You’ll never regret being kind

My husband was going through some of our ancient boxes of keepsakes and found my also ancient autograph book. I giggled my way through some of the poems “Roses are red, violets are blue” and sentiments written by middle school friends, then I came to this page and was warmed to my core. Back in 2014 I wrote about someone who impacted my life, Grandma Windnagle. I didn’t remember that she had written in my autograph book, but there it is on February 8, 1967, her message to my not quite 13 year old self.

You’ll never regret being kind.

Does anyone remember traveling in the south and reading road signs that spelled out an entire sentence strung together in incremental words? Or maybe they advertised Berma Shave and Ipana Toothpaste. I haven’t traveled backroads of the south for several years so those signs might have been uprooted and banned by now. One sign in particular still stands out in my mind; not because it had a cute picture or was unmistakably ‘marketing’, but because it simply stated ‘You’ll never regret being kind.” That’s it … You’ll never regret being kind.

How many opportunities in a lifetime do we have to be kind? When life is treating us well, it’s easier to be kind than when every day is another uphill battle.  Sometimes, when I feel road weary and not very kind I remember one of my favorite verses in Jeremiah 31:3 where the Lord says “”I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Comforting  – unfailing kindness. I want to be someone who is kind.

I was a pretty typical teenager – questioning everything, self-centered, and opinionated. Mom and dad, if you’re able to read blogs from heaven, I can see you nodding feverishly in agreement with that statement.  I was not practicing Galatians 5:22 at all “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” There was a woman in town at that time who did seem to be just that way though. Everyone called her grandma, Grandma Windnagle with the eternal smile radiating from her 4 foot 11 inch frame. Her age was a mystery to me, but her smile and sweet spirit was ageless. Grandma was known for making huge sugar cookies, the size baked for lumberjacks, but I remember her for having a heart the size of a lumberjack’s.  She lived out Galatians 5:25 “We live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” She lived at poverty level, but she never went out without putting on kindness. 

One day when a bunch of kids were clustered on the steps of the school, we watched this faded out mauve colored Nash Rambler drive down the street, without a driver.  Well, it seemed that there was no driver, but peeking out between the steering wheel and the dashboard of the car were the smiling eyes of Grandma Windnagle. It struck me then that despite her circumstances, she was eternally kind.  Back home in our kitchen that afternoon I mused to my mom “When I grow up, I want to be just like Grandma Windnagle!” Oh boy … and my mom’s instant retort? “Well you better start practicing now!” I guess my mom knew I was going to need a lot of time and opportunity to practice if I was going to get it right.  I still have not achieved Grandma Windnagle status. I’m still a work in progress.Diary entry of Mrs Windnagle

I was listening to a presentation by Zig Ziglar when he asked if we could name 3 people who have impacted your life.  Grandma Windnagle, whom I knew for just 4 years of my teenage life, was one silent role model of the person I wanted to become.  There are many opportunities in a day to be put out, insolent, arrogant, opinionated, and unforgiving. Sometimes I think Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address has never left that testing phase of long endurance “… we are caught on the battlefield of this great war … ”  With every opportunity comes the attitude and the action.  Chuck Swindoll is famous for his writing on attitude. He said “The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.”  Paul was a Christ follower who endured an awful lot of hardship and persecution, yet he remained positive.  Read this in 2Corinthians 6:3-12 where he describes his how he envisions his life path. “in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in hard work,  in purity, understanding, and kindness; in the genuine love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything; open hearts not withholding our affection …”

I think Chuck Swindoll has this attitude thing certified.  He says “Encouragement is awesome. It (can) actually change the course of another person’s day, week, or life.”  What do you think?  You’ll never regret being kind. Let’s get out there and encourage someone today.  Ready?

We may feel like failures – but God is there in the mystery waiting for us to call his name, follow his path, and do good.

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Advent Week 4Theme: Peace – Can you imagine holding a baby who came to be light in a dark world?

This scripture today is the conclusion of Advent readings. I don’t know how many of these scripture readings you’ve followed along with, if you’ve enjoyed them or learned anything new. 20151206_145745I know everyone says time flies and that’s what happened here. It’s been 4 full weeks of daily advent readings – what to do? Here’s my first thought no matter where we go from here.  Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Treat yourself to joy every day! 

So here we are at the end of advent reading about this beautiful experience of Simeon, a deeply spiritual man who had been promised that his life wouldn’t end until he had seen the Messiah. When he went to the temple where the baby Jesus was with his parents, Joseph and Mary, Simeon not only saw the Messiah, he held him in his arms. Can you imagine holding a baby you knew had come to be light in a dark world?

