wrong motives.


Or it can mean that I see an area I have to grow in, like witnessing—now that’s a scary thought. Sometimes, it means I have to forgive or give someone a helping hand or say something encouraging.


When I walk in the light, I never really know where it will take me. The light never stays on safe, level pathways. The Light takes me to exciting places and challenging places, to beautiful places and dark, lonely places.


Sometimes I struggle to stay in the light and sometimes I rejoice in the Light. One thing I know for certain, there’s life in the Light. If I want to be fruitful, if we want to be fruitful, we must walk in the Light!

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Face the Music or Pay the Piper

Pay the Piper or Face the Music- Consequences

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Face the Music or Pay the Piper
Dressed in bright colors the mysterious man called himself a rat catcher. He negotiated with the citizens of Hameln to rid them of all their rats. This legend of the Pied Piper of Hameln shared by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Piped Piper of Hamln
is disturbing. First, the thought of a town overrun with rats is repulsive. Just the thought gives me the heebeegeebees! Do you ever get the heebeegeebees?
Then the audacity of a town that simply refused to pay the piper, which was totally irresponsible and shocking. Yes, I know it happens, but it’s disappointing.
Then the outlandish retribution of  the piper’s abduction of the town’s most precious treasure- the children!
Even as a child its alarming message saturated my thinking, “Don’t follow the wrong person.” Even if you’re having tons of fun and even if a crowd is following right along with you. Don’t do it! It can have disastrous consequences.
Again and again, we warn our children about strangers. But as an adult, who are you following? Who are modeling? What are you feeding your mind? Be careful, we ARE inclined to follow the crowd. It is so easy to embrace a secular world view, especially if  we feed our minds from the garbage around us. Don’t be deceived. Don’t ignore the warning. Guard your heart by guarding your eyes, your ears and your thoughts. Don’t allow music in your house that violates principles of God’s Word. Be careful what you read. Be careful who you spend most of your time with!

Proverbs 11:19 Genuine righteousness leads to life, but pursuing evil leads to death. Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)

I understood it’s warning!
Pay the piper. Act responsibility. Do the right thing or there will be unwanted consequences.
Even as a young child, I understood that truth, because the Bible is filled with warnings that echo across the canyons of time, carrying stories of men and women who ignored the warnings and faced the music.The tragic thing is, in every case, when they faced the music, they didn’t like the tune they heard!
This truth isn’t just for children.
While gripping the plain truth of right and wrong, which is often wrapped with a clear warning, we indulge our selfish desires or neglect our duties. We are convinced that we are exempt from the rules. Or that for some reason, we are shielded from the consequences. And sometimes, we may avoid the consequences–for a while.
But don’t be confused.
God’s tender mercy is not an endorsement that your sin has gone undetected. Don’t assume that you are off the hook, because you haven’t had to face it yet. Each of us will stand before God and give account of our actions.

That’s why true repentance is so important.

Repentance is more than a guilty feeling. Repentance is more than knowing what you did was wrong.

Repentance is: Recognizing sin as rebellion against God’s laws. Recognizing that sin separates us from fellowship with God. Ask for forgiveness for the sin. Turn from the sin. Choose to obey God’s will, God’s way. Even if you disagree with Him. Ask God to help you do what is right!

Hey! I’m so glad you stopped by!

I am Pat Holland. I am a wife, mom, a Nana, and a child of God. I am living out my passion to equip and encourage believers to live out their faith through the power and presence of Precious Holy Spirit.



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