How About Those Bulbs!

Daily Proverb: 

If you are too lazy to plow in the right season, you will have no food at the harvest.

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Today’s proverb reminds me of my bulb story.  (true story)

I had high hopes for the bulbs I held in my hands.  As I went to the register to pay for my treasures I thought how pretty my yard would look with the new scattering of pinks, blues, and yellows.  Yes, I thought, my yard would be the envy of the neighborhood.  There would be tulips around the mailbox to greet Jenny our mail lady, as she delivers our mail.  I pictured her smiling as she put our letters into the box.  Three different kinds of daffodils would wave its yellow hues attracting the bees and butterflies, that would, no doubt, help pollinate my garden.  After paying, I put my newfound bulbs in a safe place in the back seat and headed home.  Once home, I put my treasured bulbs in the garage and didn’t think of them again until the next Spring when I saw the neighbors’ flowers blooming.

Ouch.

I had reaped what I had sown…nothing!

35471642_10217565794641700_928200088306581504_nOh…okay…sure I made a half-assed attempt to get something from the nothing I had done.  I took the forgotten bulbs and haphazardly planted them in one of my raised beds, and again…I reaped what I had sown…a haphazard, sickly mess.  After their weak attempts to bloom, I pulled them up and planted corn and cucumbers in their place.  So far they are looking good.

So…what’s the “moral of the story?”

If I had to choose it would go something like this:

Intentions are wonderful and quite inspirational, but if you fail to do the nitty-gritty part, then your dream will always be that…a dream. 

I stuttered horribly as a child.  Verbally expressing myself was extremely difficult.  Sometimes I wonder if that is why I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  I spent years living with the dream of becoming a writer, but the fear of failure kept it at bay.  I mistakenly thought that every single word I penned should be so “earth-shattering” as to move mountains.  Of course, I was not up to such a task, so I wrote little.

Then one day a wise person told me…

“If you want to be a writer, write!”

Simple?  Without doubt.  Profound?  Absolutely!

BUT…if we truly stop to ponder the greater truths of life, aren’t they all…simple?

I think about it now and I understand…beautiful words will never move mountains, only faith can accomplish that.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to be or to do?  Take the first step toward that dream today…don’t wait.

Most likely the beginning will be arduous and even mundane but persevere, you will reap what you sow.

***

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Nuggets of Wisdom

I thought it would be interesting to start a series from Solomon’s book of Proverbs.  What is a proverb?  Well according to the NLT Bible,  “A proverb is a short, concise sentence that conveys moral truth.”   To paraphrase, a proverb is a nugget of wisdom, and when used makes our life better.  Knowledge is good, but it benefits us little until it is applied.

***

Mad-Driver

 

Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.  Proverbs 17:14

There were five lanes of traffic to cross, so I patiently bid my time.  When the perfect moment arrived, I pulled out of Food Lions’s parking lot, turned left, and headed West, towards home.  I eased into the correct lane and was content on the journey; however, after only a few seconds of peace, I heard horns blowing and tires screeching.  I glanced in my rearview mirror to see what had caused such a ruckus.  It seemed the truck that had sat behind me in Food Lion’s parking lot, had recklessly pulled out in front of the oncoming traffic.  A number of vehicles came to a complete stop in order to avoid an accident.  The truck was now speeding, closing the distance between us.

“What in the world,”  I said, thinking there must be some sort of emergency for the man in the truck to so carelessly tempt harm.  He pulled up beside me on the passenger side.  I noticed his window was down, and he was leaning out trying to get my attention.

My first thought… “OMG…I’ve got a flat tire…”

So, I rolled my window down to hear what he was saying.  With his face contorted in anger, the man began tossing F-bombs in my direction.  My stomach dropped and I wondered what in the world I had done to upset this man, and then the “B-word” came out, and I realized I was being cussed out because of a certain political sticker on my bumper.

I couldn’t believe this person would risk his life and lives of others in order to “rip me a new” over my political views.

After the initial shock wore off, I did the only thing that came to mind…I laughed. That pissed him off even more and again he bathed me with “Bitches and F-bombs.”  After he had his say,  he floored it and swerved in front of me.  I slowed down to keep a safe distance between us.  The southern bell in me wanted to say, “Bless his heart…,” the Christian in me wanted to pray, and the rebel inside wanted to flip him off.

On that particular day, I was a rebel.

