Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Keep Swimming

After a slow start to summer, it's full-on swimming weather.  Yeah!

For me to really enjoy swimming, the weather needs to be at least in the 90's.  Then I'm willing to get in the water and splash around.  But when the air is cold, even if the pool is heated, I'm not a fan.

So, I guess I'm saying, I want everything perfect.  However, life is not always going to give us the perfect weather, with the perfect water temperature.  After all we live in Michigan! 

In 2003, Disney introduced a great animated picture called Finding Nemo.  For the few people in the world who may not know anything about this movie, Nemo is a little fish that gets lost and his father goes on a desperate search to find him.   

The father battles through his own personal fears and every obstacle that gets in his way on this mission--to find his lost son.  

Humm?  This story sounds a bit like a Bible parable.  

In the Nemo movie, there is a little blue fish that befriends Nemo's father, Marlin.  Her name is Dory, and she sings this song in the movie called Just Keep Swimming.  

There are only a few lines in the entire song.  In this catchy little tune, the song title is repeated over and over again. 

The little fish, Dory, attempts in her clumsy way to encourage Nemo's father by singing this song.  

Just Keep Swimming
Just Keep Swimming
Just Keep Swimming

In my life, there has been occasions where I could have used a Dory singing to me.  Someone to spur me on when things seem bleak--Keep Swimming.  Someone with an awesome and cheerful disposition--Keep Swimming.  Someone who is resilient when I am gruff or impatience--Keep Swimming.  

Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have a Dory in our life and sometimes we're not.  But we will always have God's word.  The powerful truth of the Bible is there to spurs us on, gives us encouragement and the Word is steadfast whatever our situation may be.

In Hebrews 12:1, God's Word says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” 

I think the Message Bible may say--Just Keep Swimming.  (Not really, I made that up.)  But the principle of perseverance in the race and just keep swimming sound similar.  

You may be facing some difficulties today, and you may feel like giving up.  But don't.  Here is what The Message Bible actually says in Hebrews 12:2-3.   

Keep your eyes on Jesus
who both began and finished this race we’re in. 
Study how he did it. 
Because he never lost sight of where he was headed
—that exhilarating finish in and with God
—He could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. 
And now He’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 
When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, 
go over that story again, 
item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. 
That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

...Just Keep Swimming

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

A Gentle Response

I try not to be a yeller.

I try...but truth is...sometimes I yell.

...and there are a few situations that warrant yelling; like when a child is heading into a dangerous situation or the dog is running towards the road or somebody scares me.

I've yelled like a crazy person in all these situations.

But when one adult, yells at another adult that is over-the-top uncomfortable.

I've been in a situation like this a few times throughout my life.  Usually, when the yelling starts, I turn tail and get out of there.

Don't want to see it or hear it.

Recently, I was an innocent bystander when this happened.  There was one adult who yelled at another.


I was trapped--no way out.  I sat in shock as one of the adults yelled angrily at the other.  It was venomous.  I was frozen to my seat contemplating if I should attempt to defend the one being yelled at or remain a silent observer.

I watched the face of the person being yelled at and wondered, what would she do next?  Would she yell back?  Would she become defensive and get emotional against the verbal attack?  Would she stand and point her finger in his face and shake it with equal dramatics?

My inner self was taking offense, as I silently watched the scene unfold.

Then it happened.

Right before my eyes and ears, she spoke.  Her voice was in control without the slightest hint of fear or indignation.  Her tone was clear, and her thoughts were in order.

Then the yeller interrupted her and verbally attacked again.  Yikes.  This was really getting ugly.

She responded again with confidence and in a non-combative way and...he finally heard her.

Proverbs 15:1 in the NET Bible says, "A gentle response turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath."

I wish in every situation that my 'go to' place was "A Gentle Response."

It's a win/win!  God says so, and I saw it with my own eyes.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Not Alone

I like my alone time.  Sometimes I just want to curl up in a chair with a blanket and zone out while watching a predictable Hallmark movie.  I don't want to answer phone calls, nor solve anybody's problems.  No adulting what-so-ever!  

On occasion, being alone is exactly what I need to recharge my depleted battery.

But not everyone is me, some people are just the opposite.  They need people around them, and they gain strength from being with others.  I have some family members like this.  When they are feeling low, they want people around them.  

In church recently, these words flooded my thoughts.  You're not alone.  I haven't left you to toss and tumble on the waves of life without support.

I thought, whhhat?  But I like alone.  Alone is good.  Alone is quiet.  Alone is peaceful.

That's when I realized the words weren't for me--well--not completely.  

