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!

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How Arethe Mighty Fallen

How Are the Mighty Fallen

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How are the mighty fallen? (2 Samuel 1:27) Was David’s agonizing response when he received the report that Jonathon and Saul had been killed on the battlefield. And it was the question I had to ask the park ranger at the entrance to Walnut Canyon Park


How Arethe Mighty Fallen

. Our adventure took us from the red rocks of Sedona to Flagstaff. It was early fall and my image of the hot deserts of Arizona did not include snow. But as we climbed higher and higher, > the temperature dropped and so did the snow. Everything turned white and dazzling as nature wrapped and blanketed the ground and limbs with soft, wet snow. (Sorry I didn’t find my Flagstaff pictures. This is one in Sedona.)


We stopped and threw mushy snowballs, but it was too cold for this thin blooded Southern to play very long. I braved the cold again, when we stopped at a park to watch the water tumble down rocks and twist its way out of the sight.


Back into the car, we climbed higher until we reached Walnut Canyon National Park. At every twist and turn our views included magnificent vistas, giant pines, straight and towering like sentinels along the roadway strewn with dead pines like matchsticks dumped from a box. An enormous ponderosa pine stood directly across from the Visitor’s Center. One side of the tree bare and brown and the other half sporting it’s winter greenery like a peacock it’s feathers.

We scrambled out of the car, well actually, I scrambled and Wayne ambled. He wasn’t quite as excited as I was. The things that man goes through because he loves me! We headed for the warm, roaring fire that welcomed us from the front door like a grandma with hot cookies.

I enjoyed the snow, but I was intrigued by the graveyard of ponderosa pines that we had just driven through. Those tall pines are huge! And the dead ones were naked reminders and remainders of the tremendous giants ponderosa’s can become, now stripped of their beauty and life, strewn across the mountainous landscape. What happened? Why? How? Thankful to have a warm place to escape the snow and someone to question, I began my barrage of questions.

The park ranger explained that there were two culprits responsible for the devastation that I was observing. He explained that the drought had continued for several years that had critically limited the trees ability to produce life-giving sap. In the absence of sap, a tiny beetle had invaded the tree and traversed the capillaries. He picked up a bottle and showed us a single tiny culprit inside, no bigger than a grain of rice. I was shocked. The infestations of the tiny beetles had brought devastation to hundreds of pine trees all over the higher elevations of Arizona.

It was hard to imagine a tiny beetle was the culprit. But then I realized that drought coupled with the ravages of an infestation of beetles that was the culprit.


For my people have done two evil things: They have forsaken me — the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! Jeremiah 2:13 NLT


Not the picture of drought you might expect, but the root of spiritual drought. This is a picture of moving away from the artesian well—God. But more than leaving Him out of our lives, it is the bold self-confident act of digging another source to sustain life. And this is exactly why we as a culture are experiencing–spiritual drought. Spiritual drought came as a result of our moving away from God. And the result is the moral decay that destroys families, breeds anger, murder, immorality and godlessness.

But even in a culture of drought, you can enjoy a living giving relationship with God. Draw near to Him with worship and thanksgiving. Relish His Words and allow them to shape your ideas, your attitudes and every area of your life. Cling to truth. Be filled to overflowing with His Spirit. Allow it to permeate every area of your life- energizing, developing and maturating your faith. Listen for and obey His voice. You’ll experience what the woman at the well did and it will propel you to share what you’ve enjoyed with those around you.

©Copyright Patricia Holland

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Make Your Minutes Count

Make Your Minutes Count- Accomplishments

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Make Your Minutes Count

We began our journey into a new year just a few hours ago. Whether you slammed the door on 2012 with relief that it was finally over or you wanted to linger to enjoy its treasures and your accomplishments, 2012 has ended. That door is forever closed. We can gild 2012 or wrap it in the shroud of sorrow, but its behind us. We cannot change it. Wishing for a do-over is futile.

