Most People Are Barely Hanging On

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I’ll be honest with you, there are moments when my heart is so heavy. There are many times when I find myself fighting back tears. I mean, yes, I have my own issues and problems that I am dealing with, as we all do, but I am really talking more about feeling compassion and empathy for others. I don’t know if it is an age thing or because I am choosing to slow down and listen to other people more.

I want to try, really try, to have eyes like Jesus. To see people the way He sees them. The hurting, the tired, the forgotten, the needy, the scared, the overwhelmed, the anxious, the pained and the lost.

Struggles are real. People hurt. This broken world tips sharply on its axis, making us all dizzy from the pain… Dare I say that anyone who says they don’t suffer is lying to you? Or to him or herself?

As a child I used to wish I could have the super power of reading peoples minds. I thought it would be cool to know what they were thinking…a great party trick. The decades have slipped past and although I have never been able to read minds, I have gotten better at reading hearts. (Thank you, Jesus.)

*A student who anxiously tells me, “I hope my grandfather makes it to mine and my brother’s graduation. I told him he has too, but I just don’t know. If he doesn’t, I will be so sad.”

*Aging parents with hard diagnoses, having to live with something they never asked for. Grown children realizing that time stops for no one, including their parents, and that particular knowledge is difficult.

*The young adult who finds himself in a place of his own making…realizing it is not where he really wants to be. Each day the work to change is hard and he is tired.

*The young woman who constantly wonders if she is good enough?

*The new parents who are outwardly excited, but inwardly terrified at the realization of being mom and dad, and doing it “right”.

*The man whose job is on the line, and he feels he is too old to start over.

*The woman who is divorced, raising her kids and working hard to provide.

*The children who make the poor choices.

*The babies that are caught in the middle.

*The friend who cries in the shower at night because life is overwhelming, but smiles during the day.

*Prayers during surgeries.

*Crying over the death of loved ones.

My prayer is to have the eyes and the heart of Jesus for others. To meet people where they are at. To hold a hand…to hold a heart. To sometimes whisper words of comfort, or have a shoulder to cry on. To talk to them, or just be quiet and listen. Help where I can, and stand back when necessary. I don’t always know the right thing to do but, I am trying….. Thank you, Jesus.

When the Lord <Jesus> saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” Luke 7:13

Seeing the people, He <Jesus> felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

When He <Jesus> went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. Matthew 14:14

…and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him! John 11:34-38 <after His friend, Lazarus, had died>

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One <Jesus> who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Every Moment An Adventure

Her hair is a wild halo of brown curls. She pushes it off her face with a quick swipe of her small hand. Her arm has the remnants of a purple marker, a reminder of her artistic ability that will wash off at her next bath. She is full of energy, bouncing and jumping, running and riding. Her bounce horse is sporting a pair of jingle bells for the season. They ring loudly as she rides her horse into the last lap, heading for home! Her sweet childish laughter rings out, infecting all those around her with a smile. I believe it is impossible to be sad when in the company of this sweet toddler. She is the pint-size embodiment of blazing hot sunshine….not the sunshine of a warm summer day, more like her going 100 mph with her hair on fire. Just sayin’.

Socks on and socks off, slippers next. In the life of a toddler, clothes are a necessary evil. It is so much easier to run and jump unencumbered without the restrictions of pants and a shirt. Striped leggings, butterfly wings, and Nana’s cat socks. Colors and softness and all things cozy. Fashion sense is less about sensibility and more about fun and freedom. 

A small voice that is just learning to sing Old McDonald’s Farm and Jesus Loves Me floats on the air from the backseat. I turn around to look and she is swaying back and forth to the music in her head. Her PopPop and I sing along. At the end of the impromptu concert, we get a not-standing ovation, clapping her hands and saying, “Good job!” My heart melts and leaks happiness all over.

Thank you, Let’s go!, and Outside?, are favorite words, ones that are used most often. Last night we read Olivia- Countdown to Christmas. In the world of children’s literature, Olivia is a little girl pig. She found the story fascinating and enjoyed sticking Olivia stickers all over the book. That is part of the fun! Being engaged with her and what she is doing is exhausting, and enlightening, and worth every single minute.

