Choose joy . . . It’s the better deal

How ’bout those Tigers, huh? I could hear explosions of great joy all over the net last night. Yeh, that!  I’m sure it was not explosions of grief for the Marlins – although with a close 7-5 score. Well . . . and let’s just leave it right there.  All I can say is Bring It! So is it OK to be thankful for a sports team winning? I’m saying yes! (my apologies to Marlin fans) What I’m most thankful for is the hype, the enthusiasm, the sheer positive expressions of happy fans, and the contagious nature all of that exudes. Can we grab onto that for today? Longer than a day?  Just for fun. Yes!

Sometimes we need a little reminder that joy is kindled from a whole variety of sources, sometimes even a game….lots of times from games. I think often about the Apostle Paul and his analogies often portraying athletes and their endurance in the game of life. Like the Tigers last night – they were in it to win it. And in this life, no matter what it brings, we are in it to win it. Bring it!

We might start this day filled with great anticipation only to encounter little earthquakes that shake us up. Before we let them get to our core we have to fight back. Here’s the path to overcoming the enemy of defeat. Don’t worry. It changes nothing.  Remember God is by your side. Ask Him to be your guide and protector. Start reminding yourself of what is good, lovely, honorable, and brings you joy. Write it down … I am thankful for … and make a list.  You will feel a lot better after you read it.

Here’s my joy jar so far:


There is no such thing as perfect. Perfect is just a word, it’s not a state of being. So let’s not expect perfect but let’s expect to be so persuasive in our thoughts that our hearts and attitudes catch up with our will. You know will, don’t you.  I WILL do this. I WILL find the joy in this.

What we think eventually gets to our emotions. We choose.  Better or bitter.  Sunny or cloudy.  Peace or conflict. Joy or ….. choose joy.  It’s the better deal.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And I choose this

For $1 you can see the world

We are not so different, you and I.

We had been mall prowling for a while. To use the term ‘shopping’ would be misleading since at this point the only places we’d managed to hand over some cash was at Starbucks, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and the food court where there were entrées  from every nation: Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, and American – whatever the craving, we could find it at this virtual smorgasbord of many nations.  handdrawn-merry-go-round-021114-ykwv2In the center of it all, what the kids were waiting for was a ride on the carousel, the kind with painted horses, and music of the calliope cranking out slightly off-key notes of Take Me Out to the Ballgame and Pop Goes the Weasel.

“Please? Can we ride the carousel? Ride with us, Grammy. Right up here on this pink horse with the colored rhinestone bridle”.  For a dollar, I was enticed up onto the stage overlooking the most beautiful scenery one can find in the mall. People! As the carousel slowly turned, my eyes took it all in. Teenage girlfriends decisively analyzing their purchases, turbaned men tending to toddlers while moms in Saris fed babies, a table surrounded by wheelchairs occupied by young adults and their devoted caregivers, moms and dads at tables with kids held in real conversation, men and boys comparing shoes and hats from the sporting goods store, people in every shade of skin color sharing life, every ethnic background, lots of laughing, some talking excitedly, others with heads together in quiet whispers, friends embracing,  then shaking hands upon parting – for a dollar I could see the world. “Grammy, please ride the carousel with us”. What started out as a ride to acquiesce to the wishes of my grandchildren, turned out to be the event that touched my heart and renewed my hope in this American melting pot that we all call home.

Words to remember today and forever.  Jesus was asked which commandments of the law were most important.  Here’s what he said in Matthew 22:37-40 ” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

God created us all equal, but unique. Before we were born, He knew the color of our skin, our eyes, our hair. He knew the families we would be born to, where we would live, and path our lives would take. Why can’t we all get along? We have what we need to make it happen.  Ephesians 1 … God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings …he has chosen us even before creating the world, that we should be holy and before him in love …. adopted by Jesus Christ according to his will and glory of his grace and we are accepted and loved by him.

