Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Set Apart and Consecrated

The word, consecrate, stood out to me in my devotions yesterday. Consecrate: to make something or declare something sacred, blessed, sanctified, make holy, dedicated to God, devoted, reserved, anointed, set apart.

In Luke 2, we read that Jesus' parents took Him to the temple to be consecrated to God. We took that seriously as the template for consecrating our children to God when they were babies. We verbally, from our hearts, consecrated them to God and we prayed that they would be set apart by God, for God.

Often we attribute that word to only religious connotations when we're in church or to those "religious" people who are becoming pastors, priests, deacons, evangelists, nuns, etc. But Joshua told the Hebrews in Joshua 3:5 "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." Israel needed to remember what kind of people God was calling them to be. They were moving into the Promised Land to establish a nation that would display God’s character and will that fulfilled God's promise to bless all nations through His people (Genesis 12:1-3). God was setting them apart as His holy people for His work that required holiness in their lives.

Yesterday morning as I read about "consecration", the words to this old hymn by Fannie Crosby, "Draw Me Nearer" came to me:
Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

What if that were the prayer we prayed, not just for ourselves, but for our families, our marriages, our children, and our businesses? "Lord, I ask you to "consecrate" (set apart, make holy, bless, make sacred) my family, my children, my business, my marriage." That prayer means stepping away from things and actions that are outside of a "consecrated" life, like the way we manage our personal funds, the way we treat our husband or wife; the way we dress and the way we use our time and talents; what we watch like questionable internet sites, movies, literature and from the priorities we set for ourselves to the way we love and respect each other -- in our homes, business and the marketplace. Consecrating our families means building homes of integrity and honor that will build a legacy; giving God priority in decision making; making God CENTER of everything.

We live in a world when it's often difficult to distinguish whose side we're on, but when we take Joshua's words seriously from Joshua 24:14,15 "Choose you this day who you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," then there's no question whose side we're on. We've been consecrated and we're on the Lord's side.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Are We Behaving Wisely?

Typically, we use the word, misbehaving, when it comes to the way our children act up. But, I'm sure you will agree that we have been inundated with "misbehaving" adults lately, particularly in the political arena. But, that's them, what about us? We faith-talking, Bible-toting, cross-wearing, Christ-following people are being watched by those in our sphere of influence. They scrutinize us and the life we live at home and outside the home is one we cannot afford to compromise or lose. Like David, we need to BEHAVE ourselves wisely. Take a look at his example:

We first hear about David` as a shepherd boy keeping watch over his father's sheep. Then we read about him being anointed by Samuel to become king one day. Soon he started serving King Saul in a musical capacity and though he still tended his sheep, when Saul called for him to play his music, he showed up. Not long after that, he defeated the Philistine giant, Goliath.

That conquest was greater than only killing Goliath. When the Philistines saw that their leader was dead, they ran in terror. That's when the Israeli armies ran after the Philistines, killed them all and plundered their tents. Not only were their enemies defeated, but they took home the goods and treasures with them.

The crowd's victory cheers went like this "Saul has slain his thousands, but David, his ten-thousands." From that point on, Saul's jealousy made him bound and determined to kill David, but all his attempts were foiled. This leads me back to my main point in today's post. In 1 Samuel 18:5, we read "So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and he BEHAVED wisely." Verse 14: "And David BEHAVED in all his ways, and the Lord was with him." In Verse 30, "David BEHAVED more wisely than all the servants of Saul so that his name became highly esteemed."

David did the right thing when the wrong thing was done to him. He could have become arrogant and self-serving when he received all the acclaim, but he BEHAVED well. He could have taken revenge on Saul, but he BEHAVED well. He BEHAVED well even when he carried a lot of responsibilities. As David behaved himself wisely he earned the respect of the people of Israel and even the servants of Saul. He served patiently and faithfully and he was noticed and respected for that.

Our country is in desperate need of Godly leadership. We need those who will live a life of integrity before God and others. Integrity is not just measured by who we are in public, but who we are in private when no one else is around. Integrity and character are doing the right thing when no one is watching. As followers of Christ, we should BEHAVE ourselves in such a way that it pleases and honors God. Shouldn't we, in every situation, be men and women of integrity? Shouldn't we consistently be asking ourselves: "Am I behaving well in this situation? Am I making a difference in the world around me? Do we hear God saying about us "She/He behaved wisely." If not, shouldn't we make it a priority to start NOW?

Sunday, August 12, 2018

There’s No Age Limit for Love and Romance

They say love strikes when you least expect it. And yesterday it was proven 100% to be true. Nancy, my “single-for-17-years” dear friend lived just across the pond from me. We were among the first who moved into our brand new Hyde Park community in Tulsa in 2012. And, Bill and his wife, moved into the community a couple of years later. Bill’s wife of 57 years passed away last year and a few months later, he and Nancy started dating. The two of them have so much in common. He was formerly a Baptist pastor with a Ph.D. in Greek New Testament, and U.S. Air Force Chaplain for 30 years and Nancy has been a Bible teacher, piano player/teacher and choir member at her Tulsa’s First Presbyterian Church. Sincerely, it was a match made in heaven. There’s a real plus to a marriage at this season of their lives (both are 77). Unlike their first marriages, both of them have the big life questions figured out: kids, jobs, and finances. When Nancy announced to her son “We’re getting married!” he said, “Mom, aren’t you rushing things a little bit?” Her reply was “Son, time is not on our side!”

I get it. Falling in love at any age is a wonderful experience, but I understand there are many bonus benefits when you’re older. It can bring companionship, encourage you to stay physically active (both Nancy and Bill are golfers, pickleball players and they love to travel). When I was visiting with Nancy after she and Bill had just become engaged, I said “Nancy, are you sure you’re ready to give up the TV remote to him, cook for him, wash his clothes, give up all the singles activities, and give up choosing your own schedule for everything?” She replied, “100%, yes!” I said, “Yes, my friend, you’re in love!”

How blessed I was to watch them “seal the deal” yesterday in a most beautiful wedding ceremony in the First Presbyterian Church chapel in which many of our Hyde Park community were there to witness this joyful time of joining this amazing couple together. We like to think that our Hyde Park community deserves a lot of credit for this union, but Pastor Jim Miller said “It is so much more than that. It is God’s providence, grace, love and His way of surprising His beloved children.“ The pastor had met with the couple before marrying them and so he spoke of Bill’s words about their upcoming nuptials. “It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to raise a senior citizen. My village helped me survive the loss of my wife of 57 years. My village made it possible to love again and embrace this wonderful, unimaginable, beautiful, precious…my Nancy. My village has names: my sons and their wives, my brothers and their wives, my grandchildren. Nancy brings so much more than I do. Her strong faith, her transparency, and openness touch me and others.” Pastor Miller went on and shared Nancy’s words that revolved around “chapters”. “I never thought I’d be married again. I am so blessed beyond my wildest dreams to have this incredible new chapter added to my life. I know these words explain it: Matthew 6:33 “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS will be added to you.”

Pastor Miller went on “We need to be around people like Nancy and Bill. They’ll speak to how God intersects our lives." About that time a sharp, loud crack of lightning & thunder sounded outside. Pastor Miller retorted: "That is the way life goes -- like a bolt of lightning cracking in our lives and we wonder, does God really care? What gives your life centering at times like that? The answer is the One who carried the cross. (He pointed to the cross behind him.) That "centering" makes the difference in the chapters of the story that Nancy spoke about. There is a crimson thread of God’s grace and mercy in this love story."

