Press on, my friend

Today is both a day for looking back and a day to look ahead. In my prayer this morning, I had to be honest with God and tell him about some things I was glad to put in a box with the lid slammed shut, but there were others that I will remember as some of my best moments. Then I poured out my heart to him about the days ahead that are unknown and well – – – unknown. Everyday is a step into the unknown, but aren’t they steps into possibilities? This is what I need to remember.

My fear doesn’t come from The Lord. 2 Timothy 1:7 God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, of love, and a strong mind.

If I am going to be effective and productive, there are a few best practices I need to remember. 2 Peter 1:5-8 Add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly love; and to brotherly love, kindness.

I need to remember that training myself spiritually and physically are both important for a balanced healthy life. 1 Timothy 4:8 Physical exercise has value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.

I need to remember too that I will make mistakes, life isn’t perfect and I have to forgive myself and forgive others, then put it in the past to move on. Philippians 3:13, 14 forgetting those things that are behind and striving for those things that are ahead, I press in toward my calling, my purpose, the reason I am here.

If you can see yourself in any of this join me. Press on!

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Where do you want to go today?

One year ago today I posted this after attending this program where my grandson was graduating. Today we are on the way to visit him as a Marine at Fort Lee. I’m proud of him and thankful that God has blessed our country with young men and women like him who are willing to serve in the military. Don’t be shy. Tell service members thank you for serving.

Does anyone remember the Windows operating system that greeted you with the message “Where do you want to go today” trickling across the screen upon boot up? That message no longer appears and I’m pretty sure we no longer ‘boot up’ either.  We restart!  New operating system, new terminology, new ways to do the same things, and more ways to do new things. Every day, something new.

Last night I attended the high school awards program for graduating seniors at our local high school.  Our school is relatively small compared to many, but talk about potential! The printed program listed three pages of scholarships and monetary awards for the college bound and even a couple for a kid whose goal it was to work in a profession that didn’t require higher education. There were recognitions of graduates entering the military. Last night was a celebration leading up to the ultimate celebration that flips the tassel from kid to adult in one easy step. Then what?

‘Where do you want to go today?’ will be on their minds every morning for a long time. How about the rest of us?  Where do I want to go today?  Where do you want to go? We joke about the little poem “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go” because it’s partially true. Way back in an Organizational Behavior class I was taking, I learned about intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. In case you’re wondering:  Extrinsic motivation means the reason you work is to do more things and have better toys.  Extrinsic motivation says “Money doesn’t buy happiness; it just lets you look for it in a lot more places.”  Intrinsic motivation means the task itself and the environment you’re in brings you pleasure and that motivates you. Intrinsic motivation says, ”Find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”

Ecclesiastes 3:22 says “So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?”  Not all work is pleasant; in fact take any day of the week and there will be frustrations, miscommunication, conflicts, and 12 hours of work to fit into 8 hours of time.  Some have a long commute, others travel away from home when they’d rather be at home. Real life is like that. Somehow we ended up where we are.

To the graduating seniors and to each of us, I would say this. Where do you want to go today? If every day we find ourselves on the same path and aren’t enjoying any of it, maybe it’s the wrong path. A few years ago a graduating senior pondered her future I remember repeating to her the same words I’d heard my dad tell kids in our youth group back in the 1960s. “If you get up each day and do what God wants you to do for that day and repeat that every day of your life, you will end up living a lifetime inside God’s will.”  It’s a daily commitment. We all get off track. Some of us are so off track at times it takes the equipment of a surveyor to guide us back.

Where do you want to go today?  I want to enter my mission field, equipped with wisdom, understanding, and joy.  James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  I want to live like Philippians 2 “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

That’s where I want to go today.  Good morning, world!

 

 

If you are close to Grand Rapids, MI – 5:30 pm May 20

I personally feel that the best way to stay positive in a negative world is to surround myself with positive people. I know a positive person when I see one. I’m looking forward to seeing and listening to the person who wrote these words in his latest book: I’m still trying in my lifetime role as cheerleader and encourager to have a positive influence on my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They are the future and as an eternal optimist, I believe that today’s young people have the capacity to build a successful future, but they need guidance from those who have succeeded in the past. ….

What is popular is not always right, and what is right is not always popular. I’ve tried to do right regardless of critics, changing lifestyles, political party, of those who have influence in society at a given time. I’ve never been able to argue against wisdom of having an upward look, being persistent, believing in America and free enterprise, a Christian faith, loving family, being accountable to myself and others and recognizing the dignity in each person. …..

Two phrases that have been keys to my success; “Be a Life Enricher” and “You can do it!” I’m telling you – You Can Do It – you can attend the author talk too.  5:30 pm Baker Books on East Paris. I’m sure I will be surrounded by positive people.

http://www.bakerbookstore.com/community/store_events

Who will you live your life for?