Not the wisest decision on my part…I know…

For the rest of the day, I played out the scenario in my mind and rehearsed cute little comebacks, I wished I would have said to “get back” at the obnoxious man.

Sometimes I wish I could be “quick-draw” with the witty comebacks!  Then, I wouldn’t have to bop myself on the head later and say, “Man…I WISH I would’ve said that!”

I believe it’s human nature to think and feel this way…but that doesn’t make it right.

Cute little comebacks do much to appease our pride but do little to accomplish peace.

Quite the opposite…it only opens the floodgate.  Once the dam has broken there’s little we can do to hold back a flood.  Most of the time, our best course of action is to drop the matter, or at least put it off until tempers have cooled and the subject can be discussed in a somewhat peaceable manner.

Two cannot quarrel when one will not.  –David C. Egner

***

Holy Spirit, please temper what I say and do.  I need your strength and intervention.  Amen.

***

Epilogue…after the incident above, I peeled the sticker from my bumper, not because I was ashamed of my political views, but because I thought it best to curtail future road rage.

 

 

 

 

 

But…I Really Want to Eat It

The Characteristics That Most People Eat Sugar, You One of Them

This morning I got up, stepped on the scale and said, “Why is this happening to me!”

I have been very diligent in exercising.  Most days I run/walk 5 miles a day.  My weekly goal is to do at least 25 miles per week.

Since I’ve been on this regime I’ve lost a tad over 20 pounds.  The weight seemed to drop fairly easy until now.  Now I’m stuck and have been for several weeks.

My weight remains at a certain number, give or take a pound, and it’s frustrating.  So, this is why I yelled at the scale this morning.

It didn’t respond…it just kept flashing that damn number at me.  I swear when I look at it I picture a Cheshire cat cloaked in its evil grin.  I think it’s possessed.

For my morning meditations, I’ve been following Our Daily Bread Devotional Journal.  Each day a passage of scripture is given followed by a short prose by that day’s author.  Sometimes I can relate to the author’s point of view, and other times, though I may agree, it just doesn’t seem to apply to my situation at the moment.  Usually, when this occurs I can at least find something within the passage of scripture that speaks to me.

Today was one of those days.

The author penned a story about a newly married couple who chose to forgo the usual reception, and instead, invited their guests to help them hand out a truckload of food to the needy.  As I read it I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty awesome!”   And then I thought, “How does this apply to me?”

Well, the answer was simple…in Galatians 5:13 we are called to “…serve one another in love.” (NLT) I do try to make this a part of my life.

However, as I read the scripture passage something else jumped off the page and landed smack between my eyes

What was it?

Well to answer…we need to go back to the subject of the evil entity, my scale.

It was NOT cooperating with me!  I bust my tail, faithfully, and still, the number stays the same.  I try telling myself, “Something’s wrong with it,” but in my mind, I know it speaks the truth.

Still, I wondered…why?  Why God…why can’t I get past that number?

And then…God answered…

“…I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit…then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every  part of your life.”

To paraphrase…

“You’ve been so disciplined in your physical exercise…now try applying that same discipline into controlling what, and how much you eat.  Rely on my Spirit…he’s always there to help you.”  

I have a problem with eating at night while watching tv.  I’m good during the day but find myself grazing at night.

So, I’ve decided to try it God’s way.   From this day forward, my goal is to eat nothing after dinner…unless it is something healthy like fruits or vegetables.  I will try to be disciplined to follow this, but I’m sure there’ll times when I’m tempted beyond belief to eat the cupcake.  And that’s when I’ll have to rely upon the Holy Spirit for help.  He can and will give me strength during my weakness.  However, I must ask for his help, and I must implement his help into my life.

***

Hopefully, the next time I post a photo of the evil entity below, it will be grinning back a new and lower number.

Let the journey begin!

***

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June 7, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True Love

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Danica and her new baby sister, Gracie.

It’s not what you say.

It’s not how you say it.

True love is what you do.

Doing…the truest of love…expressed.

***

 

“If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.  (I John 4:11)

Leaving Our Comfort Zones

Mountains of faith rise from the valleys of failure.   –Mart Dehann

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Don’t hate your failures, learn from them.

This looks good on paper, but let’s face it, most of us hate failure.  I know I do.  I’m pretty tolerant of other people’s failure…it’s mine that I despise.

Failure is embarrassing, and what if people laugh at me…it’s happened before, and will probably happen again.

