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He Delights In You

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he takes delight in his way.” Psalm 37:23

“Cowards are cruel, but the brave love mercy and delight to save.” John Gay

Your peek into your sleeping child’s room and you are mesmerized by the sight of such innocence. You delight in your child.

An elderly man gently assists his wife on a twilight walk. He delights in his wife.

A beautiful rose is handled by the novice gardener drinking in the scent. The gardener delights in the rose.

A couple hold hands at a coffee shop drinking in the closeness and  good fortune of each other. They delight in their relationship.

You giggle at the antics of your rescue dog. You delight in such a simple love.

And our Father delights in us. More than we can comprehend. Sometimes we feel his delight while going about our day and gratitude wells up in us from head to toe. There’s nothing on Earth that compares. Sometimes a lovely surprise welcomes our day. Sometimes we believe that we are loved no matter what. A delightful gift from our Father. And sometimes we mess up royally. Our Father delights in pouring more grace on us.

And we delight in our Father.

We thank him every day.

We meditate on his word, creation and those he has given us.

We love others more easily because we delight in our Father’s creation.

We delight in the Lord and he gives us our heart’s desire. Our desires change into His.

We remember all the rescues he has done in our life leading to our salvation.

We become a little bit closer to being like his son. We delight in this transformation, though painful at times.

Musings

The Psalms are filled with praise, confidence, healing, promise and delight. Rich in feeling and wisdom. The Psalms help and teach us to delight in our Father should we be at a loss for words. The Psalms also help us to delight in ourselves—“We are fearfully and wonderfully made.” The Holy Spirit nudges our delight too. Trust this.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Our delight may not be as beautiful or inspiring as the Psalms. We may be childlike in expressing our delight in you, but maybe that’s the point. Thank you that when we’re sleeping, working, successful or mired in pain, you delight in us now and forever.

Amen.

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What if You Hadn’t Been Born?

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB

“The moment the focus of your life shifts from your badness to his goodness, the questions becomes not “What have I done?” but “What can He do?” John R. Claypool, Learning to Forgive Ourselves.

It’s a Wonderful Life is so popular because the main character, George Bailey, gets to see and experience life if he hadn’t been born. A privilege indeed! On the other hand, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, experiences his tattered, selfish life and all the missed opportunities of a bitter heart. Both were renewed to become better. Their station in life didn’t change. They did.

Our Father tells us in Ephesians 2:8-10 that he prepared in advance the good works we do. Wow! Powerful! Affirming! Validating! A gift! Purpose!

Until the daily grind, the grouchy boss, the critical parent, the bounced check, the troubled child penetrates our heart and joy is gone. Poof! Empty void. Condemning voice. Good works?

Yes. Because our Father helps us with these challenges. He teaches us. He loves us. He pours grace all over us. And somewhere along the way, we get it. We see the good works our Father gave us in advance. We feel blessed. We feel validated. We have purpose. We see how our Father knows best. Then we help another with love, generosity and compassion.

Musings

We are either George Baily or Ebenezer Scrooge. We are the shamed Prodigal Son or the Prodigal’s stay-at-home, resentful brother. Blinded. But our Father opens our eyes and hearts through the Holy Spirit. True, it may be a book, person or article that gets our attention, but it’s not a coincidence. Little signposts, gentle voice, encouraging nudge starts our good works.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for giving us good works in advance. We have purpose. We grow. We overcome. We love. Remind and show us what we are to do today with the gifts you have given us for your purpose.

Amen.

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I Do This–I Don’t Do That

I Do This–I Don’t Do That

“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3:21 NASB 1995

“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” Carl Gustav Jung

I am a mom. Do you know that I am by what I say or what I do? Does it match with what you see? Anyone can reproduce. But commitment? That’s a whole different animal. And it takes practice every day.

When I became a mom, I was a beginner. I did some things wrong (my son survived) and I did many things correctly. All was done in love. I did mom things like read to him, fed him, listened to him, hugged him. And sometimes I yelled at him, ignored him, said hurtful things. I don’t do that a lot less. Practice.

