IMPORTANT NOTICE

The only reliable way to see the blog post daily is to sign up to receive the link by email. On the right side of the page there is a link "Follow By Email". You only have to put your email there to receive it as it is posted. You email address does not show anywhere on the blog and is completely private.

Monday, January 20, 2020

STAYING IN MY LANE

My daughter and her family were here for a visit during the New Year's holiday.  We talked over New Year's Resolutions during our time together.  It has finally dawned on me Resolutions might be better phrased as Chances to Change.  After many a failed resolution, usually within the first two weeks, I have learned to look at myself with an appraising eye and decide upon areas which might benefit from change.  I can assure you there are plenty of those.  

I gave up a LONG time ago vowing to eat right (it happens, but not frequently), exercise daily (my sloth refuses to be thwarted from an occasional outing), learn a new language (since I have not mastered the one I currently claim as my primary mode of communication), or any of numerous deserving improvements which I will have a difficult time sticking with.  I refuse to set myself up for failure by drawing lines in the sand and vowing from this day forward I will change.  We are creatures of habit, and believe me, my habits are deeply ingrained after all these years.  It is more constructive to work toward change and accept the occasional slip.  We can then pick ourselves up, brush off, and start again.  Change is not instantaneous, but a process.

We decided while talking over the New Year, we would be better served by coming up with NOT JUST an area to seek improvement, but a plan for how we would achieve the desired improvement.  I am going to exercise every day (or every other day or  once a week--pick a number).  HOW am I going to ensure this will happen?  An accountability partner, a class, a group or even your fitbit can help you stay on track.  Someone or something which is reminding you of your commitment.

NOW THAT I HAVE SET YOU UP---one of my "goals" or "chances to change" is to stay in my own lane.  I am NOT happy with my propensity to ignore the board in my own eye and instead focus on the splinter in the fingers of others.  I need to learn to-

It seems to be much easier to critique my neighbor than to objectively examine my own heart.  This year---I am working on that.  Refusing to getting drawn in to giving unwanted and unsolicited advice and instead focusing on the lane in front of me.  There is a fine line between being helpful and compassionate and nosy and critical.  

So how am I going to do this?  I am telling you and all my friends, stop me if you hear me straying into the land of None of My Business.  You will know when I begin to cross the line and stray into your lane.  Stop me--remind me---stay in your lane.  

I am so thankful, we serve a God who is interested in our sanctification, knows it is a process, and never gives up on us.  The first step in the process of change is identifying the need and coming up with a plan.  With God's help all things are possible, even me staying in my own lane.

14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Hebrews 12:14

Monday, January 13, 2020

OUT OF THE BUBBLE.

While I might be absent from the blogging world, I am NOT absent from the real world!  My world is expanding--only not in the Cyber World, but in the Physical World.

The new ministry I have been blessed to be a part of, "The Well" is expanding the scope of those being served.  Instead of serving only those who are involved with children-single moms, foster families & adoptive families, the demography has grown to include others who might feel unseen.  Older women, empty nesters, the retired, the single, the lonely are slowly being reached one person at a time.


This past week we began a Bible Study-Small Community Group with some of those who are participating.  Somehow I was blessed to be chosen to lead-facilitate the group. (Probably because I am the only one older than all those participating)  After sitting through thousands of sermons, decades of small groups, and more teaching than I can recall, surely I had something to offer?

OH, I have a whole store house of head knowledge, but I was schooled from the first few minutes in how to be a Jesus Follower.  These ladies have their Christ Connection down pat--without my learned teaching, without lengthy theological discussions, and without volumes of books and commentaries~THEY KNOW CHRIST.  They know Him, they worship and praise Him, they communicate with Him and they love Him.  A deep abiding, knowing, trusting love filled with hope and thankfulness.  They freely speak up during prayer--affirming what they are hearing---they call out to Jesus---and they know Him in an intimate way.  These ladies are going to teach me far more than I could ever impart to them.  They know Jesus---He is in their hearts---and they have a bond I cannot even begin to describe to you.

OH, I am certain God will use me in their lives, I know we will grow together in community, but what is most exciting is what they have to teach me about a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.  We will go to The Well together and draw from its living water.  What a blessing leaving my bubble is going to be!

"Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident!
Don't be afraid or discouraged, for I , the Lord your God,
am with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

WHAT I LEARNED THIS CHRISTMAS


Christmas is over--or is it?  What can we take away from the celebration of Christmas?  After decades of Christmases is there anything new to be learned--anything different under the sun?

Why, yes, Virginia, there is!

This Christmas during the Candlelight Service celebrating the lighting of the Christ candle and the arrival of the long anticipated King, I did learn something.  Perhaps I knew it all along, but a timely reminder never hurts and even helps some of us.