I loved it when Pastor Miller held up Nancy’s ring and called it “a promise ring”. Promises are made to keep. Maybe you’re reading this blog today and thinking “Geeez….I’ve been waiting for MY true love a long time and it seems he/she will never come. I think Nancy and Bill’s “surprise” was no surprise at all to God. It was the answer to their prayers because as Matthew 6:33 says…..”Seek God and His righteousness with all your hearts….(They did!) AND all these things will be added to you (And, those things were added to a couple that certainly proved those words). Maybe God is getting ready to surprise you, too!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Had Any Knee Jerk Reactions Lately?

This weekend's activities weren’t a knee-jerk reaction. It was well planned to go to Tulsa for my two 77-year old friends’ wedding. How could I miss a sweet love story celebration? I knew I just had to make the trip. I know it will be worth it.

On Thursday, I helped a dear friend that's going through a divorce move some of her things. Her movers were coming on Saturday. She’s been taking her time on this move because it included a lot of decisions to be made. After prayer, she had new insight about some complications of moving on the weekend instead of during the week. I overheard her talking to a friend who was questioning her reasons, but she told her friend: “Please don’t question my reasons, God directed me when to move!” She was strategizing with God's wisdom and direction.

These two sets of friends are making some really big decisions and both are seeking God for His direction. There are plenty of times when we all have huge decisions to make. "Should I say “yes” or should I say “no”. Should I stay or should I go?" And there were times when rather than waiting to hear the voice of God, we just can't sit idly still. So, with a knee-jerk reaction, we GO.....only to realize we put the cart before the horse...er..rather, we put our ways before God's ways.

What happened to the instruction from our loving, all-knowing Father? ”Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10) But we can't just sit STILL long enough to get the plan from THE MAN. So we head out on our own. A friend told me she really made a mess of a hasty decision and became quite disappointed in herself. She went to see her Mom and her downcast attitude caused her mother to say, “I know that look! So, you had to be in charge again, instead of letting God be charge?"

We can sure get ourselves into some messes. We make those decisions without consulting God and we forward aggressively. Then suddenly we’re overcome with a loss of peace and a troubled heart. Our “knee-jerk” reaction propels us into unknown territory because we made some regretful decisions.

Here’s what I love about this faith journey we are on. Though we may start out our day as independent, self-willed "can-do" people, and we may get ourselves into some crazy situations that may come as a surprise to us, they are not a surprise to God. In spite of our knee-jerk reactions, God is still our loving Father. And, like our kids who repeatedly do something that we’ve told them a hundred times not to do, we lovingly reel them back in with correction and help them through the mess they got themselves into. That's how much God loves us too!

God’s character can be trusted. God delights in answering our prayers, but He doesn’t always answer how we think He should answer. I think I have great ideas about how my life should go. I think I know what is best, but then I remember that He knows better. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows what outcome will bring about His purposes. He wants to bless us with good things: health, wholeness, peace, joy, and rest. When I pray and I feel as though He is silent or not letting me in on the game plan, I have to trust that there is a purpose to what He hasn’t told me. He doesn’t hide things from us to hurt us. He will allow us in on His plans in His perfect timing. His perfect timing is the timing that places us at the right place at the right time with what we need for ultimate blessings.

Thankfully, when we're impulsive and have knee-jerk reactions, our loving Father gently jerks us back on course to help us finish the race we've started.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Curb Appeal Matters

In the community I live in, all of the yards are pristine -- nicely edged, cut, bushes trimmed, no garage doors open. Every home has curb appeal. It’s a requirement here in this 55+ community.

I've been a R/E Estate Broker for 18 years and I know curb appeal and first impressions matter. A run-down looking property detracts buyers, but a property with a welcoming smile on its face aka fresh coat of paint, landscaping enhanced and tidy, and clean appearance causes buyers to want to know more about that property. Let’s face it, first impressions matter in homes and in us! We spend extra time in front of the mirror before a first date and we care about how we dress for a job interview.

For years, buyers have formed their first impressions of homes while standing in the street or sitting in the car, just beyond the curb. The initial drive-by would determine whether or not buyers would want to see the inside of the house. To get that buyer in the door, the seller spent hours, even days, seeding new grass, planting flowers, painting their front door, weeding and cleaning up the yard. If the home didn’t appeal from the curb, buyers moved on to the next house. Curb appeal was always the single most important piece of the home sale puzzle.

Maybe this post will help you market your home....if you're wanting to, but foremost, this post is to express the importance of our own personal "curb appeal". What is it about us that draws people to us or detracts people away from us? Is our disposition cranky, and dismal and is our attitude "cloudy" and "glass half empty"? Do we look exhausted and worried? Do we look like we could care less about what others think about us? Or, do we look act faith-filled, optimistic, "sunny" and "glass full of joy"?

What is that "first impression" others get of us? If we really want to convey the love of God, His peace that passes understanding, the graciousness and appeal of the Holy Spirit, then our "curb appeal" matters. We were created in the image of God, and God sure doesn't make junk. God sees us as a masterpiece. Do others see us as God's masterpiece?

Sure the world focuses on what people look like on the outside. God focuses on what people look like on the inside. When we focus on what's beautiful on the inside, we will exude that beauty -- that "curb appeal" on the outside.

Maybe, this post is two-fold -- our home's curb appeal and our curb appeal as the "home of the Holy Spirit" who dwells in us. "Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16. How's that for realizing what our curb appeal should be. We are not just houses, but we are temples of Almighty God -- how could our curb appeal be less than our BEST?

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Connecting the Dots

While we're waiting for our food to arrive at the restaurant, my youngest grandson and I enjoy playing "Connect the dots". I'm sure you've played it many times. Once upon a time, I let him win, but what in the world -- now he skunks me! Remember when we connected the numbers on a page by drawing lines to the next number and soon it unveiled a picture of something?

It's amusing to hear the latest phrases that are coined like "Let's connect the dots". It's used as a metaphor to illustrate an ability to find the "big picture". Yesterday my blog/post was about the action in the new Mission Impossible movie. It was because you never know what's going to happen next. It's what made the movie great. Twists and turns. Ups and downs. Victories and defeats. Fast-paced and, well, a few slowed paced times. But, ultimately, (Spoiler Alert!), the good guys win! The dots were connected and everything came together.

Here's the deal about connecting the dots of our lives. God is the One connecting our dots. We think "Why did that happen?" My most quoted scripture is this one that explains God's way of thinking about the "Whys" in our lives. Romans 8:28 "All things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose." Think about this:

~ Without Judas, the betrayer, there would have never been the death of Jesus on the cross and then be risen from the dead which leads to our salvation.
~ Without the pit and prison, Joseph would have never made it to the palace and receive the highest position of the land to spare His family -- the brothers that betrayed him.
~ Without the lion, the bear and the giant, David would never have become king.