Are you like this?

You go to work. You don’t play hooky.

You are faithful to your spouse. You don’t flirt with others. Online or at the office.

You pay your bills. You don’t ignore your debts. You negotiate and communicate with your lender.

I’m not trying to be a sugary, do-gooder. Not by any means! Most all the things I do took practice, discipline, love, grace from others and God. Still do. I love the AA quote: “Progress. Not perfection.”

Here’s some others we may have done:

We got drunk. We didn’t care.

Spent big dollars. The item did not make us happy.

We gossiped. We did not feel good about it.

We are what we do. We are what we practice.

And oh so slowly and gently, our Father gives us another picture of who we are and what we do. And we stumble, practice and learn to do the things our Father wants us to do. “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” Romans 5:20 NLT

Thank heaven for grace!

Musings

“By their fruit, you will know them,” Jesus said. It was true then. It’s true now. From the leadership of our nation to our homes, communities and work, our fruit shouts the truth. The other saying my mom drilled into me is, “Actions speak louder than words.” Quite frankly, I’m tired of do-nothing words.

We are what we do. We are what we practice. More importantly when we overcome, others see it has been done by God, our Father. We want what our Father wants. So, we do (practice) what our Father wants. What our Father wants is always good.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for your son, the perfect example for us to follow. Thank you for grace so we can haltingly, timidly and hopefully practice his example. It was all done in love. Love is a verb. Be with us as we practice. Encourage our baby steps. Let others see it was done by you.

Amen.

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What Would I Be Doing If This Hadn’t happened?

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 ESV

“Faith is the only force that can hold you fast at all times.” Lailah Gifty Akita

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com

Your child has a bad report from school.

You received bad health news.

Your month has run out of money.

You had an explosive argument with your sweetie.

A letter from the IRS.

There’s a story about a woman who looked out the window and saw her pastor coming up the walkway. She knew it would be bad news about her husband who was serving in the army. She proceeded to put on the coffee and place cookies on the plate. She answered the door and pleasantly invited the pastor in and to have a privileged spot at her kitchen table.

“You know I have bad news,” he said.

“Yes, I know.”

“Then why are you making coffee and being so hospitable?” the Pastor asked.

“Because this is what I’d be doing today with a lovely visitor like you.”

There’s wisdom in this. When something blindsides us, rocks our world and knocks us for a loop, sometimes the ordinary tasks anchor us. They make room for a “still, small voice” to keep us sane. To help us adjust to the unexpected. To breathe. To say a quick prayer. To keep our dignity intact.

Do you go for a daily walk? Do it anyway.

Work out at the gym? Do it anyway.

Work in your garden? Do it anyway.

Go for coffee with a friend? Do it anyway.

The situation will still be there but you’ll be better prepared.

I’m not saying that this fixes the unexpected. It’s a way of calming and preparing the mind and heart for what’s next. And our Father is always with us and will let light in.

Musings

There will always be trials, struggles, disappointments in this life but there are comforting and instructive experiences too. May we remember what would we be doing when the unexpected times come. Let some sanity and light that comes from the regular, daily things. Keep your appointment with your routine and your Father. There’s something reassuring in this.

Prayer

Dear Father,

We overlook the power in keeping with the every day habits and experiences in our day. They so often are the very things that keep us anchored in the midst of the unexpected. We take them for granted. Please keep us anchored in you today.

Amen.

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Art in the  Broken

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”- Vance Havner

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of taking broken pottery and repairing it with gold and other metals. I just learned this! Searching the internet for images of this art was so rewarding, in fact, the broken and repaired items were more beautiful than the original. Do a search in your spare time. It’s marvelous!

And that’s us!

Thanks be to our Father.

