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Do it Scared

28 Sep

That statement listed above is one I heard recently spoken by a young woman who described what it’s like for her to try something new. She said, “I do it scared, and I prefer it that way; it forces me to jump in and not overthink the situation.”

I found it fascinating as I was under the impression that for many people jumping in without confidence or preparedness is not a desirable thing. But maybe it actually is desirable to just make the leap. Some may call it a “leap of faith.”

I investigated an online version of the Cambridge Dictionary for the definition of leap of faith and this came up: “an act of believing something that is not easily believed.”

As Christians we are called to do that.

2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us we are to walk by faith not by sight. In other words, what we think we see lying ahead may not actually be what we think it is and we are to trust our Lord for the best and the right outcome.

“I do it scared,” she said. She happens to be a believer, which may be why her confidence and trust are present in a frightful situation.

Do you like to “do it scared?”

Would God have us “do it scared?”

Would God prefer that we jump in and let him handle the rest, scared or not?

I pray when my next challenge comes so will my trust in God.

May I?

26 Sep

May I say hello?

May I wish you a good day?

May I tell you of God?

May I say God is good?

May I tell you about his love?

May I hope you already know?

May I ask you to pray?

May I say prayers are conversations with God?

May I suggest you pray often?

May I say to listen as you pray?

May I tell you God’s words are true?

May I hope for his love to be found in you?

May I?

Gravity

23 Sep

I have this little devotional book I received as a gift maybe a decade ago. It suggests to have tea with the readings because each meditation has “tea” in the title. (Hospitali-tea, Heredi-tea, etc…)

“Gravi-tea” is one of the meditations. It begins with a definition of gravity and I paraphrase: “The force that tends to draw all bodies in the earth’s sphere toward earth’s center.” The meditation goes on to discuss a little about astronauts, space travel and God’s gift of gravity.

I was thinking about interpreting gravity a little differently. Yes, gravity is an earth force or a “pull” and I want to think about the pull that draws us closer to God.

Sometimes we go for days without thinking of God and without acknowledging his power and presence in our lives—oops, maybe I speak for myself on those days when I think I am in charge and possibly too busy to pray.

Thankfully there is always something that pulls me back to God. It might be a little worry, a prayer request from someone, a thankful spirit after a great day, writing these messages, a gorgeous sunset…there is always something that connects me to my Lord. And whatever it is, it tugs like gravity.

That “pull” is in everyone. God ordained it. God wants to be in our lives and for us to feel the pull back to him–much like a prodigal who returns.

How blessed are those that recognize that great gravity in their lives!

Philippians 4:11–13 “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Curious!

21 Sep

“Curious, isn’t it how the normal can now seem so strangely, well…abnormal?”

“Curious, isn’t it how the things we long for so often seem to come up just a bit short of our hopes and expectations?”

Those first two lines were extracted from an email that went out to all faculty and students to explore a few rules for fall on campus. They grabbed my attention, not for the rules that followed in the email, but rather for the wisdom in the initial words. They made me think about other curiosities.

Curious that sometimes when it rains on a sunny day there is a rainbow and on other occasions, not.

Curious that sometimes when I am thinking about a person a phone call or text message will come in from THAT person.

Curious that sometimes when I think I am hungry I am really thirsty and hey, there are no calories in water!

Curious that when I peek into the Bible and only read a few lines there is still something to learn or ponder.

Curious that the other evening as I drove about four miles to get to a hardware store I saw 10 deer–one way!

Curious that as I write this I may have triggered a few of YOUR own thoughts!

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

That quote is from an anonymous source…hmm!

Who Am I?

19 Sep

My college students are currently studying perception and self concept and self esteem in my class. They are discussing the topics and they are writing papers about the various aspects. They are forced to view themselves and contemplate how others see them as well–at school, at work, at home and in other places.

The papers they write speak of confidence or lack of it. They write about how others may perceive them and how they perceive others. It is a complicated set of assignments that pushes them to think about how they feel about themselves and how they feel about what others may think. The rewards come as they complete the unit with positive comments from classmates in discussion that reinforce the brighter side of how they see themselves.

Identity is tricky. Who am I with family? Who am I with friends? Who am I in an intimate conversation with a close friend, spouse or loved one? Who am I at work? Who am I with God?

