The Truth About Investing

I miss blogging. There I said it. I don’t count my followers. I don’t analyze the geographic locations of my readers. I have the smallest degree of popularity.God has a purpose for you  I love that people sometimes read and comment on what I have to say, but what I really miss about blogging is spilling out the contents of my heart because it’s part of who I am. I met up with a friend yesterday whom I had not seen in over 2 years. She needed a guest to join her on her radio show, so I helped her out – then we spent the next 4 hours in eye level communication, soul sharing, revealing life as we have experienced it since 2012.  “I miss blogging,” I told her. And instantly felt her response. “Why do you feel like you can’t spend time doing something you really enjoy?” That’s it! The enigma uncovered, deciphered with a few well-placed words.

Spending time. Or investing time? Is it just me, or does spending seem different from investing?

Investing is paying into something, expecting a profit in return. Investing is more purposeful, intentional, a personal commitment with promise of reward. Investing builds. Investing creates. Investing is discernment – applied to time, that means making choices which have discernible benefits.

Spending is often frivolous, impetuous, and done without thinking. The damage done by a mindless spending spree can be financially devastating. Spending money or spending time, expends energy and depletes resources without regard to replenishing. I’m a little slow on the uptake and sometimes God has to grab ahold of my head and point my face in the right direction. I couldn’t sleep all night so I started praying then I started web surfing and that always brings me to  I read 1Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”  I may not be a gifted writer, but God has given me a love for writing and that is the gift. It’s OK to invest time in writing; in fact God says each of us should use whatever gift we have. Why do I tell myself blogging is spending time frivolously? God says I’m not spending my time, I’m investing it. He gave me the love of writing. It’s a gift.

This tiny lesson was a revelation in other ways too. In January, I decided to join the one-word-to-live-by club. I call it a club because it was hot for a few weeks and, well, it’s a club that evaporated quickly like 3 week old resolutions. Take a trip over to Twitter and look for hashtag #word365 . . . Point proven.  My word though, which I adopted and still invest in is ‘discernment’.  What should I be doing right now invades my thoughts so often I recognize that I am spending too much time deciding and too little time investing in what I should be doing right then. Things like organizing only to reorganize.  Reading too many books simultaneously leads to spending time, instead of investing quality time in one or two books.  Spending countless hours online reading and following blogs to learn from the masters and absorb their knowledge. All GOOD, but am I intentional and investing wisely?  I see some flaws in my investment strategy.

Whether spending or investing, being human automatically qualifies us to experience disillusionment with our choices. Humans are the only species with cognitive abilities and minds capable of reason. We are practically licensed to feel exhausted from the myriad of choices we must make! Here’s a little hope for those overwhelming responsibilities. Bring on Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

God comes along and promises that our efforts will be rewarded if we invest our time wisely. We might have to be stubborn toward our wandering minds to be staunchly disciplined in constructing our days.  And those of us who are certain we’ve been touched with ADD need a significantly stronger behavior pattern to assure we are investing in our gifts that will reap rewards. 2 Chronicle 15:7 says “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

How about you? Are you spending or investing time for a profitable outcome?  Deciding what to do with the hours in our day is like a roller coaster running inside a maze. Sometimes couldn’t we yell, “Stop the world and let me off. Just for a little while.”?  Instead God gives us gifts that bring us pleasure and he says, use them. Spending/Investing. Make wise choices.  Isaiah 65:22 comforts us when God says, “For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.”

Treat yourself to joy today!

Changed – Becoming who I was meant to be.


Google Doesn’t Know Everything

Good workI received this comment on my blog:  I see a lot of interesting posts on your website.  You have to spend a lot of time writing.  I know how to save you a lot of work. There is a tool that creates unique, google friendly articles in a couple of minutes.  Just type in google ….  And it came from someone calling themselves ‘Chairman’.

I don’t know this person’s angle and surely they don’t know me. All of you experienced bloggers out there are going to say, it’s spam, just delete it.  Of course it’s spam and it’s already deleted, but that’s not my point.  There’s a lesson here.  There are good reasons to reject assistance and invite compromise. What do you think?