Every moment is an adventure. Every day a blessing. 

Psalm 139 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Fingerprints Of The Creator

The rogue raccoon is driving me nuts. He continues his nightly visits to the barn and eats all the barn cats’ food. Currently the dogs have him cornered under our house deck. They can’t get to him right now, but they are trying….because that is what raccoons do, and that is also what dogs do.

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I hear people say, “If only we (humans) were more like animals. They are loving and loyal.” Well, with some animals that may be true in certain circumstances, but for the most part animals act on instinct and live by the rule of survival of the fittest. My dogs love me, but they will kill that raccoon if they can ever reach it. My cats can be sweet and purring, but become furry assassins when there is a mouse, bug, or small snake involved. Chickens can be cruel. When one gets injured they peck at her when she is down. There is no loyalty or friendship amongst fowl. I could go on and on.

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Even in situations such as what is going on at my house this morning, God reminds me that I am loved. I am different than all His other creations. I am created in His image, and so are you. The image of the Almighty. Just take that in for a moment…..

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26 Then God said, “Let us (speaking to Jesus) make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1

Or the beloved verses of Psalm 139

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13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

You, my friend, have the fingerprints of the Creator, on your soul.

 

 

Challenge #4 Go Ahead, Make My Day

Quote a line from a favorite movie……. What makes it special?

“Beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. So when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.” –Birdee Pruit (played by Sandra Bullock) in Hope Floats

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This movie came out on the big screen in 1998. I actually saw it at an afternoon matinee with my aunt who was visiting my family in Tennessee at the time. It will be eighteen years this summer since I first heard that memorable line. I had just turned thirty, I had a three year old son, two young step-daughters, and was still a year away from hearing the doctor give my husband a diagnosis of an incurable heart condition.

Looking back, it is ironic that this quote would become a favorite at that time in my life. A time when I was still at the beginning in so many ways, scary yes, but also exciting. What I didn’t know then was the “endings are usually sad” part was going to be all too real to me in a short time. Isn’t it funny how we remember the seemingly insignificant things in our lives that lead up to the big, life changing things?

I agree with “it’s what’s in the middle that counts”. You’ve heard people say, everyone has a birth date and a death date…it’s that dash in between the dates that is important.

 

 

One Day We Will All Come Together

This world we currently live in is a broken, spinning orb. A world where we look for perfection, but, often times find division and doubt. There are wonderful moments for sure, but they are still tinged with the rot of this world….a rot that started when humankind bit hard into the fruit and felt the taste of separation from God.

But, for those of us that know Christ, one day we will all come together.

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Every race and nationality from all the corners of the world. Every socio-economic bracket. Male and female. Old and young. Big and small.

No barriers.

Together……..the redeemed.

Our voices will raise in unison to the One who deserves all the praise, all the glory, and all the honor, forever and ever. Amen.

What a day, glorious day, that will be!

“Jesus Messiah”   By: Chris Tomlin

He became sin, who knew no sin
That we might become His righteousness
He humbled himself and carried the cross

Love so amazing, love so amazing

Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all

His body the bread, his blood the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth trembled, and the veil was torn

Love so amazing, love so amazing, yeah

Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all

All our hope is in You, all our hope is in You
All the glory to You, God, the light of the world

Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners, the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all

 

 

How Much Do I Love?

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This morning during worship, in between praise songs, a question was asked. One of the young men very simply said, “Would the people that I love in my life, know that I love them, if I treated them the same way I treat my relationship with God?”

Only a moment long question, before we started singing the next song. I’ve been thinking about that question ever since. Words versus actions.

How can I show God this week, how much I love him? How can you?

Just something for us all to think about.

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 NIV

 

 

O Night Divine

 How often do we take the time to listen to the lyrics of the beloved Christmas carols? When do we stop singing from rote memorization and start singing with the realization of what the words truly mean?
O Holy Night 
O holy night the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth
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Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth
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A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new glorious morn
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Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
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O night divine
O night when Christ was born
O night divine o night
O night divine

 The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.  Luke 2:1-20 NIV