In younger years we may wrestle with the inconsistencies our identity may show depending on situations and the persons we are with. With age comes wisdom and with good fortune we find that our identity actually has many consistent behaviors. We are who we are! We are the image of God and the embodiment of his creation.

I will always be “me.”

That will bless God who made me.

Give and Take

16 Sep

I have a book by that title. It was written by Adam Grant. The book is all about who we are in the workforce and how we behave in life. According to Grant there are those who give and those who take. The last time I read the book was a few years ago when I was teaching public speaking and group communication to a classroom of parolees seeking betterment in life. We read the book together and deduced as an honest group that in life and at work we do a little of both. We give a little and take a little. We might sneak in a longer lunch or finish with a client earlier than expected on a given day and then on other occasions we stay late to meet a deadline or we skip lunch to help a coworker.

The Book of Job speaks that God gives and takes away. I do not believe it is in the same manner as our way of living –our way of giving and taking.

I see God as a giving God. Of course bad things do happen, but the Lord is ever present in all of our needs. When God “takes away” his way is simply different from our way. At work if I take home an extra red pen because I don’t have one, it is not the same as God’s “take away.” Mine echos dishonesty. When God seemingly takes something away it is in fulfillment of his divine plan. God may slip something away from our living to show us a better way. Or maybe God simply wishes we will trust the plan.

Adam Grant wrote the book because he wanted his readers to believe that givers get more fulfillment from their jobs, their relationships and their lives because generosity trumps selfishness.

God would have us be givers (and takers). In our relationship with God what are we to give and what are we to take?

Food for thought!

God’s Surprises

14 Sep

While lying in bed this morning I was listening to the local news by radio and the weather forecast came on speaking of rain and clouds and showers all day. A few minutes later I rose from bed and lifted the shades and the sun was shining like mid-July rather than mid-September.

That was much to my surprise! I was expecting a dull sky in view and droplets on my window. This changed my plans for the morning! After some necessary attention to the online class I have been teaching, I am going to go out and pull some weeds and transplant a shrub and mulch the area before the rain comes. That sunny surprise is in my favor today!

Isn’t that just like God–surprising us with the unexpected…

–a text from a friend

–a sale at the store

–an online product found where it was nowhere else to be found

–a delicious meal that was newly prepared with slightly low expectations

–a beautiful bird perched in a nearby tree looking at me

God’s surprises are filled with love–a powerful love we can barely comprehend.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36:7

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

How blessed we are with all the surprises God has in store! With eyes wide open in addition to the unexpected sunshine, I will seek other surprises that await today.

Comfort Zone

12 Sep

Do you have one? Of course you do! We all do. We all have a place or a series of places in life where we have a wall or we set up a wall and say, “That is a no no!”

–public speaking

–praying out loud

–talking to a stranger

–sharing one’s faith

–going to church

–joining a club/organization

–discussing sensitive topics

–____________________________

(you can fill in the blank)

Have you ever been pushed outside your comfort zone? I hope so! I hope no matter how challenging the experience was, you learned and grew from it.

 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

That is indeed a place outside many comfort zones!

Jesus asks his followers to share the message OFTEN!

Some choose a fellowship within a church setting. Some choose an intimate conversation with a good friend. Some offer to pray for others. Some model behavior that is becoming of Christ’s message.

It’s all good.

Even if those experiences are challenging for you, if you push through… the rewards will be great. God will be praised by your efforts and as my daily calendar recently said in bold print, “Every time you praise God, his heart leaps for joy!”

A Shalom Moment

9 Sep

This word with Hebrew roots is known to mean peace. It often is a greeting such as “Hello” or a closing remark such as “Goodbye.” In all the word uses it reflects respect, care and emotional warmth. It suggests a blessing. It suggests grace.

Roots of the word Shalom connect to the well known and understood Aaronic Blessing from the book of Numbers 6:24-26:

“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”

How beautiful it would be to have those words in my heart when I am in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, when I select the grocery check out line precisely when the “lane closed” sign goes up or when I have been cut off in traffic.

It is safe to say I do not feel a shalom moment in those settings.

But I SHOULD! I should bless the situation rather than curse it.

But…I fail each time.

I want to do better. I want to love. I want to forgive. I want to make and keep peace.

Next time, maybe I will shout “Shalom!”