Let’s put this idea into the perspective of being authentically who we are, engaging in activities we enjoy, working in a vocation we love, and relentlessly practicing our craft, while learning from the experience.  In our quest to develop expertise and strengthen our affinity for knowing what we were born to do, we cultivate the cycle where our interests match our skills, match our abilities, match our responsibilities, match our aspirations, mastermind our vision, and through rigid determination create inspiration to press on, keep learning, keep striving, and never giving up.  There is no free pass to carry us without effort into becoming the authentic person we were meant to be.  Listen in while I explain all that to Chairman.

Dear Chairman,

Thank you for your interest in the content you found on my website.  We agree on one thing. Every word written was by my hand, from my thoughts, and with a fair amount of effort. Yes, I spend a lot of time writing and it does take a lot of time.  But Chairman, for me to stop writing is to stop breathing. I have never sold even one paragraph of my writing. You see, I don’t blog for income; I blog because I love it.  It’s a simple exercise that grows my writing skill and allows me to encourage readers by conveying comfort, motivation, and joy for their day through the way words are strung together.

Letting Google create my articles robs me of the opportunity to learn by doing.  Google doesn’t know my heart and can’t empathetically impart concern for a hurting soul or confused person struggling through discouraging circumstances.  Google is a goldmine for information seekers and I don’t doubt the power of your suggested resource, but Google can never replace the sentiment of a sincere message from my heart.

I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but Chairman, to follow your suggestion cheats me of the opportunities to be creative, increase my value as a writer, multiply my capacity, and expand my proficiencies, and sharpen my aptitude.  When I’m not writing I feel my talent diminishing and competence evaporating.

You’ve expressed concern that I am working too hard.  I love writing so much, it is not work at all.

Wishing you a day blessed with authentic joy, and work that doesn’t seem like work.





Hidden Faith

I had to stop singing. We were in the middle of a song at church, music resonating from the worship band, the words projected on the screen flashed through my mind. “The riches of your love will always be enough” I had to stop. Could I really sing those words and mean them? If I couldn’t find work, if my car broke down, if suddenly I was financially destitute, would the riches of God’s love really be enough?

I thought of my childhood friend sitting across the aisle from me whose life is about to change in a good way. She and her husband are closing down their business and moving thousands of miles away to be fulltime home missionaries to a Bible Conference and Camp in Idaho. They have a passion for leading children and adults to the savior through a camp ministry. They have to raise support because their income from corporate America will be gone. They are following the call of God into the unknown; what they can’t see.  Jeremiah 33:3 ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  That’s faith.

On Saturday, I spent a few hours with friends I have known longer than I have not known them. In fact we have been friends for so long, the line between friends and family have blurred. They waited till retirement, but they give their entire winter to working on service projects for places that need all sorts of maintenance and construction. Bible camps and colleges provide a place to park their RV and provide some meals, but the rest is real life; a walk of faith. They exemplify the life in this first verse of Psalm 89 “Your love, God, is my song, and I’ll sing it! I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are. I’ll never quit telling the story of your love— and at the end of verse 4 David, says ‘Everyone descending from you is guaranteed life; I’ll make your rule as solid and lasting as rock.’ “

That same evening, I was talking with two artists in their family. One of them is creating an object for ArtPrize here in Grand Rapids. The other artist is from Missouri.  We were talking about the creative process and while they have one thing in mind at the start, sometimes the object just doesn’t want to take on the form. The art turns out quite different from their original vision. Sometimes, most of the time, their artwork won’t behave. Not unlike me, I thought.  Isaiah 64:8 plainly says it for us “You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  But we have the will to misbehave; I do things my way …. And then wonder why I fear the future and what it holds for me.

In my quiet time this morning I was reading Isaiah 30 and still thinking about that song by Hillsong that continues “I’m running to Your arms, The riches of Your love Will always be enough, Nothing compares to Your embrace, Light of the world forever reign.”  I know that what I want for my life is to know that I am living inside the incomparable embrace of God.  Isaiah 30 starts out “Woe to the obstinate children,”
declares the Lord, to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, and don’t consult me.”  I pray my way through every day, but do I really consult with God? Do I take his counsel or do I make it up on the fly and just ‘think’ I’ve prayed, I’ve consulted.  Shouldn’t my faith be stronger? This is what I believe.  If you have to see it to believe it, it’s not faith.  Close to the end of the chapter is Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Recently I told a friend that when someone has direction for me, they need to be very direct. I don’t take hints and can’t grasp the meaning behind sugar coating.  Just tell me what to do so I can’t mess up.  I made a decision a few weeks ago to move forward with my heart’s desire to write online courses and be able to make them publication ready.   In preparation I consulted with experts and asked an untold number of questions.  Then I purchased Storyline by Articulate. I believe I did the right thing. I believe God lead me to the sources of information. But was there a path like in Isaiah 30:21 that said “This is the way …. Now walk the course”? Not really.  I may be directed down an entirely different path.