Make your minutes count! Make Your Minutes Count

So reflect to gain insight on its successes and learn from its mistakes, but its time to move on because a new door opened Tuesday. We began a trek through the 525949 minutes of 2013. That’s a lot of minutes. So small and insignificant that we are tempted to waste them like we leave a single penny lying on the sidewalk. But that’s dangerous, because minutes are the little building blocks of life. Spend them well and life is richer–fuller. Waste too many unrecoverable minutes and dreams are unrealized and goals are missed. Spend them all in one place and your life is out of balance. Invest them wisely and purposefully and you reap the benefits and joys of a day, a year, a life well lived with valued accomplishments.
But there’s more…invite God into each moment, allow Him to orchestrate them, empower them with His presence and you have a blessed life. He really does have a plan for your life and it’s a good plan. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Listen to His voice, follow His plan and plug into to His strength and ability.
Make Your Minutes Count
This moment is a precious gift, so squeeze everything you can out of every moment. Squeezing the most out of a minute is more than filling it with activity or busyness. It means using it strategically and purposefully with specifically accomplishments in mind. Squeeze the most out of every moment by making them count!

But how?

1.    Ask God for wisdom and help?
2.    Prayerfully think about the question, “What does God want me to do this year, the next six months, three months.”
3.    Break that question down into categories that influence every area of your life: Financial, Spiritual, Emotional, Relational and Physical.
4.    Then set a goal. Ugh! That’s a nasty four-lettered word. (Here are some more four letter words I’ve discussed in my blogs. Another Four Lettered Word I Hate;  Four Lettered Word that Will Change Your Kids Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with just one or two.
5.    Write it down. This is important. Write it down. Put it in a place that you will look at it regularly. You may need to schedule a reminder for a certain time every day, once a week or once a month if it’s a big goal to look at your goal.
6.    Reverse engineer the goal. You’ve started with the end in mind, now back up, what are the steps that you need to take to travel to your goal.
7.    What tools, help or resources do you need to accomplish that goal?
8.    Change your attitude by changing how you think. Think about how you will feel after accomplishment of this goal. Set little mile markers in between where you are now and your ultimate goal. Build your faith with promises from Gods Word. Declare those promises out loud. Pray over your goal.
9.    Get busy doing it. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t complain. Keep chiseling away, no matter how tiny the step or how insignificant your progress may seem.
10.  Finish it. Don’t be afraid to tweak, re-evaluate or hone your goal, but don’t quit because it’s hard, the steps are mundane or you fail along the way. My friend Tamara Kraft wrote an excellent blog on how to do more than make a resolution, how to accomplish your goal. Here’s the link: Finish It!

Links I used in this blog: 

Another Four Lettered Word I Hate;  

Four Lettered Word that Will Change Your Kids

Finish It!

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Crazy Black Friday Shopping

Crazy Black Friday Shopping Pursuits

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Crazy Black Friday ShoppingWere you one of the crazies that fought the crowds to find that perfect gift on Black Friday? It’s a tradition and a team sport at my house. We started pouring over the ads online, Monday night. It was important to map out our route, so we don’t waste a single minute. I prefer getting up at 3 AM Black Friday morning, trudging out into the cold (if you call Florida weather cold) with steaming cups of coffee to do my shopping pursuits. But now the stores open Thanksgiving, so I must plod fat and miserable after over-eating all day to find my fair share of great deals. You gotta get there when they have the sales, not when you wanna go, so 8 PM Thursday night found us waiting in line for the first wave of bargains. Black Friday has become so huge, it has oozed over into Thursday. We politely grabbed our stuff, checked out and headed for the next store. This continued until almost 3 AM and I had been up since 3 AM the day before. I was crazy tired,but loved every minute of it.

Crazy Black Friday ShoppingAt our first store, Kimberly had a few moments that she was afraid for her life, but she battled through it and continued shopping. LOL! The next two stores  were controlled chaos, then we got to Belks. I think every woman in Jacksonville was there and they were all in the boot department! Women were crawling over those boots like ants on an anthill. Bumping. Reaching. Women were crazy for a bargain. Those kind of sales just bring out the animal or the sinner in you. You just wanna rush, be the first in line….sorry men, maybe you don’t know about that adrenaline rush that makes you grab 10 boxes and hurry off to try them on. Grey haired women. Teenagers. Everything in between, we were all there, passionate about finding a bargain…good looking boots to wear the longggg winter of Florida (which in most cases adds up to, ohhh, about 2 weeks). It was a sight.


