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Tuesday, November 5, 2019

THINGS DON'T MATTER--PEOPLE DO

When you ask me the question, "What brand is that?" or "Who is the manufacturer?" or "Where did you purchase that?".  Most of the time, I do not have a clue.  I rarely have a swoosh, a horse, a name, or an emblem on me.  I am not a shopper, do not keep up with trends, and my fashion sense is stuck in the comfort mode.  Quite frankly, I personally do not think it matters a bit.  


What I am curious about is how these trends of what is cool begin.  Who decides we all must wear North Face, even if we never step a foot on a trail, camp in the wild, or for that matter even watch a documentary on the great outdoors?  And then there are the athletic brands, most of us only dream of being true athletes (some I know have a great disdain for anything involving sweat), BUT have a closet full of swooshes, cats, and all the other emblems seen above.  Could I tell you I have worn the same brand of shoes for almost 30 years.  Who cares what the latest hot brand is if these shoes work, I am not changing.  I have a friend who told me she no longer wears her tried and true brand because she didn't like the colors they now come in.  They could be butt ugly puce, I do not care as long as they treat my feet kindly.


Our society seems to put a huge value on brands, names, and emblems.  We are quick to point out our watch is a Rolex, our car is a BMW, and out clothing all created by some fashion guru who will smirk at this season's designs next season.  We are deeply entrenched in a consumer driven, status seeking, quest to be among those in the know and on the go.  The local thrift store is filled with yesterday's best which flew out the door when tomorrow's newest status symbol hit the shelves of the stores.  


Contrast that to my closet and drawers which have the tried and true clothing, I love to wear.  I LOVE my flannel shirts, worn softened jeans, exercise clothing I have worn for more than 20 years (it's just getting broken in), and that one good black dress which has now been a part of my wardrobe for more than 10 years.  The occasional new number invariably gets pushed to the back and the old favorites are worn over and over.  What I have on is just not that important to me as long as I am decent and above all comfortable.


NOW, if you ask me important questions such as such as what am I reading, great theological mysteries, is the climate changing, what do you think about the state of our country, or anything that is deeper than the latest fashion trend, I am all in for a good conversation.  Frankly I am more interested in what you think than what you have on, drive, or where you live.  People are more important, relationships need to be deepened, and I had rather sit and listen to your story any day of the week.  I do not notice what you have on, but I do notice your expressions and will know what you told me.  I am interested in all of you and would like nothing better than having a deep conversation.  Things don't matter--people do.  

SO--the next time you see me, call me, text me, or email me, heaven only knows what I will have on, BUT want to talk---I'M YOUR GIRL!!  Can't ever get enough!

Everything that belongs to the world~what the sinful self desires,
what people see and want,
and everything in this world that people are so proud of~
none of this comes from the Father,
it all comes from the world.
The world and everything in it that people desire is passing away,
but those who do the will of God live for ever.
I John 2:16-17


Monday, November 4, 2019

TWO SHORT QUESTIONS

I re-watched an old favorite movie recently. In case you have forgotten, let me once again remind you there are God lessons all around us---even in a secular movie.


NO--I am not going to delve into the subject of "Bucket Lists".  I will save that for another day.  The great thing about re-watching or re-reading is that the second time through, I many times find something profound that I missed the first time.  Once again this proved to be the case.

In one of the scenes Freeman says “You know, the ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When their souls got to the entrance to heaven, the guards asked two questions.  Their answers determined whether they were able to enter or not.  ‘Have you found joy in your life?’  ‘Has your life brought joy to others?’”   WHAM, it got me right between the eyes!


Most of us have experienced joy in our lives.  While life is not endlessly joyful, there are certainly wonderful moments of joy along the path.  The birth of a child or grandchild come to mind immediately when considering my moments of joy.  The glimpse of breath-taking and soul filling sights has filled me to the brim with joy.  Deep conversation and the company of good friends create a joyful heart in me.  The first glimpse of spring blooms, the change of colors in the fall leaves, and the shear beauty of a carpet of snow have all filled me with joy.  Those special moments of worship when the presence of God was palatable that have left me so joyful I was moved to tears.  Suffice it to say, my life has been filled with joy.

