Cocoons or Caskets

33323841-43C7-4BD3-AA93-3ABE8705453CButterflies
I love Nature and all that it displays when we watch God’s creation created. I have taken a liking to the process of butterflies and how they fully grow into a creature that has a full set of delicate wings. Butterflies can be difficult to protect as well as catch. During our time in Okinawa, we had the opportunity to visit a place called Butterfly Park. Butterfly Park was a place where all butterflies live and where they grow and entertain visitors. Everywhere we stepped, in certain areas was filled with swarms of butterflies. What I loved most was their ability to be drawn to reds. What I wanted to share in today’s blog was the process of a butterfly and the cocoons. I don’t know what God has in store for your life, but I do believe that the Lord orders the steps of the righteous and He knew you and predestined the season you are currently experiencing.

Background

The Process

There are four stages that a butterfly must go through to become a full-grown butterfly. Eggs, Caterpillar, Pupa, and Adult. These stages are necessary for its full growth and development. Butterflies and moths develop through the process of “Metamorphosis,” which translates in Greek to Transformation or change in Eggs shape. “Each stage has a different goal – for instance, caterpillars need to eat a lot, and adults need to reproduce. Depending on the type of butterfly, the life cycle of a butterfly may take anywhere from one month to a whole year.” (Learn about Nature Article 2018) It is incredible to discover that it can take one year for a butterfly to develop. I know for me that some processes in my own life are complicated because I am so impatient and want to blossom overnight. Eggs

Stage 1: The Eggs

This phase is self-explanatory. As butterflies made eggs and lay them on leaves, this begins the process of growth. If you look closely, you can see the tiny Caterpillar inside of the eggs. Because of the size, it is hard to spot them on the leaves. Also, the shapes of the eggs depend on the type of butterfly it is. It takes between 3-5 days for an egg to hatch into baby caterpillars or larvae, which is its next phase. A butterfly can lay between 100-300 eggs at a time.

Stage 2: The Caterpillar (Larvae)

This phase is probably the most dangerous because, in its immature state, the caterpillars can eat through crops. Joel 2:25 says I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the great locust, the grasshopper, and the Caterpillar, my great army, which I sent among you. The Hebrew definition of a Caterpillar translates into easily or “Ravage,” which means to damage or have a destructive effect on something. When crops get destroyed, the good of any land can be as well. Caterpillar  In life, I believe that God never intends on His creation to stay in a Caterpillar state. Anything that is in God’s presence must grow and must take the form and progression He intended.

Stage 3:  Pupa (Chrysilis)

The Pupa is the third stage that is created by a caterpillar. This phase is also known as a resting phase. It was so intriguing to find that caterpillars made and wove their cocoon. In these cocoons, caterpillars use bits of woody material held together by silk strands or woven entirely of silk. According to the Encyclopedia, “The Pupa is a resting stage in which the insect becomes an adult. It does not feed or increase in size, and typically it is outwardly inactive and covered by a hard integument.” (Encyclopedia 2019) A cocoon-like a soup of proteins that morph into 33323841-43C7-4BD3-AA93-3ABE8705453Cthe body parts of a butterfly. Looking at the videos below, you can see the process and how this happens. The most important part about the cocoon is that it serves as the butterflies personal gym to strengthen its wings so that when its time to fly, it will be strong enough not to get caught. The video below depicts this wrestle towards the end. You can see how the Caterpillar is fighting within the cocoon it created to cover itself up and stay hidden for the final growth phase to adulthood.

Stage 4: Adulting

The final phase is what this butterfly is meant to be. It is made to reach a full-grown adult and fly away finally. When the butterfly first emerges from the chrysalis, both of the wings are going to be soft and folded against its body. The wings are delicate and folded because the butterfly has to fit its new parts inside of the Pupa. (Butterfly Life 2018). Adult As soon as the butterfly has rested after coming out of the chrysalis, it wAdultill pump blood into the wings to get them working and flapping – then they get to fly. Usually, within a three or four-hour period, the butterfly will master flying and will search for a mate to reproduce. This is the part of life that God looks loves.