Let’s be clear. I have no ambition toward wealth, no aspirations to lead a company from the corner suite. I have no yearning to live in a million dollar home or drive a $65,000 car. When I dream big, I don’t dream of a 6-figure income and a budget to fly around the world choosing where to stop for lunch and where to sleep at night.  When I dream big, all the characters on my storyboard fit and all the pieces have a place.  When I dream big I dream of success, not measured by the numbers on my W-2 or my name engraved on an office door, but success measured by God’s standard compared to my obedience.  Have you ever wondered why our 21st century lives couldn’t have little compartments where we could meet with God, you know; one on one to talk things through.  We could hand Him our ideas with a black marker and have him cross off the things that would shift us from his perfect will.  Our experience with choices often create a dilemma. This Or That Way Directions On A SignpostIt seems that Joshua was given wise counsel in Joshua 1:7  ““Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”  Maybe back in those days there were fewer choices and the 10 Commandments built sufficient boundaries – or not.  Joshua was serious about his divine call and like me and like you his desire was to fulfill his God given purpose. For Joshua, it was to      be a confrontational commander, a tough leader with a military mindset. He had no margin for error.  When he dreamed big, he had to see victory in the future of the Israelites.  That was success for Joshua – that is not success for me, and probably not for you.

Have you wondered, maybe not today, but at some time if you are living the life God designed for you? When making decisions isn’t it difficult to know for sure how your list would look if you could hand it to God with that black marker and ask Him to draw you a map – with steps to success clearly marked? I downloaded the book Simply Rich, the latest book by Rich DeVos. The front cover description expresses “Rich DeVos helped create one of the world’s biggest companies— Amway— and did it from the ground up, with little but his deep faith in God to guide his decisions and keep his hopes alive.” I’ve read the history of the Amway Corporation many times. In 1969 a friend of my dad came to talk about jumping into becoming an Amway distributor, but since this meant being ‘yoked’ with a business, he wanted a second opinion about his venture. The story included the meager beginnings, the triumphs and defeats, but most important the testimonies of two men who acted out of their devotion and dedication to God.

I don’t know any member of the DeVos family or the VanAndel family. I know from reading two other books by Rich DeVos, ‘Believe‘ and ‘Hope From My Heart‘ that in cultivation of their business and in the development of their families, they chose a godly path. Because of their many cycles of start, stop, switch, start over do you think there were many cries to God for wisdom and guidance? Do you think there were pleas for God to draw a map of his will?  I do too. Do you think they read this New Testament verse multiple times?  Hebrews 10:36 “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised”.

In West Michigan especially, but in all parts of the world the abundant blessing of God on the Amway Corporation is evident. There are benefactors that exist only because two men followed the leading of God to His divine definition of success for their organization.  I am thankful for the Christian character of Rich DeVos and the late Jay VanAndel.  I’m thankful for their unparalleled generosity. I’m thankful that they recognized their divine purpose and were determined to be successful according to God’s standards.

What can we do to be successful according to God’s standards?  Envision for a moment, handing over that that paper and marker to God. At the top of the list … Seek the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from there you  seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.”  What else? 2458-1013-A2503I’ve spent more than my fair share of suggesting to God that he had me mixed up with someone else. I’m sure I’ve exhausted God’s patience with endless what-if hypotheses and why-not speculations. I’m relatively certain this verse in Romans was intended for me. Romans 9:20-21But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”  

God exercises patience and is long suffering because he isn’t just loving, He is love. God knows the heart of each of his children. When we question, when we dream, when we endeavor, when we conscientiously pray for direction from above, God shines a light on the path so we can stay the course or get back on track.  This promise is a comfort to people like me who live immersed in questions.  Isaiah 42:16I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

In the final analysis, this verse spoke volumes to me this morning in my quiet time.  It’s a good question.  Who am I serving? Galatians 1:10  “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Perception

Do you remember Miss Minnie Pearl? I think my first recollection of her was back in the radio days of listening to the Grand Ole Opry but if that’s not it, I remember her from the television program Hee Haw. She wore plain house dresses, sensible tie-up shoes, and a straw hat with its price tag hanging off to one side.  She was an audacious comedian who could take an ordinary situation andRobin photo by Lori Edgington turn it into hilarity just by the way she phrased her sentence.  In one scene Miss Minnie was in a room with someone the audience couldn’t see and she was describing a compliment she had been given.  “He said I look like a fresh breath of spring.” Then quietly to herself so the audience can hear, Minnie admits, “What he really said was I look like the end of a long, hard winter.” You can laugh now.  That was funny.