Maybe…

Praise

7 Sep

P erfect way to speak to God with a

R esponsive heart that is

A lways ready and open. Praise is

I ntegral to daily living. A

S pecial way to love God

E veryday!

How? When?

5 Sep

Have you ever asked those questions? How? When?

Did you ask yourself? Did you ask someone else ? Did you ask God?

There are plenty of mysteries in life that we often cannot explain, so we beg the questions of HOW (did this happen?) and WHEN (might this be fixed?)

I saw a film the other night in a theater–a one night only viewing of a Christian film called THE WAY. The piece was the brainchild of Kathie Lee Gifford who wrote the script and wrote much of the music and most of the lyrics and she narrated the film and directed the film… a film about God and the power of faith and love.

In her pre-film explanation she spoke of the first musical composition being eleven minutes long featuring the message that our Lord is the God of HOW and WHEN. God knows how things happen and when they will get better. He knows how an event can change a life and when that change may occur. God knows all, but in his intimacy with us we are to understand that he not only knows all, but understands all and plans all when we may not even take notice.

1 John 3:20

For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

Psalm 139:4

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

The God of How and When…consider God’s power and give praise!

Be the Light

2 Sep

I have grandchildren who still express fear of the dark. I on the other hand have brand new room darkening shades in my bedroom to keep out the light from the streetlamps and from what sometimes seems like an early dawn.

But in general, I love the light!

The windows in my home have no heavy draperies so as to let in as much light as possible. My kitchen faces east and that means on a sunny day I have a bright kitchen in the morning.

Light can be energizing. Sunlight on the skin in moderation gives us a Vitamin D boost. Sun streaming into my dining room window in the late afternoon gives nutrition to my plants displayed there. And for me…a sunny day is so enjoyable compared to a rainy day.

But there is other “light” to consider.

John 8:12 tells us that Jesus is the light of the world.

“The light of Christ,” writes John Piper, “is the brightness of God shining on the retina of the human soul.” Life can be wonderful on earth, but not fully complete without Jesus. We are all created to crave the Creator, our Father, and only through a relationship with our Savior Jesus can the dark parts of our hearts brighten. “When I admit I am not enough, I’m freed to run and cling to the God who is.” Aimee Joseph

Also , scripture ask US to be the light of the world.

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Where shall we shine our brightest?

With the lonely?

At work?

With a friend?

Within our families?

Anywhere and anytime!

We can bear God’s mighty light to the world where darkness lingers, pain is present and doubt exists.

Be a lamp with a translucent shade so the light can be seen.

Be a 100 watt bulb in a basement so to brighten the space.

Be a sunny morning for someone emerging from a dark, dark night.

BE THE LIGHT!

Sunny Love

31 Aug

I was in a sunflower field over the weekend. The plants were tall and bold and brightly colored, sturdy and almost friendly. Each one looked like the other, but in many ways, each was its own beautiful bloom. I gathered several to bring home with me and they are beautifully displayed in a vase in my kitchen.

Do you know fun facts about the sunflower?

The genus name is Helianthus Annuus–in the Greek language those two words mean sun and flower.

They are heliotropic, meaning as the sun moves during the day the plant will actually turn and bend to face the light. At night they return to their original posture. This activity is mostly in the early growth phase.

Their maturation time is 80-90 days.

Some cultures believe the sunflower that grows so straight and tall is a symbol of courage.

Kansas claims the sunflower as their state flower.

Ukraine claims the sunflower as a national flower. In Ukraine it is a vital crop for its rich oil and the snack-worthy seeds. Moreover, there are many Ukrainian legends that speak the flower as a symbol of peace–a concern in today’s times!

I planted sunflowers many summers ago. Some of the seeds were sown and then dug up and eaten the next day by birds. I saw them pecking the soil and stealing my seeds!

Then as some of the tender plants actually began to rise out of the ground, deer came along and feasted. However, there must have been two elusive and brave seeds that survived the attacks and grew to be summer’s finest at nearly 6 feet tall.

All this to say, what a magnificent symbol of God’s love is the sunflower! Bright, bold, tall and brave in a world that often looks past God’s love and ignores every gesture God sends to remind us of his constant presence, guidance, affection and grace.

“We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

We are worthy of such a love! Believe it!

Thankfulness

29 Aug

 I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.

