Bookmark it!

It’s morning …. How is your day so far? Pretty good, right? Hold that thought! Bookmark it!

Are you holding? Good! Because if you’re like me, you’ll have to return to that bookmark later this morning.  It’s Tuesday …. Already! Somehow in all the preparing for the weekend, then having the weekend, the ending the weekend, the frenzy in our house of living bears little resemblance to the activity we prepared for.  Monday – the kickoff day to the week literally evaporated.

Does any of this sound familiar for a Monday or  any day? What to wear, finding clothes that match, running out of hot water, hair that won’t behave, kids escaping to the back yard instead of eating breakfast, “Turn down that TV. Never mind. Turn it off! :” “Stop teasing your brother; quit nagging on your sister” Then what about dinner? Looks like a trip to the store has to be added to the bucket of overflowing tasks. Talk about a bucket list! I don’t need to add anything more.  My bucket list procreates all on its own.   So I ask you.  How is your day so far?  Let’s fix that right now.  Armor up!

Dear Lord Jesus, This is a new day, your day. In a few minutes the things I should be praising you for are going to become a burden.  Please give me your vision for the day. Fill me with your spirit so the way I handle things today don’t become consequences of tomorrow. Please replace agitation with peace and light my path so I can follow. Amen

A few weeks ago I was reading a lot about Job. He went through unparalleled turmoil and loss.  Still, his faith in God never wavered; it was rock solid. This is Anyday, a busy day so – you won’t believe this – I’m cutting this epistle short.  I leave you with a few thoughts that were on my heart when I woke up this morning.  Job 22:21-22 “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.  Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.”  Some would interpret that word ‘prosperity’ in a financial way. Maybe, but maybe it’s prosperity of spirit.

Psalm 139:1-3 You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down;  you are familiar with all my ways.

God knows what you need.  He is familiar with all your ways.  From the Message Translation, I hope these two passages encourage you today.  Psalm 16:11 “Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face. Ever since you took my hand, I’m on the right way.” Acts 2:28 “David said it all: I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I have hope.”

You, Lord have set my feet on the life-path. You, Lord, are my joy all day long.

Remember the bookmark. God bless your day!

In anticipation of …

OK everybody up! Rise and shine! Good Morning…. It’s Friday everyone!

Give me an F give me an R give me an I ….. need I go on? We all know what Friday means. Yes! Somehow Fridays, even Fridays at work seem to spark up a little more than other days. Why is that? It’s just another day.  But is it? I think Fridays are like that because of anticipation. It’s not just Fridays though; it’s the looking ahead, looking forward with expectancy.  I used to laugh every time someone would say, “Live today as if it were your last.”  Seriously? That’s not how I want to live. No way! I want to live today like I will be here tomorrow and the next and the next. If today were my last day, I would be in mourning for all the things I would miss out on tomorrow, all the people I would leave behind. So – whoever came up with that ‘last day’ idea, I respect that thought, but no thank you.

I love anticipation. I cherish the memories of looking back, but I love more the enthusiasm of looking forward. The moment I have right now is only good for right now and aren’t we all thankful for these moments? But aren’t they the springboard for the next and the next? And how do we make sure our tomorrows at least resemble what’s we’ve stored up in anticipation? It begins with our thoughts, our thoughts become a plan, a plan becomes and action, an action becomes a habit – what if we made a habit out of always anticipating that we would find something good in every day. Make every day a Friday-feeling-day. Thoughts into actions, my friends.

We have to fight against negative thoughts, and go to war against the negative attitudes of ourselves and others. Look what it says in 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”  Take captive every thought – and make it what pleases God. Every act gets its start from the root of our minds.

I love reading Proverbs; and this morning I was thinking about the direction my life has taken in the past few years.  When people ask me, “How are you doing?” I’m always at a loss to tell them in a few words, because I’m – well – I’m blessed.  That’s how I am. Every day there are opportunities forming the landscape of my life. Not all opportunities are good, but they are part of the puzzle, the anticipation of seeing how God’s broad brush has painted the picture in front of me and behind.

Read with me from the Message translation. Proverbs 3:5-8 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.

Every Move I Make …. Every Breath I Take …. Everywhere I Look 

Curbside CleanUp – Pathway to purpose

I live I a small community that still provides a service to help citizens clean up their yards and rid their garages, attics and corners of accumulated treasures that once were. Two days out of each month leading up to summer people are invited to drag items to the curb to be picked up for disposal by trash trucks – if they are not first picked up by treasure hunters pulling trailers or driving pickup trucks.  This is not an unusual sight to see slow moving vehicles sort of trolling for treasure through the streets. Moments after a trash item is disposed of at the curb, a treasure hunter spies it and quickly salvages it.