Conversation

Have you ever felt as though your life was in a hidden state? What have you experienced that you felt as though you had to hide? I encourage you to consider the butterfly effect. That your life is not your own and you are changing every single day!!. Consider your being born and growing into a Larvae. Looking at this process, we learned that Larvae was a critical stage to experience. This stage is the most destructive because the Caterpillar can destroy crops. Think about the things in your active life that due to not being mature or fully grown, you may have damaged unknowingly. As you matured past this stage, you realized that it was time to grow. 1 Corinthians 13:11 said When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Consider the process we go through and how some of us fight the natural process of growth and maturation. This doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun; however, it does mean understanding the times you are experiencing. The Larvae phase for anyone is dangerous because when this season is up some individuals have no sustenance because they have eaten all of the crops and now they take what they have eaten and hide in it.

Looking Deeper

Have you ever felt as though you are hidden? Have you ever felt as though something in your life was causing you to disappear or hideout? Let me encourage those of you experiencing this. You may be in the Pupa stage of your walk. This is the season of rest just for you. Even though you may have created this hiding place because you have eaten all of the crops that you should have benefited from, God is giving you a time of rest so that you can finally grow. Sometimes you have to hide to become. Sometimes God wants you to cover yourself so that you aren’t eaten or damaged before you get your wings. Sometimes God doesn’t mean for you to feel so overlooked, but He actually wants to protect you. And dear friends while you are in your cocoon a while keep fighting the envelope because it’s part of Gods design so your wings will be strengthened. Even as people watch with stares and a grin as you wrestle with God’s cocoon remember that you have a purpose and it is not to stay in a Pupa state. Your mission is not even to stay in the cocoon!!! Some people will go into hiding and die there because they never discerned the times have changed and that growth has taken place. Your purpose is to be the winged gift and be free. In closing, don’t allow your cocoon to become your casket.

 

Check out these great videos that explain Better.

 

 

The Pupa

 

 

 

The Wine Press

img_5378I wanted to approach this from a different perspective. We often shy away from discussions about wine because we fear the extremes that some may go. I never knew how this product was actually created until we visited the pineapple park in Okinawa Japan and got to experience some of the lessons taught by locals. The pineapple park had rows of bens filled with pineapple wine. Some soft and smooth and some stronger. I was always intrigued with how the makers where able to get so many different levels of strength and tastes. As for the wines, yes we drink it by mistake because we had no idea what was in the bens. So naturally we went in for the kill because those pineapples tasted amazing. We laughed and had an amazing time.

Research

Free Run (Crushed)

I realized that there where two types of wine categories for wine being prepared. Free run and Press run are two methods used to make wine. Studies show that someimg_5372
winery’s only use the free run as it is much easier to create. Free run is simply draining the juice off of the grapes or lifted out or from solids just like a t-bag. During the process grapes are piled up onto one another and during the pressing process whatever comes out it is what is considered to be free juice, This method is simple and does not require pressing. An example of a free run wine is white wine.

Pressed juice

Pressing in winemaking is the process where the juice is extracted from the grapes with the aid of a wine press, by hand, or even by the weight of the grape berries and clusters. (Wikipedia) After the free run juice has been extracted by way of being crushed, the natural breakdowns of the grape cell walls during fermentation and its own weight are loaded in a press. This is the way that press juice process begins. The free run juice is crushed to pull out the juice and the pressed juice goes through a much harsher pressing process that ultimately makes excellent but stronger wines. One example we know o today that are of press juice origin is Red wine. Obviously it has a stronger taste and make up. Pressed Juice has a higher level of potassium and ph levels as well as more tannins or color.