I have boots, so I just watched the shopping frenzy. It wasn’t pretty sight ladies…nope, not a pretty sight. Passionate women! Eager women! Determined women! Focused women! All about a pair of boots!


Maybe you saw the same passion in another store or over another incredible deal. Maybe it was the newest Xbox game or a television…whatever bargain it was that kept you up late or pulled you outta bed and drove you to the shopping center. And then there’s deer hunting that does the same thing to a man. My friends just returned from a week at a hunting lodge. They had the same kind of passion that I saw in the eyes of the crazed women on Black Friday.


I wonder if we would all be different people if our passion for the things of God equaled the intensity of those women shopping for boots. Passion in the church is criticized by people that have never experienced it. It is undervalued and under pursued. If we could only glimpse, if we could only know the treasures, the victories, the peace, the joy that we would experience, if we pursued Him with the same unbridled intensity of a bargain hunter, a deer hunter or a football fan. Our lives would be drastically different! It’s life changing–not because of the chase, but because of the find.


I’m not criticizing anyone for loving a good bargain or being passionate about sports, but my point is, we see the value of a bargain, but the presence of God doesn’t rank anywhere close on our priority list. Not that we don’t scrawl it there on our “To Do List” after an inspiring sermon. But our note is shoved in the back of our Bible and mind, life piles in on us; and our good intention is soon forgotten.


We chase bargains.We chase success. We chase fashion…but our chase for God finds us exhausted on the sidelines, too weary from all our other chases to be interested in chasing Him. Meanwhile an underlying hunger gnaws at all our other pursuits.


But David saw the value of experiencing God. Many theologians agree that David penned the words in Psalms 42:1 nlt “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” He experienced the life changing results of pursuing and finding. God promised if we would search for Him, we would find Him. So passionate, desperate searches for Him are always rewarded, unlike most shopping experiences.


I think three things has to happen if we are going to become passionate about the presence of God.

1. We must fall in love with Jesus.

2. We must become disciples of Jesus. Following. Surrendering. Listening. Obeying. Serving.

3. We must become intentional in our pursuit of Him. We must make time to worship, pray and read the Scriptures.


Stir our hearts Lord. Make us hungry for you. Let us value your presence…so we can all say

Let the pursuit begin!



More Links


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Experiencing His Glory

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You Gotta Choose

You Gotta Choose

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I promise this blog is not about politics, but I just had to share this video with you. I wonder how many other people are beginning to feel just like the little girl on this video.




But if you are like me, that’s the only thing on my mind…who will America choose?

Choices… choices…CHOICES.


Wayne has a little saying that he has quoted to me for years. “You can pick your friends. You can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.” Do you feel smarter now?

I’m not sure why he feels I need that information. But regardless, ever once and a while he shares this priceless wisdom nugget again.

While he is correct there are some things I can’t pick, there are countless choices that you and I must make everyday. What drives your choices?


What drives our choices?

My friend Tira chooses Baking Joy over Pam, because she finds it to be more effective.

Keira, my granddaughter, chooses Skittles and frozen fruit pops by color.

Because I am an avid bargain hunter, the price often dictates my choice.

Finding the right size determines which shoes I will choose, unless they’re really pretty shoes, then who cares if they fit or not!

Wayne chooses coconut, every time, hands down and Jason refuses it hands down, every time.

What drives your choices?


You Gotta Choose


We want to choose the shortest path back home?

We want the biggest deal meal, the best chocolate and the fastest oven. We want the latest fashion and the highest paid job. Desire drives our choices. The ever moving and illusive target of success keeps too many of us realigning our values.

What drives your choices?


I don’t know what drives your choices, but I can tell you what drives God’s choices—love.

Love is behind all God’s choices.

His indescribable love is behind His extravagant gift.

Glorious sunrises and sunsets that cause us to gasp.

Roaring waves crashing on the seashore or waterfalls tumbling down mountains soothe and calm our emotions.

Flowers in the spring and yellow and red leaves in the fall makes us pause, slow down and revel.

Wonderful things given by God for us to enjoy, but they can’t begin to describe the magnitude of His love.