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. How often we hear “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I’m sure the birth of resale shops had its root in that trash to treasure correlation. I’ve been creating an online course for writing a personal mission statement. Using resources supplied by the organization has indoctrinated me with words that force me to think about the values important to me and values woven into the fiber of my purpose. That all sounds so philosophical and deep, doesn’t it? But think about it for a minute. Think about it in relation to treasures or trash.  If someone asked you right now what you want most in life, my guess is that you wouldn’t say, “I just want to be left alone and be ignored like trash.”  Um no.  That’s not likely. Wouldn’t you, even with minimal contemplation, say something like, “I want to make a difference.”?

As superficial as that sounds, making a difference isn’t a vague statement; it’s genuine.  Regardless of choices that have gotten us to where we are now, there are times when we have said, I want to know that my life a baby doll 1963mattered.  I struggle with ‘my purpose’. I have pleading conversations with God to ‘change me’ so I no longer doubt that I am living out ‘His purpose’. Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever feel like you’re living like tossed out trash instead of precious treasure? The creator of treasure refutes that in Isaiah 43:1 The Lord who created you, he who formed you says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” That sounds pretty impressive to me. God has said ‘You are mine’.

Christmas 1962 I received my most memorable gift of all – a baby doll. I loved her to well used, then my sister loved her to bald and threadbare. When reclaimed for my own daughter, I had a new body sewn because there was nothing left but strands. My granddaughter was looking at my baby doll that you see in this photo and pointed out the broken fingers, dirty skin, and blemished eyes. Do you think I agreed that my baby doll, once treasure had been demoted to trash? No, not even in the most subtle way.  Instead I talked about how with my whole heart I wanted a baby doll for Christmas and no matter what she had become, I still loved her; she is still my treasure.

This is how God looks at us too. When we look at ourselves through our own distorted view of life, when we feel the cracks in our armor, when the reflection in our rearview mirror is not what we hoped to see – don’t we want someone to come along and scrape us away from the curb and call us not trash, but treasure?

When the enemy of my soul comes creeping along the curb threatening to toss me around like trash, I remind him that I am a treasure. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”  Through the lens of human assessment, I am ‘damaged goods’ ‘not salvageable’ ‘broken’ but God says “You are mine.” Then he unmistakably affirms in Jeremiah 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

God’s love is everlasting and He goes to great effort to show us how important His treasures are to him. Isaiah 45:2-3 “I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord who summons you by name.”

Are you living curbside? What do you believe about you? God’s treasure? Or Satan’s trash? Pay attention to Psalm 86:11 “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may joyfully worship you.” Psalm 139:14 “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

The 1st Mother’s Day

Mothers day photo Nolan and MacadenMother’s Day …. is today! I hope you aren’t too saturated with Mother’s Day stories already. Oh! And if you hurry you still have time to wish someone a happy Mother’s Day.

Yesterday I noticed a marquee in front of our local flower shop proclaiming “Celebrate moms.  The original seatbelt.”  I know.  I laughed too.  If you were born before the 1970s, you will remember that wearing seatbelts was recommended, but not required.  My kids wore seatbelts, but they also unbuckled when I wasn’t looking.  Consequently, to this day, when I have to slam on the breaks or make a quick turn, my right arm still flies out to hold back the child who is no longer there. Anyone else?  I thought so.

So let’s have a little quiz today. Come on.  It will be an easy one….well, maybe.  When was the first Mother’s day?  Go ahead and Google it or Bing it along – we’ll wait right here.

Did you guess in the 1600s when Christians in England honored Mary? That would be a no.

Did you guess during the Civil War when activist Julia Ward Howe called upon all the mothers to stop the insanity of the war and instead celebrate peace and motherhood? Well, that was a noble cause, but no, that wasn’t the first Mother’s Day.

Maybe you remember the story of Anna Jarvis, who after years of caring for her ailing mom pushed for a special day to celebrate mothers – and she won.  On May 10, 1908 she pulled it off and that was the official Mother’s Day. But sorry, that was not the first Mother’s Day.

So when was the first Mother’s Day?  Glad you asked.  I searched for a date but couldn’t find one, but here’s what I did find.  Sometime before the first recorded date in history, sometime before 2500 BC, Eve became a mom.  Genesis 4:1 confirms that Eve gave birth to a baby boy and named him Cain. Here’s what it says in the Message translation.  “… Eve conceived and had Cain. She said, “I’ve gotten a chikf, with God’s help!” Did you notice the added recognition?  Even at the earliest time, after she was kicked out of the beautiful Garden of Eden because of her sin, Eve gives the credit to God for allowing her to conceive and have a baby.  That tells me two things:

–         Eve had reconciled and been forgiven by God

–         Eve admitted that in her
own strength, even with Adam’s help, she had nothing without God

Today we celebrate mothers.  If you are a mother, someone is thinking of you today. What does every living person have in common? A mother – and every place you go today, you will hear or see something about celebrating moms.  This is not your average Hallmark holiday.  It’s real and it started back in Genesis.

