Thursday, October 11, 2012

Worried Shoes

I spend a lot of time driving back and forth to school during the week. It gives me a lot of time to listen to music that I haven’t listened to in a while. Today as I drove, I picked something from my mp3 player and began enjoying what I chose. As I got closer to school, a particular song came on. I have always liked this song and sang along. But for some reason today, I actually heard what I was singing. “My worried shoes. And with every step that I'd take I'd remember my mistake. As I marched further and further away. In my worried shoes.” Wait, WHAT? I need to restart this song, so I hit the button. “My worried shoes. And my shoes took me down a crooked path. Away from all welcome mats.” Man this is really speaking to me. I stopped the song and went into class. As soon as I got back to the car, I hit play but then replay again. This time I really listened to ALL the lyrics:

I took my lucky break and I broke it in two
Put on my worried shoes
My worried shoes
And my shoes took me so many miles and they never wore out
My worried shoes
I made a mistake and I never forgot
I tied knots in the laces of
My worried shoes
And with every step that I'd take I'd remember my mistake
As I marched further and further away
In my worried shoes
My worried shoes
And my shoes took me down a crooked path
Away from all welcome mats
My worried shoes
And then one day I looked around and I found the sun shining down
And I took off my worried shoes
And the feet broke free
I didn't need to wear
Then I knew the difference between worrying and caring
'Cause I've got a lot of walking to do
And I don't want to wear
My worried shoes

How many times do we put on our worried shoes because we forget that God can handle the situation? For a little while, those shoes seem to hold up pretty good and carry us along our way. However, it doesn’t last a long time. There is always something that ties us up and we realize how big of a mistake it was to put on those worried shoes. At that point in time, we have gone so far with our shoes that it seems like we will never be able to take them off. So we just keep walking further we encounter a rough path that leads us away from the place that would welcome us without question during our situation. Until finally while in these shoes, we realize we just can’t do it anymore. We fall down and finally look up and see God shining down on us with open arms. We finally give up our thought of “I got this” and give those shoes over. Once we do, man do our feet feel so much better and our blisters are automatically healed. The heaviness is lifted and we feel free. We now see the difference of us worrying against allowing God to handle it. He has a lot more walking planned for us and it would be so much easier for us to do if we left those worried shoes off.

 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” ~ Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)

“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?” ~ Luke 12:25-26 (NLT)

Are we going to be able to add anything to our lives if we worry? NO! I think it is pretty clear that God doesn't want us to worry. There are several more scriptures that we could look at about not taking things on ourselves and letting God take care of it all.

My challenge for you… Are you wasting time by worrying? Do you even realize you are worrying but somehow you feel sad, lonely, and lost? Maybe you should look and see if you have your worried shoes on. Take them off this week. Put them in a box and get rid of them. Try your bare feet and see how it feels to wiggle your toes and allow God to take the worry from you. Let the sun shine down on you!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Did you live today?

Many of you know that we have recently purchased a house. This house was in such disrepair that it has taken a lot of our time and resources to make it into a home. We are on the last stretch. It may take a little longer but things are getting done, and most of the hard work is completed. That unfortunately has not left me with much free time. I have had many things laid on my heart during this time though. God has shown me so many different things that need to be refreshed or simplified. So I will do my best to follow through, as much as I can, and bring some of these to you, Lord willing.

Our family has experienced a death yet again. There is no amount of time that can prepare for the loss of a loved one. It never will be an easy thing to have to endure. No matter how you look at it, death is a fact of life and will consume us all one day. I have gone through the death of countless family and friends. Between my husband and me, we have had both young and old alike, leave this journey and venture into the next journey of eternity. With some, we had foresight that life would soon end. With others, we were in shock with the passing. They seemed filled with energy and then suddenly it was taken away from them. Death is a part of life yet we sometimes question and wonder why it happened. There was still so much life to live. They will miss out on so much. There are so many experiences that were not able to be explored. We begin to bemoan the life that will not get a chance to experience so many different things.

