By Beth Calhoun
Several years ago, before my daughter married and moved, we ran in our neighborhood to train for various races. On our running course, there is a cul de sac with 14 crepe myrtle trees lining the edge of the sidewalk. Apparently, a couple of neighbors collaborated and planted the trees at the same time because they were all healthy, identical in size and had beautiful flowers.
Today, my younger daughter and granddaughter and I walked through the same cul de sac. I was shocked at how the trees had changed. The first seven trees were tall, lush and very healthy. Over the years, these trees had obviously been tended to - fertilized, watered and regularly pruned. The outcome produced healthy, beautiful trees that had wonderful curb appeal.
In comparison, the next set of trees must have been ignored and left to their own device. The lack of pruning produced smaller, thinner, shapeless and straggly trees. They appeared sickly and anemic and the differences between the two sets of trees were significant.
I realized that although uncomfortable and very painful, pruning or disciplining is necessary. “The Lord disciplines those He loves” (Prov. 3:12, NIV). He desires for us to act more like Jesus, so He “disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness” (Heb. 12:10, NIV). If He didn’t love us, he would let us do whatever we wanted and basically turn us over to our own devices. Eventually, we would resemble the unkempt and sickly looking trees rather than the healthy and beautiful trees.
The trees were created to be beautiful and produce flowers. Similarly, He created us in His image in order to bring glory to the Lord. Granted, “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11, NIV). This discipline helps us look and act more like Jesus.
Thankfully, God loves me so much that through His Holy Spirit, He shows me when I am being selfish, impatient, a poor steward….. He makes the effort to lovingly discipline and correct the errors of my way so that I may reflect His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control (Galatians 5:22, NIV). And I hope that you know that He loves you so much as well!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Prov. 1:7, NIV). Lord, please help me to not be foolish and to be more thankful for Your love and discipline. Help me to accept your correction and change my ways that need to be changed. Thank you for the peace that comes with discipline. Thank you for your love that never fails.
My precious husband, Bill, and I have been planted in Fort Myers, Florida for almost 35 years. As a newly married couple, God most graciously had placed people in both of our jobs to share Christ with us. Its hard to believe it has been almost 34 years since we asked Jesus into our hearts! Bill and I have been blessed with four children, 3 daughters, then a son. These blessings came quickly, all within 6 years!! During these years I'm so thankful I was able to be part of women's ministry classes at our church, helping me to grow in my walk with Him. Then came the day when I was asked that question that stretched me way outside of my comfort zone...will you teach a class? Its hard to believe that I have now been teaching more than 20 years. Bill and I love to travel, most of the time going to visit our 9 grandchildren, oh ya, and their parents! I also love reading, walking and hanging out with some very special young moms in Beloved that bless my socks off!
Julie is a Kansas girl who resides in sunny Southwest Florida. She's been married to her husband Sean for 23 years and they share two boys ages 21 & 17. She enjoys baking and biking, but her absolute favorite thing is snow skiing which is a little difficult to do in a sandy 80 degree land.
She became a follower of Christ at age 10. She loves studying and teaching God's Word. She has a passion for encouraging moms to love and follow Jesus.
Beth grew up in a loving home; however, in her early 20s she faced a very lonely time. During that time, she cried out to God and asked “If You are real, please show yourself to me!” God met her where she was and she trusted in the Lord Jesus at that time. Her life verse and desire is “no matter what happens, to conduct herself in a manner worthy of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
Beth now resides in Tampa, Florida with her husband Larry. The Lord has blessed them by blending their family of five children. They currently have eight grandchildren and are hoping that there will be more grandchildren in the future.
Donna accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of nine and has been amazed at God’s goodness and faithfulness throughout her life. She has been blessed to have had many mentors through each season of life, who have shown her what trusting God looks like. Donna and her husband, Bryan, have five children, one son-in-law, one soon to be daughter-in-law, and one wonderful grandson. Donna and Bryan have recently moved back to their home state of Arkansas after livingin southeast Alabama the past 23 years. Donna enjoys spending time with her family, laughing with friends (usually over coffee), going for long walks with her husband, and reading a good book (which may also be accompanied by a cup of coffee).
Sarah is a true Florida Cracker. She was born and raised in Southwest Florida. At the age of 6, Sarah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, and she hasn't looked back since. Hebrews 13:8 is one of her favorite verses, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Eating delicious desserts, spending time with her family and friends, and teaching people about Jesus are a few of the things she enjoys to do in her spare time.
Sarah has been married to her best friend and husband, Brandon, for 7 years. They have been blessed with one beautiful, determined son, Asher, who keeps them on their toes. Sarah and her family live in the Tampa area. They love exploring their community together, family hugs, and eating pizza whenever possible.
Katie Flint just recently moved back home to Fort Myers, Florida with her husband, Ryan and two children, Collins and Madden. At the age of 5, Katie accepted Jesus Christ to be the Lord and Savior of her life, after attending Vacation Bible School. Through each phase of her life, God has shown her that He alone is trustworthy. The verse that has been her life source is Psalm 46:10- “Be still and know that I am God.”
She is a stay-at-home mom and enjoys exercising and baking. She has been married to her husband Ryan for almost 9 years, who is her high school sweetheart. They enjoy trying new restaurants, family trips to the beach, and relaxing at home.
Marsha grew up in a small rural town in upstate New York. In 2006, after finishing college, she moved to sunny SW Florida where she met her, now husband, Shawn. Together they enjoy spending family time with their two fun-loving toddler boys Zachariah and Kairos.
Marsha enjoys living an active lifestyle, which is helpful, considering that her favorite hobby is baking.
Though she attended church as a child, Marsha was not saved until adulthood when her eyes were finally opened to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
Since being saved, God has placed a loving burden on her heart to share the truth about God’s healing grace with those who may feel like forgiveness is not possible for them.