Philippians 1:3-4

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

1 Chronicles 16:34

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17

Take a deep breath today and be thankful.

Children’s Questions for God

26 Aug

I am referring to a book I picked up a while ago called MY LITTLE BOOK OF DEAR GOD LETTERS.

Here are some inquiries from kids. Let us learn from their innocent wisdom.

God, do you really see everything?

God, how did you get the sun to just hang up there?

God, if we plant the seeds will you do the rest?

God, when it rains are you sad?

God, if I am lost will you find me?

God, do you have problems?

God, do you get lonely?

And one more…not from the book, but from one of my grandsons—-

“If God made me, who made God?”

Ponder those thoughts today and find JOY!

Promises

24 Aug

P rotection

R enewal

O pportunity

M eaning

I nspiration

S afety

E xcellence

S ecurity

God’s promises are true!

Believe and be thankful.

Restoration

22 Aug

“For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 30:17

Powerful words! What does it mean when we pray for someone to get better and it is not fulfilled?

What gets derailed when we earnestly ask for something and it seems like we do not receive?

Did this scripture misrepresent the truth or is there a better way?

I once attended a women’s gathering for healing and the one take away I still recall from the day is that HEALING IS NOT CURING.

When we are “healed” it may not mean we are free of disease, made physically better or strengthened in body past our illness. It may mean that our spirit is healed.

The terminally ill learn acceptance.

The chronically achy learn to cope.

The sin sick learn to change their ways.

THOSE are acts of healing!

But our simple human minds confuse healing with curing and disappointment ensues.

What does it mean to be restored?

To be made whole?

Not on our time table nor in our plan, but in God’s unique and powerful ways we can find restoration.

If we only believe!

Go Mad

19 Aug

Hi There! The title may not be what you think!

MAD…

M.A.D.

Make A Difference!

Where is it, God, that I can make a difference today?

Shall I call a friend?

Shall I volunteer?

Shall I listen when I rather feel like talking?

Shall I pray when there seems to be a need?

Shall I just be still and know?

Sometimes the simplest gestures are MAD–making a difference.

I am challenging myself to Go Mad today!

How about you?

Check out Hebrews 10:24-25

Love the Lord

17 Aug

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” Matthew 22:37

Is that a tall order or a daily goal?

On some days I feel my whole being is immersed in loving the Lord, but truth be told…more frequently I am dodging that dedication as I run here and there thinking about myself more frequently than thinking of the Lord.

What does it mean to love with my whole heart soul and mind?

How much time will that take on a given day? Will it require extra thought and energy?

Does God feel neglected when I offer a “less than” kind of devotion on a given day?

I hope not! I believe God is pleased by what we can give each day.

I hope God feels blessed by me.

I feel blessed by God.

And for this moment I offer my Heart. Soul. Mind.

I believe God cherishes my offering.

How far is Heaven?

15 Aug

Some think Heaven and Hell are vastly apart from one another by many things:

–time

–space

–distance

–attitude

–beliefs

Some think Hell is here and now:

–what we face on earth day to day

–life complications

–evil events

–mean people

We learn from scripture of a dark place void of light and love and filled with torturing anguish when Hell is described. The word Hades is sometimes used and its meaning includes “the pit” and “a place for the dead.”

Some think Heaven is here and now:

–joyful moments

–blue skies

–beautiful natural surroundings

–gifts and happy surprises

Heaven is described as a place of bliss with many rooms available for those who believe.

” In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2

If God is preparing a place for my future, it must be something!

It must be amazing.

I don’t know exactly where Hell is nor do I know precisely where Heaven is, but I do believe the two take turns on earth. It’s a battle of good and evil. It’s a contest to see “who will win.”

I am rooting for Heaven.

Worth

12 Aug

What is it worth?

What are YOU worth?

The online dictionary offers this definition of the word: “The value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued.”

What is its value?

What is YOUR value?

Holley Gerth in her book WHAT’S TRUE ABOUT YOU says that our worth is beyond measure.

She goes on to tell of the woman whose laundry is yet unfolded, whose dinner is burned, whose floors need to be washed whose windows are smeared, whose children are screaming, whose bills are unpaid and, whose feelings tell her she is inadequate.

NOT!!!

It is NOT possible to be inadequate in God’s world.

“So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

What we accomplish does not determine our worth.