This got me thinking. Thinking about what if we began to notice what life has for us and what we can do BEFORE we lose it? We get so caught up on what a life missed out on or will never get the chance to do. What will people say about us when our life ends, and we begin our next journey? Will they see moments that we missed? What if we don’t miss anything? No matter what time in your life God calls you home. Are we missing out already on things in our life that we don’t notice? There are so many things that we don’t see or notice because we are so busy with life. What if we set the busy life aside for a little bit and focused on what we can do with our lives instead of what we can get out of it?

We were given a gift. Life is something that too many take for granted. We are not meant to live forever. Every day we wake up is a gift. We have never been promised tomorrow. You only have today. Do we know what tomorrow will bring? Not really. Our life could end tomorrow. What if we started to try to make each day count? What if we set goals for each day? These goals would be to cause a change in the world around you. The actions probably would change each day. What if we didn’t focus so much about us but instead, decided to think about someone else and how you can help? What do you think your life would look like if you did this?

“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” ~ James 4:13-15

My challenge… begin to ask God what HE would want you to do with your day. Be purposeful about what you do each day. At the end of this life, there should not be any regrets or wishful thoughts. We live, we love, we forgive and never give up Cuz the days we are given are gifts from above And today we remember to live and to love.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Techno Christian

Is social networks and texting becoming the new way of sharing personal and private information with friends and family?

This is a question that has been on my mind for months or even a year now, sometimes a rather heavy thought. There have been situations in life that I have watched being played out for the entire world to see. Have we become so uncensored that nothing is held back anymore? Just because the typed word does not get a verbal response heard does not mean that it is not received. Sometimes I think because we don’t hear somebody actually respond with a voice; we feel it is okay to say anything or everything we desire. Maybe I’m old school here, but I do believe there is something to be said for personal connections in person. Oh I understand that sometimes miles separate us from an individual and the social network sites or texting is how communication is done. However, if the phone works for texting guess what else it works for: CALLING! Okay I can even give you a little more technology on this one. The computer makes it possible to video chat with a friend or family member. I live a distance from my entire extended family, so I do understand the helpfulness of the social networks and texting. It is nice to keep up to date with pictures of growing children or loved friends and family. However, where does that line get drawn as to what personal information we share? The exciting or even life-altering times during our life are important to share. However, sometimes the decision to share them in a very non-personal way is made.  The lack of personal touch is now the reality of our lives. Have we lost the sensitivity that was given to us in order to reach and touch people on a deeper level?

Technology has seemed to replace human contact in a lot of ways. Phone calls aren’t made as much because text messaging is so much easier and quicker. Emails are sent instead of a hand-written letter. A like button is hit to show someone you accept what they are posting. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy having these things to help keep in touch with individuals whom I no longer am able to see because of distance. Nevertheless, there seems to be something that is still bothering me. What I personally have an issue with is that we seem to be losing touch with what it means to live a Christian life IN FRONT of people.

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.  No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” ~ Matthew 5:13-16

Those scriptures sure say a lot but not specific on this topic. It is on our live in general. Since social networks and texting has become a general way of life, don’t you think that it would apply to this area now too?

My challenge for you…What does it mean to shine your light in the world we live in now? Are you careful what you post online and what you say? Does what you say shine the light of God? Are you salt to those you know and adding flavor to their lives? Even though we live in a technology-driven society, we STILL must know what it means to be a Christian in it. Do you rely solely on social media or texting to share intimate information? I challenge you to think BEFORE you post something online and check to see if it shines your light. Are you hiding behind the computer? Call to talk to a friend instead of texting. Let them hear your voice! A person can feel a smile on your face within the tone of your voice. Give it a try, I dare you!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Forever Spring!