And, what about you and me? What crisis or setback caused you to stretch and pray and ultimately arrive at your present situation that is the one you were hoping for or at least the one that opened the door to the next one? In my case, my husband's illness and passing created this desire and ability to blog and post daily. I started blogging to display our trust and faith in God during some tough times, but it led me to find a new passion and dream new dreams. In your case, it might be that the loss of your job, opened the door for a better job. The pain and suffering you've experienced might have led you to encourage others by using your tests as a testimony of God's amazing grace.

We don't have to know it all and understand everything about this race we're running. Instead of looking to the left or right, we just keep moving forward. We should never fight it if we don't like it. Our setbacks just might be the greatest comeback of all time. God is connecting all the dots for our good. And that last DOT is where it comes all together and we arrive at our ultimate destination -- to live forever with the original DOT MAKER!



Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mission IMPOSSIBLE or Mission POSSIBLE?

As most know, I'm a Hallmark Movie kind-of-gal, but I still love an action thriller now and then. So, Sunday night I joined my family in their theater room to watch the last Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation movie. That prepped us to see the latest Mission Impossible - Fallout movie Monday night. Okay, I'm still reeling from two nights of fast-paced, sitting on the edge of my seat, enjoying the comedy relief moments when my son, Larry's laughs make me laugh louder -- not to mention the crazy stunts of Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise. When I watched the movie, I knew that Ethan Hunt's stunts were always Tom Cruise doing those stunts. It's remarkable because, in this film, the stunts only got more difficult and Cruise is now 53. If you can stand the twists and turns, death-defying stunts and so many other surprises that are in it from beginning to end, you might want to see it.

No sooner does Ethan Hunt makes it through one crisis, than another crisis tops that one. When you think it's time for a little R&R, then comes the crazies out to get him. His greatest mission in life, besides preventing a disaster of epic proportions, is to stay alive. Spoiler alert! When I was starting to panic a little, Larry whispered, "Mom, this is Ethan Hunt -- He will survive!" No doubt, Ethan Hunt knows why he was put here on this planet.

Of course, I was inspired by that riveting 2-1/2 hour movie. But my inspiration for today's post comes from the title "Mission Impossible" -- which is definitely NOT what our Manufacturer equipped us with. Our MISSION is POSSIBLE because each of us has shown up on planet earth with our Manufacturer's LIFETIME, and beyond, guarantee. That is, those of us who acknowledge Him as our Creator and Lord. The guarantee says this: "Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as a spokesperson to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5) In Psalm 139:16 we read "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God knows the beginning of our lives, the length of our lives and the plan for our lives. Our purpose is to dedicate ourselves to that mission and plan. 'We are ordinary people on an extraordinary mission to love and serve and help others to see the plan of God in their lives; to save them from the bad guys (the enemy of our souls). In the words of the voice in the box that will self-destruct in five seconds, "Do you accept this mission?"

For those of us who did accept the mission, we can verify -- it will give you the thrills, chills, ups and downs, challenges, victories, but more importantly the results are peace, joy, hope, love, and so many other promises that God gave us through Christ, Jesus in John 10:10 -- "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." The best part of this mission.....it never ends. It brings life everlasting!

My daughter, Staci Wallace, wrote the book "Mission: Possible", with the foreword by Zig Ziglar. It's her best-selling book that helps the reader to "unleash their full potential" as they discover "Why am I here?" Check it out here: https://www.staciwallace.com/store
Mission IMPOSSIBLE or Mission POSSIBLE?
As most know, I'm a Hallmark Movie kind-of-gal, but I still love an action thriller now and then. So, Sunday night I joined my family in their theater room to watch the last Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation movie. That prepped us to see the latest Mission Impossible: Fallout movie Monday night. Okay, I'm still reeling from two nights of fast-paced action, sitting on the edge of my seat, enjoying the comedy relief moments when my son, Larry's laughs make me laugh louder -- not to mention the crazy stunts of Ethan Hunt, played by Tom Cruise. When I watched the movie, I knew that Ethan Hunt's stunts were always Tom Cruise doing those stunts. It's remarkable because, in this film, the stunts only got more difficult and Cruise is now 53. If you can stand the twists and turns, death-defying stunts and so many other surprises, from beginning to end, you'll want to see it.

No sooner does Ethan Hunt makes it through one crisis, than another crisis tops that one. When you think it's time for a little R&R, then comes the crazies out to get him. His greatest mission in life, besides preventing a disaster of epic proportions, is to stay alive. Spoiler alert! When I was starting to panic a little, Larry whispered, "Mom, it's Ethan Hunt! He will survive!"

Of course, I was inspired by that riveting 2-1/2 hour movie. But my inspiration for today's post comes from the title "Mission: Impossible", which is definitely NOT how our Manufacturer equipped us. Ours is a Mission: Possible. Each of us showed up on planet earth with our Manufacturer's LIFETIME, and beyond, guarantee. That is, those of us who acknowledge Him as our Creator and Lord. The guarantee says this: "Before I formed you in your mother's womb, I knew you. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as a spokesperson to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5). In Psalm 139:16 we read "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." God knows the beginning of our lives, the length of our lives and the plan for our lives. Our purpose is to dedicate ourselves to that mission and plan. We are ordinary people on an extraordinary mission to love and serve and help others to see the plan of God in their lives; to save them from the bad guys (the enemy of our souls). In the words of the voice in the case that says it will self-destruct in five seconds, "Do you accept this mission?"

For those of us who did accept the mission, we can verify -- it will give you plenty of thrills, chills, ups and downs, challenges, victories, but more importantly the results are peace, joy, hope, love, and so many other promises that God gave us through Christ, Jesus in John 10:10 -- "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." The best part of this mission.....it never ends. It brings life everlasting!

My daughter, Staci Wallace, wrote the book "Mission: Possible", with the foreword by Zig Ziglar. It's her best-selling book that helps the reader to "unleash their full potential" as they discover "Why am I here?" Check it out here: https://www.staciwallace.com/store


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

You Lead. I'll Follow!

Check out that hairdo of the late 60s. It was called the bee-hive -- the higher the hair, the closer to God we felt! LOL! Curls-on-steroids! What was I thinking? Those were our Master's IV Quartet days when we traveled all over the U.S. and Canada to churches and events to sing our 4-part-harmony of Gospel songs. Except for the hairdo -- precious memories!

My husband was the leader and piano player in our group. He also carried the "lead" (the vocal part that generally carries the melody of the song), but often he'd say, "Karen, (his sister) take the lead on this one. Jim, our guitarist, and I would follow their lead as he'd sing the bass and I'd sing alto or tenor.

Funny how I was reminded of those times when I heard someone say "Lord, you take the lead. I'll follow." In music terms "You carry the tune and the melody of my soul and my life." Back in my early walk with Christ, I'd sing "I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back. No turning back." Or, "Where He leads me, I will follow." Today, I sing Jamie Grace's song "You Lead. I'll follow."

There were times when we tried to lead God to our way of thinking by making decisions without consulting Him and listening and watching for His "Lead". We wanted Him to follow our lead, our ideas, and desires. And when we took the lead, we made some huge mistakes. We messed things up and even lost our way until we let go and followed Him again.

From the moment we wake up to when we go to sleep at night, we have decisions to make and a road to follow. If we have chosen to follow God, then He gives us clear directions for our lives. We don’t have to guess or wonder what course to take. Psalm 119:105 says "His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path", especially if we have a love relationship with Him. Following God is the best decision we can make, as He shows us how to live joy-filled and contented lives. Unnecessary failures can be avoided when our attitude is, “You lead. I'll follow.” That's when an exciting journey of faith is lived out as we're willing to listen and obey His directions.