I guess that’s why it’s good to learn to laugh at ourselves.  I’ve found laughter helps to ease the pain…and it lightens the mood of an awkward situation.

I like what’s written in Romans,

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, [failures]  for we know that they are good for us–they help us to learn to endure.  And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation…”

Now, I don’t believe God expects us to turn cartwheels over our failure, and he certainly understands our disappointment when we fail.  It is for this reason–his understanding–that he seeks to encourage us in the midst of failure.  God doesn’t kick us when we are down.  He is our loving Father who picks us up when we fall, applies ointment to our skinned knees, pats us on the back, and whispers,

“…it’s okay my child…just keep keeping on…We’ve got this…” 

Lately, I’ve been feeling God wooing me from my comfort zones, and it’s scaring me to death.  I’m afraid I may goof up, look like an idiot, or a babbling fool.

And to that, it seems God is saying…

“You’re right, those things may happen…but so what…”

Looking at failure from that perspective takes away the pressure for perfection.  It’s as if God is giving me permission to fail!

And…you know what?  It feels good deep in my soul.

***

“God, I’m scared to death of what you are calling me to do, but I’m going to do it anyway; and if I fall flat on my face…I know it’ll be okay.”

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Remember What I Have Told You

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Sometimes it’s just too easy to forget, and the older I get the more this becomes my super-power.

I feel confident my friends over fifty can relate…hmmm…unless, of course, they have forgotten how often they forget.

It’s true, I walk into a room and forget my reason for being there.  I stand blank-eyed, trying to remember what I was just thinking about before I entered the room.  My reasoning is this, perhaps my last train of thought is what led me to this room, so if I can remember that then maybe that would jog my memory as to why I am standing helplessly looking at the contents scattered within the four walls.

One time I got out of the car, closed the door, and realized I had forgotten my phone.  Knowing I would need it later, I asked my daughter…(on the other end of the line) to wait a moment while I retrieved my phone.  (true story)

Another time, again with my daughter, I found myself stuck in the snow.

I was in the midst of helping her move just outside of Boston.  We finally finished unloading the truck and hauling her stuff up three flights of stairs, and now it was time to go out and grab a bite to eat.  Beth jumped into the passenger seat and I got behind the wheel, we were sooo tired but happy the hard stuff was over.

Well, if you’ve visited Boston in the mid of winter, you know, more than likely, snow will be upon the ground, and it was on this particular day. Thinking about a cheeseburger I cranked up the old girl (my truck), put her in drive, and proceeded to exit the parking space; however, the wheels would do nothing but spin in place.

Two hungry women on a mission would not be deterred…so I told Beth to get out and push.

When that didn’t work we dug the snow from around all four tires and tried it again…me at the wheel and Beth pushing as hard as she could.

When that didn’t work we searched for something to slide under the wheels, hoping it would give some sort of traction for the spinning wheels.  We finally found a scrap of cardboard and I put it under the left front tire, as we were parallel-parked.  We assumed the familiar position, me at the wheel and Beth, outside pushing with all her might…still the wheels did nothing but spin!

Beth, exhausted from pushing, finally stopped and came to sit beside me in the passenger seat.  We were now two hangry women.

Frustrated, I smacked my hand against the steering wheel of the truck and noticed the small red light that illuminated the word brake.

That was the last time Beth has ever asked me to help her move.

Thank God, enough time has passed so that now we can at least laugh about it.

These funny stories came to mind as I read my morning meditation.

The meditation had taken me to John chapter 14.  Here, I found Jesus talking to his friends/disciples saying,

“Remember what I have told you:  I am going away, but I will come back to you again…I have told you these things before they happen so that you will believe when they do happen.”

Jesus was telling his friends that soon he would die.  He loved them and was worried about how they would feel when he was killed.  He worried they would feel confused, abandoned and afraid all of his promises had been a lie.  So, over and over again in the four gospels, he tells them,

Remember what I have told you…”

Friends, I believe Jesus, rich in his compassion, is telling us the same thing…

“Remember what I have told you…” 

When things go wrong and people hurt us…it’s so easy to forget he is with us.  Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and utter despair draw us down into those dark places we created as a child to keep us safe.

How easy it is to return to that lonely stomping ground.

Jesus knew this for his disciples and presently, he knows it for us, as well.   If we could but be still in those moments and just breathe…we would hear his voice gently telling us…

“Remember what I have told you…” 

I can write this with confidence because He has put his Holy Spirit deep within us and his Spirit abides with us even our in our darkest moments.  Jesus gave us his Spirit because he loves us so much, and he doesn’t want us to be alone or feel alone.  (It’s possible to be with people but feel alone…been there done that.)   In this world, our most loved friends and family may leave us, but Jesus never will.

