Ma_ic Monday

It’s Monday everyone…..Time to rise and shine! How was your weekend? Fun? Boring? Frenetic? Relaxing? Too fast and over in a flash?  And now here we are….back to what? Whatever your plan for today, it’s Monday!  How will you fill in the blank? Ma(g,n)ic!   Have you ever thought about why Monday gets such a bad rap? It is, after all, the beginning of a new week, most of us have had a couple days  to catch up: on sleep,  on errands, on household tasks, on meeting with friends,  on reading, or maybe simply caught up on nothing – enjoyed the freedom of doing n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

Have you ever noticed how cartoon characters like Garfield or Calvin & Hobbes often use Monday as their weapon of choice? And what about songs (these go back a ways) Monday, Monday by the  Mamas & Papas, and Rainy Days and Mondays  Always  Get Me Down by the Carpenters?  Monday is the day chosen most frequently as the ‘call in sick day’ – which I find baffling because Tuesday then becomes  the dreaded Monday times two.

Still not convinced? Take a tour of images on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and any public site like  one of them and compare a ‘Monday’ search to a ‘Friday’ search.  I’ll wait here…….See? Friday images are jump-in-the-air energetic and happy. Monday images are sad, somber, and snarley.

Monday is the second day of the week or it’s the first day of the week, but it’s a perfect day to get the whole week off to a great start.  1 Timothy 4:6 begins with “Be conscientious about how you live and what you teach…persevere in this….”  Our first order of the day –  Be conscientious. Even if we don’t feel like it, remember that what starts in our head will find it’s way to our heart with a bit of coaxing. Tell your head this is going to be a great day, it will be both productive, and fun.  If it’s neither of those, act as if it is  until your heart gets the message. “Today is a good day, I can accomplish what I set out to do, and if something gets in the way, I have the ambition and the intelligence to  find a better path.”  Monday’s are prime for planning, preparing, performing, and praying.  Psalm 32:6 (NET) says Everyone of your faithful servants should pray to you while there is a window of opportunity.  Mondays are also prime for problems, complications, obstacles and praying.  Matthew 6:6 (NET) Whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father will reward you.  Today we have virtual classrooms,  virtual meetings, virtual friendships and God will not care if you go into your virtual room to pray to Him.

So what’s it gonna be today? MaGic Monday or MaNic Monday? Are we ready to turn our world on its side and make this day a masterpiece? Yes! I’ll meet you out there!

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I’m glad God doesn’t have mood swings!

There is opportunity every day to experience the moodiness of others; sometimes even the moodiness of myself.  There are days when I’m mystified by the raw, biting attitudes of people who seem to be numb to the effect their attitudes have on co-workers, friends, and even their family – sometimes especially their family. Recently I was listening to one side of a conversation and as the dialog continued, I could feel the tension and heat in the air as the power play continued. While it was impossible to detect the winner, both parties were certainly defeated.  It’s painful for someone like me who just wants everyone’s world to be perfect to witness the obvious peril of individuals who can’t agree, put aside grievances, and just get along.  Right!  Perfect is just a word, it’s not a state of being.

In this world there will be disagreements …. LOUD and hurtful disagreements. This is what hurts even more.  A friend who finds fault, and criticizes instead of supports and encourages.  A friend who is generally kind, but lets every little irritation become a battle, and everyone inside the circle become targets and victims of the schrapnel.  We are all so human.  In this world there will be pain and sadness. I am so glad God is always the same.  If He disagrees with something I’ve done, He responds the same as He does when I do something right.  And just because I do something right doesn’t mean I will live a life free of pain.  My life is a process lived out through faith in a God who never changes.  He doesn’t get indignant and change his words to get back at me. He doesn’t turn his back on me when I make a mistake.  He doesn’t expect me to do stupid things then reject me as damaged goods when I do. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His mood and acts toward me are not dependent on my wavering mood or flawed acts toward Him. God doesn’t have mood swings. Amen

No resolutions required!

Can it be only 3 days till the New Year? 2013 is so close we can see it. What will we do with these last few days before we open the calendar to the next year.  I know. I hear you. New Year? New week? New day? There’s nothing all that different about going to sleep in one year, and waking up in another. True! But come on.  Admit it. Just like we are often glad to see the sun rise on a fresh new day, don’t we look forward to closing out one year in anticipation of another one, that’s brand new? There’s an undercurrent of unique emotion of putting the former year in a box, storing it away in memory, and opening a new one, completely empty but ready to start filling up with good intentions, better habits, productive practices and stronger relationships.

Sounds like New Year’s resolutions, doesn’t it? In fact there is nothing in that statement about new year’s resolutions, but if you feel compelled to make at least one, resolve to begin each day with an attitude of gratitude. Here’s a step-by-step plan for those of us who need it spelled out for us. Before we rise from bed, talk to God about everything that’s wrong in our life; give all those grievances, maddening circumstances, and overwhelming fears of the unknown to Him. Get them out there where you can dump the whole bundle, then fix our eyes – our attitude – our perspective on God so we reflect the Light. Begin each day with the creator, who knows all, has all power, and controls all things.