The weather is warming a bit early this year, and I’m finding myself having a hard time focusing on my school work. This semester is already demanding so much of my time and brain power. And now I’m being drawn away by this beautiful weather. The bird’s song outside my window is hard to ignore. The green grass is calling my toes to walk barefoot through it. The sunshine is tickling my skin and pleading to kiss it with a little color. Nevertheless, the reality of books, papers, projects, and due dates is looming. A part of me really would like to say I’m done and walk away from all this hard work. However, a bigger part of me desires to accomplish my degree and see this through to the end. I must keep in mind that there is a prize at the end of all this hard work and struggle.

Boy did this get me thinking of our Christian walk. I have written about seasons in our life and also seasons with our friendships. My friend I’m here to tell you that there is NO season change within our walk with God. There may be conditions that may become a little turbulent from time to time but there is NEVER a complete change of what a Christian walk is. I will be the first to admit that what felt like the bitter cold of winter, blow by me from time to time or gotten wet from a spring shower that turned into a thunderous storm. The only season change in your walk is when you initially gave your heart to God. Your unending dark, cold, and grey winter turned into the never-ending spring. Your life was reborn as flowers, trees, and grasses are after the long hibernation. Why is this the season we are supposed to remain in?

“When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” ~ Romans 6:10-14 (NLT)

We are always in a state of new life. We are no longer held back by the blanket of cold snow and bitter winds. Our beauty is allowed to poke through as people stop to look at it. Yes, we do have storms we must go through in our lives. Again, there are seasons in our life but NOT our Christian walk. There is a difference. The storms are things that give us the change to be stretched in new ways and grow more beautiful. It is easy to allow those storms or tactics of the devil to distract us and cause our attention to be turned from the path in front of us. Small things can grab our attention and make us hesitate to take a step or two. That is ALL the devil wants you to do so he can put his hook in you. All he needs is a second and a small thing to just turn your head. Just to remind you, look past the storm or the enticing pulls of Satan. Past the storm that is currently raging. You still have NEW LIFE! You are STILL a beautiful new creation. You are STILL in your spring season. Remember there are severe storms during the actual spring season that makes us tie things down and bring things in from outside. The very same storms go on in our walk. So tie things down. Bring things in if you have to. Stand and endure them. Through all the struggle and trials, you will be rewarded and receive the prize.

My challenge… do you have little things in your life that has caused you to pause a step or two? Do you have small things that don’t seem like a big deal, and it isn’t that bad? Have you allowed yourself to be distracted from the prize that will come at the end? Little things matter my fellow sisters and brothers.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Take a GOOD look!

I was given a rare opportunity that I didn’t recognize right away.  I was intrigued at how friendly this complete stranger was.  He was waiting for friends to arrive and I was waiting for a friend as she was busy with work.  There was an occasional interjection she was able to make between phone calls.  However, mostly the conversation was between him and me.  The things he said were a typical conversation but struck me later as a HUGE eye opener. 

I could tell by his accent that he was not from the area.  The occasional “aye” was added at the end of his sentences. My mind was trying to not focus on that and tried to pay attention to what he was actually saying.  Hard to do when you hear something that you don’t usually hear from someone.  This was the beginning of me trying to pay attention to more than the words he was actually saying. 

The things he said were interesting.  He was from Canada and was here on business with the company he ran with a buddy.  It started out with him saying that he has been sober for twenty some years.  My friend and I congratulated him for being so brave.  He proceeded to expound on how his life has changed and how he had so much more to focus on and live for now with children.  At some point in time, I’m not sure exactly how the topic changed; he began expressing how his travels in the United States had shown him a few things. 

His travels had taken him to many different states and cities.  There was one thing that he took with him from all these places.  The attitude from people and how they treated one another was surprising to him.  He didn’t understand why people would talk about other individuals with such disregard.  He spoke of how life in his hometown differed quite a bit.  He said people in Canada, no matter where they were from, had a bigger goal in mind.  Instead of individuals thinking they were better than others around them and speaking down of them, people actually helped others no matter what background, race, or education.  Coming to the United States was nice but he said he would much rather live and work in his hometown than here.