My grandmother lost her leg because of a terrible disease. I was with her when the hammer came down and the doctor said, “Your leg must be removed or you will die from the infection.” She said she knew this was coming and with anxious acceptance, the leg was removed. She was in her mid-60’s. She did the exercises to build upper arm strength. She worked hard at her rehabilitation. She stumbled on her new prosthetic until she mastered it. And other disabled patients marveled at her determination. They were inspired. Did she notice? Not really, but she visited with them about their families, their stories and found something personally encouraging to say to each. I was the proud chauffeur to get Grams to her appointments. She had pure gold holding her together. She was even more beautiful!

I bet you are too.

Musings

We’re all broken and flawed, but our Father sees us as his masterpiece with a special project we are specifically made to do. We are the pottery. Our Father is the potter. In partnership, he is and we are “able to do more than we can ask or think,” things for his kingdom and our coworkers, families and even strangers. Broken people who know they’re broken are so approachable. Broken people who are repaired by their heavenly Father are irresistible!

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for the art in us and others. Help us to see it deeply with wonder and with an open heart. We are all broken. Your son was broken for us. The most beautiful of all.

Amen.

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Sifted Like Wheat

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32

“Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.” Serenity Prayer

Sometimes it’s not consequences, disciplines, punishments for our actions that rip through our heart and soul like a tornado. We can do everything to the best of our ability, our motives are right, prayers are sincere, support is in place, hope and faith are ours and everything still falls apart. Darkness overtakes us. Could it be the Father of All Lies, the Murderer from the Beginning, the Power of the Air who attacks with an unmerciful vengeance? With a mocking snarl and a shout, “Gotcha!”

Well, apparently Peter was sifted like wheat. He was so brave and protective of his Lord when he cut off the ear of a Roman soldier at Jesus’ arrest. Hours later, Peter sobbed in despair because of his denials of Jesus. He ran from those who recognized him after the rooster crowed. He was sifted like wheat.

I was sifted like wheat when my husband became terminally ill and died. I was sifted like wheat when my son was in trouble. My faith did seem to fail. It sputtered. It left me. It mocked me. I turned over and over in my bed at night. “Tears were my food,” as the Psalmist said. I did not, would not, could not take this sinful world as it is. Truth is, I still don’t. I’m still appalled by the world.

Three things:

  1. Satan asked to sift Peter like wheat. Satan needed permission to harass and torment Peter from the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings. This is true for me and true for you. It blows our world apart. All seems lost.
  • Jesus prays for us. When all seems gone, friends are ghosts, desperate and toxic behaviors are evident, Jesus prays for us.
  • When we have recovered, we are to strengthen our brothers. The world is a hostile place. Our enemy, even more so. But Jesus prays for us.

Musings

Only in hindsight do I see Jesus’ rescue. The pain was too great! Looking at Peter’s life and mission after his great trial, I see how he became such an integral part of the church, the rock, the foundation. His letters are life-saving, inspiring and instructive. He died a martyr’s death, willingly and humbly. So, when all we can do is hang on, remember Jesus prays for you. Someday you will comfort and encourage others, but until then, take comfort in Jesus’ personal, attentive prayers and they’re just for you.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you that you are with us always and you pray for us. You know that on our journey home there are times when words escape us, faith seems gone, friends are absent but your son prays for us. We know those prayers are always answered. We thank you for the Holy Spirit who prays with deep groanings for us. Help us to hang on. Help us to strengthen our brothers and sisters.

Amen.

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What’s Your Why?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

“Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.” – Washington Irving

Jesus’ purpose was to seek and save the lost. He made 12 rag-tag disciples fishers of men. He said to love one another. His why was so the world would know they were his disciples. He made this rag-tag disciple one too.

But first… I became a Christian because I was a hopeless mess! I wanted to be saved from damnation and from myself. I wanted to fix my life and enjoy a lovely life. No more drama, toxic people, destructive choices. Please, Jesus, take my life and fix it. My why was about me. Most people start there—me. I want that rest. Paul says we were immature, still on milk like newborns. I think we all start there. We’re new. We’re beginners and God’s grace covers helps us grow from there.