Maybe you are reading this today and are struggling through a difficult situation in your life.  Do you feel like you're being tossed on the waves of life?   Do you feel everyday it get's harder and harder to see another morning come?

In the Bible...
  • David experienced many difficult times, trials and battled deep despair.
  • Elijah was discouraged, weary, and afraid.
  • Job suffered through loss, devastation, and physical illness.
  • Jeremiah wrestled with loneliness, feelings of defeat, and insecurity. 
  • Even Jesus hit a few rough spots.  Like the time he asked his disciples, "Couldn't you wait with me one hour?"  Sounds like a question asked by someone feeling alone.

God is able to use whatever season of suffering we are in to bring about good in our lives.  Maybe even make us stronger!  

He is our Redeemer, Restorer, Healer and Friend. 

Isaiah 41:10 says... (ERV)
Don't worry--I am with you.
Don't be afraid--I am your God.
I will make you strong and help you.
I will support you with my right hand that brings victory.

Whether you are a person who likes to withdraw or a person who likes to be where the action is...the truth is--we are not alone.  

Even when we think we are--we're not!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

How much is this?

My sister and I went to Florida recently to help our parents downsize and move back to Michigan.  One of the huge tasks that we faced was packing up all the things they would keep, and we also had to prepare for a garage sale to sell the rest.

I will admit that in the 100 degree Florida heat, we were not diligent in pricing all the garage sale items.  Because of our slothfulness, we heard this statement...A LOT..."How much is this?"

The pat answer that soon followed this garage sale question became... "One Dollar!"

We were so overwhelmed by the amount of stuff and the heat that we would have given the stuff away if we could have.

...well, we did give some things away.  "Shhhhhh!"

We were amazed as we watched people come and buy bunches of stuff that we thought no-one would want, yet it turned out that someone did value many of these items.

This was the exchange we heard again and again...

"How much is this?"

"A dollar."

"Wow!  I'll take it."

Many of the garage sale buyers weren't looking at the valued of the objects they were buying.  They only had one thing in mind--the deal.

But when God looks at us, he's not looking for a deal.  With God, our value begins with the fact that He created us in His own image.  (Genesis 1:27)

In Jeremiah 31:3, the Bible tells us that His love for us is everlasting.  It's relentless!

Just think how highly God valued us that even while we were sinners God sent His son to die for us.  (Romans 5:8)

Unlike the garage sale, where people are looking for a deal, in 1 Peter 1:18, 19 it says, "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold...but with the precious blood of Christ."

God looks at us, not as a deal to be obtained at the lowest possible price.  No, He was willing to pay the highest price in the universe to redeem us--the blood of His dear Son.

When God the Father looks at us, he'll never ask, How much is this one? 

He knows exactly how much He was willing to pay, and He paid in full.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

You are For Me

Barb and me at the "Hats On Ladies Lunch."
I'm not a person who struggles with low self-esteem, feelings of inadequacy, or have excessive worry about not being included.

Not that these things haven't come for a visit now and again, I just don't make a comfortable place for them to take up residence.

I'm a fortunate person because I have a supportive family that loves me--warts and all.  They tell me how valuable I am to them, and they are present in my life in an active way.  They have my back.

But there is none more protective of me than my oldest sister, Barb.  She will not engage in any negative talk about me or allow anyone else to talk about me in a contrary way.  That goes for all her family members and friends.  She's a fierce protector.  Consider yourself warned.

Not long ago, I was in a prayer group and one of the members kept repeating this line in prayer, "You are For Me!"

Sometimes, I'm slow at catching things the first time around, but God has no problem repeating Himself for us slow-learners.  Maybe you identify with me and need truth to come at you numerous times before it finally soaks in.

Well...GOD IS FOR ME...and He's for you too!

When all the world may seem against us, when every thing is going wrong, when emotions are at fever pitch and we feel ready to throw in the towel...HE IS FOR ME!

So what should we say about this?  
If God is for us, no one can stand against us.  
And God is with us. 
Romans 8:31 (ERV)

Move over Barb, you are not the only one who has my back. 

Thank you Lord.  I know YOU are for me!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

"You missed a spot!"

In preparation for new carpet, I painted a few rooms in my house.  The day after I finished the first room, I swung open the bedroom door to examine the change the paint had made.  

I stepped back and admired my work.  It was an amazing transformation.  The previous darker color with chips, scratches and nicks had been replaced by a light, soft, clean-looking color.  That, however, wasn't the end of the story.  

All painters know that after the first coat of paint dries something happens to those perfectly painted walls.  That's when you realize, You missed a spot!

At first glance, standing in the doorway of the beautifully painted room, everything looked wonderful.  A big satisfied smile formed on my face, until I took a closer look.  

