Friday, March 14, 2014

THE TEXT OF YOUR LIFE

ladylouisespeaks.com


I love my phone, but it sure does cause havoc at times.  

I spoke into the microphone (ahem and didn't review it before sending it); it told my friend that my son had to write an essay "for Lowes."  For Lowes?" my friend was totally lost when she texted back. I had to use my hand to text government "furloughs."  Wow, that really took us down a different path.

When I was driving to visit my friend Kim at her mom's house, I texted her that I was almost there (Hey, I was at a stop sign when I texted).  She  texted back, "Let me know when you are here, and I will help you carry your GUYS in." I told her this was a girl's weekend, no guys allowed.  I didn't bring any guys with me." She sure was lost in my response. Who knew BAGS could turn into GUYS?  We sure rolled with that for a few more laughs. I guess she didn't go back and look it over either.

Just recently, my friend Peggy texted me asking me to speak at her next ladies meeting.  She was giving me some ideas to speak about because she didn't want me to fret.  Her text said I could just use something I spoke about before like "Ann's vodka camp."  (Ann Voskamp,  if you are reading this, I promise we both got real belly laughs that you would appreciate.) I think Peggy didn't look over her text either.

Speaking on the phone today about that speaking engagement's topic and theme, we heard each other very clearly when we both agreed that the topic of my talk and her women's meeting theme could actually seem totally mismatched because it all comes back to Jesus anyway.  Since we are both teachers, we can cut a segue like no one's business. (Ann's vodka camp---I am imagining the slant now.)

And then the message clearly hit me...no matter the life we have been given...no matter the glory cloud we have ridden...no matter the circumstances we live in...no matter the heart that we have hidden...no matter the mess we have been in...it all slants back to Jesus.
pm4girls.elizabeth-harrin.com

And our life and messages are just that...words that are sometimes misunderstood, misspoken, unedited mistakes. And our life is that too. Sometimes our life's unedited version is a wild type run into the dark wildness... a run in confoundedly conflicting circles. I think of poor Pooh Bear lost in the Hundred Acre Wood and us lost in the Hunger Ache of Would and Should.

And in our life of unedited mistakes, we don't want to encounter the Heffalumps of Piglet's dreams in the dense woods, but we know some real characters in our life that we imagine to be a lot scarier. Sometimes characters that show up in texts and phone calls and doctor's diagnosis are just the scariest lumps we can imagine.

But it is true.  We circle dizzy along these blazing bee trails angered by the swarm of life, the loss of ourselves, hidden in our own dense fog, but eventually it all comes back to where we started.  It all comes back to where we  find the sweet.  We can choose the frantic fear and raging round and round rants or stop feeding the bear and then decide to run the bees from the tree and live off the honey.


It always comes back to Jesus----the text of the message our life and character wants to speak this more clearly than the mistaken unedited version.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

THANK GOD---EVERY TIME?

I  thank 
my God 
every time 
I remember you. 
(Phil. 1: 31)





remembrance.band.com


Let's face it; life would be easy if we didn't have to get along with people.  Work would be easy if we didn't have to encounter others.  Driving would be easy if no one else were on the road.  Family gatherings  would  run smoothly if no one showed up. Teaching would be easy if there were no kids.... You get the easy road?  It is void of people.  But that road doesn't exist, and we are called to walk down the one that is clearly filled with encountering others.  So this scripture today really needs to sink in.

I THANK ....Seems we are called to be thankful for people.  I am thankful for things and situations and jobs and people, but every person?  What response should this thankfulness muster? 

I THANK GOD...Seems God is the creator of those people in our path because we are called to thank Him; Who are the people that are coming to your mind right now that you are thankful for?  Your mom, your husband, your kids, your sister, your pastor.... We are inclined to thank Him for the wonderful people that we are thinking of right now.

But we aren't very happy about some of the people that cause stress in our lives. Are we called to also thank Him for  those that bring joy to our days AND those that create difficulty? Picture your day doing just that.  Thanking God for those people that you remember have caused you pain.   How might my attitude and outlook on life change if I thanked God more often for everyone in my path instead of grumbling inside about those that irritate me. Thanking God for each person reminds me that He gives them value, not me.