But then persecutions come. Doubts overcome us. We may question what our Father is doing. You know that rocky, weedy, dried up path? We get in his way and do it our way. It may seem like the right way, feel like the right way, but eventually it’s a big let-down.  We start becoming a victim of others, things, our own minds.

Our Father’s why is different than ours. Our Father so loves us he wants to transform us into being like his son. Like the wise parent that he is, he develops our character. He guides us. He disciplines us. The why, again, is that we love one another so that the world may know we are his disciples. Attraction not promotion.

Musings

God’s why is for us to love one another. My why must be tranformed into his why. Do we do this at work? Yes. Do we do this for family? Yes. Stranger? Yes. Perfectly? No. The disciples didn’t either. They had to learn too. No matter what our goals, hopes and dreams are, the purpose must be love. Love of the Father, ourselves and others so that the world will know we are our Father’s. It is the most difficult to do but reaps the greatest rewards here and in heaven. His why, his desire becomes our desire.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for your why. You love us beyond all that we could ask or think. We celebrate, especially this time of year, the love your son had for us including torture and death so that we may live. Help us, as we set goals, achieve, work and even dream that our why is in line with yours. Our desires become your desires now and eternally.

Amen.

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Choosing Your Absence

“But he withdrew himself in the deserts and prayed.” Luke 5:16 ERV

“Choose your absence so that your presence will have more impact.” — Emily P. Freeman

Sometimes I withdraw to breathe. Sometimes I withdraw to cry. Sometimes I withdraw to play! Sometimes I withdraw to meditate and pray. These are healthy and growth-enhancing times—not isolation. It’s a positive choice. I can tell because when I rejoin life, I participate in life more fully. I have more to give. I don’t compare myself with others. I have spiritual, emotional and physical energy. That’s presence.

Isolation is not life-enhancing. Isolation is not living fully. It’s a compulsion. The presence, when with others, is like Eeyore, the depressed donkey of Winnie-the-Pooh fame. It’s a thundercloud and blocks the sun. Our light goes out.

What are some of the things we need to withdraw from?

Obviously, an addiction. Toxic people. Social media. Take a break from the news. Most of all, that nagging, parental voice in your head that seems to always condemn. That’s not our Father.

When we withdraw and place our focus on our Father, word, prayer, creativity, even play, we are filled. There’s a quote I love: “Even prophets and saints need a distraction.”  In Ecclesiastes it says, “And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”

Do we strive too much, work too much? Do we forget to enjoy our family meal? A board game with the family? Many I know, and I’ve done the same, work harder at going on vacation than at their career! There’s nothing wrong, in fact it’s good, to withdraw and enjoy our families with fun! Play! Humor!

And then we have a presence that nourishes others and ourselves.

Musings

We all, even Jesus, need time alone to reflect, pray and play. We are not “human-doings!” Our world reaffirms that we must do more, be more, try harder, when we need to withdraw ourselves. Count our blessings one by one, as the song says. Meditate on all our Father has done and is doing in our lives. Enjoy to the maximum the gifts we have from our Father. Sometimes being happy with what we have is an excellent expression of gratefulness. I know when I give a gift and the receiver is tickled, that’s the best thanks ever!

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for all the gifts you give us. They’re too numerous to name!  There’s nature, your son, others in our lives, our careers, our homes and a time to play and laugh. Remind us we are children. Your children. Absence is a time to relish you and enjoy the gifts you’ve given us and restore our souls.

Amen.

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Get Back on the Horse that Threw You

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
    He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
    for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

“If you had a person in your life treating you the way you treat yourself, you would have gotten rid of them a long time ago…”
― Cheri Huber, There is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate

As you can see by my blog picture, I had a horse. Old Pete. He was a forgiving and very affectionate horse and did not cause my fall.  I fell off him once because I forgot to check the cinch on my saddle. Pete stopped knowing I was dropping to the ground. Pete was embarrassed for me so he got a little extra grain for his forgiveness. By the way, I always check my cinch after this humiliation!

