Greetings and Joy in Abundance!

Ever wonder why some people seem to be floating through life and others stumble?



I wonder this, and seek to find ways to float instead of stumble. Maybe you would like to join me in this search.

Seeking a closer relationship with God seems to allow my life to float along a little easier.







Phillipians 4:5-6 tells us to reveal our gentleness outwardly, that God is near and that we should not be anxious about anything, but through prayer and petition, we should thankfully approach the Lord with our concerns.

As a high energy person, my anxiety can run high. I am constantly seeking ways to leave my concerns at the foot of the cross.



Random? Probably not.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas dear friends. 
I thought about this today while I was at work.  Such great spirit in all my co-workers and in everyone I came into contact with.
Don't you wish that everyone could feel the spirit of Christmas cheer all year long? 
Well, we can!  It is possible!  that is what I have been working on for years and years! 
Jesus lives within us - therefore we have this spirit of Christmas cheer all throughout the year.  Just remember to call upon our Lord, ask for help in remembering and finding that good Christmas spirit whenever you have need.

It can be done - you can set the example for the year starting on Christmas Eve and flowing through the whole year.  God bless you and keep you strong throughout the coming year. 

I wish you the most Merry celebration of the gift of a Savior given to us by our Creator and Father.  What a most wonderful time of the year - when everyone will allow us to share our faith and our source of hope.  Let's do our best to remember to be a good example to others by sharing the source of our hope...Merry Christmas!  All year long!  Woot!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Positively Positive...

Yes, today is a day of remembrance.  Why?  Because a friend called this morning who was good friends with my mother.  Our frienship as a trio was indeed an interesting one.  My dear friend was respected by my mother, and respected my mother.  We have this connection together - the memory of my mother.  So, when we speak of anything, generally, she comes into the conversation.

As it did this morning.  Yes, choices are ours to make.  Any situation we are in requires a choice to be made.  We were talking about aging parents and forgetfullness and difficulties with this and that.  Well, the truth is, my friend said she was blessed to be able to be near her mother regardless.  She is blessed by her mother no matter what happened in the past or the childhood memories that are not so wonderful.  I shared that when I was young, my mother told me that we are so fortunate that we can choose which things we remember.  She made it seem like a very special gift.  We can choose to remember the good and throw away the bad - this way, when we forgive someone for something that happened, it is as if it never really did.  It wipes the slate clean if you forget about it and never bring it back up - but only if you truly forgive them.  My family was full of love and fun.  When feelings were hurt, we tried to forgive and forget.  We are not close in proximity, but we are close in heart.  We have little in common in our lives, but we have much in common in our rooted hearts.  We are rooted in the Lord together, knowing that whatever else happens, we will see each other in heaven and be able to be at the great party of praise going on at the feet of Jesus!  Woot!

So, whether your family is at odds or loving life, remember that it is your choice and yours alone that makes your special time special.  You can remember the day with all the hickups and difficulties and hurt feelings and crying because someone didn't get their way, or you can remember the great parts - we were together, we had fun, someone was joyful or even a joke was shared.  It is all in our perspective.  Positive Perspective can change the world.  It happens one person at a time.  Try it out on the next family gathering.  Only use positive words and influence.  Try it! 

"Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right.  Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."  Philippians 4:8

I knew my mother used that Bible to help bring us up, I just never understood how much she used it until I realized what I was reading in the Bible I already knew in my heart because I was living it.  Crazy, huh?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Our Children Need Us!

I was at a luncheon today, and there were shocking figures shared regarding theliteracy rate in High School graduates.  The figures are so dismal, that only 1 in 10 of our children will graduate from College as a progression of their traditional education cycle.  There is a problem with this.

I wondered where this problem originated.  I sat in my chair at this luncheon and cried for the children who are left wondering who they are and not understaning why they make their decisions. 

I remember as a young girl the way my father helped me understand the value of the power of choice - this was done with love and a firm grip of patience.  My dad sat me in a chair in the living room (I must have been about 14 years old) and just asked me one question.  "What reason compelled you to make this choice, young lady?"  I really had no reason.  I said I had no reason.  He said that was unacceptable and that I must sit and ponder - seek to discover the real reason behind my action.  Until I understood why I made that choice, I would never be able to understand the importance of my choice. 

This was a painful lesson to learn.  It must have been hours.  This was not the only time my father had done this.  These were regular conversations. I applaud my parents for their persistence and patience.  I praise God for strengthening them during these times.  I know it wasn't easy.  My dad told me it wasn't (when I was in my 30's) and I believe him.  I look back now and I see a very wise parent and a very foolish child.  At the time, I saw a very clever child and a very irritating parent. 

Loving our children - and even loving the children around us that do not belong to us but are given to us for a moment or two to cherish - is a gift.  The gift my father received of our love and respect for him was boundless.  We may not have liked his way of correcting or appreciated his philosophical discussions as much as we could have, but he found a way to give us the good discipline he saw our Father God give to His children, and emulated it.

I know I've written before about choice - and my parents were big on our personal choice - but there can never be enough emphasis placed on the truth that the Lord has given us free will.  There is not one person on this earth who can force you to do anything against your will.  They may take your earthly life if you choose not to yield, but that will take you to an eternal life with Christ Jesus.  As we choose each day whom we will serve, we choose to reflect our faith.  Where is your faith rooted?  Your choices actually tell the people around you where your faith lies.  The fruits of your life are a direct reflection of the effort you put forth in planting the seeds you are given. 

Seems easy, but really it isn't.  This is why our children need us so very much.  It's easy to tell people what to do.  It's easy to tell your children what is right and wrong.  It is better (oh, and so much harder) to model the behavior you wish to see continue around you.  Oh, thank you Lord, for my parents.  They were so wonderful to even follow the bike laws when we rode our bikes around Poughkeepsie, NY.  Stop at the corner, walk your bike across.  Never, NEVER ride your bike against traffic.  Follow all the traffic laws when you are riding in the street.  If you are riding on the sidewalk, follow the rules for walking on the sidewalk...that's when you MUST walk your bike across the street.  Follow the flow of traffic.  Do not go anyway even if there is no traffic if you are in the street and the light is red.

Wow - see, it works.  I still remember all those things, because my mom and dad didn't just say, "be careful" but they took me on a ride with them and showed me why it was important.  These 15 minute bike rides were very important.  Seemed like a little thing going biking with my mom or dad on Saturday morning, but looking back now, the little 5 year old really got a lot out of it!

Please remind your friends how important modeling behavior is.  If we wish the next generation (or any of the current ones) to be strong and vibrant, we must help them know who they are, why they are, and whose they are.  Mentor a child today - one moment at a time.  A five minute conversation can impact a child for a lifetime.  Can you remember one to share?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Handling Challenge


My friend posted a question today about how we handle challenges - like the loss of job, home, family, health...and this was my answer today...
 
It's when the daily life comes under attack that we need to seek guidance from God. This is how we ground ourselves in the midst of sorrow, pain, loss, illness and every other thing that satan puts in the path of our quest to be righteous.... Each day, we are faced with choices, and as we look at our circumstance, we face the choice: do I complain or do I praise? I praise God for my faith - everything else I have is His blessing on my life...my health, my job, my car, my home...let's remind ourselves to keep our priorities straight - without our faith, we are nothing. Just specks of dust that will blow away in the wind with no home to ever rest in. Eternal salvation - heaven is where I seek to rest my head. It is a choice to praise and thank instead of whine and moan. It is a choice. It is always OUR choice.
 
 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Walking can be a painful process

Today I was thinking about how we walk by faith, and as I was reading a commentary by J. Vernon McGee, I remembered that walking is a painful process to learn.  He reminded me that we do not inherently know how to walk.  This is a learned activity.  Not only is it a learned activity, but it is a process that is learned by trial and error.  Many times, the success of walking comes with a few bumps and bruises from falling. 