For $1 … Hope …

Toby Mac sings Speak Life

Ma(g,n)ic Monday … You Choose

It’s here everybody.  Monday, Monday!  Will yours be MaGic or MaNic?  I choose G over N.  It occurred to me last week that we have an enemy on the prowl and it has laser vision, sensitive radar and unparalleled sonar. This enemy is on a mission to destroy anything we have that’s good and brings us joy. Take a few seconds right now and think of those things in your life that mean the most to you. If ties were severed, you would feel a demoralizing loss.  A friendship, your family, a fulfilling hobby, a job that fills an important part of your life; these are like magnets to the enemy of your soul and they are where you are most vulnerable to defeat.

When sports teams get on the field to play, they’ve done their homework. They’ve been watching their opponents play this same game on another field with a different team. Why? So they learn where they are weak; where they are most likely to fail. God warns us in 1Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We aren’t playing a sport against an opposing team. We are on a playing field though and our enemy the devil is looking for ways to steal our joy and bring us to defeat.

Last week a friend was heartbroken when a family member suddenly turned on her with unashamed fury and deliberately hurt her with unkind words. My friend is diligent in Bible study and is a witness for the Lord. Her real enemy wasn’t her beloved family member. Her real enemy was that roaring lion in 1 Peter.  When she told me the story my first thought was that Satan had discovered one of her weakest links – her family.  If there is one way to rob a person of their joy, sever a relationship.  The Message translation explains it well in Ephesians 6:13-14 “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.”

Be prepared Ephesians 6 - Tyler in color guard

We are up against far more than we can handle on our own. I like the way that translation lets us know that God knows all about what we are going to experience today and tomorrow.  One of my favorite verses that I recall often is 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.” And Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  We don’t know what waits for us today. We know that life is uncertain but we also know that nothing touches us without first passing through the filters of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God.

In Joshua are implored to be strong and courageous but we are also told to realize where our power comes from. Paul was an amazing, powerful Christian man, but even he had vulnerabilities that could have defeated him.  He gave it all to God.  2Corinthians 12:9-10 “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Life is a contact sport, my friends. It’s Monday. Do you have your armor on? Is this the g day or the n day.  Ma(g,n)ic Monday.  Let’s remember where our strength comes from.  2Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

God is on your side:

What does your harvest look like?

Yesterday, the stock market took a dramatic tumble. Did you notice that too? I should worry. They said my retirement funds are in jeopardy. ‘They’ could be right. Maybe I should worry. Seriously? Will it change the situation if I worry? Will it help me if I fret?

In fact, there are many things we could all worry about. Grab your pencil and start writing. We could each fill a page, more than a page, with worries. Whoa! Stop! Those insidious thoughts are seeds. Little seeds can become huge trees.

Little seeds can grow ugly weeds …. OR …. Little seeds can become a harvest of beautiful flowers.

What would happen if we swap out a worry with something we are thankful for?

What if we exchanged a negative thought for a positive belief?

What if we replace fear with faith?

When that next negative thought invades your mind – don’t plant it. Instead, plant a positive belief, a thankful remembrance, a joyful anticipation, an inspired idea.

Which would you rather harvest? Plant that.

Which would you rather harvest - plant that

From my Bible reading this morning in Psalm 77: I pray to you, Lord God, and I beg you to listen. In days filled with trouble, I search for you. Our Lord, I will remember the things you have done … Everything you do is right, and no other god compares with you. You alone work miracles, and you have let nations see your mighty power.

Yesterday, the stock market took a dramatic tumble. People tell me I should worry. God says in days filled with trouble, he does everything right. He gets to decide anyway so why not give him my worries and let him handle the world?  

I’m thinking a harvest of flowers sounds pretty good right now.

Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

Dear Daddy,

I’ve been blogging now long enough that I’ve passed a few Father’s Days. If you’ve read this before, or reading it the first time, I hope you can identify with my story and had a dad like mine or that you are a dad like mine.

