Construction …. The End

I am now officially weary of our construction project. Superman has nothing on me because I’ve become an expert at jumping over hurdles with a single bound. Have you ever felt like this? Running behind on everything, half done tasks, watered down commitments, little mountains of clutter everywhere, turbulence! Blame it on the upheaval of construction – it’s just been going on too long now.  But I know that’s not it, not entirely. The chaotic surroundings contribute, but sometimes I think it’s the symptom of something much deeper. Avoiding has become easy and it gives me a way out of doing things I don’t want to do.  Still, I struggle with the collision of avoidance and busyness in my life and I don’t like what it’s done to the landscape. Someone wiser than me said, “When the map and terrain don’t agree, always believe the terrain.” I can’t remember when I heard that or even the context, but the map I’ve been following is deceptively representing the terrain in this picture. The terrain is real, it consists of all the important things that make up my life. God first, then family and friends, work, and after that, everything else. Clearly my map and the terrain don’t match. Time to download a new map.  Colossians 2:6-7 says “Go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him. You’re well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.”

It’s been months now since I was in a Sunday School class taught by Scott Steiner, but I remember learning about inviting God to do an Extreme Makeover in our lives. There was just one requirement.  Show up!  Right around that time I committed to spend time with God and write notes in my journal to further cement what I learned from reading His word that day. My extreme spiritual makeover was not going to be a watered down ‘when-I-can-fit-it-in’ hopeful, but time centered on Him. Out of that commitment I started transcribing into my blog what was on my heart early in the morning.  I don’t remember exactly when I started, but I know God has given my put layers of protection around  my attitude and built a stronger foundation for my faith. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I’m irritated with the never-ending construction at home; my heart is Christ’s home – hmmmm – how many times has God had to fix me? How many adjustments on my personal blueprint because I strayed so far off track, it took major renovation to make redraw the lines. Extreme makeover anyone? I’m glad God doesn’t have mood swings.

It struck me while reading Daniel a few weeks ago, that he must have had really positive attitude. I want that! I need that … chaos, upheaval, and avoidance chip away at the order in our lives and we crave the outcome of a positive attitude.  I don’t know how busy Daniel was, but if he was serving the king who was in conflict with his beliefs, he had to be under an overwhelming burden of stress. Daniel was standing firm against the king – because he knew in his heart he was doing the right thing. Daniel 6:10 recounts “Daniel went home to his upstairs room and three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God.” Daniels heart was right with the Lord.  Giving thanks – even in adversity – 3 times a day, in front of an open window. I want to be like Daniel. My three favorite words are integrity, discernment, and wisdom. I want to be busy – busy living a life of integrity. I want my life to be a continual Extreme Makeover! Excuse me now …. There are a few 2 X 4s to jump over.

Ask me how I’m doing. I will tell you the truth from a heart of integrity. Stronger by Mandisa

 

I posted this blog 2 years ago today.  If you read it back then, I hope you enjoyed the repeat. If you didn’t read it then, I hope it sparked inspiration for you today.

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 

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

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!