This is how I think about walking by faith.  It is trial and error.  It is painful as we grow and reach.  I understand this from personal experience in a prior time of employment.  Emotional pain dealt when we are growing spiritually can take a long time to overcome.

Yes, I suppose that this is the same as growing pains.  I think it is very similar when we begin a new job.  We must learn the new ways of the company, understand the culture, not rock the boat too much and find our rhythm within the daily responsibilities we carry.

I am looking forward to the challenge of beginning a new chapter of my work life.  Yes, it might be painful to walk from one to the other, but at the end, I will be able to run the race and see the finish line!  Putting things in order is the way that we walk - one foot in front of the other.  It is the same as we walk by faith.  Put things in order - God, Others, Ourselves.  We are able to walk successfully when we do that.  If we have things out of order, we stumble and fall more often, not understanding why in the world we are falling and bearing bumps and bruises. 

Be strong - seek God and continue to put things in order in your life so that you are making progress.  The ease of our days comes from the fruit of the Spirit.  Take time to cultivate your own spirit.  It really does make a difference.

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Galatians 5:25

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ah, the cool breeze...

Did you notice today that the cool weather has arrived in Florida?  Yes, today, my toes realized that it might be time for socks.

I will most likely try to avoid those socks for a few more days.  My toes like the fresh air!

The open window in my office reminds me of the amazing nature that surrounds us.  The gentle breeze is blowing, the air is moving, the leaves are rustling , the trees are swaying and the sounds of nature penetrate the silence of the office space I use to work from home.

Yes, God tells us that we cannot deny Him - nature reflects His glory.  It also reflects his sense of humor, doesn't it?  Just look at shrubs and trees for example.  They grow wild, and we trim them to look beautiful.  The grow wild again and we trim them again. 

I was thinking today about business and how we have those folks in our office who don't fit the mold, and we try to trim them up and keep them in the corporate zone, and then they get comfy and grow a little more, their creative juices flow, and off they go!  So, we have them come into the office and we remind them how we do things here, encourage them to tone it down and express how important they are to the company and hope that they will conform for a while.  And usually, they do: for a while.  Then, grow a little, stretch a little, and the office visit again.  Wow.  It's like that with manicured people and manicured lawns.  We are respectable, not messy.  We don't like it when things get a little out of control. 

So, is there hope, or are we always doomed to stretch, reach, and expand only to be cut off at the elbow so that we fit in with the rest of the crowd?  I believe there is hope.  There is a way for everyone to keep their individuality while at the same time getting along with the corporate mold.  It's called mutual respect of uniqueness.  This is something that is learned, and I think it is something that is easily understood.  Caring for other first allows us to easily accept the differences and uniqueness that strengthens the group.

It is all in our understanding of who we are and who God is.  Once we get there, it's so much easier to accept and encourage those around us.  Get it? Got it?  Good.  I'm there.  Sending love to all of you...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Using our Gifts or Abusing our Gifts...

Have you ever taken a personality test or character assessment and found out you had some talents that were yet to be pursued and developed?  I had that happen a few years ago, and I was just remniscing about this last evening.

If we have gifts and don't use them, what does that say about us?  If we don't know they are there, then I suppose it doesn't give us anything to look at, but if we know we are gifted in, say, music, for example.  I am gifted in music.  I have been in a choir of some sort since I was 4 years old.  I played piano as a child and guitar and flute at some point.  I have a natural gifting and it is easy for me, but at the same time, there are seasons in my life when music has taken a back seat.  Like right now.  I have been very busy with so many other things, that I am not in a choir, I am not in a band, I am not playing guitar or piano at all, and my memory of these instruments has faded.

Is this abuse of the gift of music?  Some might say yes.  In a way, I think I might agree. 

Do you have a gift you've used in the past and think that season has passed?  Is it time to bring those gifts back to the forefront and take them for a whirl?  I sometimes wonder about the college education I received and worked so hard to complete.  I have a Bachelor of Science in Ministry with a Specialization in Leadership from Florida Christian College.  I worked hard to complete this degree, took many courses in ministry and leadership.  I have an Associate of Arts from Dutchess Community College which represents a variety of coursework heavily concentrated in English, Science, History and Psychology.  I love to learn, and I enjoy new things.  I dig from the deep coffers of my educational soup in my brain every day.  The leadership courses and environmental courses I took work together with faith to build a great resource for encouraging and empowering others to be the best representative that they have been created to be. 

So, as I consider the education I have, the gifts I have been given and the great resources at my disposal, all I can continue to think is, wow.  I really don't even touch the surface of my capabilities most days.  Why?  I'm not sure.  I love so many things and enjoy so many things that I'm not sure where to stop and where to start sometimes.  Helping others find focus and energy is easy for me, but helping myself...not so easy. 

This is when I realized that this is by design.  God created us to be in community with one another.  If I could help myself, I wouldn't need to turn to the Lord or turn to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to assist me in maintaining the right attitude, the right focus and the right vision for my life.  I thank God that I cannot live this life in a bubble and that there are so many wonderful people to help me through it.  I know that you may feel this same way sometimes.  Look for a faithful friend and ask them to help you find your focus.  This is one gift you can give them today.  It will allow them to look at themselves as well.  Helping others encourages us.  It is through giving that we receive.  "I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths." Proverbs 4:11
Blessings and Joy to you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where is home?

So today, I was reading a story about a group of people who had to leave their home in the midst of wartime.  The feelings that popped into my head were mostly of sadness for those who had to leave their homes, their jobs and some of their family members behind.  In the midst of war, there are no funerals, only unresolved grief.

Why today?  Why am I thinking about this today?  Well, I can't answer that question.  But, I can say this.  We are in the midst of war now.  A war in ourselves.  The fight and battle between our selfish self and our generous self.  Have you had those inner conversations over the right course of action?  Well, if you said no, you are probably trying to avoid looking at your true self.  We have all at one point or another wrestled with a decision. 

The question really becomes, "when all is said and done with this situation, will I be able to live with myself?"  Yes, home.  This is what it's all about.  When we lay our head down on the pillow at the end of the day, can we truly be at rest, or are we still at war with our choices? 

I know that in my youth, I heard many times that whether I chose this or that, the end result would be that it was my decision and I would have to live with the outcome.  Yes, as a young person, this was frightening to me.  The responsibility of the outcome of your choice.  We do need to remember that we ARE responsible for the consequences of decisions we make. 

So, have you considered the eternal outcome of your choices lately?  It may be time to pull out the inner mirror and take a good look at the source of your choices.  Each choice we make has consequences - good or bad.  These choices are recorded for all time, and in the end of our days, we will account for them.  Gratefully, Jesus stands as our mediator and savior, so the consequences of death are removed, but we still must account.  Do not think that we have a free pass because we are saved from eternal death.  No, we are redeemed and loved and saved but at the same time, we are accountable.

How does this work, you may ask?  Well, this is a mystery.  One of God's great mysteries.  I just know that God has told us that we are redeemed by the grace of Jesus - born anew through the resurrection of our Lord.  I also know that that same resurrected Jesus told us that we will account for our choices.  Yes, we will.  So, no free pass.  Just a free ticket.  Confused?  I understand.  Keep seeking God, and it will become clear as time goes by. 

Faith in God allows us to believe even though we do not fully understand.  Believing that we are headed for an eternity with the Lord and the price for our sins has been paid by the sacrifice of Jesus - this is what allows us to move forward in the midst of our confusion. 

May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

Dear friends and visitors,

What is it about waiting that is so difficult?  I know the culture has encouraged us to achieve everything now, right away.  No waiting in line - order it online.  No need to save, use a credit card.  Get an answer from someone now - call them on the cell phone - if they don't answer, text them!

What is this doing to our quality of life?  I was wondering this after a conversation with a friend yesterday.  He doesn't answer his phone unless he knows who is calling, he doesn't listen to voice mail until he gets around to it, he doesn't answer email immediately, sometimes for several days.  He makes his deadlines because he is able to remain uninterrupted by the things the rest of us allow to peek into our life at any given time.  How do we manage the technology that makes our life easier?  What does it look like in our life?