Stars and comets, planets and moons are dazzling.

The microscopic world that your naked eyes can’t see is vibrant and dazzling as well.

But they can’t begin to describe the vastness of God’s love that He demonstrated with the gift of His Son.

His plan hidden through the ages and revealed at the cross and consummated with an empty tomb.


There’s nothing we can do to deserve it.

There’s nothing we can do to earn it. It’s free, but its cost to God was unfathomable. It’s not just for the rich and the famous, but they’re not excluded. It’s not just for the poor and outcast, but they are on God’s Gift list too. Love that is brighter than the sun, bigger than the known and unknown universe is freely offered to us all.



He chose you before you were even born.

“You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.” John 15:16 NLT


It is still a matter of choice.

What drives your choice?






The choice is yours to make.

And the consequences…they are yours too

…that’s what makes your choice so important.


“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT 


You Gotta ChooseI got up early this morning. I feel nervous about the election. I feel frightened by what I see around me, a nation divided, the hurting people in the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in New York. I see so many problems all around me. My prayer list of people’s needs is long and troubling.

So I lingered after my time of prayer, not to go back over my list, but to enjoy His presence. I lingered because I needed His strength to infuse me, His love to wrap me. My feeling of total inadequacy kept me there a little longer because I needed to remember He is absolutely ABLE! Again, today I make my choice to receive His love. I make my choice to love Him back.


America you have a big choice to make today. One with consequences…

but there is a much bigger choice to make…

one with eternal consequences. I hope you’ll make the right choice!



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Don't Be a Pet Bear

Don’t Be A Pet Bear- Envious

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Don't Be a Pet Bear

There I stood with my face pressed up against the fence between my hands clutching the chain links longingly. I don’t know how often I did it, often enough that it infuriated my mother. Our neighbor had parties, some of which were birthday parties, other events were fun family get to gathers. And I always gravitated to the fence to watch, while they laughed and chased each other in the yard. My mom would yell at me from the dusty screen door, “Stop being a pet bear and get in here right now!” I didn’t understand her anger or the ruddiness of my stares–my pet bear antics. I  was envious and wanted to be a part of the fun, the excitement, none of which was happening at my house. So I stared enviously at my next door neighbor and when I got inside my Mother glared angrily at me for a reason that only maturity would give me insight.


Pet Bear is what she called it. But envy is what God called it. I wanted to be on the other side of that fence. My wishing only led to gloomy feelings of poor me and anger at my mom that she wouldn’t let the staring and gawking continue. The days of staring like a “Pet Bear” at the chained link fence are behind me, but I still fight the “Pet Bear Syndrome”. The syndrome of wishing I was on the other side of the fence. You know, I wish I had their ministry success, their looks, their money, their house, their car…maybe the Bible has a different name for it…envy, covetous…all of which are rooted in comparison.
 I understand the necessity of comparison shopping. It is essential to finding the best value at the lowest price. But why would we, and we all do it, throw ourselves into the fray of a comparison contest with others. The secret mental competition that produces only losers. I’m not as good at mothering as she is…. I’m not as good a provider as he is…. I’m not as pretty as she is…. And the competition continues in our mind from person to person and issue to issue. Sometimes the competition inflates our ego and sometimes it defeats it. Because the reality is, there is always somebody somewhere that is better at something and worse at something than we are.
And just how does having the most expensive car or best dish at the  cook off benefit anyone–unless there is a real prize at stake of course? How does being the prettiest or having the best abs make anyone  better than someone else? I understand healthy competition can make us more creative and stretch us to new heights, but for the most part our comparison goes beyond healthy all the way to destructive, if we are not careful. It causes us to build walls around our flaws to keep them out of view instead of allowing the strength of others flow into our lives. Or it puffs our ego until we look down on the bumbling efforts of others in our area of superiority.
Don't Be a Pet Bear
Theodore Roosevelt said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” And the problem with this picture is, I open the door for my joy to be stolen when I compare myself with others. That’s just wrong! Wrong I tell you. I shut the door to keep out flies. I shut the door to keep out little stray dogs that want inside. I shut the door to keep out intruders, but I open the door for my joy to be stolen? That’s just wrong. And I refuse to do it!
I have found that God designed each of us with both strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths give us something to give. Our weaknesses can be a window or a door for us to receive. An opportunity to grow, be enriched by God and others. Our weakness, though painful can be like the cut place that a vine keeper makes in a grape vine, so that it can receive a healthy graft. God designed us to need each other. Our weakness is an opportunity to be grafted into a body of believers for support and strength. While comparison only isolates us.
There are some things you can’t change. But the things you can change and that need to change, should change. You can change your thoughts. You can change your attitude, especially when it comes to comparion thinking. Compare cars or sweaters, but not yourself. Comparison is a thief I’m going be looking out for!
1 Timothy 6:6 KJV “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Galatians 6:4 NLT “Be sure to do what you should, for then you will enjoy the personal satisfaction of having done your work well, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”
Heather shares her personal struggles with comparison in her blog Kids in the Sink http://kidsinthesink.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/faith-friday-brown-butter-brownies/
Other blogs you might enjoy.
Sharing really is caring. If you enjoyed this blog, please share it with someone.