The Process

The amount of damage to the fruit, the level of intensity in the pressing as well as the type of machine all play a huge part in the wines influence, taste, texture, balance and instability. Even how the wine and grapes are moved and how the wine is created plays a big roll in the outcome and use. According to Wikipedia, Winemakers often keep their free-run juice and pressed wine separate (and perhaps even further isolate the wine produced by different pressure levels/stages of pressing) during much of the winemaking process to either bottle separately or later blend portions of each to make a more complete, balanced wine. In practice the volume of many wines are made from 85-90% of free-run juice and 10-15% pressed juice. This means that most of what is made is Free run due to it being a simpler process.

Conversation

Our lives are as mirrors to Gods word. There are three different meanings in scripture for the word winepress. All three definitions lend to the processes and levels of wine making today. This word is found in several scriptures such as Isaiah 63:3, lamentations 1:15 and Judges 7:25. Winepress according to the word comes from a Hebrew word “Yeqeb”which means to excavate, a trough or place where juice drains. The other definition comes from the Hebrew word “purah” which means crushing grapes. The last meaning comes from the Hebrew word “gath” which means a vat for holding grapes and pressing them. We can see the patterns that reveal how grapes are picked, drained, crushed and pressed. Does this represent some of the areas of your life?

Looking Deeper.

What I love most about this study is the fact that the process of making something that is of so much value in the end can be connected to processes we endure in our lives everyday.  Some of us are “Free-run”.  Our free runners process though not as hurtful will still yield the results God intended.  For my free running friends your process just requires you to be drained and crushed so that God will use you the way He sees fit.  Free runners may not have to go through a process that is as vigorous but it is enough to get out what’s needed. Crushing grapes is as simple as bursting the skin and exposing the inner parts to the fermentation.  You will also find that most people will stay in the free run zone. Never truly challenged, stepped on, never truly pressed, set aside or hidden.  As a matter of fact studies show that the free run wines are frequently purchased and used.  Everyone loves free run wines because of the taste, It isn’t tough. But if you consider my favorite type of process and perfector, The Press run, you will find individuals who where separated, isolated, packaged differently from the rest, crushed and stepped on by several people.  How intense was your process? How many stepped on you or even hurt you in some way. When you where in your process was it smooth? Or was it like a bad machine being used to press grapes. This process may hurt, but when God gets finished you will most certainly be of the strong batch.  This takes nothing away from either group but it brings light that we all endure some type of crushing weather it’s pressure  or hurt but God will always have the final word. Where ever you are in your life be encouraged and know that the Steps of a good Man or woman are ordered by the Lord!!!

 

Check out these great videos that explain Better.

The Crushing 

Even as Our Soul

img_5259Starting my fitness journey you would not believe I was actually into fitness most of my life.  As a teen I ran track, played basketball and soccer.  I even joined the military and would run up to 7 miles at any given day. At the time I was not saved and came to know Christ after joining the military in 1997.  It was during this time that I learned how to cultivate a relationship with God and how to be a Christian. Not once did I consider since my salvation how important my health was. To add to this I met my husband and I had two beautiful children. Still being on this fitness journey I was less consistent because my family, studies and services became more of a priority with teaching bible studies and teaching our children. Slowly but surely my health was on a decline.  Finally in 2011 I took back my fitness journey and was able to focus on my health because we no longer had the responsibility of a church plant and our family dynamic shifted.  This did not take away my love for the gospel but it did reveal that we needed to create margins in our lives that prevent burn out. Burnout is what we experience when we are lacking balance in our lives and more focused on the things that are good or beneficial in excess.  While in Arkansas in 2011 my passion for fitness was fueled.  I started training and doing right with my health and was getting major results!! With my husband working the hours he worked I was able to focus on training.  Now that he has retired we both are on the same journey.  Health is a beneficial and necessary part of our lives just like prayer and family time.  I even started a women’s Lifegroup that focused on health and wellness teaching women about their bodies as well as the word. There was nothing better then to be able to share my passion with others.  Currently I am focusing on getting my own results and hopefully I can reach others in their fitness journey. This is what life is all about though.  I had to realize that I was off balance in my faith and personal life.  I was devoting 70% to my life, faith and service and 30% to where ever I could. Though I was serving and helping I wasn’t making time for the right things like study, worship and health. We often get that mixed up when we think that we can serve and believe it counts as spiritual food.  It’s so important to Make time to study your word and time to get your health in line.  God doesn’t want us lacking or without in any area… the key though is to create a life you don’t need a vacation from. How much margin do you include in your schedule? Do you believe in doing a daily personal devotional each day to feed your spirit man? Wholesome balance is the end goal and it is pleasing to God.  I am not saying drop everything but I am encouraging wisdom. 3 John 1:2 says Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. As you can see God does not want us to master our spirits but to be healthy as well. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean a perfect physique. However it does mean whole without infirmity and free from gluttony. Phillipians 4:5 Says let your moderation and gentleness be Know to all men the Lord was at hand. This lets us know that God is calling us to balance in our lives. Don’t forget to take care of your body.  As busy as some of us may be with our jobs, families, ministry and more, we must be confident enough to turn some responsibilities away for our own growth and stability. There are 24 hours in a day and we must make each moment count by prioritizing or responsibilities and sometimes that means saying no. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. In the end it makes you a stronger person.  To the ones who are committed to serve and assist don’t forget to create margin and take moments to cultivate a living relationship with God and the Holy Spirit and to enjoy life!!!

