Rivers of Water

I was on my way home from the hospital and my first born was lying in an incubator at Pitt Memorial. The last thing I wanted to do was leave her, but circumstances prevailed, and it became something unavoidable. As I lay in bed that night my heart and mind, extremely distressed, I could not sleep. I kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong, and thinking that my 3-pound 10 ounce little-one wouldn’t make it through the night. This night was dark and terrifying and I was afraid. But then my mind remembered the stars…those little dots of light sprinkled throughout the blackened sky. I realized these same stars were also watching over my baby, and that their creator was also her creator. Through prayer I placed my baby girl in God’s hands and I slept.

Prayer and meditation can bring us to peace within the storm. For the Christian it’s the fuel that keeps us going. I often neglect this spiritual sustenance and find myself running on empty, however, the stars of that night, thirty-two years ago, reminded me of a power ready for the taking. This power source is not some old grey-bearded deity somewhere beyond our universe. No, this power source is the God within us, the Holy Spirit who has taken up abode within our souls. 

A necessary element to prayer and meditation is time. Without this element meditation of course is fruitless in our lives. Thankfully with our busy lives’ meditation can occur in small increments of time…a few moments with your morning coffee, seconds waiting at the red light, the minutes between the next meeting, quiet moments before you drift off to sleep. All of these snippets can become moments of mindfulness…moments of tapping into the power source within.

I love the picture painted in Psalms 1:3 which likens the one who meditates as a tree planted by the water…

“…we shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in [its] season…” 

We are the tree, meditation the roots, and the rivers of waters the Holy Spirit within us. 

Prayer: Lord, throughout this holiday season let our minds habitually visit the babe in a manger…the very one who bled and died, rose again, and now takes his abode within our hearts. Amen. 

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Settled Within

The Ultimate Misfit


One Christmas morning I was up before the birds and all in the house was quiet as a mouse. I was sad, rejected, a misfit because there were certain relationships within my family strained and almost nonexistent. My children and I were were separated by many American miles. As I sat in the silence of that Christmas morn I read God’s word from John 1:11… and this is what God said, “He came to his own and his own received him not.” As I finished that verse I felt Jesus whisper to my heart, “I know how you feel.” Jesus, I realized was the ultimate misfit and I knew I would never be alone.

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His voice when you least expect it.

Yes, I am in a Relationship

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:2

Growing up I was so afraid of hell, that I actually wished I’d never been born. Daily, I was tormented with the thought of the rapture, and being left behind.  

I knew God’s promises but for some reason they didn’t apply to me.  It was none of God’s fault but all of mine.  I knew and believed what God said about salvation, and about his promise of eternal life. 

And yet, I felt sure I would, somehow and some way, mess up my part of receiving His free gift.  What if I believed too hard thus turning my faith into work?  For God says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith…NOT by works…” 

So, what if I put my trust in my faith instead of Jesus?

What would happen then?

Would I be saved?

I was religiously taught the Roman’s Road to Salvation.  This step by step process is found in the book of Romans (of course).  This Road begins with chapter 3 and verse 10 and continues as follows:  Romans 3:23, Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10, and Romans 10:13.  After each step has been faithfully taken, the sinner, saved by grace, is taken to I John 5:13 to seal the deal. 

I was so afraid I’d screw up one of the steps, and if I did would I be condemned to hell?  

I’m not saying the Roman’s Road is wrong, and if you have come know Christ through this path, I say a hearty Amen!   But for people like myself there is a danger in teaching the Roman’s Road. 

For us salvation does not equate to, “take these steps and get a ‘Get out of Hell Free’ card.”

For those like me there is no wrong or right way to salvation.  We come to know Christ through many paths, and for us salvation is a relationship, and any faith that we have is given to us by Christ.  Therefore, in essence, our salvation depends upon nothing we do but all in what Christ has done.  

So, the question could be asked… “At what point does salvation actually occur?”

To that I say, “I don’t know, and not knowing is okay.”  

I don’t have to know if I’ve dotted all my I’s or crossed all my T’s because I have nothing to do with my salvation…it belongs to God.  

And in that I rest. 

receive love. give love. repeat. 

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Indulge yourself in Peace.

Cooking The Goose!

Is it possible that mean people are a blessing in disguise?

I’m not talking about evil people…certainly those that abuse and hurt others are never a blessing! I’m making reference to those people who “rub us the wrong way” or “get under our skin.” You know the ones…forthright, and tactless. Their words are sharp and hurtful, and they never use their tongue to uplift and edify, instead they use it to tear down and debase.

No one likes to be around someone like this. In fact, we go out of our way to avoid them.

But… Perhaps we shouldn’t.

You see, our patience is put on trial every time they grace us with their presence. Our patience literally gets a “work out” just as our muscles do when we exercise.

The apostle James writes in his book, chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Trials are never fun, but sometimes they can be beneficial in the growth to become a better person. I love the way Joyce Meyer puts it:

“Learning to walk in love with unlovely people and learning to be patient in trials are probably the two most important tools God uses to develop our spiritual maturity. Believe it or not, difficult people in our lives help us.”

Yes, mean people suck, but let’s “cook their goose” by allowing them to make us better!.

FYI:

Idiom- “Cook Your Goose”

Just for fun: “Use Your Noodle”

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FOWC Forthright

Word of the day: Noodle

Good Friday, Is it Really Good?

In less than a week, another year of my life will have been spent…gone forever, never again to relive. Re-do’s are just impossible with time.

The older I get the closer to dependency I become, and that frightens me.

As a caregiver, I work with elderly seniors, and their level of dependency varies greatly. I love caring for them. I think of my mom and my grandmother, who have passed. I think of the quality of care I would want for them, the kind of care I hope they received.