Are we seeking after things that calm and enrich our spirit?  I think that today is a good day to consider the nature of God and whether we reflect this character in our lives.  Yesterday, I had a verse stuck in my head saying, "wait upon the Lord." and today, I woke up thinking, "I wait paitiently for the Lord and he heard my cry." Psalm 40:1   I really do believe that sometimes God says wait and He means it.  I have been in waiting.  Have you?  I'm sure there is something in your heart that you are waiting for. 

Be strong.  Know that as you wait, when you are patient and appreciate the things around you and enjoy the journey, you are blessed and enriched in your life.  Each day is a new day, each hour brings with it challenge, opportunity and blessing.  We must look for these things to allow ourselves to be prepared for the day to come.  What does that day hold?  Only the Lord knows.  But we trust that today will help to bring us forward to tomorrow.  Use the pieces of today to build yourself and grow your character so you are a fitting example for those who look to you for guidance.  Amen, friend.

Jesus loves you - this I know.  I love you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I deeply love you with the heart of Jesus.  The unconditional patient love that sees the value and the spirit of God within you.  Peace be with you today as you wait.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where does the time go?

Dear friends and visitors,

Wow!  I don't know what has happened to the days since we last met!  They have flown by like a flock of geese escaping the cold winter weather that snapped one night from out of the blue!  So many metaphors in one sentence...it's getting a little scary here in the writing lab.

Okay, so, where does the time go?  That's what I thought as I realized how long it had been since I shared with you.  Shame shame on me.  Well, I'll tell you where the time went.  It went to working and recruiting and building and writing and well, it just went. 

Have you ever had days where you thought you would get a lot done, but at the end of the day, nothing had been done and the pile of to-do's just got bigger?  Yes, that is what the last month has been like. 

I know just what to do in situations like this!  It has happened before and I know I had the answer right last time!  Ready for it?  Here it is.  Pray.

Yes, I know it sounds a little crazy, or even a bit off the mark, but the truth is, taking time away from the list and the hectic pace and settling down with yourself and your Creator will give you some peace and perspective.

Pray.  Talk to God.  Tell him your tale.  Let Him know where you are, what is plaguing you, what your needs are and ask for the impossible.  God is in the miracle business, so ask for one.  Right...you say.  I'm serious.  I have in the past asked the Creator of the Universe to stretch time so that I can get all the work He has given me done.  Yes, it does have to be work that glorifies God, but that doesn't have to be work in the church...now, does it?  No, it can be the work you do on a daily basis. 

The work God has called you to, equipped you for and encouraged you in.  Completing this with a loving and joyful spirit, this is what pleases God.  So, grab hold of yourself, take yourself into the place where you can commune with the Lord and ask for the miraculous.  You'll be surprised how things turn out - maybe all of the sudden some of the work will vanish.  Or a volunteer will arise.  Or a call will come in.  Or a job will manifest.  Or the attitude will change and then there is room for the love of the work.  Then the work is a breeze to complete.

My day has run past it's time.  I have too many things to do before the next minute, but I knew that I needed to share this with you.  When we seek God, we find Him.  When we run and hide, trying to do things ourselves, it is never easier.  Seek God and let His glory shine through you.  This will result in the miraculous being seen every day!  Peace and JOY in your work!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Persistence, is it?

This morning, I spent some time cleaning our small camper space.  After I was done, I sat down to enjoy a bit of reading with my coffee, and my Buddy whoofed at me.  He doesn't woof, he whoofs.  Almost whispering, he just lets you know he needs your attention.  It's not a loud bark, just a whispered whoof.  He want's to go for a walk, he is saying. 

I just sat down.  It is not my desire to go for a long walk at this point, but I know I must.  So, I ask him to wait just a minute, and he whoofs again.  He now has whoofed at least four times, and I know that he will not leave me alone until I comply with his request. 

It is just like the woman who comes to the judge in the Bible.  She continues to come over and over asking for her request to be granted.  She will not relent.  Her persistence is rewarded, as Buddy's will be.

We must remember that we are children of God and we must not be derailed from the task which has been put before us.  It is never an easy road, and we don't always want to do it, but it MUST be done, and we have been chosen to do it.  Keep on keepin' on...push forward and be persistent.  We are blessed to be a blessing...let's be that blessing today! 

God's peace be with you on this weekend when we remember those who have given their life for us to be free to type our thoughts...for us to be free to persist in our faith and our freedom.  Thank you to my ancestors, your ancestors and those who have fought the good fight to keep our freedom to be who we are and allow God to be the Lord of our lives!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Learning to curb...not so easy...

Welcome to Wednesday!  I wish I were more receptive to this wonderful day.  Do you ever have a day that starts out a little off and then just continues down a path you wish it never took?  Today, this has happened to me.  As soon as I realized it, I searched my soul for something to settle my angst and challenges.  I came up with
Proverbs 15:1-5
  1. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
  2. The toungue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
  3. The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
  4. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
  5. A fool spurns his father's discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
This brought me great comfort, thinking how God is always there, in my challenging days, my moments of difficulty, and also there in my great joy!  I am so blessed and fortunate to grow up with parents who loved and feared the Lord.  They instilled in me a true sense of what is good and right and holy.  This way of thinking can help to balance us on those days that are just off and not going well. 

Balance is the key to life, isn't it?  It certainly makes it easier, for sure.  Remember that we are here on earth for a time, not forever.  What impact or legacy are we leaving?  I was thinking about this today, as a result of the strange mood I found myself in.  It made me think of curbing habits.  We develop habits in 21 days, so it is said.  It takes a lot longer to unlearn a habit.  I've been there.  I know that.  Being kind and using positive language and encouragement and healing is not easy if it is not practiced. 

This is learned behavior.  Let's try to make a new habit of using our tongues for great outcomes!  Only engage it once the plan is set and the outcomes have been assessed.  There is the challenge...knowing the result of the words you utter before you send them on their way.  Not so easy at all.  We must engage our intuition and our critical thinking skills...yes, we must learn at every age! 

Are you with me?  I'm ready for a new habit of waiting to speak until I am ready for the consequences.  Thanks, mom!  The gentle word, the encouraging word and the healing word were often coming from her tongue to my ears.  I am so deeply blessed!  Oh, and say it with a smile - it will be received a little easier. 

God bless you, dear friends!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Being Still

I admit it.  I am hardly ever still.  Even when I think I'm still, I'm not.  I will wiggle a joint or tap a toe or flex a muscle.  My mother would tell me as a child to be still, and I don't think I every understood how to do that. 

The few times I have been still are memorable.  I remember lying in the grass in the backyard when I was about 10 years old, purposefully not moving, being still, completely still and gazing into the heavens.  I remember talking to God in my mind and wondering so many forever questions.  These are the questions that will be questions forever.  Until the day I enter heaven I'm certain I won't have the answer to some questions I posed that day.  After 36 years, I'm still waiting for the answers to those questions, so I am basing my answer on patterns here.

The second time was when I was prepped for surgery - this is being still.  Strapped down, there is nothing to wiggle.  Intentionally clearing the mind to avoid that creepy fear that comes with the lack of control over your own body...praying with a deep fervor!

It is in those times I most clearly heard the whisper of the Lord in my mind.  I am so grateful that I had those few moments of stillness - this way, I know what it is to be still.  I rarely allow myself to get to that point of stillness, but I need to do this more often.  I encourage you to also find a way to be still and know that the Lord is in control!

But how, you ask?  Well, I know that for myself, I need to completely relax my muscles, including that great big muscle in my head - the brain.  This is not an easy task, but I encourage you to try it.  Relax and open your mind.  Listen to the sound of the world.  If you can, sit outside in the great expanse created by deisgn.  Let me know how you do.  I'm interested to hear your experience.  I know that when I am still, it is amazing!  I tend to go long periods of time between being still, but I occasionally find that moment, and hear the whisper of God clearly and definitely.  I love being in that moment, and if you have never experienced this, I encourage you to do so! 