I THANK GOD EVERY TIME...Seems it is true that even those that bring the sunshine one day might be those  that  cause muddy puddles on another. Maybe that is why God wants us to be thankful EVERY time, not just on those days when we appreciate these people in our lives.  For sure, our thankfulness might not change them, but how might it change us?  How might who they are to us change?  

We are a repetitive people; we need to do some things over and over and over and over until some of the sentiment sinks down into our soul, until we have created the mental habit of  thanks.  We are never to tire of giving THANKS for one another. 

I THANK GOD EVERY TIME I REMEMBER YOU...Seems being thankful brings others back into our fold even when they might seem far away.   Our thoughts bring them back to us.  We RE- member them.  We bring them back into unity with us:  both spiritually and mentally.  This kind of thankful  expression is one of continuance, an unbroken remembrance of unbroken gratitude, earnestly and unabashedly thankful. 

THE CHALLENGE:  Maybe being thankful for another person EVERY TIME seems  impossibly foreign and daringly impossible.  Are you thinking of the person that you have said "NO WAY--I CANNOT BE THANKFUL FOR THAT ONE." How could this  even look in our lives?  There are no rules set  for when we are to be thankful: we are not thankful only when he speaks nicely or acts correctly or does something sweet for us. No...every time we remember them.  I hear you saying, "Then I am going to try hard to stop remembering them." Good luck with that! 

Maybe this challenge compels us to try to change our perspective about some people in our lives.  Maybe this challenge calls us to be intentional with those God has given to walk beside us. Maybe this challenge will help me understand the real essence of gratitude. 

Go ahead and try the challenge: thank God every time you remember that person.

I  thank 
my God 
every time 
I remember you


remembrance-band.com

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A PICTURE PERFECT IMAGE: SETTING THE SHUTTER TIME TO SHUDDER

It's Ash Wednesday and the third day of substituting for a photography class.  Although, I claim very little knowledge of photography, it made  me clarify  how I picture my days ahead.
livingbeing.com
I really should understand the basics of photography since I vividly recall the unit in 7th grade science. Sadly, I was traumatized by the teacher sending me into a dark room with certain 7th grade boys.  Is that when I began to pray out loud? The rumors of the activities that occurred in that over-sized closet, make-shift dark room, would have shut it down cold had they reached Mrs. Leach.

I was reminded in class today of the difference between shutter and shudder, and how really the one affects the other. The SHUTTER TIME affects my SHUDDER TIME. Ash Wednesday for me isn't about giving up  but rather lengthening the time I spend exposed and aware of God 's blessings. The SHUDDER time that brings reverence and awe in place of crippling fear.

Shutter speed is the length of time that the camera's shutter is open while taking a picture. And today, on Ash Wednesday we begin 40 days of Lent and many find ourselves looking for something to sacrifice in order to allow for more intentional saturation of  exposure to God because time really does impact the picture.  The more our eyes are open to the world that God creates, the more enlightened we are, the more beautiful the scene becomes, the more accurate we can set our lens to clearly sharpen our hearts to what He wants us to see.

Today, I need to find the right SHUDDER speed because I want to discover the awe in the marvelous light that God painted these landscape of my days with. But this kind of awe only comes through exposure. The length of exposure time affects how much light reaches my heart's sensor, and I am awakened to see His joy and beauty in its raw form. Being immersed in this abundant life means having my lens focused and zoomed in to what He created for me.
digital-photograph-school.com

Short SHUDDER TIME...small living...little exposure... foggy seeing...blurred lines...calloused hands and feet to others needs.  And in my fast paced world, I wonder how many times I have blinked quickly at God's offerings and missed His best for me.  Exposure to short sound byte to sound byte screens, how calloused have I come to the needs of those around me?  In the streaking speed of agenda living and list conquering, where has my lens sharpened to His movement in my world?