WOW step back!  YIKES!!!!  I have not been able to get what he said out of my mind.  It keeps ringing loudly and begs for recognition.  This blog goes along with my last one posted so well.  It also goes along with what my husband has been preaching about.  We NEED to wake up!  We NEED to t look at people differently.  We need to treat them with such a love and compassion like we have never done before.  It doesn’t matter if we know them or not.  We sometimes think that our way is the better way or the right way.  Why do we seem to have this attitude in America?  Greed?  The “American Dream?”  All I know is the scriptures tell us different.

 “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 7:12 (NLT)

We as Christians are called to something different.  Something set apart from what America tells us is normal.  You like it when people talk nicely about you and when they treat you warmly.  So what about that person that you can’t seem to get along with?  How do you treat them?  EXACTLY how you would want to be treated.  That person that is driving slowly in front of you when you are trying to get someplace on time?  The list goes on but I think you get the idea. 

My challenge this week… think twice before you get irritated with someone.  Ask yourself if this is how you would want to be thought about or treated.  God commands us to shine HIS light and spread it to the end of the world.  Are you shinning in your community or circle of friends?  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What do your eyes see?

A woman is sitting on the side of the road with a bag in her hand and a child at her side.  People drive by with not even a second glance.  Nobody notices that she is crying and her child is trying to comfort her the best way he or she knows how.  She has no clue where to go or what to do.  The only life she has known for ten years no longer exists.  She has no other family members, and all her friends have turned their backs on her.  She picks herself up and walks on. 

 A man is walking around in the store with a pair of ripped jeans, holes in his shirt, and a hat turned down.  People walk past him without seeing him.  They don’t see he is trying to add the prices of the milk, eggs, and bread to see if he has enough money to feed his family.  People walk by on their phone with a call from a friend who wanted to complain about their job or a family member.  “How dare that person be in my way?  He is just standing there looking at his cart!  UGH I’m in a hurry, and he is making me late!”  This is what the man hears as a tear slowly finds its way down his face.  He quickly decides that he doesn’t have the money for one of the items but is unsure which one is least important and walks off.

The person returns home after driving past the woman with her child and passing the man in the store.  They put their few items away and sign on to their computer.  They spend the next two hours catching up on all of their “friends” on whatever networking page they have.  They have a hard time picking who to say what to and how to respond to a post. 

My heart is troubled by a couple of things.  It is interesting how they seem to fit together most of the time.  Years ago I’m sure there were other “good reasons” not to notice.  However, in this day and age, we have become more of a technology-driven society.  The two examples I provided about people not being seen, happens every single day.  Maybe not in the same exact circumstances but there is always pain.  The person rushing by his or her day not noticing, for one reason or another, happens more and more every day.  We have become so busy with our own lives that we don’t even notice or pass judgment on the appearance of others. 

Another thing I have noticed, we are people that if a good friend is in need or trouble, we do everything possible to help them out.  Our hearts break for them, and we wish we could take their pain away.  This is a really good thing, don’t get me wrong.  Nevertheless, there is hurt and pain all around us.  There is always somebody that is in need of something.  It just may not be as evident as others. 

I am reminded of how God tells us to look at others:

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” ~  Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)

It tells us that we must VALUE others.  What does value actually mean?  It means, the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance or preciousness of something.  HMM so basically again He is telling us to treat them more important than ourselves.  He tends to say that a lot!  Look a little further.  He tells us not to do it with our own interests in mind.  We don’t do it to make ourselves look better.  We need to do it because we genuinely WANT to do it and because, in the words of an old song, we may be the only Jesus, some may EVER see! 

So, my challenge to you is …… put down your phone, pay attention at the store or where ever you may be and REALLY notice people.  OPEN your eyes and see into a person.  This week as you are out and about, I’m going to ask you to not be on your phones while checking out.  Talk to the clerk.  Say hi or smile as you pass people.  You can ALWAYS call that person back or chat with him or her online another time.  See with the eyes of God and you might be amazed at what you see!

This song says it so very well!