Be still, and know that He is God.  Psalms 46:10

Monday, August 9, 2010

Yikes! What's going on?

Sometimes, I must confess, I feel like this.  My anxiety builds and builds and I get frustrated and worried about what is happening right now and what implications this moment has on the next moment - even to the next days and weeks and years.  This is when I become pulled into that cyclone of downward spiraling that begs the question, "what are we going to do?"  and possibly the other question, "how are we ever going to make it?" and the most dreaded, "when will things ever be normal?"

Well, hold on, folks!  Today is the day to sieze the moment!  We are okay.  Things will be alright.  Everything will work out. 

How do I know this?  Well, I am actually certain of it.  I am promised that no matter what, I cannot escape the love of God.  I know that God loves you and me so much that not only will He provide for us here on earth, but He provides a place for us in heaven as well.  Not only that, but we are assured that we should not worry through the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34.  He tells us not to worry about our life.  Asks us how much time will we add to our life by worrying and then comforts us by reminding us that each day has it's own trouble.  Don't borrow trouble from tomorrow - through faith, our needs will be met.

So, join me today in taking a deep breath - Thank God for our breath and life - and relax for a moment.  Make a plan for your day and work toward completing it.  One thing at a time is how we get the big list done. 

I know we are all working so hard and each job has its own challenges.  Rise and meet that challenge head on!  One thing at a time.  One day at a time.  Each moment is cherished and special. 

This applies to your home life as well - don't forget those wonderful people who are a blessing to you - they are gifts given to you for your life.  Children, parents, siblings, spouses.  We must cherish these relationships and remember that they are God-given and love them through this lens.  Hard to do sometimes?  Oh, yes.  But, by being gracious and loving, we honor the relationship and weather the storms together.  Day by Day.  Hour by Hour.  Minute by Minute.  Thank you for being you.  Blessings on your day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ready, Set, Woah!

Today, I resumed some work.  I have been on vacation for the last few weeks - a well deserved one!  We have been working so many hours every week calling, faxing, computing, hosting, and all other manner of sharing information about Florida Christian College, that I really needed to unplug a bit and rest.  God does ask us to rest one day a week, and I have been neglectful of my rest and recover mode.  Burning the candle at both ends burns you out.  So, I thought that since we came home early from vacation yesterday that I would log on and do a bit of email review and get a bit caught up.

Well, I thought I was ready - have pen, paper, computer, phone and all other manner of magnifying glasses and water glass.  I have business cards and books and papers on the desk at the ready!  I'm all set, I think.  Ready to go! 

Then, the email loads and I had to yell, WOAH!  This I was not ready for!  Yikes!  Do I really get this many emails every day?!  Crazy!  So, 4 hours later, I have sifted through half of my emails in my work computer and 1/3 of the emails in my home computer and now it is past dinner time already and I have to start rolling!

As I was thinking all these thoughts, I realized that the problem was that I thought I was ready, but I wasn't.  You see, each morning, I have a conversation with God before I begin my workday.  This afternoon, I did not do that - my day had already begun.  I was starting in the middle.  My pattern was not the same as always. 

My suggestion - always start at the beginning.  Wow.  Lord, you created the world and all that is in it including the emails and phone calls that need to be handled.  Lord, please give me time to do what must be done and allow me to finish the work you have created for me this day so that you are glorified and I am obedient to your call.  Thank you for all you give me - the skills, the intelligence and the attitude to be a success in your sight.  Bring me closer to you as I speak and respond to others - allow me to be the vessel that shares the image of you!  I am grateful and honored to do your will this day - in Jesus' name, Amen.

So, once that is done, it is easier to handle what comes - at least that is my experience, and I'm stickin' to it...
:-)
Be blessed and be a blessing!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Enriching Others...

Hmmm.  I was thinking today about how much of an impact we have on the lives of others without knowing.  I happened upon a post of a friend and commented on it.  An uplifting comment, but a thought from my heart.  Evidently, it made an impact.  I was just sharing my heart.  I am sure you would have shared yours, wouldn't you?

So, that is the question for today for you to answer to yourself: If you see or hear of a friend (even an acquantaince) who is in need, what do you do?  How do you respond?  What is the correct response? 

In this culture we live in, it can be difficult to know.  We can share a little or a lot depending on our relationship - is this an acquaintance who knows something about us? 

In my relationships, I try very hard to be honest with people from the outset.  Most people know that I lead with my faith.  Some people lead with their heart.  Some people lead with their head.  I tend to see someone in distress or need and immediately pray and ask for guidance.  After this, I generally feel comfortable with whatever action I take after that - whether it is to pray for the person, offer a meal, a ride, some funds, a connection to someone else...or just love. 

I realized today, that I actually do this.  Before this moment, I was unsure.  Today, it was clarified for me.  I am appreciative of this revelation in my life.  Wow.  I am humbled.  Thanks to all of you who seek God first and then act.  I know that it is hard to do, because I always want to, but I'm not sure I always do...check...I'm sure I don't always do.  Hmmm...I'm hearing Paul in my head about doing what I don't want to do when I want to not do it...hmmm. 

Yikes.  Take a moment next time you see or hear of a friend (or neighbor) in need.  Check in with God for a minute, then act.  You might be surprised in what you feel like doing.  I bet it's not what you think...tell me about it.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thankfulness

Do you ever have one of those days?  I have to admit, I wish I didn't.  But I do.  In the face of that day that you wish had started differently or where your choices were not exactly what you think they should be, take a moment.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where the wheat and the chaff are separated.  I was having one of those days and in the space of an instant, it changed.  Why?  Because I saw my reflection in the mirror and realized that I didn't see a reflection that I would want to come into contact with.

Yikes.  That is the moment.  The moment when I look, see, view, take in, reflect and shatter myself.  I came upon a book on the shelf a few minutes ago.  It is a 3 inch by 4 inch book.  A tiny little thing.  It's called, In All Things Give Thanks - it's a little pocket book.  It came in a basket my parents gave me for my birthday.  Inside the front cover, my mother wrote, To Our Dearest Lori, from Mom and Dad, Happy Birthday 2002.  She went through each page in the book and made little notes for me to share with me why she gave this particular little book to me.  My absolute favorite note in there is "Praise God for the love you show others." And she drew a little heart.  It still makes me cry thinking of my mother spending time writing these notes in a little book for my birthday when she was battling recovery from cancer and running a 40 unit retirement facility with a staff of 3.  She loved her ministry to the Lord, and she came out of retirement to take on that position.  This was her gift. 

So today, when my eyes lit onto that book and saw my face in the mirror, I shattered inside and recognized myself.  I took a few minutes, prayed and asked for a new view of myself.  I want to reflect the glory of the Lord - the special pieces that I am, not the broken parts that live in my yesterday.  I thank God for my parents - for the amazing gift of teaching the Word to my sister and me.  I am thankful in so many ways, but today, especially, I am thankful for the gift of my mother's careful hand...leaving me a legacy in a note penned in a cute little book. 

Taking those small steps for our children, our friends, our co-workers, just taking the time to comment on a facebook post - these are important and can change someone's view of who they are.  My view is changed because I saw myself through my mother's eyes for a moment.  Is your view of yourself encouraged by the positive attributes someone noticed about you?  Of Course It Is!  You can make a HUGE difference in other people's lives by just telling them something wonderful about themselves today.  Hold the standard higher by telling them how wonderful they are...this is a great and wonderful principle!  "So we, Your people..., will give You thanks forever; we will show forth Your praise to all generations." Psalm 79:13

Give thanks and share God's praise for others through you, the vessel of the Most High...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Moment by Moment

I am encouraged.  This is a powerful statement, but it is so true.  I must tell you that I am so encouraged by the love of people who surround me.  I am encouraged by the receptive nature of people.  I am encouraged. 