My friend and her husband who did leave all behind to follow where God lead them, did they have a well lit path so they couldn’t mess up?  They will tell you it’s been years in coming.  But they believe God when he said in Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Today is a new day – “This is the way; walk in it.”

For less to do, use shorter paper.

OK everybody up! Rise and shine! Good Morning YAY! WE made it to Friday! What cool things will you do today to prepare for your weekend? How do you get from here to the weekend;012514_1520_ThatNewCarS1.jpg what’s in your plan?  At work, at home, at play – well, first things first.  First we have to get up, get motivated, get the armor on, get COFFEE, and get out there. Up Up UP – we can do this.

If you’ve forgot, the first thing, it’s not too late.  Pray! Whatever is on that things-to-get-done-today list, invite God into your day. Sometimes, even after I invite God into my day, I look behind, around and above – you know.  Just to make sure He’s paying attention. Of course he’s there and look what he says in Hebrews 12:1, 2 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”  I am reminded that we all live by faith, every moment because this moment is what we have.

When I look at what’s ahead for my day, I think I’ve discovered the solution. Shorter paper.  If the paper was shorter, like the size of a 3 x 5 card, I couldn’t fit so much on it. Right? I’m looking at a joy jar right now.  Every day I write a blessing or something I am thankful for, then I add a written prayer and throw into my antique jar.   I’m also a list maker and use a notebook or 3X5 cards to help me focus on what I want to get done that day. You might do this too.  JP Morgan, way back in the days when everything was in black and white used 3X5 cards to set daily goals. Instead of a full page of things to do, that grew longer and more discouraging, he wrote three things each day on one index card that he was going to accomplish that day.  There was a point when someone asked him how many cards he had used up to that particular day and it was over 5,000 cards at that time.

While index cards are good for their purposes, I’m in love with lists and still write them out with great enthusiasm.  Everyday at the top of my list, I will have Deuteronomy 6: 5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”. After that? Whatever else is priority for the day.  We have this moment.  We live by faith. We set our priorities on things we hope will make a difference right where we are.  Even the mundane task of doing the laundry, washing the car, g-r-o-c-e-r-y s-h-o-p-p-i-n-g – we are doing, because those things make a difference.  What else can we do to make a difference? What is one thing we can do today to move us toward our purpose? Maybe some days you just need to be good to yourself  because you feel like you’ve been wrung out and hung up to dry. Is there something that would bring joy to you and someone else too? Sometimes, most times, we have to make an attempt to manufacture joy.  It takes effort, maybe more effort than we think we have to show someone a special kindness, but it will be worth it to carry through.

Remember that armor we put on at the beginning of the day. Now try on some faith to go with it.  Hebrews 11:6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to himmust believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Here’s a formula that can’t miss – God / Family / Work in that order.  At the top of the list, at the beginning of the day, write it on your heart, indelibly like writing on an index card, to put God first. It’s not easy to get into the habit of prioritizing around the One whose power we rely on just to get through the day, through the week, through everything.  How mixed up we become when we walk through the maze. The amazing maze – we don’t walk it alone. Somehow I stumbled, and that’s the right word for it stumbled across this verse in Joshua 23:14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. Good reminder for whatever happens today – no matter what, no matter where, God has promised to be there.   Wouldn’t a glue sky be perfect?  Treat yourself to joy today.  Let’s get out there!

What to do in Michigan when it snows

I was thinking about how beautiful summer has been after the long, unforgettable, treacherous months of winter.   I remember taking a picture of our deck wondering if we’d ever again wear t-shirts instead of parkas.  On that day nearly all the wood on our deck was exposed except for a telltale strip of snow to remind me that spring had not yet sprung. Then the very next  morning – a totally different story. I’m a generally positive person, but looking out at the snow covered trees with accumulations of the now too familiar white stuff clinging to the driveway and blanketing every inch of yesterday’s grass, disappointment hit me. Really? Is there no end to these deep freeze temperatures and haven’t we had enough snow?