Do you promise to stop a bad behavior, develop a new habit (exercise for me), read the Bible more, pray more, stop an addiction, love more, be accountable and on and on? And when you mess it up, you berate yourself, beat yourself into submission? It doesn’t work.

  1. Developing new habits and attitudes is never one-and-done. Willpower goes so far, in my case, not far at all. We start off with high hopes and determination, which is good, and then slip and give up. Acceptance that change is painful, arduous and a learning experience is so important to remember. Change is a learning experience with bumps in the journey. Little tots fall a lot when learning to walk. Adults do too.
  • Doing more than one goal is overwhelming and a set-up to fail. I’ve known people who, in good faith, quit drinking, smoking, overeating and spending at once! Whew! Then beat themselves with over-exercising, carrot sticks and eight glasses of water a day. This borders on abusive, at the very least, self-punishment. God holds our hand. We drag out our paddle! One thing at a time builds confidence in our faith and ourselves then we can attempt another.
  • Not having a trusted person for accountability. If we don’t share with a trusted person what we’re attempting to change, maybe we’re not ready. Maybe they’re not the right person. Fortunately, we have a Father we can confess this too and he starts the transformation.
  • If our Father has compassion for us, shouldn’t we? Self-compassion is a beautiful thing. When we are compassionate toward ourselves and what we’re attempting, it pours out onto others. Beautiful grace.

Musings

Remember the verse in Romans where Paul grapples with his humanity, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”  I’m sure we’ve all been there and will again. He struggled too! But the hope is our transformation in Christ. Paul later in his letter passionately gives thanks that we are delivered by Jesus. He is the way. Only way. Look at the miraculous transformation in Paul. Jesus can do that for us too.

Prayer

Dear Father,

We lay our burdens down. We rest in you and your promises. We thank you that the only way we are changed is in your merciful son. Help us to truly grasp the peace that comes with your eye on us and your hand in ours.

Amen.

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Are We Feeling Deprived?

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 3:20 NASB

“The real spiritual journey is work. You can make a naïve assertion that you trust in Jesus, but until it is tested a good, oh, 200 times, I doubt very much that it’s true.” — Richard Rohr

I pass on dessert and I feel deprived.

I give up drinking and I feel deprived.

I budget my salary and I feel deprived.

I stay home to parent my child and I feel deprived of a career full of money, accolades, attention and notoriety.

I become a Christian and I feel deprived. Others think so too. Can’t do this and I can’t do that. Are you sure God will take care of you? Really? What about… fill in the blank. It comes and many times out of left field.

Am I deprived? Or just feeling like I am.

Deprivation lies are so easy to sink into. Deprivation lies grow into self-pity and/or self-centeredness, envy of some kind. It’s the battle in the mind and eventually the soul. I do feel deprived! It’s not true I’m deprived, but oh how it feels sometimes. We forget the so-called deprivations we choose are made to obtain something much greater like a healthier body, a child growing up loved and secure, and to become more like Christ now and eternally.

Musings

Most of the habits I picked up were awful in the beginning:  the first cigarette, sip of beer, shady boyfriend/girlfriend. And so we “learn” to like, stuff the pain with it, be seduced by what is obviously harmful and feel deprived when we give it up. And we give it up over and over and over.

Now some experiences were and are deprivations: absence of a loving home, job closure, divorce, hunger, death of a parent/spouse/child. These need to be recognized, affirmed, prayed over and shared with a reliable person such as a pastor, counselor or trusted friend. Healing. But trouble comes when we use food, booze, drugs, people to fix the pain. Like trying to clean a stain and watching the stain get bigger and bigger because we’ve now got two problems: Our pain and an addiction. Only One can clean the stain completely. The bad feelings don’t disappear overnight, but it happens.

Prayer

Dear Father,

You never promised an easy journey, but you did promise to never leave us. When we are feeling low, deprived, frightened, struggling with a problem, remind us of all the times you worked in our lives in the past, especially what your son did for us. Remind us of your promises for the future and help us to live fully today.