Today, it is very hot outside.  The asphalt is steamy and the humidity is high.  It is the kind of day that you just want to crawl into an air conditioned space and remain there.  When you get into your car to attempt to go to the next appointment, you can barely catch your breath because the air inside your vehicle is so hot.  It takes several minutes for the air to stop heating the inside of your nostrils on these types of days.

I am encouraged, though.  The cooler days are coming.  I know this because of the nature of our world.  God gave us seasons in our world and seasons in our lives.  This is a season of encouragement for me.  I am grateful for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you and with those who fall into my path in a restaurant or in a grocery store or at the nail salon...wherever I go, I can't escape who I am.

Each day, every moment, I look for a reason to be thankful.  Each day, each moment, I try so hard to be a person who I would like to be around.  Each day, each moment, I remember the words of my parents as they taught me that life is precious and every moment is important.  Where you spend your time and how you spend it is a reflection of how you think and who you are. 

This is a hard reality, but each moment matters.  I am grateful for the encouraging moments I stumbled upon today.  The employees who had a few moments to ask me questions, the radio time to talk about responsibility and delegation of duties, the moments spent in grateful honest counsel with dear friends.  Later, the expression of joy and lyrical representation of self and fun as we dance this evening.  I cherish the moments in my life.  I also cherish my moments I spend with each of you.  Thank you for the gift of time and interest.  God bless you!

Friday, June 11, 2010

It's hard to breathe on the high road...

Yes, when you go up in elevation, it can be hard to breathe.  The air is thinner.  I know this from experience - one year for vacation John and I went to Colorado and drove the Trail Ridge Road (I actually read to him from a book called The Geology of the Trail Ridge Road).  When we got to about 14,000 feet, John had some difficulty getting full breaths.  I didn't have any trouble, but I was used to less oxygen - found out a few years later that I have a deviated septum and I only get about 1/4 of the oxygen that I should...fun fun!  I thought about the fact that as you get higher up in elevation, you get lightheaded, there is less oxygen in the air, the view is spectacular, but in order to see the view, you MUST climb (or drive) very high up. 

The expectations that we put on ourselves and the expectations we have of others can either lift us to heights or cause us to remain at the bottom of the mountain.  Remember, the only person who is capable of fully understanding you is you and God.  Everyone else is doing their best, but they will never fully understand you.  We are complex beings, designed after a complex God...whom we also will never completely understand.  Remember to give yourself a break, but also to lift the expectations of yourself to a height that is just outside your reach.  This will cause you to stretch a little and keep you high up on that mountainside.  It is important that you set a good example for those who look to you for leadership and guidance.

Just keep in mind that other people are setting their own expectations of themselves, and it is hard for them to receive your expectation as their own.  Looking and seeking a comfortable agreement of expectation is important.  Be true to your word and keep the agreements you make.  Your example is what the rest will follow.  It matters not what you say if you are displaying the opposite in your behavior.  It's not the easiest way, but it is the only way to be righteous. Proverbs 20:24,25 "A man's steps are directed by the LORD.  How then can anyone understand his own way? It is a trap for a man to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider his vows." 

Let us agree that we must indeed set the pace.  Take the high road.  Work on being the measure everyone else wants to meet.  Proverbs 16:3 "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."  If we work as if we know that God is our boss, we will certainly do our best.  Does it matter what people on earth do to us?  Not really.  Bottom line, when we are no longer here on earth, we will meet Jesus face to face.  No matter our life, the questions will be posed asking us to account for our choices and actions.  By ourselves.  Accountability to the MOST HIGH.  On earth, we seem to think that this is a permanent place to be, but it is temporary.  The pain and suffering are temporal.  I want to be able to hear, "well done, my good and faithful servant."  Don't you?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ethical? Moral? What does that mean?

I worked in the mortgage industry for 20 years.  I've worked retail, wholesale, A paper, B-C lending or what they called sub-prime, I've underwritten, audited, processed and originated loans.  I hold a DE certification to underwrite loans for FHA.  I've seen it all in 20 years - the advent of computers helping to process paperwork in the early 1980's to the automated underwriting of the early 2000's. 

The one thing that remained consistent was the challenge to fight of the greed monster.  There was always a way to tweak the system to get your loan through.  Committing fraud used to be a lot harder in the 80's and 90's before computer generated forms became so commonplace.  It was work to alter a document and cut and paste or whatnot to change a figure.  Now, it's not that difficult.  It's harder to detect that fraud now, too.

Why do I bring this up?  Because honestly, I think that it has become socially acceptable to skirt the system.  I think that it doesn't feel like fraud anymore.  Our balance of justice is skewed and we don't even know what is right or wrong anymore.  I want to know that there are people who do know that it is not okay to misrepresent your income.  I want to know that there are people who are completing documents for a loan and only writing down the truth and allowing a loan to be declined and sent to a wholesaler through a broker because it doesn't meet the requirements. 

It is so hard these days.  Do our children know what is right and wrong?  I wonder.  I see so many people who have no remorse, no concern, no empathy.  The truth is that we are the only ones who can change it.  Never fear!  Christ is here!  The truth of the Gospel can help us turn around our economy and our morally bankrupt society.  We must seek to share the truth in ways that our offices can adapt to.

Stay tuned for steps to turn an office around!  The high energy, high productivity and caring attitudes can return!  The excitement about working together can return!  Let us seek together the gems and pearls that will bring us back to that environment we all desire to be in.  Don't you want to work in an office where you feel cared about, honored and lifted up?  Oh, and paid according to your contribution?  Pearl #1 - Do your work to the best of your ability - God is watching.  Even if the boss says it's good enough, if you can do it better, keep working at it.  God knows what your best is, and He is the boss that account to.

:-)   Think what it would be like if everyone worked like that.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Resources

I was thinking today about the resources that we have - natural resources and human resources; renewable and non-renewable.

Do you remember your science class that taught you so much about these things?  I remember talking about the need to find alternative resources to the energy producing coal and oil we were using (in the 1970's) and the growth of wind and solar energy.

Kind of funny to me that 40 years later, we are talking about the same things.  I find part of this interesting because I can see that God's hand is in it all.  The design of this world is to sustain human lives and the design of human life is to reflect the glory of God. 

The infinite nature of God does not permeate through the earth or the beings that live on it.  The cycle of life shows through the entire earth, the universe and beyond into things we have not yet even discovered. 

Think of what we know now about our world and what we knew 1000 years ago or 2000 years ago.  Some of the mystery of life has been revealed, but not all.  There is still charm and mystery in our world.  Can we grasp a little of this and hold on?  I watch my young niece and the amazement in her eyes when she discovers something new. 

Do you allow yourself that childlike state when discovering new things?  God tells us to come to Him as a child - to approach our faith this way, excited about discovering new things - utilizing our resources in a way that is honoring and pleasing.  Human resources is not just about jobs.  It is also about how we care for one another and how we treat one another. 

Use this day to remember that humans are a resource - a valuable resource, and we are not renewable...we are each unique and needed!  God bless you as you seek to find ways to be a resource to others today!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gentle Breeze or Hurricane Force?

I was taking a break this afternoon, just floating in the pool and was grateful for the gentle breeze that was calmly moving me and touching my cheek.  It was then that I thought about wind.  Wind is one of those elements that is hard to explain, and I have always marveled at it.  It seems to move indiscriminantly.  without care or concern.  Suddenly, it will change direction and leave you from enjoying a breeze to being overwhelmed with heat. 

As a sailor (another time we'll talk about learning to sail) I remember being often exasperated by the lack or overabundance of wind.  So, why this obsession with wind?  You can't see it, taste it, catch it or change it.  You can redirect it or move it faster or slower with a fan or a screen, but you will not stop it even with a concrete wall if it is hurricane force or tornadic in nature. 