That story has stuck with me for at least 25 years.  I’ve never forgotten it because while it was meant to be funny, and it was, there is also a solid truth contained in it.  Things are not always as they seem. Sometimes we say one thing and it’s interpreted incorrectly. What we perceive is not what was intended. There are few black and white circumstances, but there’s a lot of gray.  We have to ask forgiveness for, or be the forgiver of, misunderstandings.  A few days ago I wrote about being downhearted.  Psalm 42 reveals a downhearted David.  In other Psalms he was full of joy and in love with life.  Isn’t that how our life path is? Up and down, spiraling like a roller coaster.  This verse, about midway through that chapter in Psalms was like David stopped and took a breath from is sadness. Psalm 42:8 “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.”

Even without having a face to face talk with David, I’m sure he spent a lot of time talking to God about his perception of things in his life.  He didn’t have TV or the Internet to influence his opinion. He couldn’t Google himself to see where he ranked on the popularity polls.  He didn’t own a smart phone with instant access to friends and enemies. Still he had perception.  I think David prayed a lot for God to give him a right attitude, proper perspective and for wisdom to be in his mind and heart.  We can pray for all of that too.  James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  Reading further in James is this from the Message translation. James 3:17-18 “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

Ready for today?  Our mission waits.  Let’s get out there.

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

Let’s talk about Mother’s Day

Let’s talk about Mother’s Day. Why not? This year marks the 100th year for celebration of this holiday in honor of mothers. It was 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 2nd Sunday in May to be the day we would observe the role of motherhood. The 1914 date is just a mark in time though. Even 40 years before the actual signing of the proclamation Ann Jarvis proposed a day to honor mothers.mothers-day_1100013163-1013int

Way back at the beginning of time, God had it in his mind that there would be mothers. Genesis 1:27 God created humankind in his own image, male and female he created them. God goes on to tell this new couple, to be fruitful and multiply. It was his plan for Adam to be a dad and for Eve to be a mom. In Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. T Genesis 3:20 he issue with being the mother of all the living is that anything living takes a lot of maintenance and makes infinite demands. If you don’t believe me, read Genesis 4. Eve gave birth to Cain, then gave birth to Abel and that was also the birth of sibling rivalry. Moms have been running interference and acting as referees between brothers and sisters ever since.

About a year ago, Business Insider published an article that assessed the value of a mom’s responsibilities at $113,586 per year. They also estimated the average number of hours per week at 94, due to the significant number of tasks a mom performs. Cook, chauffeur, playroom supervisor, laundress, sanitation engineer, money manager, curator, caregiver, psychologist, and we’ve already covered referee. A quote from that same article said “The sad part — most mothers don’t give themselves much credit for their accomplishments.”

As husbands, sons and daughters, we should help often with these tasks that occur just because we are all living things. Especially today, remember the moms in your life provide nourishment for your body and soul, make sure you have clothes to wear when you go out, and a comfortable place to come home to. Moms sit with you when you’re sick and run all over town for you when you are well. Moms listen with their hearts, even when they don’t know what to say. Moms know all about you and love you anyway.

  • Did you know there are approximately 2 billion moms in the world, roughly 90 million in the US? Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year for restaurant visits and it has the highest volume of phone calls of any other day.
  • Total amount of money spent on Mother’s Day Cards annually:  $671 million
  • Total amount of money spent on flowers for Mother’s Day:  $1.9 billion
  • Percentage of dads who say they take over responsibilities for moms on Mother’s Day: 83%

I don’t know where you are on the statistics for restaurants, phone calls, cards, or flowers, but whether you’re husband,  father, son, or daughter, I hope you’re one of the 83% living things who stands in for the mom in your life. For today, make her maintenance chores disappear and let her make the demands. That’s how to honor the mother of all living things.

Source of statistics: http://statisticbrain.com/mothers-day-statistics/

 

Becoming: Proverbs 31 Girl ✓

A reader of my blog noticed my confession that I have never achieved Proverbs 31 status and sent me this post. I like the concept and think I can relate completely to how it’s done.

 

http://daughterbydesign.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/becoming-proverbs-31-girl-%E2%9C%93/

Proverbs 31, Proverbs 31 Woman, Growing up I always had the mentality that Proverbs 31 was qualities that a wife and mother needed to have. Whenever I read that chapter I always thought to myself “Wow, what an amazing woman of God – I’m going to have a LOT to work on to keep up with the standards that she sets”. Recently as I was once again reading this chapter from the bible it dawned on me that I need to work on having all of those qualities in my life right now – not the day after my wedding. There’s a saying out there about how putting a ring on your finger and getting married does not mean that you will automatically become this amazing wife/husband you thought you would be. If you don’t possess these qualities in your life before marriage, then you won’t have them after you get married either.

I decided to break…

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