Amen.

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Cancel Culture?

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. Galatians 3:28 ESV

“Welcome the huge, sticky, strong problems. In them there are the most powerful opportunities.” Unknown

We can’t get through the day without some mention of cancel culture. This person tweeted this, this person offended me, my rights are being taken, up to and including violence.

Do we cancel ourselves? Statements like, “I could never do that, I’m not smart enough, my past is so horrible, I’m too old/young I’m not a good person (none of us is).” Fill in the blank. We all cancel ourselves. Then blame, resentment, envy, isolation come in to destroy.

 My mind screams STOP!

Then I search the Bible. Let’s see… there was the Samaritan woman by the well who had five husbands. Then there was the Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant and Jesus was amazed at this man’s faith. There were nine lepers Jesus healed, but only one returned and dropped to Jesus’ feet in thanks. He was a Samaritan. The 12 Jesus picked to disciple, from a tax collector to a political zealot and surely, they had animosity toward each other. There must have been some very intense and interesting dinner time discussions!

Jesus included everyone. He still does. That means you too. The hard part is knowing the right things to say and do to include others. The verse, “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” presses on my heart. I’m sure you have had experiences where you did the right thing and much later, maybe years later, it turned out to be a wonderful thing. I enjoy the people at my local grocery and always visit with them, ask how they are, trade jokes and sometimes our challenges. One of the clerks moved, married and has a lovely home, children and career and we marvel at our relationship that came out of something unexpected and ordinary.

Musings

The reality is we don’t work, worship, live with what society and the media portray. My circle is struggling, everyday people, like me. Jesus’ circle was struggling everyday people too. He overcame evil with good in his earthly life and does so now. No cancel culture. Such simple efforts at relationships with our Father, ourselves and our communities makes life so much better. And hopeful. And rewarding.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for including us in everything! Some things are secrets that we will know someday and many things are available right now. Help us to not berate, demean, exclude or cancel ourselves and others. Remind us you are here every moment to encourage, set straight, include and most of all, love us. You make everything beautiful in its time.

Amen.

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Vulnerability is Hard

But necessary

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 NASB

“To love at all is to be vulnerable, love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” C.S. Lewis – Four Loves

I love authentic people, not only are they easy and fun to be with, but they give me courage to live authentically. They’re warm, inviting, graceful, joy filled.  They are not perfectionists. I leave their presence feeling just a bit better. Enlarged. May we be courageous enough to do the same.

And you will get hurt. You will be stunned. You will have a broken heart. You will be betrayed. You will be criticized and sometimes cruelly by spineless creatures on the Internet. Sometimes our own family. Yet, love we must, authentically, or it’s not love. It’s probably some people-pleasing, approval-seeking, manipulative, codependent behavior. It’s making someone else responsible for my well-being, my sense of self, validation. If that person disapproves, then I crumble. Thank God!  Work to do. There’s only one Person who can give us perfect love. And he waits for an invitation. He does not cross boundaries, threaten or intimidate. He does it perfectly. Where is our treasure? Where is our self-image? What is our idea of success?  

People die. Pets die. Plants die.  I read somewhere that the greater the love the greater the grief. Grief is the final act of loving someone. But it’s authentic, painful, agonizing, but part of who we are. What an empty life without authenticity. Love. The good and the bad. Joyful and despairing.

Musings

The most authentic, unassuming, validating Person I know is Jesus. From rabble-rousing fishermen, tax collectors, prostitutes to me, what an authentic person! He had no advantages. He grieved. He wept. No status. No sports cars. No designer clothes. No media platform. No agent. Yet, people were drawn to him. Changed with him. Loved with him. Died for him. He experienced everything and more.

Prayer

Father,

Thank you that you have made us unique individuals with stewardship over the talents you’ve given. Help us to live authentically for that is the only way we can truly live and love. Love hurts sometimes. Your beloved son knows this. “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Thank you for joy and a life with all the colors.