The deep and thought provoking question is "Has your life brought joy to others?"  Joy is defined as a feeling of great happiness and pleasure in the secular world.  The question therefore becomes have you brought pleasure and happiness to others?  Some of us have certainly brought happiness and pleasure to our children and grandchildren.   Unfortunately, the happiness and pleasure can often be short lived.  The question then becomes, "What have you done for me today?"  Doesn't the simple act of loving another bring happiness and pleasure?   We all want to be loved and for others to treat us with love brings us joy.  BUT--this is all fleeting, temporary because it is of this world.

It would seem the answer to both of these questions might be summarized by the temporary state of joy found in most earthly pleasures.  Here today, but gone tomorrow, we are then on a quest to find the next glimpse of joy.  Is there any eternal infinite joy?

Yes, joy is eternal and infinite to the Believer.  Joy is an essential part of the Believer's life.  We are told Believers are "commanded to rejoice and characterized by rejoicing." (Desiring God)  When we experience suffering and loss, our deep reservoir of joy is often that which sustains us.  Though we sometimes feel desolate and drained, completely devoid of joy, we can rest assured that God is committed to our joy in Him.  We will have moments of joy on this terrestrial ball, but our complete and eternal joy is only found in Jesus.  
"It is good news that joy is not optional in the Christian life, because the final weight falls not on our weak backs, but on the almighty shoulders of God himself."  Yes--we know joy--and because of this joy---we share the reason for our joy with others.  We have known joy and we have shared this joy with others, because it is too good to not share with those whom we love.

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you,
 and that your joy may be full.
John 15:11

Sunday, October 27, 2019

THERE WAS JESUS


IN THE WAITING, IN THE SEARCHING

EVERY MINUTE, EVERY MOMENT,

EVEN WHEN I COULDN'T SEE IT





BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

ALL ALONE

A short story some will identify with.  Be aware of the stranger in your midst~

I didn't really want to go, but I knew I should.  Even knowing I should make the effort, I immediately began to make excuses.  I did not have the right thing to wear--my closet-though stuffed-was filled with all the wrong things.  Of course, it would also require effort on getting ready to make an appearance.  I could not go without adequate preparation.  A little make up and some effort to make my hair half way decent were a must.  I kept thinking, this is so much trouble--it would be easier to stay at home--all alone.

Slowly I began to half way get it together, all the time knowing I would not look right, would stick out like a sore thumb, and others would stare.  It is always mortifying to walk into a strange place where you know no one and have the entire room turn and look.  Surely they all know I don't belong there, I am a stranger in their midst.  Surely they know my past, and my present--all disqualifies me from entering the room.  This is so hard---why am I doing this?  It would be easier to be all alone.

I finally manage to get myself in my car for the short trip.  The next obstacle will be parking and getting in the door.  Where is the right place to park, will I be the only person walking in alone?  Finally I make the trip, park the car (hopefully not in some one's permanent parking place,) and slowly walk toward the door.  There are people holding the door open and they greet me as I enter in the midst of a crowd.  Now to figure out which way to go.  Following the crowd usually works well, but what if the crowd is going to a different event?  What if I get lost?   It really is easier to be all alone.

Finally I enter the room where I am supposed to be.  It has dim lights and people scattered throughout the room.  What if I sit in the wrong spot?  What if I get some one's seat?  What was I thinking coming here?  I take a chance and plop down in a seat toward the back of the room.  Hoping to be inconspicuous, but longing for a kind word.  I sit on a row of seats, with only a few joining me.  Slowly the room fills, and the chatter starts.  The row I have chosen slowly fills and groups of friends and families are chattering away among themselves.  I sit and observe feeling absolutely all alone.

The lights dim and the music starts, perhaps when we are now focused toward the front, I will not feel so out of place.  Surely if all eyes are forward I am not sticking out all alone in my spot.  The introductions are brief and then we are told to greet one another.  BUT I KNOW NO ONE!  There is the polite "Good Morning" from those right by my side, but they quickly turn to those they are familiar with, so now everyone realizes I am all alone.