“…know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you…the Father sends the Counselor…and by Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.” 

“Remember what I have told you…”  (Jesus)

His Spirit moves within us…be still, breathe, and listen.

***

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Always Assume the Worst

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Plik: Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

“And a furious storm of wind [of hurricane proportions] arose, and the waves kept beating into the boat so that it was already becoming filled.”  (Mark 4:37)

***

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be a rider in the boat above!

First of all, I’m not a very good swimmer.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the ocean, but I don’t like treading it without some sort of flotation device.

Second of all, hurricane force winds can rip a little fishing boat to shreds.

And third of all, I’m sure the air was full of electricity, and I don’t relish the thought of being struck by lightning.

If I were a character in the story above I would fear for my life.  I admit I would assume the worst.

Corinne, my wife, and I once stayed in a high-rise in New Hartford Connecticut.  On the 17th floor, we had settled in for the night, under covers and enjoying an episode of Law and Order SVU.  At approximately 11p.m. a voice from the speaker above filled our room.

“Attention, there may be a fire in the building.  Please exit your room, in an orderly fashion and take the stairway down to the first floor, …there is no need to panic.” 

Corinne and I proceeded to the closest exit and began our descent with hundreds of other guests.  We had a long way to go to reach the bottom.  The 17th floor turned into the 16th and the 16th turned into the 15th, and with each passing floor, the fear inside of me increased.  My mind filled with pictures of people jumping to their deaths from the World Trade Center.  As I continued down the long stairway, I heard the sirens from the firetrucks below.  At that moment  I made the assumption that this was it…I was going to die.  In my mind, I decided that I too would jump rather than burn.

Obviously, I didn’t die that night.  When we finally reached the bottom, we discovered it was a false alarm and were directed back to our rooms.  Once again in our room, it took me a while to calm down.  When I wondered how the episode of Law and Order ended, I knew I was back to normal.

It is so easy for my mind to automatically jump to the worst scenarios.

Maybe you have this problem as well.

The men in the boat from Mark’s story felt the same way and I don’t blame them!  The story goes, “…but soon a fierce storm arose.  High waves began to break into the boat until it was nearly full of water.”  But Jesus was in the boat.  The frightened men ran to Jesus and cried, “…don’t you even care that we are going to drown?” Jesus “rebuked the wind and said to the water, “Quiet down!”  Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.  Then Jesus looked at the men, I believe lovingly, and said, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still not have faith in me?”

This morning, for my personal devotion, I read an article called, Facing Unexpected Storms, from one of my many Joyce Meyer books.  She made the point that “…not all storms are in the forecast…”  Her advice, “Don’t get distracted by the storms of life.  Stay focused and do what you need to do whether it is easy or difficult.  The more we use our faith, the stronger it will become.”

Her words comforted my heart and reminded me to do what I could and to not fret over what I couldn’t.  Whether it’s easy or difficult…only one step at a time.

Remember, Friends,…Jesus is in the boat!

***

Daily Prompt:  Assumption

 

 

Disappear From Sight

MyBoy
First time seeing Josh after 7 weeks of BEAST training at West Pont.

Have you ever had to eat your words?

I’m sure I have, but at the moment, nothing comes to mind.  Perhaps, even if I could, I wouldn’t share as “eating your words” is considered quite distasteful.

Often, the words we have to eat are bitter.

I believe the words we say never disappear.  They linger and take their abode within the minds of those who hear.

I remember the day, Corinne and I left Josh, our son, at West Point.  As a new cadet, he was about to enter basic training, or “BEAST BARRACKS” as it is referred to at West Point.  Beast Barracks is a 7-week program designed to transform young men and women into cadets worthy enough to be sanctioned Plebes, the lowest rank on campus.

My heart hurt at the thought of what he was about to face, and as most moms in this world, my imagination soared beyond the realms of reality.  Sitting in the auditorium I heard an officer beckon the new cadets to come forward, and I knew this would be the last time I’d see Josh for what would seem an eternity.  I looked at him and he looked at me, and I’ll never forget the words he said, “Write and write soon.”  Tears ran down my face as I watched him walk away and disappear from sight.