In some ways I wonder if I’m trying to make up for all the times I was not there for my mom. As I care for these dear ones, I think of myself and the kind of care I hope I will receive one day. I have faith that if I show great patience, kindness, and compassion I will in return receive the same when my time has come.

I realize I have lived longer than the years I have yet to live. In the span of ten years the quality of my life could drastically change. At my age, ten years seem but a whisper upon the wind. It’ll come and go quickly.

The older I get the more I think about dying.

I think of my mom in the last days of her life. I think about sitting by her bedside, holding her hand, and wondering if she were aware of my presence. I desperately wanted to be there when she took her last breath, but I wasn’t. For that I do great guilt. Don’t we all hope when it’s our time to go we will be surrounded by those we love? My heart breaks when I think of her dying alone.

I wonder if one day I too will die alone.

Today is Good Friday, and once again I find myself thinking of death. I read about Jesus’ death on the cross. I think of his last hours…his thirst, his pain, and the blood streaming down his body. I think of him when his Father turned his back, and in great despair Jesus cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me!” In that moment Jesus, as man, was utterly alone. He experienced the total blackness of loneliness…the nothingness…an utter void of everything and everyone.

This is bad, but also it is good.

Reading this scripture I hear Jesus whisper within my heart, “Lisa, your mom was never alone…I was there, just as I’ll be there for you. I died alone so you wouldn’t have to.”

Today, His forever presence is what I will choose to dwell upon.

Good Friday truly is good.

***

Lingering

Anything we give to help hurting people, God will always return many times over. Not only will He meet our needs, but our joy will increase as a result of giving in love. Joyce Meyer

Starburst

Lord, open my eyes that I may see, open my heart that I may love, and open my hands that I may give to those that are lonely, poor, and hurting. Let me walk through this day with eyes wide-open, and when I am my busiest remind me to pause to linger among the least of these. Amen

Word of the Day Challenge: Lingering

It’s Not a Dirty Little Secret

“Now my soul is troubled and distressed, and what shall I say? (Jesus)

Jesus was afraid. How can this be? Jesus, God incarnate, the creator of all universes, was afraid to die.

Do you ever think about dying? It’s not a pleasant thought. There are so many unknowns about this fate that we all must one day face. Even those with the faith of a mustard seed, a faith powerful enough to move mountains, find themselves troubled at the thought.

Those of the greatest faith, if they would admit it, are afraid to die, and they lie if they proclaim different. It doesn’t matter how many abbreviations follow the name no one will ever have as much faith as Jesus had when he walked this Earth. If Jesus feared how much more will we?

In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to his Father to remove his cup of death. He prayed with such earnest his pores dripped with blood. He did not want to drink from its chalice.

Personally, I am comforted by my Lord’s fear. His hesitation to taste death assures me it’s okay to doubt. Doubt is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s not a dirty little secret that we should hide. If it were, a dirty little secret, God would never have revealed Jesus’ inner struggle. That part of Christ’s story would have been omitted from recorded history. It is written so that our faith would be strengthened rather than shaken.

Jesus was human just as we. He knows how we feel because he himself has experienced it. He wants us to bring our doubts, troubles, and concerns to the Father; after-all, that is what he did. We are called to follow his example.

This week, as we walk through the last days before good Friday, may our souls be troubled.

Embrace your doubt because it leads to great Faith.

Baaa Or Maaa?

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There’s no time like the present for innovation.

As a writer, I usually try to read some word of inspiration in the early morning hours…and often with a cup of coffee on my desk.

Today my hand reached for Strong for a Moment Like This…The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton.  (Yes, I am aware of the plagiarism by the author Rev. Dr. Bill Shilladay, but, for lack of a better term… let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.  There’s some good stuff in there.  Give it a chance.)

The scripture for today’s reading was taken from Matthew chapter 25, verses 34-35.

The scene opens to sometime in the future.  King Jesus is sitting on his throne, and all the nations of the world are gathered before him to receive judgment.  Matthew says that on that day the King will “separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.”

So, what will constitute a lamb and what will constitute a goat?  What will be the deciding factor as to whether this nation takes the left or as to why that nation takes the right?

The one deciding factor is simply this:  The way the nation treated “…the least of these…” (I wonder upon which side America will stand.)

How we treat others is extremely important to Jesus.

Jesus views your treatment of others as equivalent to your treatment of Him.  Jesus actually puts himself in the place of “the least of these.”  He becomes hungry.  He becomes thirsty.  He becomes the stranger.  He becomes naked.  He becomes sick.  He becomes the prisoner.

I like both lambs and goats; however, in this particular scenario, the goats are the bad guys.  Yes, they are the ones wearing the black hats.  They are the ones who failed to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, feed the naked, care for the sick, and failed to visit the prisoner.

Believe me, when this day happens you don’t want to find yourself on the left hand of King Jesus.

The amazing thing about this story is that both, the sheep and the goats, are stupefied as to why they are labeled as such, and amazingly their response to the King is the same.  They both ask Jesus, “…when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison…?”  The King’s answer to sheep as well as the goats is virtually the same, “…I assure you when you did it [or not] to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”

Yikes!

I’ve been raised to believe that what we do with Jesus in this life determines where we will spend eternity.  Jesus says what you do to others in this life is what you do to me.

This story is intended to be a glass of cold water to the face.

It is intended to wake us from our apathy.

It is intended to help us see others through the eyes of Christ.

It is intended to show us the importance of loving our neighbor as ourselves.

It is intended to show us that we cannot pick and choose our neighbors.

That our neighbors are all those whom God chooses to bring into our life.  They are there for a reason.  Ask God to show you that reason, and then go about fulfilling your God-given destiny.

There is no time like the present to start something new.

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Word-A-Day Blog Challenge:  Innovation

Fandango’s One Word Challenge:  Present

 

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.

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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

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

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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.