Finally we get back to the point of the meeting, and everyone is gazing toward the front.  This is the most comfortable I have been since I walked through the door.  Finally it is over, and I follow the crowds as they head for the exit.  Plans are being made all around for being together, as I try my best to just get out the door.  Bolting for my car, I slowly edge my way out of the parking lot and back to my home and the comfort within those walls.  I did the right thing, I went to be with those who are like me, but do not see me.  Often I suspect this is the loneliest time of the week for many--being surrounded by the good people with a common cause.  A sad reminder of being alone while in a crowd was all around as I headed for home.  Why make the effort, why try, when it really is easier and less painful to just be all alone.


16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
Psalms 25:16

Monday, October 21, 2019

IT'S EPIDEMIC

This past week I had lunch with an old friend I had not seen for some time.  I came away reminded of a wide spread epidemic in today's world~Loneliness.  We have evolved into a technologically driven world with every modern convenience at our fingertips~and perhaps we are more alone than ever. 


Loneliness has no boundaries--it afflicts both sexes, all economic classes, all ages,  all education levels, every nationality~in fact every social group you can come up with.  We have slowly evolved into an isolated society with phones in our hands, eyes cast down, continually scanning our screens for what we might need to know while the world moves around us.  We seem to have lost the ability to interact face to face except in brief forced spurts where we grasp for something to talk about.  Often we end up talking about what we have seen on social media in those desperate grasps for conversation.   A deep fog of isolation and the quiet stillness of separation fill our days and nights.


My friend spoke of the good advice to keep busy from well meaning friends.  Unfortunately busyness can be achieved in the midst of being alone.  There is only one cure for loneliness and it always involves others.  Somehow-someway we have to break through our shells, step away from our media devices, and seek the companionship of our fellow man.  



The blame certainly does not fall completely on those who are lonely.  Loneliness drives us to seek companionship and when all else fails we take any measures necessary to end our isolation-even staring at our devices.  The road which leads to companionship is a two way street.  We must seek others and be open to the approach of those who seek us out.

Well, My Friends, it is one thing to write about this and another to step up to the plate and do something about the lonely ones placed in our paths.  What do I intend to do?  What do you intend to do?  It's time to work to end this epidemic and live as God created us--in communion with one another.





Sunday, October 20, 2019

I WILL WAIT FOR YOU

ONE OF THE

HYMNS WE WERE

BLESSED TO SING

WITH THE GETTY'S




BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

THEM & THEY ARE JUST MORE OF US

I made a flying trip to South LA this past weekend.  NO--I did not go to the LSU ballgame--had a really great seat on the couch for that showdown.  I went to a concert by these two~





OH~what a glorious evening of worship!  Another day--another topic--my yearning for hymns of the faith.

The weekend included many hours of deep discussion of topics of eternal consequence.  My soul has been refreshed with a respite from my busyness and time for talk.  One of the topics we dove in to was the tendency we all have to live in our bubbles.  It would seem our lean toward polarization has reached an all time high.  The lines include many social layers--including the HOT topic --politics.  A couple of weeks ago, Ellen DeGeneres made this statement following her appearance at a football game sitting by George Bush~



The responses I have viewed seem to indicate that a large number of the masses agree with Ellen.  I know I do.  I am really weary of the attacks back and forth ~both sides are guilty~over political differences.  When will we learn it is really not a personal threat for someone to disagree with our political philosophies.  When will it finally be alright to civilly disagree and walk away without vilifying anyone who is not on board with our thoughts?

We all tend to focus on the differences we have--instead of the similarities. 
We ostracize and polarize for many reasons--race has long been one of those boundaries, but it is not the only boundary.  Social class, politics, religion, morals, education levels, and on and on~we tend to look for the differences and throw up boundaries because of our differences. We seek those who are like us and put fences up to keep out those who are different.  Why can we not focus on the similarities?  Love of family, need for relationships, desire to see the good in others, compassion, love of country, wonder over the beauty of nature, and on and on.  Why can't we all be like Ellen and George and come together to watch the game--even when we are rooting for opposing teams and enjoy the give and take of a friendly game?  Well it turns out we can--football stadiums are filled every week at all levels of the game with thousands upon thousands of lovers of the game.  Though we might be pulling for different teams, we all love the game and enjoy the experience of rooting for our team.  We will not change our passion for our home team, just because we sit by someone rooting for the other team.