Are we as people similar to wind in our minds?  Do our thoughts run these same courses as the wind?  Hmmm.  The rustling of the leaves and the gentle ringing of the chimes seem to be calm thoughts.  The severe hurricanes and tornadoes seem to be our anger and irate behavior.  Wow.  Yes, I think I can make that leap. 

Have you ever found that listening to a calm ocean, a gentle brook or a rustling of leaves by a slow and steady breeze actually calms your thoughts?  Well, I do know this - God created the heavens and the earth, all that is above and beneath what we see and hear.  God is the source of all things, so why wouldn't we be moved by that which is connected to us?  I don't pretend to understand it all, just to be amazed and grateful. 

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”- Ecclesiastes 11:5

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ever Reaching

Where do our fingers end?  Sometimes when I see babies fingers, so long and dainty, always reaching and stretching, it makes me wonder about the hands that made us.

What do God's hands look like?  When I was a child, I took piano lessons.  I enjoyed those lessons, but Mrs. Vantella (sp) was very hard on me - wrapping my knuckes with that ruler saying, "fingers up, dear, fingers up!" 

I remember thinking on those piano lesson days about my fingers and how they were very long (my fingers were long when I was young, they just didn't grow a lot...) but when I curved them to play the piano, my fingers suddenly became shorter.

I also would think on my walk home (3 blocks uphill) how fortunate I was that my fingers were long.  I had a friend who took piano and she could not reach a whole octave with her fingers.  I used to think a lot about how we were all made differently on my walks to and from school, piano lessons, the corner store...I had lots of time to think back then.  I guess it was the lack of ipods.  I always had a pretty good two or three blocks to the house by myself, and it was good time to think.  Today, I suppose if I were walking, I would have an ipod or a cell phone to occupy me.  I wonder if we don't encourage plain thinking anymore. 

Well, thinking leads to dreaming for me.  I would daydream all the time about this or that.  Such a great inventor of tales!  Well, in my mind, God's fingers were very long.  My fingers and the fingers of all the babies born with long fingers were just like His.  I have often wondered about the "hand of God" that they talked about in church all the time.  Really, don't you think that God's fingers are long?  I wonder what they are made of...do you think it is sinew and bone?  Do you wonder? 

Does it matter?  I don't know.  I just know this...that as a little girl, it mattered very much to me.  I thought my fingers looked just like God's.  I also thought that everyone's fingers looked just like God's.  Because I knew that every person was made in the image of God.  I couldn't explain it, but I understood it.  I still do.  We are fashioned and created and displayed as a piece of God.  We display who God is to one another.  Without the rest of us, the picture is incomplete.  Think about this: together, we make up the whole picture. 

My cousin Erin wrote a poem about our family one year.  She was an amazing young lady.  She got it.  She wrote, "When I look in the mirror I can't help but see 20 other faces smiling back at me..."  The poem was about how each of us were unique, but all from the same bloodline - all connected - all saved and redeemed - all going the same direction - all one body - all one family - and I remember reading that poem she gave me for Christmas and crying, knowing that she meant every word and how we were a microcosm of the world.

I think that we are ever reaching for God - stretching ourselves to the limit to find that true source of hope and love - and God is ever reaching for us - to save us and keep us to Himself - are you reaching?  Maybe you don't know what you are reaching for.  Take a look at your neighbor - is that it?  Take a look at yourself - are you modeling it?  Well, I think in my mind, that is what God means when He tells us to Love God with all our heart, soul mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves.  If we model it, then we will see it in our neighbor, don't you think?  Maybe when we look at the mirror and we see all the faces smiling back at us, we will see the love of God shining through!  That's what I see in the mirror - God's holy goodness smiling through my family in my face.  God bless and keep you, Erin Kathleen Breen.  I miss you dearly and know that you are having all the moments of forever to praise God in the highest and holiest of holy days.  I will see you someday soon.  Hold a place for me next to the rest of them, dear.  Where we go one - we go all.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Choices

I took a class at Florida Christian College as part of my degree program in 2004.  I stumbled upon one of the papers from 'Life and Leadership of Jesus' today, and thought I would share a thought from the past.  Tell me if you think it is still relevant.

We were studying the Hard Sayings of Jesus, looking at each one and sharing our thoughts about what truths they might hold.
"He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters." Matt 12:30; Luke 11:23
"He that is not against us is for us." Mark 9:40; Luke 9:50

What does this saying 'actually' mean?
     This saying says that you cannot ride the fence.  You must be on one side of it or the other.  The hard part about this sayng is that there is no grey area.  Each person chooses in their heart whom they serve.  Jesus is talking about those who follow the Lord and those who follow the devil.  Those who are with Jesus and are gatherers are doing the work of the Lord.  The Lord gathers up those who would follow Him through those who do His will.  The devil is against God, using all his craftiness to lure people away from the truth and scattering them away from the love of God.  The difficult part of this is that a choice must be made, and it is a hard choice for most people.  Faith in unseen and future deliverance must come through the Holy Spirit, and must be requested through sincere repentance and love.

How can this saying be applied to you life/church/world today?
     This saying brings the reality of the kingdom of God close to our hearts.  We must be ready to ask the Lord to govern our life and keep us from those things that would separate us from the love of our Savior.  We must realize that every day, we make a choice to be with God or against God.  Actually, this choice can be minute to minute.  We must be careful when we choose, for if we do not choose to be with Jesus as a gatherer, then we reject the grace and salvation that Jesus suffered for.  Spiritual warfare is no joke.  Jesus is laying it on the line.  He is waiting for us to choose each minute.


This past weekend, Pastor Mike Andriano talked about the healing power of grace and the choice we must make.  This paper (well, it was part of a paper) came to mind and I really thought I should share my thoughts with you about the significance of our free will and how important it is to exercise that unashamedly in the world.  My Auntie and I were talking on the phone last night about this very thing...the choice and the weight that we carry and how we can lighten the load of our journey by maintaining our connection with people who are supportive and encouraging in the love of God.  Today, this is my gift to you - be strong in your knowledge of who you are and whose you are and do not waver from what you know is right.  Be firm in the foundation of love that God has planted in your heart.  Oh, yes, the Word of the Lord has been written on your heart.  Believe it.  Know it.  Live it.  Other people will see it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Are you Ready?

Last week was filled with last minute miracles.  Does this happen to you regularly?  You have a plan for your day, an expectation of the way things will go and BAM!  All of the sudden, everything feels like it is spiraling out of control!  This happens to me all the time.  I think in a way, I maintain such high expectations that I am easily bounced out of my comfort zone.

So I know that I should always be prepared for the unexpected - I was a girl scout!  My mom always gave me those gentle reminders about my raincoat or umbrella or the insurance for 'just in case'.  But sometimes, it is your heart and mind that need to be ready. 

I never thought that I would be able to jump in and do a half hour presentation on information I had just been given (well, okay, to be fair I had the information for several days but didn't realize it was a half hour presentation - I thought it was a 5 minute read the paper presentation).  Wow - so I found out that I was very prepared to do this, and it went fine.  I think that my heart and mind have been prepared to handle these things.  When I need to take something over at the last minute, it seems like I can just handle it. 

Sometimes I wonder why.  Is it because my mother always said, "You will do fine. Just take a breath and handle it."  Or is it because my parents always seemed so in control of everything and I always felt like my world was spinning out of control?  Is it my age (oh boy, the numbers keep going up and up) and increase of patience (or lack of concern) or could it just be that I really am prepared now?

I know that we are told in the Bible to always be prepared to give evidence of your faith.  I know that over the years I have worked very hard to be prepared to share the foundation and reason for my faith, and I continue to work at that every day.  When I stand at the throne of the Creator of the Universe, I am prepared to say, I know that all I have comes from you and you alone, Lord.  Thank you for my life and my joy.  That's all I really have.  It's what I'm ready for.  I told my husband the other day that I try every day to be ready for the last day.  If you knew this was your last day, would you make the same choices?  That's the great question.  What if it is the last day?  Be Holy as God is Holy.  Amen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Growing Pains

Does it ever surprise you that all growth comes with pain?  Really.  Why do these things need to be connected?  Whether it is physical or mental, it truly exists.  We are constantly growing and increasing in knowledge and understanding, but this comes with a sacrifice, doesn't it?  Stretching your brain is hard work.  Stretching is good for our bodies too.  It is dangerous to exercise any muscle without stretching it first to prepare it for the vigorous exercise we are about to do. 