In John 8:12, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” Difficult and dark places in this world can be avoided when He lights our way. Those who listened to Jesus’ voice when He was walking on this earth and those of us who listen to Him now, get to choose between following the “Light” of the Lord or walking in the “darkness” of this world. We have a decision to make -- following the darkness or following His Light that offers us a love relationship with Him that promises joy, peace, hope and an abundant life. That's the life I want!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Trucking for Jesus

I met this beautiful couple at a Holy Spirit Retreat this weekend. Leon and Lorraine, who, by profession, are truck drivers. I learned about the benefits of being a truck driver – especially when you have your spouse with you and she's a driver, too. Though the financial blessing is right at the top, for this couple who have traveled together for over 20 years, it is far beyond the financial rewards. They are on a mission to touch as many lives as they can as God's messengers of "Good News". I heard stories of men and women (some of which are “ladies of the night”) whose lives were turned around by their fearless witness of Christ.

I’m sure you’ve been at a church service where the youth group is going on a mission trip to a foreign country or a young person is going into a seminary or someone else is going into “full-time” ministry. They’ll get applauded for their “full-time” spiritual work. There’s a division between “full time” spiritual work and worldly “secular” work. One sounds like it’s serving Christ and the other sounds like we’re serving ourselves. Unfortunately, we’ve been led to believe that a secular job isn't sacred and it's just impossible to bring glory to God in the marketplace.

Au contraire! My new friends bring glory to God when they drive their truck filled with cargo. They make God famous when they bring the light of Christ wherever they go and oftentimes, that light is so bright that the lost are drawn to them. And, you know what? We, too, bring glory to God when we help a friend move from their home to an apartment; when we roll down the window of our car and give that one standing on the corner with a sign to give them the love of Jesus in words, food or money.

Each of us has been charged to bear fruit in a way that honors God. We do that when we are involved in loving our neighbor. If God has made you a farmer, a lawyer, a nurse, a teacher, then that is a sacred calling in itself. We don’t have to be the pastor to go into "full-time Christian work" just because we think that is what you have to do if you love and serve God.

As I matured in my walk with Christ, I came to realize that when I wake up each day, I AM His disciple, His messenger, and His ambassador and devoted follower as I ensure my words are kind, generous, loving, sincere and caring and my actions are those that do reflect God's love and mercy.

So if we aren't being nudged to go to Africa to serve in an orphanage, it doesn’t mean our reach is any less. It’s not any less spiritual. It’s not any less filled with potential and purpose.

We serve a God who is not boxed in by time, circumstances, or geography. He is everywhere, all the time, with everyone. Every day we have the opportunity to touch someone's heart who will touch their family's hearts who will touch their communities and who will touch the world. All God is asking of us is our willing heart to be His hands extended to a hurting world that needs our words of encouragement and our hands of tender loving care.

We are Christ’s ambassadors. If we don’t represent Him to the marketplace and world and give out the good news, who will?
Mark 16:15 " Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel (the Good News) to all creation."


Sunday, August 5, 2018

It Doesn't Have to Be My Way

Remember Frank Sinatra singing “I did it my way”? The song was about a man fondly looking back on a life lived on his own terms. But, is that the way WE want to live?

I heard a talk where the speaker handed out empty toilet paper rolls to each of us to make her point. She asked: “Have you ever had a dispute with your husband about the RIGHT way to hang a toilet paper roll? And, if you weren’t in agreement, did you correct it each time that he’d put it in different from the way you thought it should be? Did it frustrate you because it just wasn’t right or it just wasn't YOUR WAY? She said God had been speaking to her about having to have it HER WAY, so, on purpose, she has been leaving it the way her husband put it on. She realized “It doesn’t have to be MY WAY all the time. She instructed us to write on our rolls…. “It doesn’t have to be MY WAY!”

What a powerful object lesson! The point, well taken. It's such an erroneous belief that OUR WAY is the best way of doing things and then insisting others agree with us. There are those who seem to have taken a life course called, “How to Be Absolutely Sure of Everything”! And, honestly, in the light of eternity and what matters most, does it really matter? Wanting and insisting on getting our way is a set up for unhappiness and a lot of disagreements with others. We rationalize that THEY are the one that needs to change.

It’s part of our human nature to want to have our way. We all have a touch of the need to be right. We all have areas where we believe that we know better than others. As we learn to let go of the need to have it OUR WAY, the more energy we’ll have to spend on things that REALLY ARE important.

It’s time to ask ourselves, “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy? Do I want to get my way, or do I want to feel a closeness with others?” Who wants to be a know-it-all, when there’s only one KNOW-IT-ALL? He is Father God. Instead of singing Frank’s “I DID IT MY WAY”, why not be singing…. “I did it God’s way!” And when we do it God's way.....in humility and love.....it WILL BE His way....and the BEST WAY! But, just thought I'd add a photo of the RIGHT WAY of hanging toilet paper!

"He has shown you, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

"Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in HIS WAYS." Psalm 128:1

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Trusty Steed -- Trustworthy Men & Women of God

While having my morning devotion yesterday, my eyes became fixed on the painting across my living area from me. I remember when my husband and I purchased that painting decades ago. We bought it because we saw King David (thus, the small bust of David that sits below the painting) and his muscle-bound, trusty steed and his majestic power that is being harnessed by David’s power. Restrained horsepower!

I looked up horsepower to see where that word came from. I found that when the steam engine began to do the work of horses in mines in the 1800s, the mine owners asked how many horses an engine would replace. James Watt (that guy whose name appears on our lightbulbs – watt/wattage), who invented steam engines, found a way to equate horses to engine power. Thus the term, horsepower. Watt measured the capability of a big horse to pull a load and found it could pull a weight of 150 pounds while walking at 2.5 miles per hour. That works out to 33,000 foot-pounds per minute or 550 foot-pounds per second. There you go. Now you know, too. You’re welcome!

Back to the trusty steed's horsepower being harnessed by David’s power. Trust. Trustworthy. Steed (spirited and ready for war). The greatest use of the word, trust, is in this scripture. “TRUST in the Lord with all your heart…” Proverbs 3:5. Don’t we want to TRUST in others with all our hearts? I learned from caring for my grandson’s animals that I needed to gain their trust. I needed to be trustworthy.

I’m showing my age here but two of my favorite TV shows were Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. Roy Rogers trusty steed, Trigger”, would come to him when he whistled. He performed and showed up because he trusted Roy. The Lone Ranger saved his horse, Silver's life from an enraged buffalo and, in gratitude, Silver chose to give up his wild life to carry him. We had a huge quarter horse “Brave” to help rustle up our cattle (We had 75 head of cattle. That story is for another day) and it took a little time to gain his trust but before long our little 5-year old daughter could ride him fearlessly.

Trust is a really big deal. We’ve heard it said, “They have ‘trust’ issues”. That’s because someone was untrustworthy. We’ve seen how marriages, partnerships, and friendships have been destroyed because someone proved they couldn’t be trusted.