It will take a pointed effort to break the seal on our bubbles.  The effort begins with one---us.  When we finally realize it is okay to step out of our comfort zone and recognize the very ones we think are so different are really very similar to us is the first step to be taken.  When we all step into the presence of Jesus, the crowd will be amazing--and it will be filled with a grand mixture of all nationalities, races, and political philosophies. God will allow all of us sinners into His presence because of the shed blood of His Son for us ALL.  Not the democrats, not the republicans, not the whites, not those of color, but each and every person who has called upon the name of Jesus.  No more they--no more them---just a whole lot of us.

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.
Proverbs 8:17







Monday, October 7, 2019

WHAT'S THE COST OF GRACE?

We all have been following this story.  This young man publicly forgave the woman who killed his brother.  

Many of us are willing to forgive~with stipulation.  If you admit your wrong to me and apologize, I will forgive you.  If you repay me what you stole from me, I will forgive you.  If you come home, Prodigal, and admit your wrong, I will throw a party for you.  If you fall into line with how I think this should look, we will once again be friends.  

There is no grace when forgiveness comes with stipulation.  Grace is a gift freely given and undeserved~no strings attached. My number one rule of gift giving is it is only a gift if it has no strings attached.  Once I have passed ownership to another, I also have conceded control or it is not a gift.  When we insist upon maintaining stipulations over any gift, it ceases to be a gift.

Of course the young man's actions of forgiving the woman has sparked controversy.  His gift of forgiveness was grace.  She certainly did not ask for his forgiveness nor deserve it.  Though he stated his desire for her to turn to Jesus, he did not say, I will not forgive you unless you make a profession of faith.  He simply said, "I forgive you."  That flies in the face of our need for justice.


The thing about grace is it is a free gift and undeserved.  We extend grace by deciding we have forgiven another who has wronged us and absorbing the cost.  When we decide to forgive, it is not always one and done.  Sometimes, we have to remind ourselves we have forgiven when anger or revenge rears its ugly head.  The winner when we forgive is not necessarily the one who has wronged us~we are always a winner when we release the hold of our need for justice.  Forgiveness may well come with a cost of never knowing justice has been served.  We may never see the consequences lived out.  We are extending grace when we forgive without expectation and bear the loss.  

What is the cost of grace?  Jesus paid with His life, so that we might live. Could we ever equal that cost?  Though grace is freely given, it can come with a huge cost to the one extending it.  May we all be willing to extend grace without thought of the cost.


“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Matthew 5:7

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Friday, October 4, 2019

WHO ME?


These people recently came for a visit to HOT North Louisiana.  In case you wondered, yes, it would appear one has the other in a head hold.  NEVER a dull moment!

While they were here, we watched a movie before bed each night.  We picked a real winner--although made a dozen years ago, it spoke volumes.  I looked at their mother and told her, "This will preach!" 


"Evan Almighty" appears to be a modern day "Noah" story.  God appears to Evan and begins to make ridiculous demands of him.  Build an ark, Evan---WHAT???  The movie builds on The Ark theme, but what I came away with is "Am I willing to say, God spoke to me?"  Am I willing to appear ridiculous to the world in obedience to God?  


Would I be willing to wear a sackcloth robe, carry a staff, grow my hair and beard(NO comments) and have it turn white overnight?  NOW it could turn white, but Mrs Clairol would have to fade away first.  If God were to call me and ask me to do what I knew everyone would think was ridiculous, would I be willing to do it?  AND FURTHERMORE, would I be willing to tell everyone God told me to?


I once heard of a Teacher who told a group he was teaching, "If God asks me to stand on the street corner of downtown Ruston and howl at the moon, I will do it."  This causes us all to pause and question how deeply are we committed to God.  Would you build an ark?  Would you chance the ridicule of man to be obedient to God?  Would you howl at the moon in the face of man's disapproval?  In today's world, some of the things He has called us to do in His Word, are going to cause question in The World.  When we are called to get into our pocketbook, give of our time and talents, and stand for truth, man is going to laugh and call you foolish.