“How do I Know?”

img_5156I get this question from many people who are new to the Christian faith. How do I know what to study and where to start? Most times we never get on the journey of illumination because it seems to be unattainable.  As a fitness enthusiast I know first-hand how intimidating some journeys can be.  I used to hesitate with even starting on my journey because I perceived someone else’s journey in their finished state.  I immediately
would disqualify myself because the journey seemed too far to travel.  It is the same with our faith.  Are you looking at a spiritual individual and
automatically feeling as though you are not able to get there?  Are you
looking at Christians that have been studying for years and automatically discounting yourself?  I want to encourage you this morning and tell you that we all start somewhere.  Don’t be afraid of starting off where YOU are. Eventually with consistency and studying you will blossom into who God created you to be.  You may be wondering how to study and what to study and there are so many tools which can be confusing and overwhelming.  I don’t even like to use google because everyone has some extreme interpretation and we can rarely find someone that knows how to “Rightfully divide the word”. It is better to apply the word to your life making sure your life lines up with His word vs the word lines up to you.  Start small and easy, don’t over think things. You don’t have to tackle your studies in a day. You can conquer this thing one scripture at a time without overwhelming yourself too. So here are some things I suggest you consider when beginning to study.  Just like fitness you will need tools to get your journey started:
        1. A King James Bible
        2. A Strong’s Concordance 
        3. A U-Version Bible App (You can listen to scriptures as well)
        4. Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling, Fourth Edition by John
G. Kruis** 
        5. Study notebook
        6. Some tea/ coffee
With these tools you can embark upon the best journey to start your new adventure.  As for what you need to study, you can study people in the Bible (Different stories), you can study Psalm’s & Proverbs like doing 1 Chapter each book per night.  I often tell people start with a Proverbs in the Morning and a Proverb at night.  Lastly and the best choice is to start off where you struggle.  Allow God to lead you in His word by identifying what your struggles are.  There are books that help identify with your issues by listing each issue with scriptures that discuss this.  It can be overwhelming to feel like you have to start off big.  We never have to start as a professional but we should at least start.  Another way to study is by finding a Podcast that speaks to your heart.  Another recommendation I love is a book called, “Man’s Questions, God’s Answer” by Lu Ann Brandsby.  Or the Quick Scripture reference for Counseling listed in the list of suggested materials. This is a great example of how to narrow down your studies.  I would love to help you on your journey.  Please subscribe to this blog and
keep up to date with all the little things we have going on and you will
love this journey!!  I am listing the sites and links for your review so you
will have the right materials!!  

Like, Share and Subscribe!!!
King James Bible-
https://www.christianbook.com/
nslations|KJV   
Strong’s Concordance-
https://www.christianbook.com
U-Version App- https://apps.apple.com/us/app/
Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling-
https://www.christianbook.com

Stay tuned in for our next blog on health and wellness!!! I can’t wait till you see it!!