I love dancing.  Wow, I never thought I would, but I love it.  My husband and I have been ballroom dancing for over 4 years now, and I really enjoy it - every minute of it.  Even the painful parts - yes, I have had the growing pains of exercising new muscles, using different parts of my feet and just in general finding out what it is like to have an exercise routine.  I didn't grow up in a family that exercised together, so this is not part of my culture.  But dancing - wow - that is FUN!  Social dancing is great - a great workout - not too much pressure to be perfect and since it is an expression of the music, you can make it your own each time. 

I have found that I am stretching many things besides physical muscles, though.  I am stretching my mind to remember steps and I am stretching my comfort zone by performing in front of others.  I never thought I would do that. 

By nature, I tend to shrink back a bit, hid myself a little, not want to be the center of attention.  But by creation, I am meant to be in the middle, meant to be the shining light.  It is a struggle for me.  But, when I let myself be who I am created to be, WOW!  God shines through and nothing keeps me back.  I must say that I do try to hide my light under a bushel sometimes, and I need to try to let it shine more. 

What holds you back?  What do you avoid because it's uncomfortable or painful to walk through?  What are you doing to stretch a different muscle?  Try something new.  Stretch a bit - it builds character.  We must always continue to strive to be the best we can be.  I heard Gen. John Ashcroft say yesterday that Jesus didn't come so we could have life down here in the 'just making it by' zone - He came that we might have life abundantly!  So, reach for excellence!  Recognize the pain and suffering.  Acknowledge it.  Live in it a little while, and then move beyond it.  This is how we achieve excellence!  See you there! 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

Welcome to a new day.  I was clearing out some dead plants from my small garden spot this afternoon and it reminded me of a time long ago.  Did you know that the Vanderbuilt family had a separate property in NY for their vegetable garden?  Well, back in the early 1990's I was in a class at Dutchess Community College and one of our projects was to clear out part of that vegetable garden as a class assignment.  I have to tell you, it was hard work.  The interesting part was in the discovery.  I discovered that there was this HUGE garden near my house (really, it wasn't far from where I lived).  I discovered that gardening can be relaxing when you don't try to do it all at once.  I discovered that bugs do indeed like me very much.  I discovered that I don't like bugs very much (oh, I already knew that, but there were some new bugs to add to my list after that day).  I discovered that out of the ashes, life will find a way.  This was a science class. 

We worked very very hard for several days in a row (well, class days) at this garden site.  Evidently, it had been decades since this had been cleaned up, and they were working on a project to restore the garden.  There were actually plants still growing up through the tangled weeds.  It was amazing to me as I cleared the ground how roses could find a way to survive among all of this. 

This was really very eye opening for me at the time.  It made me wonder about the way Jesus talked about the chaff and the wheat and so many references to farming and nature and I had a better understanding after that class.  A strange place to bring extra understanding about God's word, I'll tell you.  Some of my classmates thought I was a bit excessive when I sat down in the middle of a patch of ground and just cried. 

I was just overwhelmed with the love that God has for us - that he would let weeds overtake the whole world so that when the wheat is mature, it can be identified.  I just so got that whole thing.  It just built up in me that day.  Working on that ground, where people had broken their back gardening - sowing seeds, nurturing seedlings, weeding and feeding, harvesting and serving from that ground hundreds of years earlier - it just hit me that the toil and sweat of those people still bore fruit so many years later.  The roses were alive.  There were some vegetable plants that had continued to grow.  There were herbs that were intact.  It was amazing.  And it was not all dead.  There were pieces still alive.  There was hope for the garden.

I thought about that today as I cut the dead pieces of the red sister and the bouganvelia and saw there was a bit of life left in some of the stems.  We had such a hard winter here in Orlando.  So much of our landscape suffered.  But my azaleas have never bloomed more beautifully.  My roses are teeming with beautiful green leaves.  (I cut them almost to the ground for the parts that froze)  I remembered today a piece of my life I had almost forgotten.  I still don't remember the name of that garden space, but I remember where it is and how much time I spent there digging, raking and loving the earth with my classmates.

On this eve of Easter, think a bit and muse a bit about the death of Jesus.  Buried in a cave with a stone large enough to roll in front of it as a door, angels attended and kept vigil.  But through that horrible death, there is hope for us.  The sacrifice of life was given so that we might live.  Wow.  My heart is heavy with the intensity of this truth.  At the same time, I live in the certain hope of the resurrection of our Lord!  Yes, we live in a world of paradox. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sacrifice

Today is Good Friday.  All over the world, Christians are gathering to hear about the last words of Christ Jesus, thinking about the trial of an innocent man, wondering what would life be like if things were different that day.  We wonder and question, but never really have answers.  Even our answers can have questions.  That seems to be our human nature.  The synapses in our brain fire and off goes another question.  The whole, 'oh, I was thinking...' comes up so often, doesn't it? 

So, you won't be surprised to hear that I was thinking about sacrifice today.  I was actually spurred on by the news anchor this morning who shared that there were millions of people celebrating Good Friday today.  It made me think about what is sacrifice, do we in our current day and culture even understand that?  Back in the day - over 2,000 years ago - this was a common concept.

The idea is to take the place of something else.  So, if my brother did something awful and ended up having to stand trial for it, I could take his place and suffer his fate because of my love for him.  Would I do it?  Wow.  Take on his crime?  Most of us would probably say - he did the crime, he should do the time.  But then, what if it were our child?  Wouldn't we want to protect them?  We make sacrifices for our family all the time - and for our jobs.  I think we tend to think about sacrifice with a little 's'.  Just this or just that.  I won't go to this event because she doesn't want to go, but I really wanted to.  Sacrifice.  We put our will and needs in the background. 

Hmmm.  So, lifting others up higher than ourselves; taking their needs and putting them before ours; looking at their life as more important than ours...this is sacrifice.  Loving them (them being all inclusive here) more than we love ourselves.  God loves us so much that he was willing to set aside His own onmipotence to save our souls. 

Yes, Good Friday is a time of reflection and a time of understanding.  A time for prayer and a time to come together as the people of God and join together as one.  You are loved.  You are loved so much that NOTHING comes between you and God.  NOTHING is as important as you are.  Even life.  God showed us HOW important we are to Him.  What does this mean for our lives?  Only you can answer that.  Think and Pray today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturation

This weekend, I attended a Women's Leadership Conference sharing information about Florida Christian College.  The Spirit of Deborah Ministries presented a weekend of Saturation in the Word.  It was an uplifting time, and everyone in attendance was blessed by the variety of speakers.  Charmaine did a great job creating an informative and uplifting event. 

So, needless to say, saturation is on the mind.  The idea of the sponge being dry, brittle and full of holes being exposed to something wet that causes it to become pliable, full and even soaked. 

I thought about that image and it reminded me that even when we fill up with God's word and saturate ourselves in scripture and surround ourselves with people of God, we are still the same shape we were before, we are just a full shape.  So, does that mean that God uses us as we are, not as we try to become?  Well, I think it does.  The holes and scars and bruises and lost pieces of ourselves mold us and shape us. 

That shape is now how we are able to move forward.  Not in the old person, but in the new person.  Not sitting still, but moving.  Each day, we are refreshed and renewed, full of new experiences from the day before.  You realize that, right?  Today you are not the same you were yesterday. 

