Life Still Isn’t Slow…

I am still reading Chasing Slow. The book isn’t a massive volume and I very much enjoy reading it, but finding the time to slow down, on most days, can be daunting. How apropos that I would need to slow down to read about slowing down. Go figure.

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I, probably like most people, have lived a life that has taken many unexpected twists and turns. I often ponder the fact that when I was in high school I didn’t think I’d go to college five hundred miles away, in Tennessee. When I was was in college I never expected to stay in Tennessee after graduation, but to go back to my home state of Maryland to teach. The summer after I graduated from college, I never expected one of my professors to contact me about a special education job in a school in rural Tennessee. I didn’t expect to stay in Tennesse for the next twenty years. I didn’t know when I married at twenty-four that I’d be widowed and a single parent just a short eight years later. I didn’t know if I’d get remarried, especially to a man that lived in Texas. Yep. I married that guy. After a few years we decided to move to Ohio, and build our own house in the middle of what used to be a farm field. All these things, events, this life I call my own, none of this was part of my master plan. When I was a teenager I thought I’d live in a Cape Cod style house, in one of the New England states. I’d enjoy leaf peeping during the Autumn months, hikes through the mountains, and spend time reading books of poetry by Robert Frost. Alas, the Master Planner, had other plans for me. Better plans. Special plans. Surprising plans.

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Those of you that know me, know I am not a laid back kind of person…and yes, the world needs people like me! I am the one with the to-do list and the daytimer planner. I like things organized, alphabetized, and accessorized. I love a good surprise if it is a fun birthday gift or a Christmas present, but not so much anything else. If I start something I want to finish it. I don’t like loose ends. Yet, here I am in rural Ohio, surrounded by corn fields, and occasionally the neighbor’s rogue llamas.

Life still isn’t slow….but, I am working on it.

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

A Decision That Changed My Life

 

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Each of us lives in a world made up of milestone moments. Those moments in time that stand still, like a monument, even as the rest of life rushes by. Those special moments that, when woven together, help to create our story.

One of those moments happened to me right before my eleventh birthday in 1979. It was a sunny Sunday morning in May when I walked down the aisle of my small church and told the pastor I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart. You might be reading this and thinking, what does a fifth-grader know? How could I possibly understand what I was doing? I can tell you, I was old enough to know that I needed Jesus. Although I had grown up in a Christian home, and for my family attending church was a weekly occurrence, I still realized that I needed a personal relationship. Not my parent’s relationship with Jesus. Not my grandparent’s relationship. It was not even about attending church and sitting in a pew each Sunday. I loved Jesus, but I wanted to know Him. Even as an almost eleven-year-old, I knew I needed a Savior….even if I wasn’t able to verbalize all the reasons why, at that point.

That decision I made almost 38 years ago, has affected all subsequent decisions throughout my life. There is no other decision that I’ve made that has been more important. More life changing. More eternal. I am not here to say that life has always been easy since that day so many years ago. I have had many hard and difficult things happen over the years. I’ve cried. I’ve been angry….and I’ve often wondered why? Being a follower of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that life is easy or always happy. It is not about never having very real problems. The difference in having a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, is that He gives hope to the hopeless. He loves the unlovable. He has compassion for those who know they don’t deserve it.

His grace truly is amazing.

Becoming a Christian

God Loves You!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

God has a wonderful plan for your life!
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b)

Walking Down the “Romans Road” to Salvation . . . .Because of our sin, we are separated from God. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  (Romans 3:23) The Penalty for our sin is death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23The penalty for our sin was paid by Jesus Christ! But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) If we repent of our sin, then confess and trust Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we will be saved from our sins! For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:13)…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9,10)

***http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/about/becoming_a_christian.aspx

 

 

 

 

Showing Grace

We always have a choice.

To show grace to others, or not.

Yep, I get it.

Sometimes people do things, and we think we are justified to let them know they are wrong…even if we don’t express those thoughts with words. Many times actions speak much louder than our words ever could. We take the moral high ground, because we are right after all. That’s what we think. We didn’t make the poor choices. We didn’t make the wrong decisions. The “unforgivable sins”. If we act like everything is okay, doesn’t that appear like we are condoning whatever it is? That attitude is so easy to slide into. That we are better because we didn’t do those things.

And yet, it is when we show grace to others, that we are the most like Jesus. Choosing to love….in the midst of the mess. Choosing to forgive…is not accepting less.

When we acknowledge our own brokenness, the darkness of our own hearts, our own poor choices, mistakes, and mess ups, we begin to understand the amazing grace shown to us by Jesus. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He didn’t say, “I’ll wait until you are perfect.” Instead He said, “I love you”.

Ephesians 2:4-9 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

 

 

 

 

 

Is The Miracle…

She ceased hearing the rest of the words. She was stuck on the word cancer. The prognosis didn’t sound encouraging. Her Christmas joy faded right there in the doctor’s office.

He thought he was just having some problems, that some medicine would cure. Unfortunately, this problem called for more than a prescription.

