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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Does Anyone Have a Reset Button???


Ever have times when you wish you could have a reset button and start something over again?

I do, a lot!  Especially when my foot goes in my mouth, which happens more often than I'd like to admit. :-)

The truth is even if we did have a chance to relive an experience, does that mean that we won't make the same mistake again?  No, it doesn't.

Life gives us opportunities to practice.  We practice at music, hobbies, sports, games, etc....What about life?

For a long time I wrestled with the thought of being able to make up for something I did.  To try to make it right, erase the past.  Any blemishes that were mine had to be erased.  Couldn't accept that it's okay if I make mistakes.  That's how we learn right? :-)

Jesus never wants us to be stagnant people that never grow and change.  He loves variety!  :-)

Can you imagine how boring life would be if there wasn't anything to explore, learn about and/or discover?  Do you think it's coincidence that you enjoy the things you do? 

Here's a thought...What if our mistake isn't something we did wrong, but something God wanted us to do, right?  Hmm...let's think about this for a minute.

Here are a few definitions of mistake:

- misunderstanding or misconception, mistook

- an action, decision, or judgement that produces an unwanted or unintentional result

Unintentional huh?  For who?  Me?  Let's see.

Have you ever been to a bowling alley before?  Every lane has rails or bumpers to keep the ball from falling in the gutter.  What if, now let's speculate for a moment, what if God has bumpers in our lives too?

When I was taking piano lessons my teacher would get frustrated with me.  I'd stop playing a piece when I messed up instead of finishing it.  Instead of moving on to the next part of the song I'd start over.  And again, and again, and again...

I couldn't understand why this irritated her.  Now, I know why...

Starting over again keeps us at a stand still.  We're stuck in a loop and we can't get free.

Bumpers might stun you for a second, but instead of falling in the gutter you will make it to the finishing line.  That is the difference!

When we haven't let go of and accepted the past we will never be free from it!  That's how you keep getting looped in. 

Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6 NIV)

Bumpers will show up when you least expect them.  Instead of getting frustrated and trying to go around them, how about accepting them instead?!

May this message be a Blessing in your lives and mine,

Maria 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Stew Anyone???



Why do you do the things you do and/or say?  What motivates you?

These questions sound simple, but they aren't because they cause you to dig deeper in yourself. 

When we dig a hole it gets darker the more you dig into it.  The same goes for ourselves.  I'm not saying that everyone is dark and evil so please don't misunderstand what I'm writing.

I am stating that everyone has bumps and bruises inside and if you don't allow Jesus to touch those areas they can hurt people around you.  Like a stone that is dropped in the water the effects of our actions cause a ripple effect that can create waves for years, and in some cases, generations.

My grandmother is over 100 years old.  She has seen a lot in her lifetime and still remembers all of it.  Anytime that Grandma was offended and/or hurt by someone she ingrained it in her head.  When I have heard her share about her past it's like she is reliving it all over again.  The pain has never subsided.  She has never forgiven even when the person who offended her is gone.

It's hard to believe that offenses from our past can color the way we hear and see things.  When you've been hurt severely it's easy to react when someone flinches.  Or when there's a subject that you want to talk about and the other person gets their guard up like the Wall of China.

Forgiveness goes so much deeper than we realize.  It can even poison loved ones near you.  Often, those are the ones that get hurt the most from us. 

Here's another way to look at it.  When a fisherman puts the strongest line in the water with the bait attached to the hook does the fish ever let go?  When a fish latches onto the bait it doesn't want to let go no matter what, and that is why the fisherman gets the fish.  When we don't forgive we are latched onto the hook struggling to get free, but the past is reeling us into the boat.

It's only with God's divine help that we can cut the line because the fish isn't strong enough to do it by itself.

There was a time when I was so angry at someone that we didn't speak for years.  Both of us were furious and very hurt with each other.  I tried to hold it in but I couldn't anymore.  Even when others begged us to speak I refused because I thought our friendship was dead...Thank God...I was wrong!

God revived our friendship and healed our wounds.  And you know what, our relationship is better than ever!  It is not the same as it was before because we are more honest with each other now.

Now how did we do it?  She and I agreed not to even talk about our sides of the story because they didn't matter anymore.  They're the past!

When something is in the past it's in the past, period.  Have you ever been in an argument before and after a while you didn't even remember what you're fighting about anymore?  It's in the past.

I know you have been hurt.  Here's the question though.  Which hurts worse?  What they did or what you're doing to yourself now because of it?!

If you are reliving the hurt over and over stop!  It won't make it better.  Instead, it will make you feel worse!

Did you know that a synonym for grudge is stew?  What is a stew?  It means "to cook food by simmering or boiling."  What are you simmering?  What ingredients are in your pot?

If you're still angry about something you are simmering, or maybe, boiling your pot to the point that it's about to boil over;  Let Jesus help and give Him the pot.  After all, who's a better cook?!  :-)

Jesus forgives us every time we mess up because He doesn't want anything and anyone keeping us apart from each other.  He was beaten up, insulted, people tried to manipulate Him, (remember when He drew in the sand when the scribes and Pharisees tried to trick Him [John 8:1-11]),...