A timely reminder of who Christ chose to reveal Himself to in the very beginning was shared during the candlelight service.  Recently, I heard a message of the lowly status of the shepherd in society during the years surrounding Christ's time here on this earth.  The low man on the totem pole would be a good description.  If you have ever watched the television series "Dirty Jobs", this would definitely make the broadcast.  Sheep are not smart animals, and often have a strong smell associated with the lanolin they produce.  This job involves lots of sitting, and waiting for the sheep to get into trouble so you can rescue them. They are herd animals and respond to herd activity.  If one runs off the cliff, the others will follow.  The shepherd has the job of keeping the dumb sheep alive and well.  When the shepherd goes to town, he is not greeted with excitement and respect.  No, it's more like--OH, they let you come in off the pasture?  The shepherd knew his place in the social pecking order---he was pretty near the bottom.  Yet, Jesus chose to reveal Himself to the shepherds and invite them to a "sip and see" of sorts.  The humble were the invited guests at that first showing off of the baby.


The Word then tells us of The Kings from afar who traveled long miles to see the New Baby King.  Learned Men, they had studied The Word of old and new of the circumstances of the birth of The King of the Jews.  Following The Star they marked the way to the place of His Birth, the Kings came with gifts to worship the New Born King.  These "Seekers" were the second group that Jesus revealed Himself to.  They were willing to study to know Him and then to travel to see Him.  The Seekers were blessed to see the New Born Baby King.

As we begin a New Year, may we all be humble seekers.  Seeking to know Him and knowing He can be found by the meek.  I pray we all are constantly aware of His presence in the year to come.

HAPPY & BLESSED
NEW YEAR,
FRIENDS!

9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
Psalm 25:9















Saturday, December 21, 2019

Friday, December 20, 2019

GUEST OF HONOR

This week is my birthday week.  I have spent the week celebrating!  It has occurred to me there is always the possibility I will not celebrate another birthday--SO CELEBRATE BIG!


What if the ghost of birthday future visited me tonight and woke me from a deep sleep.  He appeared wanting to show me what my future might hold.  It was, of course, once again my birthday (by then I must have been officially older than dirt).  It was a celebration to equal none of the others in the past~EVERYONE was involved!


Weeks of preparation had gone into the decorations. EVERY square inch of my home seemed to be covered with glitz and glamour.  Why there were even lights outside!  Lights so bright you might think the stars had fallen out of the sky to celebrate the day!


AND THEN, there were the presents.  Well thought out, and beautifully decorated presents.  HEAPS OF PRESENTS!


NOTHING, THOUGH, could compare to the birthday food.  A feast fit for a king or in this case queen!  Tables filled to the brim with every delicacy and favorite birthday food imaginable.  And the crowning glory, was that birthday cake.  Layer after layer of every flavor imaginable--beautifully decorated---waiting to be cut.


The guests were crammed into the room--so thick they could scarcely move.  Everyone seemed to be there.


The ghost from birthday future asked me did I notice anything missing from the party.  I looked very closely, but it seemed every detail was taken care of.  Surely this was the best--most perfect birthday party EVER!  And then the guests began to sing "Happy Birthday!"  As everyone scanned the room looking for the honoree, it soon became apparent I was not there.  As the hosts began questioning where I could be, they soon discovered they had failed to send me an invitation.  I was not invited to my own birthday party where everyone was celebrating me.  The guest of honor was MIA--an oversight in the busyness of all the preparations.  On the very day I was honored, I had not been included in the party.


Don't forget to invite Jesus this year when you celebrate His birth.  After all--


“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
 and they shall call his name Immanuel”
Matthew 1:23


Thursday, December 19, 2019

WISHING YOU A IMPERFECT CHRISTMAS!

NO, my name is NOT Ebenezer Scrooge!  I love Christmas!  One of my most cherished memories from my childhood was the Christmases before we lost my daddy.  He had a boat load of Christmas spirit.  I could give you all the details, but that is not the topic of today's missive.  


Why would I wish you an Imperfect Christmas?  The world seems to tell us we need to strive for perfection.  We all laugh at the Griswolds and their over the top observance of Christmas.  Too many lights, dinner gone wrong, annoying kin, obnoxious guests, Scrooge for a boss, and on and on.  Poor old Clark was bound and determined to have the perfect Christmas, in spite of all the obstacles.  He keeps getting knocked down, but he always bounced back to try again.  You have to love his "can do" spirit!


Every ad on television, why even every post on social media seems to tell us Christmas needs to be perfect.  Could I just tell you, based upon a lifetime of experience, perfection is in the eye of the beholder!  Perfection is NOT a certain look, or the illusive goal of the appearance of having it all together.  Perfection for me would be those I love near, a warm fire, my comfy clothes, good conversation, and a nice warm drink.  It has nothing to do with perfect presentation, over the top gourmet meals, or even receiving the gift of my dreams (can't ever think what that might be).  I have been in the presence of perfection while absolutely filthy --holding my breath looking at some majestic view.  I have seen perfection over a bowl of chili at the table with all the family gathered round.  I have seen perfection at the domino table with a good group of friends, laughing till water seemed to drip down my face.  I have felt perfection in a deep one on one conversation with a life long friend.  I have felt perfection as I watched the sun come up while walking the wonder dog in this wonderful neighborhood.  I have felt perfection as I watched the sun dip below the horizon at the top of the hill taking that late afternoon walk, while the neighborhood children rushed around enjoying the last moments of a beautiful day.  I have felt perfection while reading to a sweet 5 year old child at school, as they tucked under my arm.  I have felt perfection when sitting alone and remembering a lifetime of blessings and joy.  One certain rule I have learned--perfection has nothing to do with perfectly planned holidays, events, or happenings.  Perfection --is not so elusive---it is all around us in the simplest of things.