Trust is defined as “Firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.” In these days, our core values need to be redefined. A relationship with a horse or another animal, and most importantly, with those people in our lives that we hold near and dear to our hearts, isn’t based on snuggles and hugs and kisses. It’s based upon trust. Not so much ours of them, though that is important. But more important is the horse’s trust, the loved one’s trust… in us. The horse can’t be talked into trust. Trust has to be proven to him. It is the same for us. Trust is proven over and over, day by day, lifetime by lifetime. “Trust the Lord with all your heart” is possible because time and again, God proves Himself trustworthy to us. Shouldn’t the words “Trust Donna or John or Cathy or Sam with all your heart” be the same because WE are trustworthy? If a horse can become a trusty steed to take into battle and be assured of victory, shouldn’t we be trusty/trustworthy men and women of God that are linked arm and arm with brothers and sisters to wage war on the enemy of our souls and WIN big? Shouldn't trustworthiness be a priceless treasure and one of our top core values?



Friday, August 3, 2018

I Will Not Just Survive….I Will Thrive in This Heat!

I moved into my home a year ago in April, and I continue to be surprised by the plants around my home that the previous owners left me: the gardenia bushes, the redbud tree, and my canna lily plants. A wise-and-more-in-tune-with-gardening person would have spotted these lovely plants when they first walked onto the grounds of this place, but this gal – who was missing a green thumb from the start, never gave them a second look – not until they were blooming.

Initially, the canna lilies looked kaput, but when I looked out at my backyard yesterday, I was surprised to see them in full bloom, hence, my inspiration for today’s post. Here's what I found out about canna lilies: “Canna lilies are beautiful, easy-to-grow plants that effortlessly bring a splash of the tropics to your garden. They’re especially welcome to gardeners with very hot summers. Where other flowers shrivel and wilt, canna lilies thrive in the heat.” Well, hello canna lilies, you are in the right place at the right time in this Texas heat. Other plants have died (check out my poor holly that is dead as a doornail because of the heat AND the fact that our water here in Frisco is rationed.) The heat causes those canna lilies to thrive.

Here it comes. Another of my life analogies. I’ve heard some cranky folks lately complaining about this Texas heat. I remind them “Hang in there. In a couple of months, the cooler temperatures will arrive and you’ll thrive again!” I laughed when I saw my Canadian cousin’s FB post a couple of days ago. “It was a chilly night, but we still enjoyed eating outside and the kiddos thought the pool was nice and warm.” I commented: “Lord, forgive me for longing for that cool weather! She replied: “Lord, forgive me for longing for that Texas heat!"

We can all relate to experiencing heat – both in the climate and in times of pressure when our "top is about to blow", during a heated-up conversation or debate with someone or we’re in hot water because of something we said or did. Are we like the canna lily and thrive with the heat or are we like my poor holly bush? What keeps us calm in the times of the storms that come as heat waves? What keeps us cool when the heat is on?
Eleanor Roosevelt gave this quote about a woman, but I think it’s applicable to men as well. “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

And, that is so true. I’ve seen women and men who rise and shine, who accelerate, who go to a whole new level in their faith and confidence and trust in God when they are under some of the direst circumstances. My husband had a quote on his desk that faced him every day “In the middle of adversity lies opportunity!” That’s how we can make it during the heat. We take it on with all-out fervor and say “Bring on the heat! I was made for this. God power-packed me to win and I will! I will come out of this heat and not even smell like smoke!”

In Daniel 3:23-27 we hear about three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who Nebuchadnezzar threw into the fiery furnace because they wouldn’t bow down to his idol. Their trust was in the one true God. And, in the midst of the hottest heat ever, the Son of God showed up right there in the heat with them. And, that’s the key for us when we’re under pressure and the situation and adversity have over-heated us. Trusting in God in the midst of the heat. Daniel 3:27 concludes that story of the three Hebrews with these words: “Then the officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn't even smell of smoke!!” And that will be our story, too! As we wholly trust in God Who causes us to triumph and come out of our “furnace situations”, we will survive and thrive like my canna lilies IN THE HEAT!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Try a Little Kindness.

I was having a bit of “writer’s block” yesterday as I was looking for a word or thought to inspire me for this day’s blog. I walked out onto my screened in patio and saw the wall hanging that the previous owners left behind. “Think deeply. Speak gently. Love much. Laugh a lot. Work hard. Give freely and BE KIND." I thought, "That's a great mission statement for anyone!"

I really do endeavor to live those words daily – some days I’m right on – and not so much on other days. Each one of those phrases is a sermon in themselves, but the one that stood out on this day was BE KIND. Kindness is a word that should be proclaimed in neon lights. It's a word we could sure use a lot more of these days.

On Monday, a precious 94-year young friend in Tulsa, Thelma Moore, received her promotion to heaven. This gracious and KIND woman was a mentor and role model in faith and class to me. I saw her last at her long-care facility in April. She didn't remember too much about our time together because of memory loss, but it didn't matter. I remembered. I remember her always complimenting and encouraging me when I was the president of our women’s ministries. I smiled when nurses or aides would come into the room and even then would introduce me as her most beautiful and dearest friend that she grew up with, who lived near each other and went to church together. There were some gaps in those memories, but no worries......I remembered this KIND and loving woman. Kindness sticks. It leaves a mark on our lives.

I’ve personally known kindness in action. I’m thinking about the kindness of my children’s friends in Austin who invited me over to their home for dinner and another couple who took me out to dinner when my children were out of town. I’m reminded about my next door neighbors who watch over my property like hawks while I’m out of town and alert me if I’ve left my garage door open AGAIN. I’m thinking about the kindness that my children and grandchildren show me when I show up at their homes. Since my daughter’s family is nearby and I see them so often, it should be no big deal when I come in the front door, but each and every time, I’m treated like royalty walked in. Each one of them gets up from where they are to rush to me and give me hugs like it had been months. I have best friends in Tulsa who have a room available for me to stay with them. On my next trip to Tulsa, I’ll be staying with a friend from the community I lived in – the one that let me stay in her home for over six weeks before my move to Texas. Talk about kindness! Kindness comes in so many different forms.

Kind words and kind actions are like kisses from heaven. I am forever grateful for those who have been kind to me, spoken grace and encouragement into me. My mind is flooded with examples as I am sure you can reflect on encounters from your own life where a kind word ministered more deeply than the speaker could have ever imagined. Those kind words from others have caused me to realize that every day I have the opportunity to let kindness pour out from me. I want to be the person who is sensitive to God’s prompting when He nudges me to be kind and to speak kindness into the life of another.

If you’re reading this post, you are probably one of those kisses from heaven to me, because you embrace me, empower me, motivate me and are SO KIND to me when you “like” or “love” one of my posts, when you take the time to comment brings me so much joy. From the bottom of my heart…..I thank you!

In the words of Glen Campbell’s old song, maybe we should all “Try a Little Kindness”:
You've got to try a little kindness, yes, show a little kindness.
Yes, shine your light for everyone to see.
And if you'll try a little kindness and you'll overlook the blindness,
Of the narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.




Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Commitment or Contribution?