I was able to write him immediately; however, it would be weeks before he would be allowed to write home.  When those letters came, I couldn’t wait to open the envelope and devour the words on the page.  The words were few because he rarely had a moment to spare during BEAST, so I hung on every word.  His words were important to me.  Finally, after seven weeks, we were allowed to go and visit him at West Point, and that is a moment, and a hug, I will never forget.

When we love someone, their words matter.

This was true of King David’s relationship with God.  In the book of Psalms, he has this say about the words of God,

“They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold.  They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.”

The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more we want to listen for his still small voice.  They become a balm for our soul.

On the flip side…guess what?

Our words are just as important to God.  He loves us so much, that our words matter, and he waits patiently to hear them.

Talk to God today…He loves your voice.

***

Daily Prompt:  Disappear

 

Okay, I remember a time when I had to eat my nasty words…I even wrote a blog about it.  Almost two years ago on election night, I colored the world of Facebook with a wide array of colorful expletives.  As a result, there were consequences to bear.  I was unfriended by friends and family.  Those family members, to this day,  ignore my Christmas cards, and of course, I get none from them. Words matter.

***

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer.   (Psalm 19:14)

 

 

 

When Things Get Complicated

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Photo From Urban Wired

What do we do when things get complicated?

Well…here’s some of the things I find myself doing…

  • First of all I get a sick feeling in the pit of my tummy
  • Second I began rehearsing all the “what ifs”
  • Third my mind grasps the most horrendous “what ifs” and runs wild like a cheetah on the Serengeti.
  • Fourth, I become so mentally worn out I sink into depression
  • Fifth, I begin to form a “plan”
  • Sixth I try to implement the “plan”
  • Seventh, I become exhausted
  • Eighth, I pray.

Talk about putting the cart in front of the horse!  Of which I’m the master…so, here, hold my beer while I take a bow!

Why the hell can’t I remember to pray first?  Does it make me a horrible Christian?  On the contrary…it makes me human.

It’s just good ole “human nature” to desire to fix something when it breaks, and we shouldn’t berate ourselves for following our God-given, intrinsic instinct.  If we do, then that, my friend, is the real tragedy.  God doesn’t hold it against us…

Why?

Simply put, God knows how it feels to be human!

God, himself, put on flesh, and walked this earth for 33 years, and his friends called him, Jesus.  During these 33 years he was tempted in all ways, and personally experienced every weakness that can ever befall us.  Remember, He understands.  His arms are open, and he bids us come… “give me your cares for I care for you.”

Now, I’m not so naive as to believe that prayer is some magic wand that fixes everything…

No.

However, this is what prayer will do…

[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Through prayer we receive God’s understanding, His Mercy, and His Grace.  Armed with these we can face any circumstance that life throws our way.

So, when things get complicated remember….

  • He will not hold our weakness against us…because He has once felt the same way
  • His arms are always open wide
  • He bids us come
  • He wants us to share our problems with Him
  • He loves us more than life itself…for He gave his life for us
  • His Mercy and Grace never ends…it is new every morning

 

Oh what a Savior we have!

***

“…Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him…”  (Hebrews 4:14)

Daily Prompt:  Complication

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

Let’s Get The Party Started!

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Photo from Images Buddy

Would it be too premature if I said, “I’m enjoying Heaven on this Earth?”

Well, lets take a look-see…

So, first of all, my description of Heaven is anywhere I can commune with Jesus.

Yes, I know that one day this body will die, and my spirit will ascend into Heaven, and I realize Heaven to be a tangible…touchable place.

After all, Jesus said this about Heaven,

“In my Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you…so that where I am you may be also.”

So, yes…physically I am far…FAR away from the physical Heaven.  Even the Pharisees, of long ago, questioned Jesus about the whereabouts of Heaven, and He said,

 “The kingdom of God does not come with observation;  nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Jesus proclaims that His kingdom abides within us!

There may be thousands, upon thousands of galaxies that separate me from Heaven, the place, but guess what?  Nothing, absolutely nothing, separates me from Jesus or His Love! Even the Apostle Paul agrees with me on this one, for he writes in Romans,

 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, who freaking cares how many galaxies exist between me and Heaven!  It doesn’t matter because God has already set up His Kingdom within my heart!  Jesus lives within me, and He wants to live in you too!

Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

Don’t wait to celebrate Heaven, dear friends!

Open the door and let’s get the party started!

***

Jesus Wants Us To Be Happy Christians!

Daily Prompt:  Premature