Now, I seriously doubt God is going to ask us to build an ark. And though there is some howling going on around the fraternity houses at the university, so far He has not asked anyone to howl at the moon.  He HAS asked us to take up our cross and follow Him.  He has asked that we proclaim Him and not deny Him.  I would NEVER deny Him!  Denying can also be failure to acknowledge.  When the question of God/Jesus comes up, do you always stand and proclaim Who He is to you?  It's a great movie---thought provoking--watch it!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, 
let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  
For whoever wants to save their own life will lose it,
 but whoever loses their life for my sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

Thursday, October 3, 2019

THE THING ABOUT DIVORCE

Almost three weeks ago, I received a message with this blog in it

GO HERE


It hit me right between the eyes, and I immediately thought I need to write about this, for you see, I have lived this.  Time passed and life happened---I am busy as a bee with volunteering and family this fall.   For some reason (as if I didn't understand Who), this very blog has kept reappearing in my social media stream.  I have rolled it round and round.  I have made a full circle from where I originally intended to go.  The HS is teaching me some really important things about my fellow man.



As the blog states, divorce is the death of a marriage.  I would not wish it on anyone, but there are times when divorce is the best answer.  Mourning the loss of someone while they are still alive is an experience I hope none of you ever have to endure.  There is no ghost to haunt you, but instead the real thing is still living and breathing.   When I first began to think this over, I was reminded of the feelings I had in those early years after my marriage ended of the abandonment by the church.  The truth is, The Church just does not know quite what to do for us or with those of us who have experienced broken marriages.  The best they can come up with is to offer classes for those of us who feel broken.  Perhaps we are a reminder, this could happen to you.  I certainly never expected my marriage to end, and just as sure as I was blind-sided, so were all those in our circle of family and friends.  Maybe I am a reminder that there are no guarantees in life.  Who wants to be reminded your world might fall apart?



Though I grieved deeply, there was no funeral to attend, no visitation to express sorrow, and no flowers and cards sent and nary a casserole~not one!  During these few weeks of thinking this over, I have come to understand that though most did not know what to say and avoided the subject and me, there was a core group of friends and family who pulled tightly around me and helped me grieve.  They were as devastated as I was.  Even though originally I thought The Church had failed me, I have come to understand in these past few weeks, those who unfailingly stood by my side were The Church to me.  They loved me, grieved with me, listened to me, and even cried with me.  They were God's gift to me in those early years and I am so thankful for each and everyone who loved me well.  No, they didn't bring casseroles, but they did something even better--they sat and ate with me.

The truth still stands today--that as a divorcee, I sometimes feel as if I am treated differently.   WHAT should the church do with divorced members?  Love us.  Treat us like you treat everyone else.  Don't ostracize us.  One church I attended in Texas had a Sunday School class for divorcees.  THAT is NOT where I want to attend.  We all want you to treat us the same way you treat your married friends~the same way you did before our marriage ended.   The most wonderful small group I was ever a part of had members from all walks of life~married, widowed, divorced, and single.  It was a beautiful representation of the world and we all loved each other and were a wonderful example of the early church.  We came together with one purpose--worshiping and pursuing the One True God. 

After weeks of pondering, I have come to this conclusion~we don't know what to do with those who are different. Not all of us are divorced, thankfully, but most of us have something that makes us different.  Most of us suffer from or have family members who suffer from addictions, mental illness, terrible secrets, abuse, anger issues, cancer and other life altering illnesses and the list could go on and on.    Different--socially, economically, physically, emotionally~any kind of different.  We are tentative and apprehensive about approaching those who are not the same.  That wonderful book, Same Kind of Different as Me, does a great job of explaining not our differences, but how we are the same.  We all have a God shaped vacuum, we all want to be loved, and we were all created to be in relationships.   I am praying for the courage to step out of my box and explore the similarities and embrace the differences.  I am praying to love others as God loves me--




And now I give you a new commandment: love one another.
 As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34

Sunday, September 29, 2019

AMAZING


I STAND IN WONDER

YOUR GRACE STILL AMAZES ME

YOUR LOVE IS STILL A MYSTERY



BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Thursday, September 26, 2019