Reminder #1: It is God, not man who controls the weather. Politicians have no impact on whether the sun shines or the snow falls. Even the best meteorologist has no control over weather patterns. They can assume, they can forecast, they can present colorful maps in shades of blues and reds their predictions for what to expect, but God has the final say. Look what it says in Psalm 147 as I skip around the chapter in the Living Bible. “How good it is to sing praises to the Lord!  He covers the heavens with clouds, sends down the showers, and makes the green grass grow in mountain pastures. His joy is in those who reverence him, those who expect him to be loving and kind. Praise your God! He sends peace across your nation and sends his orders to the world. He sends the snow in all its lovely whiteness, scatters the frost upon the ground, and hurls the hail upon the earth. Who can stand before his freezing cold? But then he calls for warmer weather, and the spring winds blow and all the river ice is broken.”

Ready for spring NOW

I want spring, I long for days when the sun shines down for hours and warms the earth so flowers grow and grass turns green. I couldn’t stop looking at my lilac tree yesterday and wishing to see the delicate purple buds burst into blossoms. Like you, I’m praying for temperatures far above freezing that last more than 24 hours. Reminder #2: Then God whispers in my ear “I made the skies above and the earth below. I commanded everything and they came into being – all creatures on earth and in the ocean depths. Fire and hail, snow, rain, wind, and weather all obey me.” Psalm 148.

Sometimes I can be a little slow on the uptake. And God has to send me a good dose of reality. Reminder #3: Psalm 29:10-11”At the Flood the Lord showed his control of all creation. Now he continues to unveil his power. He will give his people strength. He will bless them with peace.” Be patient, God is in control, He will give us all strength to endure this obstinate winter. And look what he promises as a reward. “He will bless them with peace.”

I don’t know about you, but I could use some resolute power and uncompromising peace. Isaiah 26:12 “Lord, grant us peace; for all we have and are has come from you.” Even the weather. It’s tough, but I’m thanking God for the weather because I know that He is controlling it, and that brings peace to my heart.





As Difficult as Child’s Play

Children have it made, don’t they? No schedule, no job, no financial responsibility – just play all day, eat meals served up by someone else, carefree and leisurely … It’s tough being a child. You don’t agree with me, do you? Last night I had the privilege of remembering what it was like to be a child getting to play all day, eat meals served up by someone else, carefree and leisurely. I remember saying multiple times a day – “I’m bored. This day is boring. Nothing to do.”  It’s complicated, but true that having no responsibility can be almost as distressing as having too much of it. OK – I said almost.

It was my turn to teach the Word of Life kids a short, applicable, understandable, and relatable lesson from scripture. Short? I get that and definitely had no problem with that part of the assignment – but applicable and relatable? What do children ages 5 to 10 understand and even more important, relate to? Certainly not the things I’m immersed in daily: values, purpose, goals, vision – Or are they? Child’s play is difficult because even though they don’t know it, they are building values, purpose, gspare parts 1oals, and vision – and they are doing it every day, just like you and me.

Running the Race for Jesus – that’s the theme of Word of Life clubs around the world. That was our theme last night. I spread out a few labels along a path to indicate a cross country running track. The whole of life is a race and once we are at the starting line, we act, we run, we stumble, we walk, we use stepping stones, we run again, we pass milestones, we are committed till the finish line. I asked what do you think ‘START’ is? That was easy – “It’s when you’re born.” answered one young boy. The last label wasn’t as easily identified, but it spoke volumes. It was ‘FINISH’.  After a few crazy looks and blank stares, the same young boy said “It’s when you become an adult!”  Um, not quite, but I had to laugh out loud. This was a lesson all wrapped up in that one tiny sentence. Life is difficult from where we start to where we finish. It consists of experiences from child’s play to the responsibility of adulthood; choices and consequences; the good and the bad; then we are ‘finished’.

Here’s how we ran our race last night, turning over stepping stones long the trail to choose the characteristic and action that Jesus would want us to choose? Which choices would you make? Remember we were Running the Race for Jesus.

START – What do you think about when reading Hebrews 12:1? “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

I could be wrong, but I always think that great cloud of witnesses are people cheering me on from that mansion in heaven. Whether wrong or not, God made a point of telling us that we are surrounded by witnesses and he also makes it a point to tell us we can’t make any progress in our Christian race if we are weighted down with burdens. If we have a burden and don’t get rid of it, the weight becomes heavier and endurance becomes impossible.