I am not a Proverbs 31 woman, but it’s something to aspire to.  I’ve never figured out how to cover all the things that wife and mother did and still have energy to rise before it’s light.  Proverbs 31:10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

Please enjoy this day – because remember …. No matter what, no matter where, true life happens, when God is there.   Happy Mother’s Day – Happy Everyone Day

This Is Where I Leave You

I was watching a commercial on TV for a new movie awhile ago. My breath caught when I heard the title, This Is Where I Leave You. Forest road. Landscape.How often over the past few weeks have I thought about the void of an empty room, the hollow feeling trailing a wave, the finality of a closed door.  Have you ever spent time with someone you love, seizing every moment before their journey takes them one direction while yours takes you another? Have you known the words were coming but didn’t want to hear them, “This is where I leave you”?

If you’re breathing, you know the empty feeling of saying good bye, or avoiding the good bye altogether and using the softer, see ya later. I recently talked to a friend whose youngest child went off to college leaving her with nobody to drop off or pick up at school, no sporting events claiming every weekday evening, and a pretty lonely dinner table. There will be holidays and long weekends, but this season has brought new colors to the landscape – not the colors she is ready for.

Two years ago when my grandson joined the Marines we said good bye to him as he left for 13 weeks of Basic Training. He insisted on no tears and we all bravely complied … up until he said, this is where I leave you.  There are too many events in our life where the only option demands we take a deep breath and say good bye. Our whirlwind lives occur in such a blur that looking back we see a variation of what was. We take snatches of remembrances drawn from experiences as a way to soothe our aching hearts in moments when we feel loss. Life happens when we aren’t looking and we call it memory.

Change is inevitable, isn’t it? Just when we feel comfortable, when we seem to be on the right track, at the time we’re most confident and we’ve achieved consistency in our routines, then something changes. I used to dread change, in fact I was afraid of change. Routine was comfort, it meant stability. It didn’t mean loss or saying good-by. God impressed upon me the futility of dwelling on fear of change. The obvious results are shared in Lamentations 3:19 “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable.” I realized that life is filled with ups and downs, good and bad, gain and, as much as I dreaded it, many good-byes. I could choose to be miserable or I could choose to believe what God said in
1 Samuel 12:22 “The Lord has chosen you to be his own people. He will always take care of you so that everyone will know how great he is.”

Someone who had been through many distressing circumstances helped me learn to accept change. She taught me to recognize that change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different. I’m a little slow on the uptake and I didn’t embrace her wisdom right away, but gradually I learned that change didn’t mean loss, change didn’t always mean saying good-by. Life is a contact sport and sometimes we get beat up pretty bad, but there is no value in regurgitating the past and stumbling through defeat and more trouble. What can we do?
Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

New perspectives don’t magically materialize, nor do problems evaporate. There will always be changes we disagree with, our tender hearts will be broken by the dreaded good-by, we will lose parts of us we know we can’t live without, but in these times we must trust in the God that is bigger than all our terrifying problems and wider than the hollow left vacant by loss.  In Romans 1:11 Paul explains a remedy for fear. “I want to see you and share with you the same blessings that God’s Spirit has given me. Then you will grow stronger in your faith.” Recently I heard that in the Bible, we are commanded 365 times to “Fear not”. That’s a command, not a suggestion. We know from scripture, 2 Timothy 1:7 “God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” God didn’t give us a fear of failing, or fear of change, or fear of loss. The Psalmist says in Psalm 32:10 “Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.” And in Isaiah 12:2 I trust you to save me, Lord God, and I won’t be afraid. My power and my strength come from you, and you have saved me.”

Be courageous. Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.

So this is where I leave you.

2 Corinthians 13:11 Good-by, my friends. Do better and pay attention to what I have said. Try to get along and live peacefully with each other. Now I pray that God, who gives love and peace, will be with you.

Treat yourself to joy every day!

Need you now by Plumb

What? Enjoy work?!?! TGIF Right?

Just on the off chance you haven’t noticed, it’s Friday everyone.  OK! Everybody UP! Rise and Shine!

Have you heard someone say something like this? I have. Just recently, in fact.  “What do you mean, enjoy my job? Work isn’t supposed to be fun.  That’s why they call it work. Work is what you endure so you can enjoy the times when you’re not working,”  Well that’s just crazy. God created the world and all that is in it and I’m pretty sure work is part of creation.  While I admit some jobs are more fun than others, there is something to enjoy about every job.  Sometimes we have to turn over a lot of sod and throw out a bunch of rocks to find the hidden treasure, but there’s where the toil comes in.