Amen.

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Who or What Defines You?

“As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point.” 1 Corinthians 4:3 NLT

 “Don’t judge me by my past I don’t live there anymore.” Anonymous

It feels so good when someone approves of me. It hurts when they don’t.

It feels so good when I receive recognition for something I’ve accomplished. It’s so discouraging when I don’t.

It feels so good to be taken care of. It’s scary when I alone must be responsible.

Do my parents define me? I think, to some extent, this is the one that traps me. False images and experiences as children that are so deeply embedded.

Does my boss?

My friends?

My enemies?

My church?

Boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse?

You?

Drinking/using?

Things?

Having people we love and who love us is important. Our Father know this and blesses it. People make this journey so much better with encouragement, support, love and wisdom. However…

I am not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s a good thing too, though it doesn’t feel that way. In fact, rejection is a brutal teacher, but teach he does.

Who defines us? Some self-improvement books say we do. God says we have a new nature and we do, but it’s a gift.  In my new family, my behavior or performance is moot. Transformation takes hold, which our heavenly Father does with joy, but we must be open to it. Many times we get a glimmer, a token of the beautiful inside us and we trust our Father’s definition of who we are. Real confidence.

Musings

We are chosen and loved by our Father. This takes a lifetime of grasping. If we could take into our heart just how loved by our Father we are, what would we say and do? The Prodigal is such a beautiful example. Joseph knew God meant the harm his brothers inflicted on him was for good. It took years! Our Father doesn’t change our personality. He enhances it and uses it for his good pleasure. That’s always good.  Always surprising. Our Father defines us. He delights in us. It’s his approval we seek. His definition. That’s just the kind of children we are. Be you. All the others are taken.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you that we are wonderfully and fearfully made. May we be open to all the unique talents, wisdom and love that are in us and cheerfully share with those in our lives, especially how much you love us.

Amen.

Boredom or Threshold?

Boredom or Threshold?

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

“Life is never boring, but some people choose to be bored.” ~ Wayne Dyer

Boredom is a great enemy of black sheep types. I don’t need to explain. Just a fact.

Overcome a relationship problem? Check. Done. Overcome a bad habit? Yes. Some celebration. Handling boundaries with a mother-in-law? Done. Finish a demanding work week? With bells on. Got the kidlet’s math grade up? With celebration. Ran a marathon? Finished fourth. Puppy is potty-trained. Whew!

Then the letdown. Boredom. Daily, sometimes annoying, never-ending tasks. Life. Most of life. No major problems. No self-scrutiny. Health is good. Food on the table. Everyone is healthy and caring. Bills are paid. Regular stuff we take for granted. What a blessing! Or is it?

When I read the New Testament, I read the wonderful, impactful, hopeful stories of drama, insight and healing. There was also boredom, hissy fits and dailiness. Most of life then, too. Dirty, dusty roads before the next village. It took days to get from place to place. Preparation of meals. Washing dirty feet. Four days travel until Lazarus’ resurrection. Sitting by the well in the hot noon-day sun before asking a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. Three days before Jesus’ resurrection.

Could these empty, boring times be the threshold of something new? It may not be dramatic. It could be peace and the joy not of this world that Jesus promised. A little taste of heaven. It could be a time of rest. It could be a time for praise and thanks. One thing for sure, something new and marvelous held in a spirit of love and curiosity is the attitude to have. Something specifically designed by our Father just for you!

Musings

Most of life is the daily, repetitive and, let’s face it, boring tasks. The Bible and Jesus’ ministry used the daily lessons of salt, light, bread, water, planting and harvesting to demonstrate power and a wonderful spiritual life. Grateful! No tragedies. No dramas. A threshold of rest, thanks and curiosity. Openness.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Thank you for our daily bread. Thank you for what we call boredom that may be a threshold to a newness in us and others. When feeling bored and restless, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from Evil. May we be curious and expectant with openness and gratefulness.