Life is full of experiences, good and bad. The way we live is affected by attitudes and actions. How we finish is all about the choices we make and the stepping stones we use. In a gathering of children all under 10 years old choices were pretty benign, but they each had a ‘stepping stone’ representing choices, one on the front and another choice on the back.  Along the trail, there are barricades and road signs put there to keep us on the right path so we don’t stray off and get lost.

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” We are on the trail to finish the race and win the prize – a crown of righteousness, we have to stay on the trail.

Imagine the conversations as we toggled between right and wrong choices.

Comparison / Contentment:  Contentment is the opposite of comparison. When we constantly compare what we have to things others have, we never learn to be satisfied and love what we have already. Life is never even; what we have is never equal but when we are thankful for what we have, it is enough. God promises to cover all our needs and some of our wants. God’s promises are forever.

  • Hebrews 13:5 “Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.”

Disrespectful / Obedient: Obedience is learning to say no with our hearts when our heads tempt us to do the wrong things. When we disobey our parents and our leaders, we are being disrespectful and hurt our relationships. When we are diligent in our obedience, our outlook is positive, we have natural enthusiasm. And don’t we get more enjoyment out of the day when we aren’t in timeout because we are being disciplined?

  • Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls and will give an account for their work. Let them do this with joy and not with complaints, for this would be no advantage for you.”

Arguing / Listening:  If we choose to listen instead of argue, we will find a solution to our differences much more quickly – and we get to keep our friendships.

  • Proverbs 4:1 “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction; pay attention and gain understanding.”

Fighting / Understanding: Sometimes it’s tough to turn off the urge to fight back. Nobody wants to have their idea rejected. Nobody wakes up in the morning wishing someone would pick a fight with them. It’s a challenge to be understood and it’s a challenge to understand the thoughts of someone else. God tells us that we are wise when we try to understand the thoughts and ideas of others. Be wise. Instead of standing up for your idea, stand down quietly and gain understanding.

  • Proverbs 4:7 “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Prideful / Humble: Being prideful is sin, but it’s one of those tricky actions. We need to take pride in doing our best. If we are rewarded, we should be thankful that we were recognized, but not parade it around and show off to our friends who didn’t win an award. Then when does pride become a sin? Pride is destructive when we are boastful, think we are better than someone else, or feel like we deserve to be praised. Pride is sin when we compare something that belongs to someone else and assess its value lower than ours. It could be a toy, an award, a house, a car, a talent, a job, or anything comparison-enabled. God says pride is wrong and he allows us to feel its oppression when we get off the trail and start to be proud and boastful. When we are prideful it takes up so much of our spirit, there is no room for God.

  • Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
  • Psalm 10:4 “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.”

Lying / Truthful: We all know what lying is and it is never OK. Recently I read an article titled, “When is it OK to Lie?” There were a few arguments for telling the ‘little white lie’, but the Bible says lying is deceitful and will cause us to stumble. Lying will distract us from the trail, make us confused, and our Race for Jesus will not be effective.

  •  Galatians 5:7 “ You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth?”
  •  Psalm 45:4 “In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.”

Anger / Peaceful: We witness the effects of anger every day. Impatient people, prideful people, stubborn people, selfish people – anger is their natural reaction. Instead we are told to be slow to become angry. Anger should not be our first reaction, it should be our last resort. God calls us to seek peace and be peacemakers.

  • James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”
  • Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”
  • Hebrews 12:14 “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness, for without it no one will see the Lord.”

FINISH – When we came to the end of the lesson, we had pretended to run cross country through fields, over rocks, through dark tunnels, but we learned about how to make choices that are wise, thoughtful, and effective in Running the Race for Jesus.

  • 2 Timothy 4: 8 “There is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.”
  • Philippians 2:16 “Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain”

Do you think every child made the right choices, touched the correct stepping stone, and stayed on the right track to the Finish?  Even at their young age, they know that child’s play presents difficult choices.  Where are we as adults? Difficult choices. By the way, the kids chose correctly every time.

Just thinking here – but could Proverbs 19:1-2 provide a little insight? “Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his speech and is a fool. It is dangerous to have zeal without knowledge, and the one who acts hastily makes poor choices.”

Hebrews 12:1-3 in the Message translation sums it up like this:  Discipline in a Long-Distance Race

1-3 Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Sometimes don’t you just want to wave your White Flag and surrender everything to God of the Universe?