I’m back in Frisco from my Austin “green acres” experiences while my children were out of town. Did I mention my grandson has 32 animals, of which 16 are chickens: 2 roosters, 8 mother hens and 6 “teenage” chickens who will mature to the “hen” status in a few months. Scanning through my cell phone photos, I ran across these photos of what it looks like in the coop when I would bring in the “mother lode” of eggs each day. Each time I gathered them up; I shouted out to the hens and said “Thanks, Girls, for the contribution!” I brought home a couple of cartons of those best-ever (something about fresh eggs); took one carton to my daughter and another to my cousin. Those hens “contributed” and I paid it forward by contributing their contribution!

We've all heard the analogy about the chicken and the pig. The chicken is involved and contributes eggs to the breakfast table and then goes about her day, but the pig is committed. He's tossed in the frying pan, and that’s “Good-bye, Mr. Pig!” He went out in a blaze of glory….but was it really "glory"?

As much as I enjoy its sentiment, one thing has always bothered me about that story. The one telling the story is always conjuring up the idea that only when we commit, not just contribute, will we succeed in our efforts. But that level of commitment leads to a side of bacon. The pig didn’t even volunteer for his sacrifice of commitment. His life was taken, involuntarily. He’ll never again get to enjoy a roll in the mud. All the while, those chickens love pecking, strutting and flying around and are enjoying life.

There’s a lesson to be learned by those chickens. While the pig was enjoyed as a great meal compliment, those chickens continued to survive adversity and they just kept right on giving and living....and, oh, BTW -- their brothers and sisters knew commitment -- probably even more than the pigs -- just look at all those KFC's, Chick-Fil-A's, Cane's, Popeye's and Chicken Express' out there!

There's something to be said for merging commitment and contribution. Most certainly our Lord exemplified both. He lived a life of commitment to His calling to change the world with His message of love, hope, and faith. And we, too, have the opportunity to fulfill our commitment to Him, Who freely, sacrificially, and fully gave His life for us. Our Lord paid it forward so that we forever can live and serve and make a difference in this world. He contributed Himself to us, so count me in as a contributor, too! I want to follow His lead to share, give, provide sustenance around me -- long term.

Here's how we can merge the two: contributing peace, joy and God's love everywhere we go, and, then in the end.....let's bank on going out in a blaze of glory because we've been committed, wholly and completely, to our Lord as we have served Him and others with all our hearts. In that case, WHAT A WAY TO GO OUT.....blazing the trail for others to follow!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

God is Always Reminding Me That He’s Got the Wheel 🚗

God is Always Reminding Me That He’s Got the Wheel 🚗
On Sunday, I made my trek back home to Frisco from Austin. I thought it would be smooth sailing all the way since the traffic would be less on a weekend. I was making good time when passing through Temple, then the traffic came to a snail’s pace as we inched along for miles because of more road construction. That construction has been going on for months, but this day it seemed worse than ever. Occasionally, we were dead stopped. I must look like a race car driver (an impatient one, at that), as I change lanes often to hopefully gain at least a car’s length ahead of the next guy. That delay put me back over 30 minutes on my usual 4-hour trip. After getting back on pace for about 45 minutes to Waco, dear me, there was more stalled traffic backed-up for miles because of an automobile accident up ahead.

An hour later than expected, I made it to my home-sweet-home. As I was unpacking my car, weariness set in. Then, it occurred to me that I had only had four hours of sleep the night before. AND, I never felt any drowsiness or fatigue during that five-hour drive. I know it was the intenseness of navigating through the traffic for that hour that kept me alert and wide awake. I never thought for a minute about that lack of sleep the night before.

Thank you, God, for reminding me, once again, that You’ve Got the wheel – not just of my car, but of my life. I know that God has a plan and if we would just settle in and enjoy the ride, we’ll get to where we need to be in His perfect timing. What if we started analyzing those seemingly annoying times, as being little messages from God that He is working out some things for our good? You know the traffic, the flat tire, misplacing our car keys, left our phone at home and had to turn around, or our child forgot his baseball glove and we had to return home to get it.

How well I remember the stories of people who were delayed going to work at the Twin Towers on the 9/11 bombing that saved their lives and the ones who missed their flight and their life was saved from the airplane crash later.

Maybe today you are experiencing some delays – like a house closing or a medical report or that check-in-the-mail. What if we take a deep breath, turn the wheel over to God and TRUST that “ALL THINGS (literally, ALL THINGS – the good, the bad and the ugly things, including the traffic), are being used by God for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” (Romans 8:28). God's timing is ALWAYS perfect.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Shut the Front Door!

"Sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!" We've said that, but we didn't mean it. Some words DID and DO hurt us! Someone spoke negatively about us when we gave something our all, or someone spoke ugly about one of our kids or family members. Or our mind is playing the same old record: “You’re not good enough. You’re not pretty or handsome enough. You're not slim enough. You’re not smart enough.” But we don't have to accept those words or let them into the doorway of our hearts and minds. We can close and lock those doors.

We have the opportunity every day to “Shut the front door!” I heard Kristin Chenoweth, as a judge on the “So You Think You Can Dance” show, give her remarks about the exquisite and inspiring dance by a young lady. She exclaimed “Shut the front door! Shut the back door! Shut the garage door! Shut them all!”

And that’s the message I’m conveying to you AND me today. It’s time to SHUT THE DOOR to those voices – the ones that say “You might as well give up. You’re going to fail again.” And to those that whisper in your ears “You’ll never outlast this setback!” Or, “You’re getting old. All those aches and pains are just going to get worse.” Or those inner voices that taunt you and say, “Those kids of yours are the most unruly, impolite, rowdy, and uncontrollable kids on this earth.” Or, “You’re never going to get that promotion!” On and on…..those voices that continue to get louder as they scream "FAILURE" in our heads.

Proverbs 4:23 says “More than anything you guard, protect your mind, for life flows from it.” Actually, we should be guarding our minds like the army guards Fort Knox. Below the fortress-like structure of Fort Knox lies the gold vault that is protected by a blast-proof door weighing 20 tons and 21-inches thick and made of the latest torch-and-drill-resistant material. Members of the Depository staff must dial separate combinations known only to them. Beyond the main vault door, smaller compartments provide further protection. That's the protection we should be providing for what we allow in our minds.

That scripture in Proverbs tells us to guard and protect our minds. We control the doorway to what we’re going to allow in. We have the “Master” filtering codes. We can dwell on every negative thing people AND the enemy of our souls have said, every derogatory comment, or we can choose to kick it out the door, then lock the door, and dwell on what God says about us." Let’s shut the front door, the back door and ALL doors AND windows where the enemy likes to sneak in and infiltrate his lies and keeps trying to take us down with his nasty words of defeat and fear. WE ARE WINNERS -- he's the LOSER!! Now SHUT THOSE DOORS!!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

What's Your Name?

The words on this gal’s shirt captured my attention at my grandson’s baseball game: "Sarcasm -- just one more service I offer". And indeed that's what she offered. I couldn’t believe my eyes that she’d wear a shirt like that and neither could I believe the sarcasm that she had. It was evident that she wore that shirt with pride. I thought to myself, why would she want to call herself that or would want to speak of herself in that way? How about a t-shirt that said “Encourager” or “Cheerleader” or “Proud Mom” or even “Free Hugs”?

Then, I thought about a precious little child that I saw wearing a t-shirt with the words "I'm a little monster." Sure, that child might be a little mischievous, but by no means does that merit being called a monster. Whoever gave her that shirt, is labeling her "a monster"! What are they thinking?