That first Christmas, let me assure you, there was no perfection.  Having a baby in a barn filled with dirt and smells is not anyone's idea of a perfect setting.  First time parents realizing their baby is on His way and you are far from home is not anyone's idea of perfect timing.  I can only imagine how exhausted Mary was after that 90 mile trip on the back of a donkey---HUGE with child.  She finally births that baby and all she wants is to rest.  Here come a group of shepherds---the bottom of the top career choices for the time---AND they were on the midnight shift.  NO REST though, for they all want to see the baby.  WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE??  All you ladies can certainly understand--right after birthing a baby--entertaining unknown strangers is NOT on the top of your to do list.  Bright stars with blinding lights and Angels singing in the sky do not lend to a restful night.  Top that off with a baby who probably wanted to eat every two hours and you have exhausted parents.  It was NOT perfection--in the eyes of the world.

Yet, it was truly perfect, even with the look of total imperfection--it was perfect.  God sent His son, the Star shown over Him to point the way, the Angels sang His lullaby and shepherds bowed down in awe and wonder.  It could not have been any more perfect in the midst of the worldly imperfection. 

So I am wishing you all a perfectly imperfect Christmas!  May you know the presence of God and all His glory in the simple things all around you!  God Bless Your Christmas--and may we all remember the truly perfect Gift we were all given that first Christmas!

And she gave birth to her firstborn son
 and wrapped him in swaddling cloths
 and laid him in a manger,
 because there was no place for them in the inn.

Luke 2:7


Monday, December 9, 2019

ROAD TRIP

It's that wonderful time of the year again, when we have two major holidays in a very brief period of time--this year less than a month.  Having traveled to Austin for Thanksgiving, I will be hitting the road again for a whirlwind tour of Texas come Christmas  It was wonderful to have everyone together for Thanksgiving, but Christmas sees us in three different cities hundreds of mile apart.  In case you have never had the joy of riding with me, let me just say I do a lot of talking to all the other drivers on the road.  Normally I am extremely patient, but for some reason the road brings out the Haggard Hattie in me.



One thing is for sure, road trips can be trying.  OH MY, but you have to love those Texas toll roads!  For the very cheap price of a few dollars, you can ride 80 MPH to your hearts content.  Unfortunately, many of the toll roads have very few pit stops along the way.  Always having a large glass of unsweetened tea by my side, this can lead to a serious need for a pit stop.  Thankfully, I have the horse to the barn mentality when it comes to stopping and can wait a long time before things begin to become critical.




Image if you will, everyone---in your family, and I mean down to the cousins so far removed you have lost count, are all headed to the same location for a huge family reunion and head count.  Top that off with the town to host you all is nothing more than Podunkville-hardly worthy of a dot on the map.  It is a race worthy of Daytona 500 headlines.  EVERYONE knows there are only so many motel rooms available and it's first come - first serve.



Unfortunately your transportation is a VW Beetle--KNOWN for its sewing machine horsepower and bumpy ride.   You don't stand a chance!  AND, GUESS WHAT, your wife is pregnant--AND I MEAN GREAT with child!  We ALL know no pregnant woman can pass up a rest stop!  Between the pressure of a baby pushing on her bladder and the Beetle hitting every bump in the road, things can be downright comical at times.


OF COURSE, you land in Podunkville dead last!  There is NOT one motel room to be found anywhere.  SO, the local owner of Joe's Bar & Grill, who has a side gig of a Petting Farm, takes pity on you and allows you to stay in the barn.  OH MY, the smells, the dirt, and animal poop would gag the strongest stomach.  What choice do you have!  You make the best of it, by placing your bedrolls on the little clean hay you can find and try to settle down for a good night's rest after your long journey.




WHY what else could you expect, but for the little wife to announce she is going to birth that baby --TODAY!  Things pick up steam and before you know it--that baby make his arrival in the midst of the muck and mire.  The baby---who is said to be special---is born in the midst of all the dirt and grime the world can throw your way.  Not only does his birth seem to be far from special, but almost a recipe for disaster.  And somehow-someway mother and baby survive and thrive.  Wonder of wonders--and exactly as some wise man wrote in his book-hundreds of years before.  Perfectly amazing---or ordained before the formation of the earth?  Ring the bells and shout for joy--a new baby has come into this broken world.  Could he possibly be the special one told of long ago


So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
 to Bethlehem the town of David,
 because he belonged to the house and line of David
Luke 2:4