SCAR TISSUE

My sweet big brother has been way off in Cleveland this week having a heart procedure.  He suffers with A-Fib which causes an irregular and run away heart beat.  At other times his pulse is so slow, he is almost faint.  I suffer from lack of knowledge that my heart is even beating most of the time.  Unless the merciless trainer has me lifting heavy weights--especially over my head, I normally am not even aware I have a heart.  (NO COMMENTS ABOUT ME BEING HEARTLESS)


Big Brother has suffered with this for a number of years, but lately the medication has failed to get him back into rhythm.  The huge danger of A-Fib is stroke.  The irregular heart rhythm can cause you to form a clot which might travel to your brain.  This is nothing to fool around with, so he had a procedure done in an effort to get him back in rhythm and in good health.



The procedure is call cardiac ablation--here is what Mayo Clinic said about it~

Cardiac ablation is a procedure to scar or destroy tissue in your heart that's allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm. Diagnostic catheters are threaded through blood vessels to your heart where they are used to map your heart's electrical signals

The procedure took 6 1/2 hours.  A long wait for all of us from afar to hear how he was doing.  The good news is so far-so good.  It will take weeks to know if the procedure has corrected the problem, but we are all hopeful and praying this is the fix.  I need my brother around to keep me on my toes and humble.

As i waited for updates from my sister in law, I began to think over exactly how this procedure works.  The doctor basically burns healthy tissue which is sending incorrect electrical signals to fix the problem.  The doctor said Big Brother's heart tissue was so resilient (a good thing) that it took a lot of burning to create the desired scarring.  The scarring of the heart was necessary to destroy the tissue which was sending the wrong signals  to ensure the heart performs as it should.


Exactly like our lives.  We are studying the Holy Spirit in small group.  Last night we discussed how God uses fire to purify us from sin at times. The suffering and pain we endure in life can also cause scarring.  God allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions and many times this is very painful.  At times we must suffer the pain of the Refiner's fire to destroy that which comes between us and our Holy God.  But when the fire has cooled, and the wound is healed, all that remains is the scar to remind us of God's work to destroy the chaff in our lives.  What a beautiful picture of God's work of sanctification to those who He has called according to His purpose.

For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
 You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
 you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water;
 yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:10-12


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

THAT'S MINE!

The High Reverend gave an example using his children and their territory disputes this past Sunday  I would dare say MOST of us with multiple children have been eye witnesses to these skirmishes.  It was so bad in the family I grew up in that my parents drew lines marking the boundaries we were not to cross.  We quickly claimed foul over the slightest infringement.  If you even dared to breath on my territory, the yard boss was called.  Momma always came up with a solution, which usually meant everyone was in trouble.  She had zero tolerance for bickering and bickering was a constant!



We adults may be a little more civilized about our territory disputes (in most cases), but we are still out to claim what we feel is "Mine".  I would dare to say-let me have it if I am wrong- the thing we are most territorial over is our time.  Perhaps it is a control thing, but we all want to spend our time doing what we like to do and heaven help you if you interfere with our plans.  I recently had a fresh reminder of this while recruiting volunteers to read once a week for 30 minutes to kindergarten students.  NOW-before you shoot me, I understand we all have different talents and applaud you using the talents you were given in service that fits them.  I am not bemoaning you not volunteering to read--I have a great group of readers.  I am gently (or perhaps overtly) asking~ do you have areas where you are serving?



During Sunday's message, we were reminded all we have it NOT ours.  EVERYTHING is a gift--a blessing--from God Himself.  Our pastor told us he reminded his children, when territory disputes arose, that everything they had came from someone else and was truly NOT theirs but a gift.  We seem to forget that as adults and lay claim to our time, talents, and possessions as something we earned.  Even when we "earn" the money by working to buy our possessions or fill our bank accounts, we conveniently forget WHO gave us the intelligence, talents, and capacity to earn that money.  



This brings us back to our time.  It is a gift and the number of minutes has been pre-ordained from the foundation of the earth.  God knows exactly how many minutes we each have and He has a perfect plan for how we are to spend that gift.  We can hold tight to our minute bank or willingly give those minutes in service.  As with all resources there is a rule of accountability---a graph of how we spent those resources.  How does your pie chart look?  Where is the majority of your time spent?  Are you tithing your time?  Where are your priorities?