Above all – live with an attitude of gratitude and it changes everything! No resolutions required.

Proverbs 3:21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion;
2 Timothy 2:7  Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
Ecclesiastes 5:20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.
Psalm 19:14  May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Starting over

The new year is on our doorstep.  We can’t really start over but we can begin now to make a difference in our own life and also in the lives of others. If you’ve been reading my blog since it’s inception, this is one of the first posts. Be blessed today, with hope and a peaceful heart.

I struggle.  I admit it.  Am I the only one at age 58 who still questions if they are living their life to its full potential?  Do we ever stop asking that?  Are we supposed to stop asking?  See?  I struggle with that.  It isn’t that I feel like a defective part of the human race or a parasitic amebae, because I am productive. Where I get lost is on the path itself. I look ahead and see a jungle of opportunity. I look back and see pools of experience, all of them defining who I’ve become. Therein lies the problem. At the fork in the path, which way do I turn? When I examine my roots and remember from childhood what I thought would make me successful and happy, I realize they still follow me today.  When I was 12, I was certain that I would be an author of books, but today I am just as certain that I will not. Later I was convinced that I would write and deliver strikingly demonstrative training to hundreds of people who were trying to find their way.  Today, I am just as convinced that I will not. Persuaded that the future belonged to experts in technology, I bought a computer and read every article and book recommended to me on the subject of development and testing with the side benefit of writing. I have discovered that technology advances so quickly, it requires a dynamo.  I am not a dynamo.  In fact, I barely keep my head above the water at low tide – but I keep paddling just enough to keep from drowning.  I love all the nuances of project management, tracking and measuring and finding more effective ways to make things better.  Because of my drive to always be learning, my favorite activity is research.

So where I am going with all this? Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I have a future out there and know that every decision I make has a consequence; could be good, could be bad.  I know that I am passionate about research, writing, and helping others.  I wonder am I the only one who wants to live a productive life and finish strong, knowing that they made a difference?  Of all the passions in my life, things I want to do – I’m really not all that great at any of them.  But I am a highly skilled helper, friend, and encourager. None of those will ever by found on a annual salary chart.  In fact, I expect my salary is fixed right where it is today and will likely decline in the future.  So am I the only one who is happy with their life, thankful for all the threads of experience but still question if they are on the right path, one that will carry them productively through their twilight years? Am I the only one who never wants to coast, who wants to make a difference, even if they aren’t an expert at anything?  Who wants to have influence even though they have not advanced far from the the bottom rung of the ladder? Is it OK to be content to be a servant leader, silent and supportive, but satisfied where they are.  I wonder.  Am I the only one?

In my toolbox – Peace

What can we do individually to use ourselves to help bring hope, understanding, peace, joy, and love to this troubled world? Yesterday, I posted a quote I snagged from ChristianNet.com. It said:  Jesus, I give my life to you.  Help me to glorify your name.  Amen

Today I’m posting the Prayer of St. Francis – Written near 1220, it’s a prayer applicable for today. It’s my prayer. I hope it’s yours too.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3,13  If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.   And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

About St. Francis
St. Francis was born at Assisi in 1182. After a care free youth, he turned his back on inherited wealth and committed himself to God. Like many early saints, he lived a very simple life of poverty, and in so doing, gained a reputation of being the friend of animals. He established the rule of St Francis, which exists today as the Order of St. Francis, or the Franciscans. He died in 1226, aged 44.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZI1Gst7pEqc

 

Saturday sunshine

OK everybody up! Rise and shine! Good Morning ♪♫•*¨ To You ¸•♫¸.•.¸ ¸♥¸*♫*•.¸¸♥Good Morning ♪♫•*¨ To You ¸•♫¸.•.¸¸♥¸*♫*•.¸¸♥

YES! It’s Saturday … and yes, I could have slept in, but what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t wake you all up with a joyful song.  Come on now.  Really. We need to do this.  Up! Up! Up! Did I hear someone say “COFFEE!”?

Let’s talk about friends today. In the past two weeks I have felt the presence of friends more often and more intensely than most other times. We have literally been folded into a gathering of friends or family every evening for a reason. I know what you’re thinking.  Let me take a stab at those thoughts. “It’s Christmas. Of course there are parties to attend. There are the obligatory school concerts. There are invitations it would be inconsiderate to ignore. Whew! Bet you’ll be glad when it’s over.” If you are thinking that – you’re on your own there.  This is what I’m thinking. God knows just what we need. Starting back in November when I started adding events to our calendar, God was at work behind the scenes preparing to fill a need that I would have and that every other person involved would have right at that moment in time.  Last night was the final ‘Christmas party’ on the calendar and as I was sitting on the floor watching an amazing video of a Christmas Concert  in Branson, Missouri I was thinking of Scott Steiner’s  Sunday school class where we just learned about Spiritual Gifts – how to discover, develop, and deploy them.