The couple didn’t know if they were going to make it. The trying just seemed so hard. The smiles that used to exist, were now distant memories. When did life become this hard?

A sick child, hospital visits, stringent menus, and worry. That is what is served up this Christmas.

Unwanted diagnoses, senseless accidents, broken relationships and painful decisions. So much to deal with. Not sure if celebration is on the “to do” for many, this year.

And yet…..in the middle of the mess-ups, misfits, memories, and medical, is the miracle.

The miracle that is just as needed in 2016, as it was over two millennia ago. The miracle of Jesus coming into this sin scarred world…giving hope. Giving life. Giving Himself.

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It’s A Wonderful Life

Yes, it is true. This movie is one of my all time favorites to watch during the Christmas season. I wait for that time when George Bailey realizes that his life really did make a difference, and that things would be different if he had never existed. Most of all he realizes he truly does have a wonderful life.

I agree with George Bailey. Sometimes all we need is a reminder……

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Top Twenty Reasons It Truly IS A Wonderful Life: 

*Celebrating Jesus’ birth, the greatest gift of all (all other gifts pale in comparison to God entering time and space to make a difference for all eternity)

*Remembering The Light of the world (the baby born on that day so long ago, that grew into a man that shattered the dark– of hopelessness, and separation of man from God—because of His love for us)

* Christmas music (my favorites are O Holy Night, and White Christmas)

*Family, both near and far ,that I love and love me right back. (family in different states who don’t let the miles get in the way of showing love)

*All the kids home for Christmas (even though they are young adults)

*A new daughter-in-law (our first Christmas together)

*A new granddaughter, seeing everything for the first time. (is there anything more precious?)

*Sweet baby laughter (I could listen to this all day long)

*White lights (simple and pure)

* Hot Chocolate (home made, not from a packet)

*Snow on the ground (preferred over the ice)

*A warm house (yes!)

*New opportunities (one year is ending, a new one getting ready to begin)

*Friends (I am so blessed)

*The nice UPS guy--(we see him a lot)

*An “A”in my grad class (Hallelujah!)

*Time off from school (rest? maybe?)

*Watching Christmas movies with the family (fun times)

*Outside twinkle lights (it “looks” like Christmas)

*The night sky—Silent Night, Holy Night (there is nothing better than the winter night sky, cold and clear)

 

 

Light In A Dark World

 

My family enjoys seeing the lights at Christmas. There are some families that go all out decorating their houses like light show extravaganzas. You know what I mean. They are a sight to behold.  (Although, I always wonder about the January electric bill for these homes) The lights I enjoy seeing, made me think of something I read on another friend’s blog post the other day. She said, “See  the lights. Be the light.”

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Light that cuts through the darkness.

Light that brings joy to those who see it.

Much like the Light that cut through the darkness of time and space…

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Flashback over 2000 years ago… A dark night. A man and a woman who needed a place to stay. No one could help them out. The city was busy and there was not one room available. They were bone tired. The young woman was not feeling so well, she knew that this child that she had been carrying for the past 9 months, was ready to be born. But where?  The man managed to talk an inn keeper into allowing them to sleep in his stable, which was really not much more than a cave.  A literal hole in the wall.

In the stench of barnyard animals, the greatest gift to mankind was born that night. A night where people were running to and fro, busy with their lives. A night where no one was really paying much attention. A night not so unlike what we have now. God came into the world. Jesus left Heaven to come to this earth in human flesh. AND THE WORLD HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME SINCE. A divine gift. A gift of love to humankind. A light to the world. Light that split the enveloping darkness of that night, as well as all the days and nights to come.  –(excerpt from my archives)

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The Fire of Resentment

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Have you ever read something and knew, just knew, that God sent it directly to you? Like a target was on your forehead or something? Two days ago, my calendar devotion by Sarah Young (Jesus Calling) spoke about rebellious tendencies, and resentment. As I read it, I thought to myself, “I don’t want to read this. I don’t want to even think about this.” I suppose a lot of us are like that, huh?  God wouldn’t let me drop it. It kept playing over and over again in my mind.

Sarah Young wrote, “When something interferes with your plans or desires, you tend to resent the interference.” Ouch. That stings. Yes, I admit it, I want what I want. When other plans, especially things in which I feel I have no choice or control, happen, I resent it…..and, not just a little teeny weeny resentment, either. I’m talking about a massive, fire in my gut, that burns hotter than any California wildfire. She went on to say, “The best response to losses or thwarted hopes is praise.” Oh, no. Not that. I don’t feel like praise. I feel like anger. I don’t want to praise. I want to sulk. I want to yell. I want to stomp around and be upset.

Of course, that is not what God wants for me. He wants for me to see Him in the everyday. Each moment, both good and bad, and be thankful. Maybe He is attempting to teach me something, or show me something. Instead of complaining about the inconvenience, I need to be grateful for the opportunities.

Tomorrow is a new day.