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise
Ephesians 5:15

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

THE ONLY THING THAT IS CHANGING

Lately I have a re-occurring theme in my thought process--working on my heart.  My heart can definitely use some work.





All students of physical fitness know the key to being physically fit begins with our cardio health.  We need to stretch the limits of our heart to improve the muscle which pushes life giving blood throughout our body.  This requires periods of cardio training where we increase the beating of our hearts to the maximum point of peak performance for intervals of time.  There is NO magic bullet to cardio health, it comes with plenty of work and planned exercise.  There is a direct correlation between our effort and the health of our hearts.


I must confess though I walk and work out consistently, I do not do a good job of aerobic conditioning.  I prefer to stay in my comfort zone than to push the limits.  So while I am doing something, I am not doing enough to maintain maximum conditioning.

There is a direct correlation between our physical heart health and our spiritual heart health.  By exercising daily in God through a disciplined life of seeking Him, we are increasing our spiritual heart health.  Spiritual disciplines or habits are the key to developing a healthy spiritual heart~

Prayer, silence and solitude
Listening to God-journaling
Worship
Bible reading & study
Obedience
Loving God & our neighbors
Trusting God's guidance
Fasting (not just from food but other earthly habits)
Serving Others
Fellowship with other believers
(Credit Christian Post.Com)

All of these practices are heart changing and heart growing.    They serve to increase the health of our spiritual hearts.

Recently when discussing tensions between friends, I reminded a friend the only thing we can change about the situation is our heart. We have no control over another's actions or reactions, but do have control over our heart.  Our heart can be healthy, vibrant, and strong, but it cannot obtain this condition without practicing the spiritual disciplines and habits as seen in The Word.  When faced with the trials and tribulations of the world, how we handle them will be directly influenced by the time we spend spiritually conditioning our hearts.  Here's to healthy hearts and changed lives!

26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

Monday, September 23, 2019

SOCIAL MEDIA BLUES

I read a post this morning from a mother of a 10 year old who was addicted to his cell phone and all the wonders it entails.  OF COURSE, this set off a boiling and churning of the gray matter!  NOW, before I launch into my missive, I am NOT a social scientist, I have NO credentials, and there has not even been a poll done (scientific or not).  These are ALL my thoughts, my opinions, and my take away's.  Hit the delete button or read on---I will never know which you chose and to be perfectly honest, I had rather not know.  Rejection is TOUGH!


Before you start slamming me, I admit to my addiction.  I have this blog, I have a facebook account, twitter and instangram accounts (although I seldom use them) and even have a Linkedin account~which of course are all on my phone and computer.  We have morphed into a digital world.

As all this rolled around, I wondered why we have chosen to communicate via cell, text, and emails instead of face to face.  Although there is certainly a huge convenience factor in these methods, there is sadly a lack of human contact and interaction.  I have often stated, you have no idea the inflection, tone, or volume of a voice on the written page.  The only time I am able to really judge (and truthfully not sure it's a fair call) is when someone sends all CAPS in a message.  I always interpret that as yelling.


What would cause us to text our friends~even in conversation?  It has helped to have a group text or email when I am trying to convey the same message to a number of people.  This CAN blow up in your face when the comments start flying back and forth which have nothing to do with you.  One friend is very adamant about not being included in these text streams.  Strangely she is also the friend who gets the most texts from varied senders.


ANYWAY, I did come up with a conclusion, AND before you jump on me--I AM GUILTY AS CHARGED!  We may have lost faith in our fellow man.  Face to face conversation is NOT always easy.  We all have dealt with verbal bullies, you can't get a word in edgewise and they continue to get louder until you feel like you are being yelled at.  NO THANK YOU!  Survived enough of that in my life to know I do NOT want to go there.  Although we all have a deep need for relationships and interaction, it is not always an easy row to hoe.  It is easier to text someone where you feel in control, than to sit and discuss a matter.  We CAN walk away from a text by merely turning the phone off.  Face to face discussions are not so easy.  One huge downside of social media is the loss of civility toward one another.  We can no longer calmly disagree and take it as a personal affront when someone happens to be on the opposite side of an issue.  Violent disagreement is encouraged and often applauded when we have the wall of the WWW between us.  It begs to wonder~has this contributed to the upswing in violence in our world?