I thought about the past few weeks and how so m any people – an entire village, really – have used their gifts to bless others this Christmas season. When I entered the home of Dave Jensen last night I was awestruck by the living spirit of Christmas in his home. Outside and inside was a masterpiece! These photos of the village Dave built reminds me of the way God designed His world. Of the billions of people inhabiting the Earth today, God has a plan for each individual.

Village picture 2          Village of Dave Jensen from FBC 12-2012         village picture 3        nativity

He calls us by name, he sees our heart, he knows what we need right now, and he understands us when we talk to him. The village needs us and we need the village.  Take a tour of Romans 12 and see for yourself how each of us is unique and vital to how we do life. We are a village bundled up with unique individuals, each with our own job to do, our own gifts to deploy.

I’ve been on the receiving end of some of those deployed gifts, right when I needed them. A new friend texted me a Bible verse Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and protection. Someone I’ve never met (but 15 years ago we had a mutual friend) sent me an email to welcome me to my new job. My granddaughter texted me a cheery message and said she loves me. My husband cooked dinner – that’s a big deal to have a homemade meal at our house. But wait! There’s more – I guess God knew I had more holes in my armor and he was still filling them up.  Gifted teachers at church on Sunday shared their knowledge of the scripture and music of talented musicians and singers was both uplifting and soothing.  God brought my friend who led me to the Lord way back in 1987 to me; the one who still sends me a spiritual birthday card every year.  Are you getting the picture here? We all have needs and we all can meet a need.  Sometimes it takes effort, but other times the tiniest act can have an astronomical impact. We’re all part of the village of humanity. Act one: Get our own heart right. If we get the inside right, the rest will take care of itself.  Then just show up! Be willing to be willing. Tiny act over here > Big impact over there

Ready? I thought so. We need a silent night to get some focus.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRSSsNbF29I

What does it mean to commit?

OK everybody up! Rise and shine! Good Morning ♪♫•*¨ To You ¸•♫¸.•.¸¸♥¸*♫*•.¸¸♥Good Morning ♪♫•*¨ To You ¸•♫¸.•.¸¸♥¸*♫*•.¸¸♥

What does it mean to commit? Hint #1 – we have to get up, we have to rise and shine, and we have to do it with enthusiasm. Or do we? Let’s dissect that for just a minute. Commit is the promise, commitment is living with it to the end, but what if we aren’t enthusiastic about it? Does that mean we get to take our commitment to the edge of a cliff and throw it over? If we are no longer enthused with the path we’ve chosen, can we abandon our commitment in favor of the path that’s better manicured and appealing?  Maybe.  It depends on the commitment. Some promises are forever and those don’t have to be inventoried here, but others are optional and that’s where we get to choose when to keep the commitment or dump it.

This is the time of year when we all consider the past and anticipate the future. We wonder if abandoning one commitment here could free us up to be more committed to something else over there. And if we did that, what would it look like? It’s different for each of us, but we all have choices to make and that can sure cause us some serious stress.  I have a tendency to overcommit. I know that about myself. There is no cure. I will always be a seeker … what can I do to fill this one tiny slice of time that’s not already taken up by some other commitment? The thing is, all my commitments are good, they’re honorable, and even necessary. When someone mentioned that I needed to give up some things, what do you think my reaction was? You got it! I annotated timeslot by timeslot the activity occupying each and concluded, I can’t give any of those things up.  After all, in Proverbs 3:27 doesn’t it say “Do not hold good from those to whom it is due, when it is your power to act.”?  Maybe you have had that same experience and have done same thing. List, sort, evaluate, ponder, feel guilty for even thinking of giving ‘that’ up.

Here’s what I came up with, and maybe this has happened to you. I went out in search of God’s commitment to me.  Jeremiah 29:11 tells me that God has a plan for my life.  Proverbs 3:5&6 says I need to trust in the Lord with all my heart, look to him to direct my path, and He will do that.  And I remember Isaiah 41:13 that says “I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”  How can I argue with that? So I went to the Lord and looking up to heaven said, in an audible voice, “Do you see me here? I’m not a machine Lord. You have to do something because I’m overwhelmed and if you don’t tell me specifically what to do, I’m going to miss it. Please, God, close doors that you don’t want me to walk through and open doors that only you can open. I need you to do that for me. Please Lord, direct my steps.” Then I claimed Deuteronomy 5:32-33 “Be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded; do not go off the path. Walk in obedience to all that the Lord has told you to do.”

Since then, God has revealed to me some places where I’m not using my time effectively and that doesn’t please him.  He has also impressed on me to seek a mentor, someone who will hold me accountable to this new commitment that so far is just between God and me.

Some commitments can be abandoned, others can be altered, some are for life. Seek counsel from God first, then decide what to do with that commitment.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI_1YliutzA