Have you ever moved from one town or state to another?  I did this so many times - as a child and as an adult.  So, I can tell you this...whenever you move, you have a great opporutnity to reinvent yourself.  It's a new day, and a new city.  The people don't know you yet.  They only know about you what you tell them.  (as long as you don't have a public rap sheet)

What a great opportunity these times have been to reinforce the idea that each day is a new day and each dawn provides a rediscovery of who we are.  As we live, we experience.  As we experience, we react.  As we react, we grow.  As we grow, we change.  Yes, we change every day.  Small, infinitesimal changes that many times we don't even notice.  But God notices.  He knows every hair on our head, every thought in our mind, every step that we take.  So, today, remember that as you grow and change, fill yourself with God's word to help you change in a way that leads you closer to holiness.  After all, it is Jesus who said that we should be holy as He and the Father are holy.  As we charge after this pursuit, we will bless others and ourselves in the process...be filled with the light of the Lord!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick the Missionary...Green, Party or History?

So, I was just thinking about St. Patrick's Day and how everyone is all decked out in green clothes and if not, getting pinched all throughout the day...it seems all fun and innocent, and the parades are fun!  The truth is that not much is ever shared about good ole' St. Patrick.  Why is it that as years go by, we tend to enjoy the green food, green beer, green clothes, green costumes, a reason to party and completely ignore the fact that there is a good solid reason for the festivity?

I often wonder if I am at times a little kooky for wanting to know the history and reason behind things.  But I'll tell you, that being Irish, I always wanted to know about St. Patrick and the history of Erin go Braugh.  My Grandpa McCarthy used to share stories with us from his family who came from Ireland from time to time. 

One of the significant pieces of this short little story for you today is that the Missionary work of St. Patrick led directly to the conversion of many pagans to Christianity.  It might have been the reason some of my ancestors were able to leave a legacy for me.  I appreciate the parties, the fun and exciting green displays and the opportunity to share a bit of the reason for the fun.

Wow - yet another day going by...the cool breeze floating through my window, the Irish lilt in the Celtic music being played, the prayers being said to aid in the transformation of hearts and minds and the parties being planned to honor a man who answered the call on his life and spent years training to learn how to help people learn more about God.

I am so blessed by my heritage.  I am so grateful to my ancestors and to the missionaries that took risks and suffered so that so many might come to learn about what it means to accept the amazing grace that God has so freely and generously given to us. 

When I really think about the gift of salvation and eternal life, that it is given with no strings, no expectation and no act we must perform, it is hard to believe.  Why? The only answer is, "God so loved the world that He gave his one and only begotten son, so that whosoever may believe in Him shall have eternal life."  That is the story of our salvation - the history behind this day.  The real truth of what and who we are and how we have come to be.  God loves us.  He loves us so much that He would do anything to save one of us.  But we have our own choice.  He will not come and drag us kicking and screaming.  We must willingly and wholeheartedly desire to be with God and to basque in His embrace and love.  Of course, I'm not sure why we wouldn't want to...but of course there is choice.

Today, I am just grateful for the gift I have been given and hope that lies in the sacrifice that my Creator, Redeemer and Friend made for me so many years ago on a cross at Calvary.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit....
Amen and Amen.



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Encouragement

In the midst of the hard times, we are faced with a choice.  How will we react to the tough choices?  What will be the words that grace our lips when we share our thoughts and feelings?  I remember a time (many years ago) when I witnessed something that changed me for my life to come. 

I am one of those people.  Nothing bad (I mean really bad) really happened to me as a kid.  I was blessed beyond measure and didn't really truly understand the depth of emotional pain and anquish that was to come in my life or that other people lived with on a daily basis.  But I saw something once.  I saw someone I new very well in the midst of a horrible crisis.  In the midst of this crisis, my friend was falling into a pit of despair that was so deep she could not see any light at all.  I couldn't understand this pain.  I couldn't even come close to feeling or touching that experience.  But I knew this.  I was there for a reason in her life and I knew who God had created me to be. 

So, I hugged her and told her I loved her and just sat there with her in the midst of her pain.  She cried and I cried and there were a lot of wadded up soggy tissues on the floor of the bedroom.  Then things calmed down a little bit.  The sobs were shorter.  The discussion grew deeper.  The sharing started.  My understanding was no better - I really couldn't comprehend this particular issue at that time in my life - the whole concept of her pain was foreign to me.  I listened and waited and empathized...I hurt because she hurt.  I cried because she cried.  I loved her with the love of Christ Jesus...that's really all I had.

Later, weeks later, she shared with me that it was that moment, in that room, with the love and care I shared through a tear that she felt there was hope.  Now, I didn't tell her that I was loving her with the love of Jesus - she would have ushered me right out of her house!  This friend of mine was not Christian.  She did not go to church.  She was 15 years old.  It was a bad time.  It was some bad stuff.  I grew up that day in a way I would never really understand until years later. 

What is encouragement?  It is loving people through the lens of Jesus.  It is showing and revealing that there is hope where it seems like none exists.  It is demonstrating faith where there is no common sense to it.  It is not needing to have all the information, but caring and loving just the same.  It is finding that one thing, and asking God to reveal the light and truth in whatever it is.  Revealing and sharing, encountering and accepting - it is the very paradox between God's law and gospel that allows us to do this.  To be who we are.  To encourage - to share - to love - that's just me.  Who are you? 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Heritage...

So, I was thinking...dangerous, I know. 

Well, our heritage is important to us.  It is part of who we are.  Our history and ancestry tend to give us boundaries and definition, don't they?  In my family, my grandmother was the one who talked the most about our heritage.  Even though her ancestry was only 1/4 of my heritage, it seemed to take priority in our family.  Why was that?  The older I get, the more I wonder about that.  It seems to me that she had the most information and she shared the most about who we were and where we came from.  So our family tends to focus on those things. 

Is that the way it is with our heritage with God?  Do we tend to leave out the heritage that is ours to claim as children of the Creator of the universe?  Do we forget that we need to remind and remember all of the pieces of history?  I know as a fortunate young lady I was reminded often of my heritage that came from the earth and the heritage that comes from heaven.  As a child of God, I know where my ancestry comes from.  Where on earth my maternal and paternal lines run, the bottom line is that they end up always coming down to God the Father.  Without that heritage, we really have no need of an earthly heritage...right?  What legacy do we leave to show that we are children of God?  Did your family ever give you the speech saying, 'Now don't do anything that will land your picture on the front page of the paper...'  or 'I'd better not hear about what you're doing from the neighbors.'  like I did?  It reminded me as a child, a youth and a young adult that everything I did was a reflection of my family as a whole.

In turn, all we do is a reflection of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.  So, does our heritage as children of God shine through the work that we do each day?  I pray that it does.  I pray every day that I am reflecting the grace, mercy, peace and love of God.  I pray that you are too.  Be blessed.  Be a blessing.  Reflect your true heritage as a Child of God.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Responsibility

I was just thinking about how responsibility plays such a big role in our lives.  From the time we are small, we are responsible for something.  As we grow, the responsibility grows.  Remember that Jesus tells us that of those who are given much, much is required.  On Friday, I was reminded about the responsibility that encompasses my life.  I do believe that each person who comes across my path has been given to me.  God gives me this great gift of friendship, acquaintance, connection or encouragement.  Through this gift, I then must respond.  I can choose to reject the person and their gift to me or I can accept the gift and cherish it.  I choose to cherish the people who are placed in my path.  Do you?  What does it look like?  For me, I feel a responsibility to use the gifts I have been given to touch the lives of those in my path.  I pray that you might find a way to see people through the eyes of God this week and look at how you might be a gift to them.  Because you are a gift.  You are a gift to me.  I cherish and treasure you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog!  I am excited about sharing opportunities for seeking God here and for making new friendships and connections to further our collaborative work within the kingdom of God here on earth.  Join me in seeking God's desire for us - the overflowing energy and grace of God's love.

I look forward to hearing from many of you as I develop this extension of my life...Blessings and Joy to you all!    ...Lori Gates

Moments

Moments
A quiet moment of reflection