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Victory In Surrender

Victory In Surrender

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Victory In SurrenderHave you ever sincerely prayed, “Lord, your will be done.” and when God answered your prayer, you found yourself saying….nooooooooooo!I changed my mind. I find myself there now.


Jason, my oldest has been job hunting. Time for a change. Time to move up the corporate ladder. He’s great at what he does. Awesome work ethic. Team player. He brings the best out of those around him. I could go on, but I’m beginning to sound like one of those boring, proud mamas. Which I admit, I am.


But now that God has answered with a job in Michigan, I find myself saying, noooooooooo! Florida is a long way from Michigan. And I want him and the grand babies and of course, his precious wife, close enough to enjoy. Especially since there will be two grand babies soon!


I find my conversation going something like “Lord, do you know how far it is to Michigan?”


But I find His conversation going something along the lines of surrender. He’s even repeated that word and others like it more than once.


I heard Him the first time, but I don’t like that word…surrender. I have my own plans, my own dreams, my way…surrender to His will isn’t congruent with any of my plans.

Surrender or fight?

Surrender or pout?


But God…and my flood of excuses begin.


There are some things about surrender we need to realize to make the process easier. I guess I’ve watched too many Westerns growing up, but when I think of surrender I see a cowboy that has run out of bullets, waving a white flag trying to save his hide.


Surrender is choosing the lesser of two evils.

Surrender is synonymous with defeat.

But, in the biblical sense, it’s victory.


It is choosing good instead of evil. The difficult part of surrender comes into the picture because the good is not always the easy. We live in a culture that wants the easy over the good and we’re paying for that choice on many levels.


To really understand biblical surrender we need to understand and trust Whom we are surrendering to: Romans 8:32 “Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else?”


When we realize God is asking us to surrender to His will because He loves us and wants only what is best for us, then surrender is easier.

When we understand even just a little of what God is like, when we begin to understand His nature, we gasp in awe-“oh”! Add that “o” that escapes our lips to the word God and we have a word that describes his nature-good!


God you are good all the time and in every way. If it’s not good, then it didn’t come from you. We seem to get things confused.


The Devil is evil and God is Good! Not the other way around. Because God is good I can trust Him enough to surrender to Him. I can submit my will to Him because He is trustworthy.


I can surrender to God because:

  • He sees what I am unable to see.
  • His plans are better than mine.
  • He always has my best at heart.
  • I can trust Him, because He is good.


Surrendering to Him means I choose to line up my choices, my actions and my attitudes with His Word even when I can see an easier, or what feels like a better way.

James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Submit or surrender to God and resist the devil.


Often we find ourselves flip flopping the instructions we resist God and submit to the devil. Wrong game plan with devastating results.

Remember devil evil; God good. If we can keep that truth in our focus we will walk in paths of peace instead of turmoil.

That means I can walk in peace…yes, and even enjoy the journey, even when I don’t get my way–because His way is better.


Thank you, God! Your plans are bigger than mine. Your plans are better than mine. I want what you’ve got in your hand, not what I’ve got in my box!


