Am I on a path at all?


Staying on the dirt road would have been safer (although I would have still be in disobedience) because the road is packed, and traveled by trucks, combines, tractors, etc… so that over time, it is hardened and although the rain creates a little mud on top, and mud puddles, there isn’t a huge danger of being stuck in the mud.  The field is NOT a path at all.  The ground is meant to be worked each season and a harvest planted in the fertile, rich, loose soil so that the plants can grow.  The rain very much causes that ground – right next to the road – to be drenched with the water so that it soaks down deep in preparation of the seeds that will be planted and will need water to grow and produce a harvest.  Those two places – the dirt road and the field are the SAME DIRT – there is nothing different about the dirt itself.  The difference lies in the purpose and function of each.  I guess you could say that if you don’t choose to be on a PATH, you are still choosing something… No choice is still a decision.  Probably not the best one, definitely not a purposeful one.  Today, I choose to choose my path.  Not to wander in the field.  For my great-grandfather – Englebert Mader… his path was very much in the middle of the field – he was making his path with a horse and a hand-plow.  I’m pretty sure that he also had a set jaw – angry, determined that this ‘talk of religion’ was something that he neither wanted nor appreciated in his wife, Mary.  I think my moment of surrender in the mud might have been a little like his own – both actions, him falling to the ground, and me surrendering my boots – both moments were our unique acts of surrender, a turning point, a lesson learned deeply.  His act changing the course of lives for generations to come.  My act being a result of his act in some way – setting me on a path for my life and it’s roads and fields.  I’m so very grateful for what great-grandpa Mader decided that day.  I am so very grateful for my Dad and what he did for me that day – a moment in time to be remembered and recounted about 35 years later and to bear so much more meaning than it did at the time.  I can’t wait to meet great-grandpa and talk about it all.  Then, I’m going to talk to great-grandma and give her a big hug for putting up with and praying without ceasing for Englebert – and will tell her all I have to tell – giving the honor and glory to my Father in Heaven.

So, there it is – a small snipit – glimpses of our past – carried forward to our present – giving us confident expectation of good – no… great – things to come for our future generations.

Kerry (Mader) Sikes
December 27, 2011

thoughts from The Vine


Connection.
How do we connect with others in real and intimate ways if we have been hurt? have trust issues? and more importantly how do we help others find their way to connection?

On Friday at Celebrate Recovery, one of the ladies receiving her step study completion chip said it so simply and eloquently. “I KNOW now that I belong. I REALLY belong!”  She is connected!

For me, in order to feel truly connected to others I have to stay connected first and foremost to my Heavenly Father. being a farmer’s daughter myself, the way the message translation says it resonates with me.

Vine and branches.

While I was studying for this devotional, I went to the best resource EVER – PINTEREST, of course, and looked up vine grafting, and vine pruning to brush up a little on my less that thorough knowledge of these topics.  I found a few tidbits I thought were interesting:

A grape vine when it is planted, looks pretty awful.  It looks dead.  There is no green, no leaves, no fruit.  The vine gets planted in the right season and later on, when the vine started to grow, those young tendrils are strapped to a support structure, so the center of the vine can grow and its two main tendrils can branch out.  Once these tendrils are of a certain length, the are wrapped to the horizontal structure, creating a T shape.  The point at which the vine branches out is referred to as the Head, or CROWN.  I love that Christ chose an image that points to the cross.  This growth, pruning and training process takes several years – there is no faster way to make the vines grow – they grow as is in their nature to grow.  Some do grow faster than others, however; and I learned that the pruning for the more aggressive varieties, is also more aggressive.  I thought that was very interesting.

John 15

1 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. (Ouch! There’s that painful pruning we go through in our steps and in recovery.) And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. (Did you know that a fruit tree HAS to be pruned of some of the baby fruits it starts to bear? The branch may produce 12 apples, but the farmer will come along and take off many so that the remaining fruit will grow larger and be healthier!  Wikipedia says, Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, preparing nursery specimens for transplanting, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.)  You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me. (We are not the original branches! The original branches are Israel, the chosen people… but the best news ever is that this verse talks about in-grafting! Genetically modified!!! That’s us! We are bonded to the vine by the farmer. He takes us, the branch, and carefully cuts open the vine and inserts the branch into the vine and then lashes it up, bonds it. It will grow as one after the grafting has been complete!!) 5 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, (I love that!) the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

9 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.

11 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. 17 “But remember the root command: Love one another. (‭John‬ ‭15‬:‭1-17‬ MSG) Fruit bearers – that’s US!  Praise God that we have the True Vine so that our supply doesn’t come from within, it some from The Vine itself.

One thing I love about God is that He is an unfailing, never ending Source. He pours out everything He has, everything He is and when we use that Source, we also never run out. Never. No matter how crappy my week is, no matter how down I feel about life, when others around me need to hear Hope, or Healing, I have it because I am not getting it from Kerry, I’m getting my supply from the Distributor Himself. I’ve noticed when I start to feel used, or exhausted its because I’m trying. I’m trying! I have to stop trying and start relying. Themes in this scripture? Connection. Supply. Source. Relationship. What’s it all for? It’s for our Joy to be complete as we fulfill His command to LOVE.

Making it personal.

Write about a time that you felt or knew that you were relying upon Christ as The Vine, The Source.  What happened? What was different about the situation from the past when you relied upon other methods or coping strategies?

How can I practice or exercise my dependence on The Vine as The Source for everything I need in a purposeful way?  What are some ideas that you would be willing to share with everyone?

Why is it important to be dependent on The Vine and The Source?

So blessed to be sharing these notions with a group of vine-dwelling sisters – all of us on our unique journeys of recovery – helping as servant leaders at Celebrate Recovery – to show others how to plug into The Source, The Vine.  October 10-12, 2014.