“Life is not about being productive,” says Gerth

She suggests that we be purposeful instead.

Today…what might be your purpose?

Today…what might be your value?

Today…what might be your worth?

Here’s a hint: priceless in God’s eyes.

God Cleanses

10 Aug

I woke this morning to a gentle summer rain falling all around.

The drops were nearly silent as they happily drenched my wilting garden plants. The plants were refreshed instantly. Oh yes, I could water the plants and I do! But God’s cleansing rains are so much more powerful than a spray from a garden hose. Everything God gives is so much more nourishing than anything I can do for myself.

I might know how to plant the plant, but God’s sun and rain provide the needed elements for growth.

I might make a meal, but God’s design has the nutrients go into my being for sustenance.

I might clean my home for safety and comfort, but God gave me the knowledge and physical ability to do so.

I might help a friend with a situation at hand, but God brought us together for the healing.

The rain that fell this morning was fresh, cleansing and pure.

It was healing to my dry garden.

God’s love is that way as well.

Fresh. Cleansing. Nourishing. Healing. Pure.

I thank God for the daily gifts given!

God as a Guide

8 Aug

I went hiking over the weekend. We were up and down the trails over rocky terrain, root laden soil, mud, sand and pebbles. There were puddles to jump or navigate, waterways to wade in or observe from afar and destinations to discover. Note: I am not a seasoned hiker. But we had seasoned hikers with us so that made the experiences seem more energetic and less tentative. In some ways, they became our guides. We did not get lost.

It is good to have guides in life. We can rely on the path they carve out and feel comforted that someone else is making some of the calls along the way. We will not get lost. And if we do lose our way, the guide is there for comfort and a fresh way out.

Biblically, we can see the value of a guide.

Psalm 32:8

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

Psalm 143:10

Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Proverbs 3:6

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Hiking reminded me of God. The beauty of his creation was all around. The sights and sounds of natural wonder were all around. Concentrating on my foot path as I stepped over the ground made me realize I needed to work to be sure footed in certain spaces. Isn’t that so about life?

Other people in my group may not have seen God on the hiking trails. They were busy keeping children on task and in the safety zone as we strolled and climbed and tripped along the paths.

I am glad God was in my presence as I hiked. I am rewarded to have noticed that God’s work is never done and when I must call upon a guide, I shall dial up God. Therefore, I will not be lost.


Listening

5 Aug

I am actually revisiting a post from many months ago because I am not sure listening is something many of us are good at. We hear the message, but are we listening?

I say to my grandchildren, “Be a good listener!”

I say to my college communication students, “We listen more than we speak on some days, so we must hone the skills of listening.”

I say to myself, “Are you listening or are you interrupting and missing the message?”

I say to the world, “Are you all listening to one another?”

As a listener do you take the time to tune in rather than tune out? Listening is a high energy activity. It requires many aspects of bodily involvement. We often fail to use all our power when listening because it is easy to grow impatient with the story or we may have disagreement with the speaker, or we feel tired or distracted for many reasons.

The image below is a construct from the Chinese language that brings us the word for listening. If you look closely, the Chinese interpretation of listening requires four components– ears, eyes, undivided attention and the heart. I first saw this image years ago in a communication textbook. It was captured in the chapter on listening.

It would seem that real listening requires much from us!

Ears, eyes, undivided attention, mind, body spirit and soul! That is demanding!

God would have us be good listeners.

Proverbs 18:13

13 He who answers before listening- that is his folly and his shame.

Proverbs 19:27

27 Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

James 1:22

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

I pray for listening to be a skill I work on daily rather than assume its effectiveness in me.

Memories

3 Aug

Today would have been my father-in-law’s birthday. He passed in February.

He was a great man.

G iving

R espected

E arnest

A vailable

T rusted

Oh, there are other words I could use, but those above fit the letters.

A man of great integrity and faith, he loved wholly, shared generously and quietly lived an honorable life. He provided for his family, cared for us, prayed for us and deeply loved us.

We felt the same for him–a man of wisdom, sensitivity and quiet strength.

God gives us people to have in our lives for many reasons: companionship, learning, advice, love, inspiration and such.

We often don’t see this great influence until it is no longer physically present.

I thank God for the father-in-law I had.

His presence in my life for 45 plus years reminds me that God granted me His presence in his presence.