Yes to the no’s

img_5110Every season God requires a different Type of obedience to Him.  There are some moments that we can count on the constent demands pulling on us, and then there are others that God simply requires rest in the everyday routines that only require basic functionality. What is your response to resting? Do you have thoughts about resting or do you understand what resting means? In some seasons the only requirement is Our relationship with God and our maintenance to our families. These moments are often tough because we want to live in the “more” with the perspective that the “more” proves that we are in His will. Doing more does not necessarily mean we are effective. It is important to embrace our seasons of rest because when it’s time to work again we would have taxed and poured out at the wrong time. The busyness of our faith is not always Gods intent. Sometimes busyness can be a vortex of trials painted as service to God. Sometimes his intentions are that we rest in His presence and at His feet. Let us look at two women that knew how to lean into obedience weather that meant to work or rest. Luke 10:38-42 depicts a difference in posture. One breakdown said According to the Gospel of Luke: As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. What is your posture in the presence of the master? Are you looking to be found hard at work? Or are you looking to sit in the moment that could change your life forever. We always reward the worker bee and we consider the ants but what do we say to the woman that longs to rest in the masters hands and just to sit at His feet. What do we say to the woman that wants to simply drink from His cup. Let us consider the worshipper.

Ornaments of Grace

img_5794It has been so heartbreaking watching our community get throw all of the Hurricane loss.  The look in the eyes of some of the displaced made it obvious that they lost more then items.  This hurricane took lives, homes, items and dignity. Never in my time here did I think that I would see so many people that needed basic necessities.  The pictures of homes destroyed is just the surface of all that was lost.  Seeing Gods hand move in our community was just the sunrise we needed though as volunteers rushed to homes that had damage in yards, roofs and water damage.  It was a sign that brotherly love still exists in a world that may face deviation.  We drew closer as a boy of Christ and community as the waters flooded and devoured our homes but not our missional hearts.  Often times we forget that God has called us not only to the world but also to our community.  It’s so easy for me to fulfill a mission in another country because I can do what is necessary, build a home put smiles on peoples faces, be kind and pour out without looking for it back. But somehow when we remain local we look for a return. We must remember that Our Nieghbor’s are just as much a part of that work.  During this hurricane I watched how much people wanted to give out and not looking for a return. This is loving one another.  We know the love we have for Christ by the love we have one for another. Both sides can be rewarded in this catastrophe, the one who lost and the one who gave.  When we are not in crisis it can become difficult to determine who has genuine need so our expectations are for people to return what we gave.  We must remember that it is so important for us to have the same heart when there is no crisis as we do when there is none. We don’t get to put a thermostat on someones trouble and say return it.  Our ability to love and pour must be the same each time. Whichever side you fall on God Loves you and God sends us people as extensions of his Grace. God sends us ornaments who are people to extend what we may need.  This hurricane has made one thing clear to me.  I need you just as much as you need me!!!

Perspective

5AB91C3C-A1A2-4330-8AC5-8370D9DE869CLife has a tendency to rain on our parade. Perspective is everything.  Perspective is defined as a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.  What situations in your life do you have a certain perspective about?  There was a time in my life when things did not work out in my favor and the lense which I viewed everything and everyone was viewed from the reference points I suffered.  Now not so much.  I try to view things with fresh reference.  Our reference points don’t necessarily have to be that of a negative light but we can view things from the power of the living God.  Most times we must identify how we are feeling and ask ourselves are we making others feel this way unknowingly.  How we treat others can often times be a reflection of our reference points.  It’s time we removed the stained lenses and see things as Christ sees.  You can do it!  Make those lense adjustments and allow God to give you divine focus so you don’t see and hear things the same. Phillipians 3:13-14 says Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Friends let us forget the things of the past and press towards.  All the reference points, offenses, hurts and wrongs are clouding our perspective in current situations.  It doesn’t help us to see things as Christ does.  So let Go.