I believe it’s Abraham Lincoln who said, “People are just about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” I’m certain he was advising on how we adjust our attitudes as we encounter our days, and we all work. If you’re headed out to work or if you work from home, whether you stay at home as a mom or are retired, maybe you’re an entrepreneur or in commissioned sales, there is something to like about what you do. If you can’t think of anything, think of it as buried treasure and start digging. If you’re struggling with that idea, go take a peek at your bank statement – ah.  There it is.  You get paid for what you do. Deuteronomy 33:11 says ”Bless all his skills, Lord, and be pleased with the work of his hands.” I know that’s my prayer every day.  “Lord, let me do my job like I’m doing it all for you.”  Is it fun like going to a circus? Bad analogy.  Depending on the day we could all claim to work at the circus.  The point though, is that work is a necessary part of living. Regardless of chosen vocation or the path we’re on, we all do work. And we all have attitude.

Here’s a challenge for all of us.  When you begin your day – today or tomorrow or the next day – search for the good in it.  Some will have to turn over a lot of rocks before the good parts are discovered. Trust me on this.  If you search, you will find slivers of enjoyment, but remember they might be deeply hidden under a bunch of rocks and weeds.

Ready for today? Here’s a buried treasure straight out of Ecclesiastes 5: 18-20 (Contemporary English Version) “ What is the best thing to do in the short life that God has given us? I think we should enjoy eating, drinking, and working hard. This is what God intends for us to do. Suppose you are very rich and able to enjoy everything you own. Then go ahead and enjoy working hard—this is God’s gift to you. God will keep you so happy that you won’t have time to worry about each day.

Don’t you love that? At the time it was written work was hard, it was toilsome. The people couldn’t call the nearest contractor with heavy lifting equipment. They couldn’t get out their cell phone and order dinner to go. You know those co-workers in the next cubes over from yours? In the days of Ecclesiastes people worked in teams – I mean really worked side by side, without walls to accomplish what needed to be done. Think about that and let it sink in for a minute.  That was then. This is now. Now is better, but the words spoken way back thousands iof years ago, still apply today. We can be happy (is we choose to be happy) in our toil because it is a gift from God.

Ready now?  Let’s do this!

It’s Optional

How often do you think about options? Last week I was at an event where there were tables of snack food, so many options. I was looking at my messy calendar and trying to schedule a real meeting with a friend and thought – options. I was spending an evening at home and decided to turn on the TV but had no idea what to watch so I grabbed the remote and pressed ‘guide’. So many options, I turned to my standby, Hallmark. Do options bewilder you sometimes? Options bewilder me, not because I don’t already have a calendar full of possibilities, but because I do.  I’m a list maker and a natural born planner, albeit a very flexible planner because I like to keep my options open.  I have a thick spiral notebook with beautiful floral pages that I handwrite my list of options on.  And there’s that word that got stuck in my head and refused to budge. Options!

As my mind was anticipating the weekend ahead and annotating plans to go to a school play, having Sunday dinner with my family, spending time with a friend, and enjoying fresh, dark coffee made with my Keurig brewer, I stopped.  Right there in the middle of those thoughts whirling in expectancy I realized how blessed I am to have options.  There are many who don’t have options.  They have physical limitations, they have financial restrictions, their health confines them to a small, safe space. I couldn’t turn off the thoughts of individuals suffering from serious illness, and their families who suffer with them. Weather in parts of our country have ravaged areas and left people in turmoil for weeks. What options do they have? I was watching a program on TV that showed the poverty in countries where the only drinking water comes from polluted sources.  They have no options. We love options. We’re dismayed at their absence.

I confess. I do my share of complaining. Maybe not vocally where others could hear me, but my mind has been contaminated with little grievances.  The problem with little grievances, is that they procreate and like any other living organism, they grow to the size of their nurturing environment.  Do you ever feel like this? Nobody is perfect. Everyone is allowed to complain.  It’s OK because life isn’t fair and I’m just being realistic. Good point.  But not valid. Nothing good comes out of complaining.  Complaining is a decrepit option.  Philippians 2:14 says “Do everything without grumbling or arguing,” Interesting!  Maybe I shouldn’t be complaining.  Those negative thoughts should be fleeting, not resident. I should renew my mind Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Renewing my mind is a favorable option. Realistic is recognizing what I have instead of what I don’t have. Realistic is being aware of what I can do, instead of what I cannot. Renewing my mind, refreshing my attitude, regenerating a right spirit within me are options; options as real as the plans I’ve made for the weekend.  Sometimes I overlook the blessings in my life. I often forget that I have options. One option is to adjust my attitude so thankfulness is at the top of the list; the predominant characteristic.  If I get the inside right, the outside will take care of itself. Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 139:23-24 (the Message) “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.”  But I need help – lots of help!  Well, there’s an app for that.  Psalm 55:16 “I call to God; God will help me. At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.”

Do you have a to do list? Do you have a plan? I do and at the top of the list is option one:  Renew my mind and generate a thankful spirit.