Then I thought about the inspiring words of our close and dear friend, Zig Ziglar, who led the way in optimism, speaking on-purpose words that would build up others, and who wrote the best-selling books, “Born to Win”, “See You at the Top”, “Staying Up, Up, Up in a Negative Word”, “Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World” and so many more “what you say, is what you get kind-of-books”. Obviously, that baseball mom and the one who put a “monster” t-shirt on their child never read any of those books because they were speaking the complete opposite of positivity. Zig said these words in his talks and books:

“There is power in words. What you say is what you get.”
“The greatest source of happiness is to be grateful at all times.”
“You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”
“You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

Our family gleaned so much from Zig's mentorship and leadership style. We raised our two children on his faith-filled, action-filled words. But, even more to the point is the Bible which says "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7) And, talk about name-calling, how do you like the names that God calls us? Blessed, beloved, friend, child of God, chosen one, righteous one, princess, beautiful, blameless, light of the world, holy, royal priesthood, redeemed. So, as children of Almighty God and made in His image, shouldn't we be calling ourselves, and those around us, names that build up and encourage?

Our reality may just be what we're calling to ourselves. If we want and desire a life of joy, contentment, peace, and love, doesn't it make sense that we do our best to promote it in every way possible? If we want our children to be confident, feeling loved and embraced, shouldn't we be calling them champions? World Changers! History Makers! Brilliant! Smart! Precious!




Saturday, July 28, 2018

Are You Hot Air or a Breath of Fresh Air?

On June 24th, a hot air balloon crashed into power lines that sparked an explosion at the annual Balloonfest in Michigan. Fortunately, the balloon landed in a nearby lake and the pilot was rescued by local fishermen. Whew! That sure makes me question the notion that I once had to take a hot air balloon ride – especially in this Austin HOT AIR.

Before I heard about that accident, it sounded like a thrill-ride to take a balloon ride, but now I’m thinking “Bring on the fresh air – NOT, the hot air!” We often hear or say “I’m going outside to get some FRESH AIR”. But with all the air quality control measures and warnings out there, it makes us wonder if fresh air really good for us? From recent studies, the answer is "yes", depending on the air quality where we're at. If we're out camping in one of our beautiful wilderness areas, the answer is a hearty "YES"! Where my children live in the hills of Austin, the answer is also “YES”! Fresh air cleans our lungs. If the air we're breathing is clean -- which it would be if we're away from the pollutants of cities -- then the air is filled with life-giving, energizing oxygen. If we exercise outdoors, our body will learn to breathe more deeply, allowing even more oxygen to get to our muscles and our brain. Getting plenty of clean, fresh air into our lungs is a good way to keep our brain functioning at tip-top capacity, so bring on the fresh air!

“Donna, here you go on another tangent -- where are you going with this Hot Air vs Fresh Air post?” Let's think about it. In terms of our nature, attitude and spirit -- which are we? Hot Air or Fresh Air? We've heard "He's/she’s just blowing 'hot air'!" What that means is those folks are typically conceited, braggadocios, love the sound of their own voice, exaggerate and often....full of empty hot air. We would like to leave the room when they come in because their hot air causes us to crave some 'FRESH AIR'!

And, then there are those who come into a room and you just sense "A breath of fresh air just came in.” They create an atmosphere of life-giving, energizing joy and peace and you sense their heart is full of gratitude. Their countenance emits love and kindness. Their gratitude is undeniable even though you know their circumstances warrant some “hot air” of sadness, weariness, and sorrow. They inspire you to want to take a deep breath and take in their "fresh air".

I have many “fresh air friends” They are going through real stuff, real heartbreak, real pain, real circumstances that could make them want to run from it all, but instead, in the midst of it all, they are encouragers, bright shining "air filters" that destroy the pollutants of negativity. They know negativism destroys fresh air, so they live just the opposite. They are fresh air proponents. Where does that come from? I believe it comes from deep inside them where God is – where He has taken up occupancy – where He breathes life into them and that’s called abundant fresh air LIFE! They spend time with Him and daily pursue taking on His beauty and His character. They have learned to LOVE as THE Master Lover loves us. I sure do want to be that FRESH AIR to my world – don’t you?

I love The Message Bible’s interpretation of St. Paul’s writings about fresh air in Philippians 2:15-16: “Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing.”

I sure do want to be that breath of fresh air to my world – don’t you?

Friday, July 27, 2018

Bored? Climb a Mimosa Tree!

“I’m so bored!” Famous words from kids during their summer vacation even with all the technology gadgets they own – they still get weary from the same-o, same-o!

Did you complain of boredom when you were a kid? I did. My Mom’s reply to that – “Go outside and play. Make some soup.” WHAT? Oh, I knew what she meant. She wanted me to go outside because that's where we had lots of "play-grounds and play-gyms" that resolved boredom by offering great opportunities for imagination and adventures. My playground and gym was a mimosa tree in our front yard that I climbed and pretended I was in a fortress from all my enemies and when I got hungry, I made a delicious soup to share with my friends.

Those memories came back to me when we were at Beaver’s Bend this spring and mimosa trees were everywhere. I pointed them out to my grands! I still think a mimosa is the prettiest tree in the world. Its leaves are like ferns. Its flowers are pink puffballs. And it blooms in summer when few other trees do and when the puffballs fade, the tree grows hundreds of 6-inch long, bean-like, brown seedpods which hang from every branch.

As I said, not only did we climb my tree and ward off evil pirates from my “tree ship”, but we would take the bean pods from it and break it up into a big pot. We’d add the leaves, seeds, pods, and flowers from it, and add a little dirt for seasoning. Then, we pretended to cook it and enjoy our scrumptious pot of mimosa stew! BTW – I just found out in writing this post for today, that we could have actually boiled up the flowers for a real mimosa healthy drink. Both its flowers and bark were traditionally used as a sedative, specifically for calming and lifting one's spirit. HOLY MOLY! I could use a jug of it right now in dealing with my Animal Kingdom here in Austin!

We also pretended to be school teachers and mothers and sometimes we did some things that required bravery – like riding our bicycles with no hands or jumping off the high diving board. Sometimes our imaginations went too far. I’ll never forget the trouble my friend and I got into when we wanted a swimming pool and dug an 8 ft X 8 ft X 1 ft hole in my backyard. We were caught when we were adding water to “our luxurious mud pit”.

I’ll bet you can remember some wild and crazy adventures when you were a kid. Those adventures sure did break up the boredom. I talked about adventures in my post yesterday and it seems I’m on a soapbox for living life to the fullest, with no room for boredom. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” What exactly does that mean….especially when you’re as “mature” as I am? Of course, God wants us to come before Him as children, because children are innocent, and trust with a pure heart. To go before God as a child is to go with wide-eyed wonder that comes from total faith. Our Heavenly Father – our great Creator was an Adventurer par excellence (just think about all the adventures He directed His kids into – water-walking, water-parting, boat rides on stormy seas, giants tumbling with a mere stone from a shepherd boy’s sling, falling into pits and landing up in a palace). It sure seems like, as His children, it should be just “natural” to be adventure seekers because of the childlike faith we possess.