Jenny, Jason’s wife, has a sister in the same town where they will be moving. She has twins on the way so the cousins will have a great time together and Jenny’s mom is less than an hour away! And they are a wonderful, wonderful family. I know they’ll love it there! And I love them enough to surrender them to God’s plan for their lives.

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Contributors Not Competitors

Contributors Not Competitors

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I’m glad no one walked up on us that afternoon. It must have been a funny looking sight. There we were, four adults, squatting and staring at two tiny creatures. I wasn’t wearing my glasses; so I had to get on my knees and lean really close to watch. It was the antics of two tiny ants that captured our attention. We stopped to cool off and drink some water when Joy spotted the two ants carrying a giant grasshopper. They were fascinating to watch. Without a sound, hand signals or a director they were taking that hopper home to eat. One ant was in the front and one was in the back. They would lift and move the hopper about an inch. Then stop. Regroup. Pickup the grasshopper and move it a little farther. During their break, they would circle the grasshopper as if asking themselves, “Is there an easier way to do this?” Then as if on cue, they would lift the hopper to move another inch. Each contributed and they accomplished what neither could have done as competitors.


I’m writing this on the porch. The humming birds are very active today. They are getting ready to migrate, so they’re trying to fill-up before they go. Five little birds are ferociously fighting over one feeder. I can’t imagine that any of them actually eat very much, because they are too busy fighting to feed.


While I love to watch hummingbirds and hate to stumble onto an anthill, I’ve decided, I want to be like the ant instead of a humming bird. I appreciate and want to replicate the attitude of the ant on many levels, but I’ll only talk about 1 today.


A hummingbird lives a lifestyle that says, “there’s not enough to go around.” Their attitude is much like a person with a poverty mentality. A poverty mentality feeds greed, selfishness, fear and isolation.


A Tug of War is Going On!

Contributors Not Competitors

Even good people, people like Sunday School teachers, pastors and leaders can get very territorial. “This is my room. This is my coffee pot. This is my pew. This is my parking spot. This is my idea. This is my ministry. My ministry is the most important in the church.” Sounds like a competitive and territorial hummingbird that wants to keep the best for him self. But that is not the heart of a kingdom builder that wants to please God.


“I have a right,” we say. “I’m entitled to sing songs that I like, when I come to church.” (That’s something I hear from young and old folks.) Grumbling. Fighting. Jealousy. Sounds like an infestation of competitive, territorial humming birds. Better be careful that you’re not one. Oh, yeah, they look pretty. But their attitude is bad stuff for a believer.



In a culture of competition, of dog eat dog, of getting ahead, keeping up with the Jones; we lose sight of being contributors. Our competition can isolate us and keep us from participating in the fellowship and partnership that is just part of belonging to the family of God.



While ants seem to have a totally different attitude. One that says, “Together we’ll find enough.” Ants are ingenious and diligent and they work together for a common goal. It is a mindset that believers need to embrace.


Contributors Not CompetitorsNever Forget We’re on the Same Team!

That working together mindset is found in 1 Corinthians 3:9 nlt “We work together as partners who belong to God….” That means we contribute to someone else’s success and allow people to do the same for us.


I’m convinced everything is better when it is shared, but not for a hummingbird. Burdens are lighter when they are shared. Work gets done quicker and better when it is shared. Creativity is multiplied when it is shared. Laughter is more enjoyable when it is shared.



Moving from a mindset of competition to that of contribution causes us to:

  • See needs.
  • Love more.
  • Give more.
  • And opens your heart to receive more from God so you have more to give.
  • Expands your reach.
  • Expands your effectiveness.
  • Expands your joy. (Acts 20:35 ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’)



You can change your attitude.

Changing your attitude begins with changing your actions. Stop being a hoarder and give. What do you have to contribute? Who needs your contribution? You’ve figured out the what and the who…when is the big question. Don’t procrastinate—today’s a good day to start.

Hey! Thanks for stopping by.

I’m Pat Holland…

I tell stories- who doesn’t love a good story?

But I tell mine for a reason. I want to equip, empower and energize people just like you to enjoy the riches of God’s life-changing Word. So I use stories about people, sometimes myself,  places I’ve been, and life experiences as a tool to make Bible truths so simple you can walk them out in your everyday life.

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