The Storms

img_5538I Love storms but not the damage caused because they redefine all that they come in contact with.  It’s the time with Family that I adore.  Our state is in the midst of an incoming storm and It is heading right for us. Many of our friends decided to leave and many stayed.  It takes just as much faith to leave and it does to stay but we must remember to trust God in the process of it all.  My husband and I sat waiting for the reports to come in as to what the Hurricane did and how much more but I remember the Holy Spirit telling me to be anxious for nothing.  In these times we revert to worry over prayer instead of Prayer over worry. It’s human nature.  I am still having some doubts but I know My God delivers us from trouble.  We forget to consider the benefits of a storm and how to look at trying times as opportunities for God to show Himself strong.  This comes from a place of encouragement because I am in the same boat God knows.  It’s hard to see the benefits in the midst for me because I am focused on all that surrounds me.  Storms are the perfect time for us to spend time with Family that we haven’t seen.  Taking these times to make the necessary connections helps us to get through the frustration of the devastation that can come. Hebrews 12:2-4 GNT says let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to the end.  He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the rights side of Gods Thrown.  Our perspective is everything when going through trials.  I am committed to Keep my eyes above the waves and trust that even when it feels like I’m drowning I will yet trust him.  It can mean the difference between quitting and endurance.

Wonderfully Made

img_5314Its about Balance.  We live in a world that promotes physical beauty over spiritual maturity.  Our generation is run by social media and physical attributes are glamorized and prioritized over our soul prosperity.  Though it would be a wonderful thing to have what society labels a perfect figure,  I don’t believe we need to prioritize it over our spiritual health.  I used to be afraid of admitting that I desired a perfect shape.   Almost to a point that I shunned the idea of going to the gym.  I wanted to believe that if I was more attractive that it meant I was less Holy.   Desire for healthier lifestyle with balance is not wrong.  Passions not misplaced are not a bad thing.  After studying the word of God and sharing my passions with a couple of friends I realized that I was looking at this all wrong.   In my studies I believe that God wants to give us a balance in our spiritual health and wellness.  3 John 1:2 says Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.   God desires us to be in sound health and even whole but not only in our spirit man, but our natural man as well.  There is something wrong with us for sure if we have the perfect body with a contaminated unsanitary spirit.  Our ability to wash ourselves in His word is just as important as washing ourselves in the shower.   Our natural man should not look better than our spirit man. The time has come that we see ourselves as the perfect creation that God made and take care of our bodies with His word and with a healthy lifestyle.   There is a moderation that we can reach when we allow Gods word to overtake us.  In His presence we can find peace with all that He wants for us and begin to also work toward the Glorified Body.  For so long we have avoided the very nature of Gods desire for our spiritual and natural man.   God is now calling us to remember Him in our Prayers, thoughts, relationships and our eating habits.  We cannot plead promises over our health and break principals.  Please keep in mind this is not for people who may be experiencing natural occurrences out of their control.  But more for those who struggle to find that balance in health and wholeness.  It is imperative that we identify with God by praising HIM for His creation and acknowledging the power in us taking care of our temple.  Psalms 139:14 says I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  Knowing this means that I will not avoid my natural man but I will seek God and Make God the priority in my journey and praise Him for making me Fearfully and wonderfully.   I love that the Psalms says, I will praise You then says I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Realize how amazing you are.  This means that I am not afraid to be beautiful but I posses beauty with a humility that Honors God and gives God credit for it.

Let us pray,

Father thank you for your handy work and for your creation of us.  Teach us the balance necessary to take care of ourselves and honor you.  As we get the results in our spirit for all the work we have done help us to also take care of our flesh.  As we continue to seek out help in our health help our hearts to continue to be knitted in you and not forget your ways or your statues.  We honor you for all that you are doing in us.  Give us the balance needed to continue to serve you and prosper in our health in Jesus name.

Amen

Lift Devotions

A Devotion's for Life, Health and Welness