Amen.

What do You Really Want?

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“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1 ESV

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV

“You can never get enough of what you don’t really want.” Rick Hansen, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

Do you know that we give to others what we secretly want? This is unconscious and may have been born in childhood.

Do you give compliments to others and yet feel invisible?

Do you counsel others and yet are stymied by your own problems?

Do you give money yet feel poor in spirit?

Do you go the extra mile and find yourself alone for the next?

Do you companion a lonely person, perhaps your spouse, yet your soul is aching?

Do you remember desiring another and they, for lack of a better word, dumped you?

Do you fill another’s cup and painfully aware of the emptiness inside yours?

Oh the challenges of being human. More frustrating, confounding feelings! On one hand, our Father designed us with the desire to belong, to be loved, to be creative, to achieve. On the other hand, these valid feelings leave us dumbstruck and confused. Sometimes we feel we need to earn our way to your love and forget you love us first so we can desire  and become your perfect will for us.

We have a Father who cares more about our character than we do. We have a Father that loves us more than we can comprehend. He wants us to love like he does, so class is in session. He brings things to our awareness so we can study and converse with him about our struggle. Then we wait. Then we grow into “becoming more like him.” Sometimes we have Aha! Moments. Sometimes we feel so divinely loved we can’t describe it. But first… The lesson. Then the revelation.  Then his desire becomes our heart’s desire.

Musings

What do we really want? We desire many things and some of them are necessary and even rich—more than we can ask or think. And in our human hindsight, we see our Father was right all along. He knew more than we ever could what we really want. In the meantime, we remain open, patient and fully present.

Prayer

Dear Father,

It’s so easy to fall into desires and wants that paralyze, derail and separate. Thank you that you take us by the hand and gently lead us into your will for us. Eventually, we see your will is precisely what we desire too.

Amen.

Sarcastic Words or Helpful Words?

 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” Ephesians 4:29-30 NIV

“Sarcasm is a good way to communicate directly with someone.  It is the most direct way to confuse and offend someone.” Unknown

Sarcasm: the use of irony to mock or convey contempt. To tear flesh.

Sarcasm is celebrated. Comedians use it. Sitcoms use it. And social media? Give me strength!

 Do we use it?

There are articles and quotes glorifying the sarcastic person as witty (not the same by any stretch), intelligent and creative. This may be true, but in my debate class years ago, I was deducted points if any sarcasm was used in my presentation. Witty doesn’t hurt, shame or denigrate another. Sarcasm does.

Examples:

“Way to go, genius!” After someone has tripped.

“I’m not angry. I’m sarcastic. That’s what you deserve.”

Sarcastic comments after one is attempting a new experience or a difficult situation is not helpful at all. Put downs. Always at another’s expense. It may feel good in the moment, but…

There are so many sarcastic comments thrown about and when it happens to little children who have no defense, it’s life-damaging. They carry that shame and doubt into adulthood.

But our Father is different. First, he’s pure, peaceable, full of mercy and good fruits. This heals and we are to do the same. More good news.

Musings

Sarcasm is hostile, veiled as funny, passive-aggressive, envious and always at the other’s expense. It’s never helpful for the receiver or the sarcastic.

We Christians work on not swearing, not lying and not gossiping. Good! May we focus on what a situation demands. Reassurance? Hug? May I help you? That happened to me, may I share this with you? We may be sarcastic towards ourselves too, that judgmental critic in our heads needs an eviction notice now! That’s not our Father.

Prayer

Dear Father,

Sticks and stones will never hurt me or another is not true! If we are to say edifying, encouraging words that lift another, the opposite must be true. Help us to only say helpful words to others and to ourselves. Help us to guard the tongue “that starts a raging fire.” We want to have the right words for the person and situation like your Son did and does. The tongue is the hardest to tame and yet your word says that one who can control his tongue can control a city. Thank you for the grace we need as we learn new ways of communicating. Thank you we can say a silent prayer and receive help

Amen.