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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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.

Moments

Moments
A quiet moment of reflection