And...Jesus never became bitter...isn't that amazing!

God has given us the same tools that He used Himself to forgive others.  Instead of holding onto the pain, and starting to simmer, He let...it...go!

How do you release it?  You ask Jesus to help you release your burdens.

"Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Ask Christ to set you free.  He wants to, been waiting for you, loves you, and will never forget you! :-)

May this message be a Blessing in your lives and mine! :-)

Maria

 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Choices

Choices.  It is one direction or the other.  Sometimes it's not so simple is it?

Every day we make decisions.  What to eat or wear, where to go, what needs to get done, etc.

What guides yours?  Is it your emotions or does something else drive you?  Who drives your car, so to speak?

For a long time I was the driver in my life, and if anything got in my way I would drive around it and get back on the road.  Everything seemed fine for a while, until, it didn't.  About a decade ago the control that I had was taken away, and I had to live life differently.

It wasn't at all what I planned.  Why?  What happened?  My body changed.  It wasn't listening to me when I wanted to move around and go out dancing.  The abdomen was swelling up.  When I'd sit and stand too much it caused excruciating pain everywhere.  What was happening to me?

I felt betrayed by my body.  It was supposed to do what I wanted right, wrong!

When you overdo it the body can only take so much; the same goes with life.

There is no guarantee how many choices and/or opportunities that you will have in this world.  Don't waste them!  You never know when you are one step away from the best or worst thing that has ever happened to you.

"When God closes a door He opens a window."  I've heard this countless times through the years.  Here's a thought, "Even if you can't see the window does it still mean it's there?"...Yes, it is! :-)

What I had planned for my life was my idea, not His!  It took years of research and doctor appointments to finally understand why and how the pain started.  It began when I was injured as a child, and my body was fighting to cope long before I knew it.

By now you must be wondering, "What is Maria talking about now?  Her title for this article is Choices and for the past few paragraphs all she has been writing about is pain?  What's going on here?"  Here is my point.

Some choices are painful, even when they're good for you.  The question is do you have the courage and strength to take them?  Me,....No!  That's where Jesus comes in! :-)

Thank GOD that I do NOT need to have the strength of Samson to live this life.  If I did I would be out of luck. 

In times of brokenness you can see how much you don't need to rely on your own strength and let others help you.  Or...you can choose to do it on your own and fall flat on your face!  Even Jesus asked God for strength when He was going to be crucified.  Now, if Jesus, who is God's son asks for strength, what makes you think that you have enough of your own?  How ridiculous!

If pride is our downfall then look out, you just might be close to the cliff.  (Psalm 73 NIV) "But as for me my feet had almost slipped; i had nearly lost my foothold."

Have you ever been at a crossroads and even though there was a detour sign on the right you were determined to go that way anyway?  Have you ever been so determined to go your way that not only do you hurt yourself but others get injured along the way?

Through all the calamity and turmoil in our lives it is vital to have some way of finding your direction.  Explorers use compasses to find their way.  What about you?  How are you finding yours?

Jesus says that His sheep hear His voice.  (John 10:27)  He also says that He will not give you more than you can handle.  (I Corinthians 10:13 NIV) "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

So there you have it.  Will you do it your way OR follow His?

...The choice is yours!

May this message be a Blessing in your lives and mine.  In Jesus name Amen!

Maria


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

One 'Step' or Is It More of a 'Leap'

I have set a goal for myself to be more disciplined with my writing.  Been watching movies that I never saw before, learning about new things, reading parts of the Bible that I never studied.

It sounds so simple doesn't it?  Get some writing done, check.  Do more studying, check.  Research, check.  What about life???...'check'???

Have you ever put a list together of what you wanted to accomplish?  Or, have you ever made a list before?  Maybe you haven't. 

Doing something that you haven't before takes courage, and I admire and applaud you for going for it and taking a chance.  It is so easy to fall, and I mean f-a-l-l, into a rut doing the same thing over and over again like riding a merry-go-round that doesn't stop.

We are given seasons for a reason because we aren't supposed to do the same thing constantly.  Life is filled with variety.  Get into it. 

Foundations are the core of something and not the entirety!  Everything starts with 'foundation'.  After that part is put together you add different layers to it.

My book Thyme and Seasonings is about discovering the core of who you are!  This is step one, or shall I say, the foundation of your life.

God loves flavors and He Loves variety.  Imagine what part you play in His masterpiece!

In the book of Nehemiah several people helped rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  Some provided supplies and others worked on construction.  Others guarded and supervised the place.  Then there were those who didn't like the idea of the temple being rebuilt.  They tried to convince people to stop the Israelites from building.

The most important thing to remember about Nehemiah is this:  It started with one step!

The toughest step that you will ever make is the first one, especially if it is for something Completely new and different for you!  I've heard that the toughest year in a marriage is the first one, why???

I think the first of anything is the most difficult.  When something is new and out of your wheel of skills how does it make you feel?  Are you afraid or do you go for it?!