Long SHUDDER TIME ....slowing down time...more light exposure... transparent images...triune foundation .... braced on His promises ....holding still in His presence to absorb long and to see clearly the road ahead. Practiced dependence on His steady foundation exposes our life's transparent mission: an image that can only be clearly focused when stabilized through long SHUDDER TIME.

weheartit.com
We can manipulate the shutter time on a camera for a variety of affects to produce the picture of our lives that we want, just as we can manipulate our gifted time on Earth and get a variety of outcomes. God reveals Himself through both short and long SHUTTER times, just as surely as He creates every moment. For today, the reminder is that if we want to live within God's image, we must intentionally set the exposure to maximize our lives' SHUDDER time for the affect we want.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

BLESSINGS FOR MY NEPHEW





Blessing Andrew on His 18th Birthday

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…John 1: 14


Sound the trumpets...it's your 18th birthday
God has always been a God of words.  He has written them for us to abide by and to guide us through still waters and raging rivers. He has written them as a constant reminder that He promises to never forget us, that His grace and mercy are ours always.

So, Andrew, we speak our words to you today that are for all your days.  May they be His words for you, words that will speak of the life He has blessed you with thus far. May these words spoke through our penned words become a beacon for your days ahead.

The cry of our hearts is that you would know that the love we have for you as the love of an aunt, uncle, and cousins is no less a fierce love for your success.  It is a love which may not seem to impact your daily living, but it is one that always draws near to you in prayers for you.

We pray the upside wisdom of this world for you!  May the wisdom of our culture not confuse you to His words of wisdom.  Today on your 18th birthday, we pray over you as Jabez prayed in 1 Chronicles 4:10

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. 

Today we pray these same words over you that Jabez prayed long ago:

 1.God’s blessing:

May you always seek God as your comforter. When life seems overwhelming, may you quiet your soul and find solace that in the valleys you still stand girded by redemptions hill and His blood of forgiveness. May His redemption and His Words of comfort drive out anxiety and fear and worry. May you strive to remember to seek answers from His word, patiently and righteously waiting for answers.

 

2.   God will enlarge your territory:

May you consecrate as His land all the places you will go and the plans you make.  May God’s territory always be where you choose to live: whether in school, at work, in your marriage, with your kids. May His words always draw you to your knees at His cross where you lay all down before Him and rid yourself of you so you may then stand to go where He leads.  He will mark your life for victory in the path chosen for you as you walk humbly with Him.  He will prosper your endeavors, big and small. May He mark all the new territories with His increase.  He honors every effort in His name. 


3.   His hand may be upon your work:

May you submit to His guidance for each day of your tomorrow.  May you commit to lead with grace and mercy when you speak with all those you meet. May the touch of your hands used in work, in making music, in helping others, in praying for others, be hands that demonstrate kindness and gentleness.

4.   God’s protection and deliverance:

He will defend your God honoring efforts. May His strength be evident in your daily living when doubt tries to creep in and fear tries to cripple. May your walk through life continue to be built on the foundation of worshipping Him. May all that the world tells you is failure, shame, and sadness, be transfigured by His words of truth which promise deliverance and joy.

May your heart be content in finding success in His eyes, measuring it by His eternal standards. May you know that success will never be measured by the dollars that you can count, the type of car you drive, the size of your house, or the number of gadgets you acquire.  

The Bible never divulges any grand success Jabez had that the world would count as noteworthy by earthly standards; it only notes that He asked for it and God granted it.  His success was intentional, rooted in God’s plans, and noticeable. Whatever it was, there was evidence of God blessing his life.

Perhaps, the notable point in these words is not the outcome of Jabez’ plea, but the motivation behind his words from the beginning, Jabez’s act of worship and honor by seeking the One from whom all blessings truly fall.  So we ask that every day God you will acknowledge his leadership in your life. Jabez’s words proclaim that His heart from the start was bent toward the desires of God’s heart and God’s wisdom and God’s standards of success. Today and for all your future days, this is what we ask God to grant for you: that you seek Him with your heart, mind, and soul.  And may He grant your requests.

Love and prayers for continued success in Him,

Uncle Rick, Aunt Cherie, and your cousins Ariel, Dustin, Ricky, Daniel