Luke 2:21-35 (The Message)

When the eighth day arrived, the day of circumcision, the child was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived. Then when the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete, they took him up to Jerusalem to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law: “Every male who opens the womb shall be a holy offering to God,” and also to sacrifice the “pair of doves or two young pigeons” prescribed in God’s Law.

In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God:

God, you can now release your servant;
release me in peace as you promised.
With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation;
it’s now out in the open for everyone to see:
A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations,
and of glory for your people Israel.

Jesus’ father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother,

This child marks both the failure and
    the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
    the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
    as God reveals who they really are.

 

Send the season out with joy and en ergy – Hallelujah – presented by Mannheim Steamroller https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0pTBNkt9g4

Advent Week 4 Theme: Peace – Today, wise men and women still seek Jesus

From the day we decorate our Christmas tree, until they day we put the ornaments away, our tree is illuminated. The lights add an unmistakable calm to the room. I have to be transparent here. My husband told me he didn’t feel like taking the tree down last year so I jokingly told him to leave it up. Well needless to say, it never found its way back to the storage area.  I wondered what it would be like to keep the tree up all year just because of the peaceful ambiance it creates. The issue though is that the lights that were brand new burned out just after the new year started. It was a nice thought while it lasted. I never got as far as decorating it for every occurring holiday, but if it doesn’t leave the corner of the living room this year, that’s the only way to justify the presence of a tree in summer.  I expect the tree to be dismantled, the ornaments gently stored, the lights wrapped up awaiting the next holiday season, the favorite time of the year.Nght in Bethlemen 2012 k151

Today we visit the first villain in Jesus’ life. He wasn’t even two years old before a jealous king conspired to have him killed. Do you remember this part of the Christmas story? It’s the part that, if it were a movie, you’d be on the edge of your seat angry at the plot and urging, “Don’t tell Herod you found Jesus. Don’t be stupid. Don’t go back and reveal where Jesus is living. Don’t let harm come to him.” Herod was a wicked, jealous king. He had everything but it wasn’t enough. He didn’t want any boy baby growing up and taking over his throne. Even 2000 years ago, inflated egos were at the root of insanity. Fear of losing something that wasn’t rightfully his, caused Herod to act out of vain deceit. The wise men were onto him though and when they returned home they diverted to a different path so Herod couldn’t confront them.

We know how this part of the story ends. At age two, the life of Jesus was spared for a time. We’ve learned through the past four weeks that Jesus was sent to Earth by God, his father to be the sacrificial lamb for the sins of the world. Instead of the sacrifices of animals required to pay for sin in the Old Testament, Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice. That’s the Easter story that takes place another thirty years later. Matthew 27:32-65, Mark 15

We aren’t finished with Advent readings yet, but we’re winding down. Have you thought about the real reason Jesus came  to Earth? We love the Christmas story all about Faith, Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love. How does it impact your life today? What will you do with Jesus?

Today: Wise men still seek him.

Matthew 2:1-2 (NIV)

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

PEACE on Earth good will to men – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uIUDy0EZi0
Casting Crowns

 

Merry CHRISTmas to all!

Merry CHRISTmas everyone. OK everybody up! Rise and shine! Good Morning ♪♫•*¨ To You ¸•♫¸.•.¸ ¸♥¸*♫*•.¸¸♥Good Morning ♪♫•*¨ To You ¸•♫¸.•.¸¸♥¸*♫*•.¸¸♥ The day has arrived.

Our family experienced a Christmas Miracle last night. As we were just starting our family tradition of getting together on Christmas eve, there was a loud knock on the door. 20151224_164202Certain it was our neighbors coming to wish us a Merry Christmas, I approached the door with a smile and swung it open to welcome them in. I suddenly couldn’t breathe. Tyler, our grandson was standing right in front of me and for a moment I was unable to move – but then I just hugged him. I had just a few hours before texted him and said I was all set to Skype when the whole family was together. He said, “I’ll let you know.” I didn’t suspect for a moment that when he said, “I’ll let you know” our Marine was going to let me know in person. I don’t know if you can imagine how it feels to experience shock, surprise, and joy all in the same moment, but it’s exhilarating and comforting all at once.

Our Christmas Miracle brought our whole family together in our home on Christmas Eve. Five grandchildren and their four parents laughing, singing, telling tales on each other and sharing love that is only possible within families. Papa (grandpa) decided not to read the Christmas Story this year. He told it instead – then he said this year we’re going to sing Christmas carols before presents. Maybe just a few groans, but everyone lent their voices so we could get on with opening gifts.