Here’s the thing -- God didn’t create us for boredom! We are always being “pushed” to be more, do more, experience more, celebrates more, live life larger than ever before. Here’s another GREAT verse. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing and they will do even GREATER things than these because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12

So, why sit in the recliner of boredom, complacency, and idleness when there's so much to see, so much greater things to do and so much to experience? This world is the greatest "playground". Why should we be "dead men and women walking", instead of people who are alive, imaginative, creative AND adventurous? I’m already planning my next adventure. How about you?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

There’s No Place Like Home, But There’s Also Nothing Like Epic Adventures

This post was inspired as I was having a phone conversation with a friend yesterday by the chicken pen at my children’s home in Austin. Our conversation was interrupted when I saw two little renegade chickens out of the pen again. Those who follow me will remember the last time I was here in Austin. I was on a daily mission to shore up holes around the pen where the younger chickens were escaping. When I returned home to Frisco, I heard that these two chickens weren’t escaping through holes, but flying out and back in the pen.

Here I am on "animal patrol" again. It’s a work-out, but I find being here is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on earth. It’s back to nature and profound appreciation for God’s creation. AND, I get “aha” moments to share with you.

These two little black chickens have learned there’s fun, living-life-large adventures, as well as yummy bugs and treats outside of the pen, so they fly outside the safety and comfort of home. I don't worry about them roaming around anymore because they know where home sweet home is. When they need water or hanging out with their “family” – they’ll fly right back in. On the other hand, take a look at the photo on the right of the renegades. Those are older, mature hens and roosters who are watching what the renegades are doing, but they aren’t tempted to follow them. They are quite comfortable in their familiar surroundings of home.

To the right of the chicken photos is a quote by Helen Keller from her book published in 1940: "Let Us Have Faith” and a chapter titled “Faith Fears Not” contained the passage: "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." Don't you love that a blind woman speaks about faith AND adventure?

Have you ever done something that took you out of your comfort zone like becoming a pilot? Have you joined a new group that required you to meet total strangers? Have you spoken in front of a room to a group of people you don’t know? Have you gone on a 21-day trip with total strangers to Europe? Or eaten at a restaurant and were the only one in your booth? Have you taken on a crazy assignment like the care of a motley crew of animals? All of those questions, I've said “yes” to. Those all speak to the season I am in. I could stay at home in the comfort and safety of home or I could take risks and enjoy the adventures that are “outside the pen” like those adventurous chickens. If you have, maybe you’ve made the same discovery: adventure breaks monotony.

Adventure breaks monotony not only in the roles I play, but it also breaks any ho-hum-ness in my relationship with God.
Sometimes … my consistency, my predictability, my same-way-every-day when it comes to the way I interact with God can get downright "ordinary", and ordinary sometimes is BORING! God didn’t create us for ordinary and boring. He created us for EXTRAordinary. In John 10:10, Jesus said He came to give us a rich, abundant and satisfying life. Are we taking Him up on His offer? Taking on some out-of-the-comfort-zone adventures with the Holy Spirit can sure break ordinary.

Life is a great adventure. Seriously....there is so much awe and wonder to life if we live with the attitude of adventure. Let's blaze a trail for others to follow. Let's live life with gusto. Let's pursue it. Let's hunt for it. Let's say "no" to the whines of those who have settled for a mediocre life and who want us to do the same so they won't feel guilty. It seems our options are quite clear: On one side, there is the voice of safety. We can nestle into the pen (our home), settle for living for “us four and no more” and we can watch others that are spreading their wings and are flying to places of wonder and delight. We can hear the voice of adventure -- God's adventures. Instead of nestling in, we can ignite a fire in our hearts. We can follow God's impulses -- maybe......adopt the child; move to a new place; change careers; run for office, give blood, accept that teaching position at church or school, join that group with a cause to change the world and determine to make a difference in other people's lives. What a way to live! What a GREAT adventure!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Help Me! I’m an Ice Cream-oholic!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! My addiction to ice cream started with the yummy homemade peach ice cream my dad made in those old crank ice cream makers. Then, my dad enabled more love when after church each Sunday night, he’d take me to the nearby convenience store and buy me a chocolate fudgesicle. My addiction intensified when my parents gave me a quarter to buy ice cream from the ice cream man and his truck that regularly rolled through my neighborhood. It’s their fault that I fell into an ice cream world of DELIGHT!

You might know you’re an ice cream-oholic if:
1. You know all kinds of flavors from many different brands.
2. No season or sickness can stop you from having it.
3. You don’t fuss over what to eat for dessert, because you already know it’s ice cream.
4. Sometimes, you substitute meals with ice cream.
5. Your fridge might run out of any food item, but it’ll always have ice cream.
6. Your local ice cream shop owner knows what your favorite flavor is, and will generally keep it in stock.
7. You eat ice cream when you’re happy, unlike the others who eat it when they’re sad.
8. You have tried the craziest ice cream combinations (French fries and ice cream, pickles and ice-cream anyone?)
9. You try out local ice creams when you travel. (Gelato in Rome is to write home about!)
10. And finally, you know that when your day has been rather humdrum, there’s always ice cream waiting for you back home.

My son has loved Braum’s Chocolate Almond Ice Cream ever since he lived in Oklahoma. When he’s lived in other states and would come back home to us in Oklahoma or Texas, it was always a MUST DO – to get his favorite ice cream. (Braum's stores are all within 300 miles of their home store in Tuttle, OK) So in pondering what I could get him for this year’s birthday, my lightning-fast-mind remembered this “love” of his and how I could create a mutual lovefest! I purchased some dry ice and loaded up my cooler with 8 tubs of Braum’s Chocolate Almond Ice Cream, plus cones and a Braum’s ice cream scooper. Of course, I made his gift givers' A-List!

Anyone who’s experienced pangs of hunger and cravings when looking at an ice cream cone can attest that the sugary, creamy treat is near irresistible. And it’s not just because our bodies, and taste buds, have evolved to crave sugar on regular basis. When you break down the chemistry behind ice cream, it’s easy to see why: It’s been engineered to the perfect combination of elements — sugar, fat, frozen water, and air — that make up the mouthwatering concoction.

Ice cream is underrated -- just look at the benefits:
1. Ice cream can last weeks and even months in the freezer and can be enjoyed time and time again.
2. Ice Cream goes with everything.
3. Ice Cream soothes sore throats.
4. Ice Cream cools you down on these scorching hot days.
5. Ice Cream brings you back to your childhood. (Note my comments above. I left one thing off -- those graham crackers & a slab of chocolate ice cream in the school cafeteria!)

I've never outgrown the DELIGHT of ice cream, though I've curbed my addiction. By now, you're probably thinking "I know somewhere in here Donna has a devotional for us"!! And I do!
The Psalmist David wrote in Psalm 119:103 "How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" And in Psalm 34:8 he wrote, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."

The question is "Do our eyes light up in delight when we hear God's Words like these I just quoted? Do our eyes also light up in delight when we hear the name of Jesus or when we share His love with someone else? Or has it become a ho-hum routine love affair and the wonder is gone?"

Oh, that we would be addicted to our Lord and spiral out-of-control with our love for Him -- to delight in His presence and rejoice in His love. And, then, with that fresh, new love to spread the Good News to light up someone else's life. May we DELIGHT in our Savior and then share the light of His love--a smile, a word of encouragement, a hug -- and yes, a bowl of ice cream, too!