That's when I saw the old paint color seeping through the new.  And in some places, I had missed covering that old paint color completely. 

I shook my head in disbelief.  How could I have missed all these obviously blatant, glaring areas? 

There were so many imperfections, as I looked around the room that I couldn't even decide where to begin the touching up.  It seemed as if the whole room needed a second coat.

Unlike my paint job, God's paint technique is flawless.  He steps back, looks us over and says, "Wow! You are amazing, beautiful a real masterpiece.  Good!"  

The only problem is--we aren't really good!  We resist God's brush strokes on the canvas of our lives.

Our ugly starts bleeding through His perfection.  Fortunatly for all of us, He willingly picks up His brush and makes the needed touch ups.  

He doesn't give up on us the first, second, or third time around...He believes in us to infinity and beyond

As long as we're willing to repent, God's willing to repair what's broken.  

Our Heavenly Father is committed to HIS paint project--US!  
  • How precious is your unfailing love, O God! - Psalm 36:7
  • You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. - Psalm 86:5
  • But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. - Psalm 86:15
  • Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever. - Psalm 136:26

It's been a few weeks since I painted the rooms in my house, and the imperfections still keep peeking through.  With each imperfection, it's a reminder to me that even though I am an unfinished work...still in progress, God's steadfast love endures forever. 

And if someone looks at your life and says to God..., "Look at her--You missed a spot with that one!" 

Don't worry, He's got you covered! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Where are you from?

License plates are interesting things.  Each of the 50 states in our great country have their own unique license plate that identifies something special about their particular state.

One of the options for a Michigan plate is the Mackinaw Bridge.  And there are other options like an emblem representing a select branch of the military or a special pictures of nature, but no matter the artwork on any state license plate the important thing about any of theses plates is that they identify where we are from.

You don't have to hear someone's accent or watch their mannerizims to identify if they are from the north, south, east or west.  When they step out of the car they've been driving, you know where they are from because the license plate identify them.

What identifies me to the people I come in contact with in my daily walk?

Am I the rude person at the checkout who yells at a cashier for a mistake? Or am I the person in line who pays for someones groceries because the Lord prompted me to do so?

Am I the person who unloads on the telemarketer who interrupted my dinner?  Or am I the person who will take a moment to listen to the same story again and again from someone who just wants a moment of my time?

Am I the person who looks the other way when I see someone in need?  Or am I the person who will go out of my way to help someone in need?

When people look at my actions, can they identify where I'm from?

This is what John 13:35 says, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Do my actions identify me as one of His?

Is it possible that those around me have no idea where I'm from?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Lessons From The Toy Box

All my grandchildren live in different states or countries as of a few weeks ago.   The visits to Grandma and Puppa’s house will be less and less with each passing year as the grandchildren become busy with their own lives.  

Thus, I have begun the grueling process of downsizing my vast toy collection.

This is where you pause, gasp and feel extremely sad for me...and now we move on.

For some reason, I'm finding it very difficult to part with some of these crazy toys.  Many of the toys, I can tell you exactly where I bought them, and which grandchild enjoyed which toys the most.

Somehow over the years, and ten grandchildren later, the collection has grown just about out of control.  Okay, it was out-of-control...and maybe still is...but I'm working on it. 

Once, a visitor to my home asked me if I had a preschool that met in my family room.  They were dead serious.   I told him, “No, I’m a grandma.”

I blamed the grandchildren.  It's just...I knew they would love all these toys...and they did.  But now they are growing up and the toys have to go. 


However, there is one bin of toys that I'll never donate, give away or throw away.  These are too special, too meaningful, to wonderful.  

If you're wondering what this awesome inspired toy is, well brace yourself for the age-old toy of...wooden building blocks.

I love them, and I am not getting rid of the blocks.  Never!

Here's a few lessons I've learned from the toy box about building blocks. 
  • Blocks fit into the palm of my hand and no one will ever be able to snatch me from the hand of the Lord.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. John 10:28 NET

  • Each block has been permanently imprinted with a letter or picture and the Lord has permanently imprinted my name on His hands.  Look, I have inscribed your name on my palms; your walls are constantly before me.  Isaiah 49:16

  • Blocks make a firm foundation to build on and Christ is our firm foundation.    For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  I Corinthians 3:11

  • The best blocks are made of wood and a cross made of wood, changed everything.  I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20 NET  

Next time you hold a block in your hand, remember these Lessons From The Toy Box!

Keep Swimming

After a slow start to summer, it's   full-on   swimming weather.  Yeah! For me to really enjoy swimming, the weather needs to be at ...