No matter what the age, this is a special day. Whether because of memories in the past or making memories today, it’s a day of connections. An estimated 100.5 million Americans are expected to drive or fly more than 50 miles from home for the holidays. I didn’t make that up. I got it off the Internet so it has to be true. Right? Well – OK – not always true when it comes from the Internet, the newspaper or community know-it-all. But give or take a few million, there is a good chance we will all connect with someone, somewhere, sometime today. Our family Christmas is always on Christmas Eve. We get the primetime before the tsunami of activity hits and exhaustion creeps in.

We are going to visit family and friends in the upper peninsula tomorrow so I should start to dismantle the décor that’s been up since before Thanksgiving and put it away for 11 months. I think this year though I’m going to leave the bright colors, gold trim, and wooden pieces right where they are until I’ve absorbed the blessing and joy of this day. I’m not that fond of taking it down to hide away till next year, so I’m going to put a few things away and leave the memories for awhile. Eventually it will all go back in the boxes to be tucked away under the stairs, waiting for Christmas to roll around again next year. I love this season and it’s over too soon. Now you know why I didn’t mind so much that our tree stayed up all year – sans the lights.

To all who read this today: Thank you for being my friend either in person or via social media, and staying connected through the year. Be safe, be joyful, be blessed with God’s best – Merry CHRISTmas.
Join the Peanuts Gang – Christmastime Is Here

Advent Week 4 Theme: Peace – It’s Christmas Day! Merry Christmas everyone

We have only a few days left of the Advent readings for this year. We all have traditions that we treasure: places we go, events we can’t miss, loved ones we visit, favorite things we bake.
Nght in Bethlemen 2012 k120
 I’ve enjoyed reading these scriptures the past four weeks and hope you’ve found joy in reading the historical Christmas story with me. I can’t believe this season is so quickly becoming history itself.

Before we put Christmas away entirely for this year, today’s Advent reading takes us back to revisit the favorite story that recounts the event from Mary and Joseph’s arrival in Bethlehem, to the visit by the shepherds after Jesus was born.

Luke 2:1-20 (The Message)

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant.

While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel.

An Event for Everyone

There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God’s angel stood among them and God’s glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.”

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:

Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.

As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.

Mary kept all these things to herself, holding them dear, deep within herself. The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told!

Mary Did You Know – Jordan Smith

 

Advent Week 4 Theme: Peace – the Joseph and Mary way

How many times have we been over the story of Joseph and how he found out that Mary was pregnant and he had to accept it, support her, and agree to be the Earthly father of Jesus? But how often do we consider the day after?
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Here is Joseph, sitting in a pile of hay beside his very young bride Mary who has just been through an unattended birth of a baby and he still has to go pay his taxes. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t thinking how lucky he was that this baby was born in time for a tax deduction. What was he thinking? What happens now? What do I do with a wife and a baby? Wow! This changes everything! I need to get my faith on. This is the son of God entrusted to me. And scripture assures us that Joseph didn’t ditch and run.  He did exactly as God’s angel commanded him months earlier – stay with Mary, make her your wife, and name the baby Jesus.

Matthew 1:18-25 (The Message)

The birth of Jesus took place like this. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. Before they came to the marriage bed, Joseph discovered she was pregnant. (It was by the Holy Spirit, but he didn’t know that.) Joseph, chagrined but noble, determined to take care of things quietly so Mary would not be disgraced.

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.

Joseph’s Song – Michael Card – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KT4VDAIaMwU

Advent Week 4 Theme: Peace – When do we get to the Christmas story?

Nght in Bethlemen 2012 k39I had no computer for two days and a misbehaving phone. I’m not sure I want to ditch technology as a long term solution to busyness, but having a phone that didn’t work right and a computer that perpetually fell asleep while I was using it – was – well, let’s say, an interesting experience. Let’s see …. where were we?

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve! If we were Mary and Joseph we would be traveling today. Maybe you’re traveling.  If you are, travel safely and whatever awaits you at your destination, I hope you find peace and joy.

The first thing I thought of today when I read the Advent scripture was , wait – what about the Christmas story?  The one that begins, and there were in the same country shepherds … then I settled down and realized, this is the Christmas story. God sent his son to be the light in a dark world. A special gift who had to leave the perfection of heaven to live in a chaotic world. God sent Jesus to the world with the message of hope, to bring joy, and deliverance. To all who believe in the true meaning of Christmas, who believe that Jesus is the reason for the season, eternal life with Jesus in heaven is guaranteed.  Shepherds abiding in the fields witnessed it firsthand, but the promise is forever.

Isaiah 9:2-7 (NIV)

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.  Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.  For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

How can it be this baby in my arms is the Son of God?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BARVAg0gl6w Josephs’s Song, Michael Card