One of the ways that God comforts me is whenever I start to feel discouraged and/or confused Rocky will be playing on TV.  It always make me smile and it reassures me that everything will be okay.  I love Rocky's tenacity, courage, and perseverance.  Also, I love his humble attitude.

One of my favorite scenes is when Rocky wants to go out with Adrian and he finally gets a chance to take her out for a date.  It is so touching how Rocky treats her and how they fall in love together.  So simple, sweet, and beautiful! :-)

We need to take chances.  You need to take them.  Do something different.  No matter how big or small the change you will see and feel the difference.

Doers don't quit.  Even if they are delayed for days, weeks, months, and years at a time it doesn't mean that you're a quitter!  Don't stop!  If you have fallen down get back up and keep trying. 

Remember, you are not the only one with your goal.  God gave you the goal, dream, vision and He is cheering you all the way.  

He will supply you with what you need and give you wisdom and direct your ways.  :-)

(Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)  "Trust in the Lord with All your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In All your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight."  

"The Lord is my shepherd.  I lack nothing" (Psalm 23:1 NIV).


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sign in, Unsuccessful???

There is so much going on isn't there?  I don't know about anyone else but it has felt like a pressure cooker lately that could literally explode at times.  So much is happening now!

I know so many people that are suffering and hurting. 

Tonight when I was checking my messages I saw the statement, "sign in unsuccessful."

Ever have times like that?  When it feels like you are being ignored and not being answered?  I am  thanking God that His messages are never unanswered or unopened.

It doesn't matter what mood you are in, whether you want to say one word or a dozen of them.  Jesus loves hearing from us!  You mean even when I'm venting and complaining that He still cares???  Yes, He does!

Even though I have No Idea what is going on in my life right now it is comforting to know that there is someone who will Always listen. 

The mail that I send to Him is Never marked "return to sender." 

There is so much power and comfort in listening.  Letting someone else vent helps the person feel validated and valued.  Isn't that what we all want?

Sometimes silence can be comforting, especially when you're not sitting alone.  When it's silent you can hear the birds outside, feel the wind blowing by your house, hear the water move in a fish tank. 

I wonder, does God give us times of silence too? 

Does a child feel it when their parent checks on them when they are sleeping?  Does a great teacher stand over the student all the time or does he/she give the pupil some distance and see if they can figure it out themselves? 

There is a big difference in being told something all the time and getting a chance to learn how to do it.  Is it possible that Jesus does that with us?

I'm beginning to think so! 

Sometimes when I talk to God I babble about anything.  I love that what I say to Him doesn't have to be perfect.  He doesn't ask me to be quiet or talk about something else.  He is the best listener that anyone can have!

Maybe the word break-through exists for a reason?  Maybe it means something has to break to get through something?  Food for thought...

Thank you Jesus for always being there to listen!  I love you!

Maria

Thursday, May 4, 2017

First book published! :-)

















Hi everyone,

My book Thyme and Seasonings has been published and posted online!

It has been such a long journey getting this done!  Thank you everyone so much for all your support, patience, and prayers!!!!  It feels amazing!

It is posted on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Westbow.  Thought y'all would like to see them! :-)

Love y'all,

Maria

https://www.amazon.com/Thyme-Seasonings-Maria-Bakera/dp/1512781134/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1493916488&sr=8-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thyme-and-seasonings-maria-bakera/1126295804?ean=9781512781137

http://bookstore.westbowpress.com/Products/SKU-001123881/Thyme-and-Seasonings.aspx

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Why Is It

It has been a long time since I have written anything. You know there is something that you need to do, and yet finding every single excuse in the book to not take care of what you are supposed to do.

Take for example, I am in the process of getting my first book published. As excited as I am it is also frightening, surreal, and a dream that I have always imagined. Whenever I watched a story about a writer getting their book printed a wave of excitement came over me thinking about how wonderful it would be.

Then comes reality. Appointments, things to do, ya de ya da, nothing gets done. Another day goes by. My goal for the day, getting some writing done. Again, ya de ya da. Nothing. Who is there to blame? No one except myself. Again.

My book still needs finishing details, and as much as I wanted to work on it today, I found myself getting distracted "purposely this time" working on mundane projects that are not nearly as important as getting the book done.

While I was mindlessly, and I mean Mindlessly, organizing drawers, straightening up my room, watching shows on TV, God got my attention. In a gentle tone I sensed Him telling me, "If you only wrote a page a day for a year that would be 365 pages that are done." His statement took me aback. Ouch! Writing a page doesn't take a lot of time and yet, I have been procrastinating...for what!...Fear!

I have let fear stop me from being who I really am, a writer. Not anymore! The truth is when you step out and take a chance you "don't" know what words will end up on paper. You don't know what will be! That is part of life. Taking a chance. Jumping into the unknown.

When God wants you to do something trust that He will give you what you need to do it. And as much as it would be dreamed of, He is not going to wave a magic wand and "poof" it happens. If God did that then we wouldn't grow. People go to the gym to strengthen their muscles. Time to exercise ours.

Stand in faith, Go for it, and Don't Be Afraid! God Will Catch You!!!

May this message Be a Blessing In Your Lives and Mine!

Maria