Dear Daddy,
It seemed longer back then, but I only had you for 19 years of my life. You died before my own kids could experience your life as a grandfather, but I know you would have been a gentle, godly role model for them.Family 1960  It’s Father’s Day and in just a few days you would be 96! I’m getting older too.  But here are some of my best memories of life as a small town preacher’s kid.

First, my best memory was waking up to the sizzle of frying bacon and the warm aroma of eggs, toast and coffee in this aromatic symphony that told me morning had arrived. I’d wander out to the kitchen and there you were reading your Bible at the table, with your small loose leaf notebook propped up in front of you.  I remember how you wore work clothes all day because you were always building or fixing or working on projects for us or for someone in the community.  When someone needed a spiritual leader to visit with them or officiate a funeral, you were the only preacher in town, so you got the call. You would never visit anyone dressed in canvas, you always dressed in your white shirt and dress-up clothes. You said it was being respectful to the other person.  I understand that now. Thank you for teaching me that there is more than one way to show respect.

I remember listening to baseball games on the radio and the commotion in our living room during games.  Remember when Vance used my stuffed rabbit for a football, reenacting football games during their broadcast? There was no instant replay back thdn. I think that’s where the Nerf ball got its start, in our living room. If there was a team who never seemed to get it right, I remember how you always rooted for the underdog.  Thank you for teaching me that everyone deserves a cheerleader, especially those that aren’t the best.

I remember when David climbed up on the roof of our house to find you working up there.  Instead of yelling at him like so many other dads would do, you gently and calmly persuaded him to keep walking toward you until you could grab him and carry him back to safety.  Thank you for teaching me that being gentle and staying calm diverts disaster.  I remember when you raised your voice, it was always in supportive coaching – and well, I have to admit that sometimes from behind the pulpit, you got your point across.  I guess you had to amp up the volume a little then.  Thank you for teaching me that angry yelling solves nothing.

I remember how you loved the young people at our church and you were always trying to find ways to bring them together to learn about God and to assure their eternal destiny. I remember you talked mama into letting us have a ping pong table in the living room so the teens could come over and play ping pong during the winter. I remember going to youth rallies, sledding parties in the winter and going to Lake Michigan in the summer. I remember begging to swim when the temperature in the air was barely 55 degrees outside.  Mama said no, but you said yes.  Thank you for teaching me that sometimes it’s OK to do crazy things.

I remember when our church pianist quit coming to church and you said, “Well, Janie. I guess you’re just going to have to learn to play the piano.” I remember Janet teaching me the notes before she got married and moved away and with that knowledge and a piano, I practiced hours every day and you didn’t complain.  I remember the day you said I was good enough and you wanted me to start playing in church. We had a guest speaker a few weeks later and I remember how you beamed when he said I was really good.  I’m certain I wasn’t that good, but that gave me confidence. Thank you for having confidence in me and teaching me that getting results is the effect of hard work and lots of practice.  I may have given joyful noise a new definition but you were proud of me.

Most of all, I remember how compassionate you were to everyone. Even when cantankerous people swore at you and put you down, you prayed for them. I remember when you picked up hitchhikers and brought them home for some hot chocolate and toast with peanut butter…..our meal of champions at our house.  When I started bringing friends home I remember mama saying that now we were both bringing home strays. Thank you for teaching me that everyone needs to know someone cares about them. I didn’t get the deep compassionate gene, that you had, daddy, but I learned enough about how to use the small portion I did get, from your example.

I wonder if it’s Fathers’ Day in heaven. If not, someday I will see you again and I’ll tell you all these things.  You taught me the most important thing in life is to accept Jesus as my own personal savior with my name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Thank you for teaching me that the only way to live a successful life on Earth is to assure I have an eternal home in heaven.

I still love you, Daddy. I’ll see you someday.

A friend who is like a sister to me asked me to repost this from last year.  Here it is – and Happy Father’s Day to all the daddys out there.