SO, we have slowly morphed into a digital society.  Walk in any room and tell me what percentage of the people are on their phones.  Why even when traveling, instead of looking at beautiful scenery, we are staring at our screens.  While on our last trip, we had a few days in the wilderness with NO cell service.  I must admit, I enjoyed being unplugged.  The down side of cells is you are always accessible--any place, any time--24/7.  Am I the only one who turns their phone off at night?  I have enough problems sleeping without the phone dinging all hours!

SO have we all become addicted to our cell phones?  I have decided to begin taking one day a week free from looking at social media.  If I want human contact, I will have to seek someone out.  NOW, I will take calls -NOT FROM TELEMARKETERS and make calls--how else can I invite you over?  BUT Facebook, Instagram, Tweeter, and Linked in are off limits.  I will not even look at my email.  SURELY it can all wait one day!  AND---I plan to spend that time seeking more face to face time and deepening relationships, enjoying the beauty of God's creation, and who knows maybe even inviting you over for dinner.  Are you up to the challenge--can you unplug one day a week?  Think it over!!

Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
I Peter 2:17

Sunday, September 22, 2019

ONLY HOPE


So I lay my head back down
And I lift my hands and pray
To be only yours I pray
To be only yours I know now you're my only hope




BLESSED SABBATH,
DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, September 21, 2019

SEASONS

My sweet niece sent me this song last week when I wrote about seasons-





Thursday, September 19, 2019

TRANSPARENCY

It never ceases to amaze me how I can read one sentence, one word, see one sight, or hear one thought and my mind is off racing.  I am reading another historical fiction --based upon real events. The author embellishes fact with a free hand of dialogue and interpretations.  Without revealing what I am reading, here is the quote that began the wheels turning~

"If transparency is a sign of true love"

There was more to the sentence, but this one phrase caught my eye and challenged my ideas.


One must begin the process by deciding exactly what is transparency.  We need to go back to the root word- transparent and explore.   Mr. Webster tells us this~

Definition of transparent

1a(1)having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that bodies lying beyond are seen clearly PELLUCID
(2)allowing the passage of a specified form of radiation (such as X-rays or ultraviolet light)
bfine or sheer enough to be seen through DIAPHANOUS
2afree from pretense or deceit FRANK
beasily detected or seen through OBVIOUS
creadily understood
dcharacterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices

As you would expect I am writing today on the second definition.  I have certainly been very forth coming on this blog, but there is a part of me that I have not revealed.  For many reasons, there are deeply hidden secrets, I have not revealed to anyone.  I would dare to say most of us have secrets we are not ready to share.  Why?  Why would there be anything about ourselves that we would not share with anyone?  Fear drives us from sharing these deep secrets.

We fear we will not be liked, we might shock someone, the world will turn away and reject us, and on and on.  We have talked before about the power of secrets in our lives.  There is no denying the hold they can have over us.  The question becomes, if we love someone deeply enough--completely enough--are we transparent?  Do we reveal all?  Is there anyone who knows it all about you?  I can only answer for myself, but for me--No--there has never been anyone who has known it all.  My insecurities drive my lack of trust in revealing it all.  It has not gone well, in the past, when I have opened up Pandora's Box of secrets and revealed parts of the inner most me.  Past experience drives today's tightly held truths from being brought out in the open.  Man and his feet of clay create a deep distrust of our fellow man.  We don't trust him to keep our secrets, to not judge us when we reveal our secrets, and to not turn from us when he knows the truth about us.  Fear of being ostracized is a powerful force and can shape who we are and how we act, without us even realizing it.  We need relationships.

BUT GOD, we forget or ignore the fact that God knows it all.  NOTHING is hidden from Him.  AND YET, He still loves us, He is faithful to us, He not only does not reject us, but embraces us.  But God--we are transparent in His sight and He really understands us, and there is no deceit or pretense with Him---AND HE STILL LOVES US!  So thankful!

God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart.
Psalm 44:21