Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cold and beautiful!

I love looking at the snow as it falls and covers the world with a white blanket.  It is beautiful.  However I would much rather view it from inside a warm house.  I’m known for taking a blanket with me when I do venture out.  If I could, I would walk around every single store I went into with it wrapped around me.  I don’t care who would look at me, hey at least I’m warm.  By the way, I have done that in Frankenmuth when our family takes our annual day after Thanksgiving trip.  I walk the streets wrapped up in my blanket and YES I do walk into the stores with it on.  My body screams at me when I expose it to the cold wind and bitter temperatures.  It lets me know that it is not happy at all with my choice of leaving the warm house. 

So with that all being said this just might shock you.  This winter I went outside and sat on my porch swing not once, but twice.  YEP, twice!  Once during a snow storm and the other time being last night.  I take my two blankets out with me and my fleece sleeping bag.  I crawl into my sleeping back and then wrap the remaining two blankets up and around me.  I sit there and swing for a few minutes till the cold breeze caused from moving back and forth gets a little too cold on my cheeks.   I then stop and just sit there listening and watching.  What am I listening to?  NOTHING!  It is always really nice to sit on my porch swing in the warmer season.  You get to hear all the wonderful things that come alive with the warm weather.  But when it’s cold out and snow is covering everything, there is a stillness.   A calm.  A serene feeling falls over you.  So as I sat there and tried not to notice the cold I was brought back to the simple things in life.  I get so caught up in not liking the cold that I forget to stop and take time to notice the beauty in the world during this time.  The simple things in life that I tend to move too quickly to notice sometimes.  I think that the world we live in and the beauty that it holds are taken for granted way too often.  It is easy to see and feel the beauty when you are soaking up sunshine, when you’re walking barefoot in the grass, the birds are singing in the trees, when walks can take you into the realm where creatures only trod, and when you can sit by the beach with your toes in the sand watching the waves come in.  It’s the time of coldness that beauty is not as noticeable.  When we rush to our cars or into places as to ward off the coldness.
 
I think that is kind of what we tend to do with our Christian walks as well.  When things are going great and everything seems to be just right, we see the beauty of what God has done and what he has given us.  It is when those rough times come, the 50 miles per hour winds that try to knock us down.  When all around us is pitch black and cold.  I think we tend to cuddle up in our blankets and try to hide out till the sun shines bright again.  I have learned that in those times is when I need to stop, slow down, and see the beauty even more.  The amazing things that God is doing to shelter me from this current storm.  How much he cares to take the time to watch over me, to teach me.  Remember you can’t have a rainbow without the storm.  Something beautiful is happening during that storm but you just won’t be able to see it till the clouds clear.  “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11–13 (NLT)   So take another look at winter and the winters in your life.  Slow down and take time to see the beauty and peace in them.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

I LOVE YOU!

A little boy plays outside running in the lawn, a mother inside the house folding laundry.  She hears the little boy, as he runs by the open window she sits by, yell loud and clear “I LOVE YOU MOMMY!”.  A little girl playing on the floor by her daddy’s feet, looks up and says, “I LOVE YOU DADDY!”.  You know what that is called?  Unsolicited love.  Love not asked for but given.  Not because they have to but because they want to.  Simple words that can bring a warm embrace to someone’s heart. 

As this week has brought a few things to light in my life, it seems that these 3 words keep running through my heart and mind.  We have had some pretty scary moments and it seems the only thing I could see, hear, and say was “I love you”.  Funny how I could see those words isn’t it?  I mean who really can see words when they aren’t spoken or written?  Well it is by the actions we see in others.  Actions of complete laying down of oneself and making room for another.  Love that wasn’t asked for but yet given because they wanted to.  Love needed in ways we do not normally think of needing it.  I needed that love this week and yet I also needed to give that very same love. 

My heart is heavy with the thought of how much do we individually show and give love?  Love is unconditional and yet we put so many conditions on love.  Why do we do this?  I think it is because we are afraid we will get hurt.  Christ gave the most unconditional love that could ever be given.  You better believe it hurt him.  “This is my commandment:   Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” – John 15:12 & 13 (NLT).  Isn’t that what Christ did for us?  There was no greater way for him to show us how much he loved us so he died to show us.  WOW!  I don’t know about you but that puts me in complete awe.  My heart begins to ponder then what exactly does it mean to love as he loved?  What does that love look like if we aren’t going to a cross to be crucified for others?  Do you know what that means?  Are you completely ready to explore what that looks like?  I dare you to find out, to explore, and go deeper into what that might look like for your life.  I bet your eyes and heart will be filled with some pretty amazing feats of love!    

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Beautiful inside or out?

I have never thought of myself as a vain person.  I don't usually care too much about wearing sweats and a ball cap to run to the store for a gallon of milk.  I don't feel I have to put make-up on just in case I bump into someone I might know.  But lately I have noticed that I'm looking into the mirror and not liking what I see.  I'm too white, dark circles under my eyes, another wrinkle, oh really, ANOTHER pimple, I guess I put off plucking my eyebrows too long, hair is WAY too frizzy....... the list goes on.  Then I walk away from the mirror and don't think about it again until the next visit to the bathroom.  Then it begins all over again.  I mean really, do we have to have a mirror right above the sink so that you can't wash your hands without seeing your face.  Can't the guys just guess where the hair is on their face when they shave?  Do they really need to see it?  After all they know where their chin is, don't they?  Mirrors should be outlawed until you look good enough and are able to look in them and see beauty! 

Ok so it really isn't that bad............

Isn't it funny what the world around us deems as beauty in a person?  I think it is men and women alike.  There is that picture perfect form of a human that the media sells us as being the model of "perfection".  Did anyone inform them that we were ALL created perfect?  We were created in God's image.  He created us and said "It is good".  We are good!  How many times have we looked upon someone for the first time and not wanted to talk to them because of the way they look?  We pass judgment on someone because they look different than what we may think is beautiful.  1 Samuel 16:7 "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NLT)  My thought is, if God doesn't look on the outward appearance, why should we?  Or are we looking at the outward appearance of our own selves and turning our own noses up?  We all have our bad days.  We can all look in the mirror and find something about ourselves that we don't like.  Are you taking time to look on the inside and finding out if you are beautiful there?  The world around us doesn't sell inside beauty; they concentrate on making money on keeping the outside beautiful.  Don't get me wrong, I like it very much when I get all dressed up with my hair done up, make-up on, the matching earrings and necklace, and those heels on my feet that make me a little taller even for an hour or two.  But I must not forget to dress my inside up and make sure that comes first.  Because only when the beauty is inside can I truly feel beautiful all the time and that I radiate that beauty to those around me.