More Chocolate, No Cavities: How Diet Can Keep Your Kid Cavity-Free – Book Summary

Parents and dentists are often baffled when children in their care, who brush often, have enough fluoride, and don’t eat sugary treats, get cavities. Dr. Roger W. Lucas, DDS says the reason he wrote this book is so “parents who are motivated to keep their children cavity-free are not accidentally surprised when their child gets cavities.” This book, More Chocolate, No Cavities: How Diet Can Keep Your Kid Cavity-Free, was very easy and interesting to read. You will find that whether following a sequential path through the four unique sections or skipping about to whatever topic is most relevant right now, the context makes sense and is easy to follow. Besides parents, grandparents and anyone else concerned about cavities, this book is also written as a resource for dentists.More Chocolate, No Cavities book cover

The book summary is found here on the Bizcatalyst360 website.

“Cavities are 100% preventable.” Let me add here that Dr. Lucas goes into a deep and succinct explanation for his recommendations for preventing cavities in teeth from the time of the first tooth. His recommendations are on point for cavity prevention, but it is so sound, it can be extended to overall healthy habits.

I read this book and was intrigued by what I learned from the research and experiential knowledge of the author. It’s advice I can apply to my diet in general, and as a benefit, prevent future cavities.



Worry, Inc. and principles of lean manufacturing

Worry, Inc. – Sometimes it seems like there is so much to worry about, there is little time left to do anything else. I don’t have to produce a list of things to worry about.  We all have them, but listen.  Worry is overrated! It produces nothing but more worry. If you’ve ever studied or worked in a manufacturing environment you’ve see the production process. If you apply lean manufacturing principles, you’ve got yourself an even quicker way to produce more product with less effort. Worry can be like that. We take a thought, put it on the conveyor belt and apply the ‘what-if’ principal; then we add on a few ‘oh-nos’; we hammer on some logic and wrench in a few ‘if-onlys’; finally we drag ourselves, exhausted to the end of the line where we attempt to accept the finished product.  Whether the result is what we hoped for or not, by now our energy is depleted and the enthusiasm we expected has been lost – – – all because of worry.

Here’s what we have to do to avoid worry.  Stop worrying! At the first thought, where worry starts, stop right there and turn it over to God. The instant the thought starts, cut if off at the root, before it has a chance to germinate.  You can be driving down the road, at your desk, at the store or taking a walk. “Lord, I’m worried about this. I can’t get it out of my mind. Please take this situation and transform it into something good. I don’t want to let go of it, but I have to because it’s out of my control and I can do nothing to change it, but you can. And God, thank you for giving me friends who support me through this situation.”  So that is a sample prayer of acknowledging to God that He is in control, turning the situation over to him, and then thanking him for something unrelated, but meaningful. This is a good time to remind ourselves that God gets to decide anyway, so why not dump the situation on him and let him take care of it.  We are at an advantage because it frees up our energy to do something awesome.

I wonder how Gideon felt back in Judges 7.  I was reading about how he had 32,000 men ready to go to battle in verse 1 of Judges 7 and by verse 7 he had whittled it down to 300 men. And get this! What was God’s weapon of choice?  Trumpets and jars!  Are you kidding me? Can you even imagine how Gideon must have felt and how his soldiers must have reacted when he said, “OK, men.  Mount up.  Do you all have your weapons? Carry your jars high and have those trumpets handy, ‘cause you’re gonna need ‘em!”  I know.  I thought the same thing, but Gideon and his 300 warriors did not worry.  They didn’t waste energy on the assembly line of worry.  They gave the situation to God and look what he did with it!

What are we all going to do when the worry wart starts to move in and get comfy in our brain?  Stop it! Stop!  Pray in that instant – “God take this!”  Then thank him for something – “God thank you that I can read.” It’s what God wants for you, his child.

Proverbs 8:32 “Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways.