CONNECT

I’m not so old I don’t remember my younger years. I remember them like they were yesterday, and I remember my fears and plans and feelings.

You always hope to use what you have learned to help the ones who come after you, but for some reason, they want to learn for themselves in their own way and time. Sometimes it’s painful to watch.

“The beginning of men’s rebellion against God was, and is, the lack of a thankful heart.” Francis Schaeffer

I can imagine it is also very painful for the Father to watch us as we struggle through life making choices and decisions that aren’t good for us or our relationship with Him. Connection is a two way street. It takes two willing people.

Help us God to connect with each other.

TRUST

Trust is precious and pure.

It’s there from the very beginning of life when a babe looks to her parents for care and love. If eroded away by circumstances, dishonesty, manipulation and mistreatment, it’s very difficult to get back.

I think that’s the world we live in now, and time after time our instincts prove us wise to be cautious. I wish it wasn’t so. Oh, to have the unburdened trusting heart of a child again.

My full trust is in Jesus Christ alone. He is my shield of protection and my light in the darkness through which I can still see a glimmer of good…if I squint, with eyes wide open.

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You. Psalm 9:10

LAUNDRY

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Sentimental Saturday:

I have a long-ago memory of when I was in first grade. A little boy in my class had the freshest, most beautiful, clean-smelling clothes, and I would discretely sniff his shirt while standing behind him in line! 😁 Because this was back in the nineteen sixties, I imagine his mother used bleach to clean and sanitize his clothes, as well as hung them on the line to dry.

I was reminded of this memory when someone asked me what the best smelling laundry detergent is. I believe nothing developed compares to the simplicity of bleach and God’s beautiful sunshine.

Oh, to have a clothesline…

UP

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I found these little graphics for a dollar at the discount store. I set them on top of my dining room hutch thinking it would be a daily reminder to start my day with right priorities. Some days I forget to look up.

When I’m having a difficult day and find myself complaining and hurting, I know I forgot to look up.

When I am envying and doubting, I know I forgot to look up.

When I’m angry and tormented, I know I forgot to look up.

When all I want to do is argue and win, I know I forgot to look up.

When my heart is broken and I’m feeling hopeless, I know I forgot to look up.

When my words are cutting and I justify them, I know I forgot to look up.

When I make excuses for my mistakes, I know I forgot to look up.

When I know I’m wrong and need to apologize but don’t, I know I forgot to look up.

When I want revenge, I know I forgot to look up.

When I’m thoughtless with my words and actions, I know I forgot to look up.

When I get tired of helping, I know I forgot to look up.

When the heart of another takes a backseat to my own, I know I forgot to look up.

When love seems so far away, I know I forgot to look up.

I don’t need to move the message lower to see it.

I just need to look up.

Rejoice always, pray constantly,
 in everything give thanks;
for this is God’s will for you in Messiah Yeshua. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

MERCY

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Today at the grocery store, I was standing in the tea aisle when a man walked by with his frail wife pushing the cart. He politely said, “Excuse me, ma’am,” when he went in front of me and then impatiently and not so nicely asked his wife, “Is this what you want? WHAT?”.

I’ve said it before, and it hasn’t changed: The world would be a much better place if we treated our husbands, wives, and families as well as our friends, complete strangers, and the people we hardly ever see.

I once had someone tell me it’s natural for the ones we love to feel comfortable enough around us to let their consideration slide at times. I think that’s a stretch, but it is easier to be thoughtless when we know we have nothing to lose or don’t care, right?

I worked in the retail sector and as a waitress for a while. I admit I was a poor waitress because it takes skill and timing to take orders and serve hot, fresh meals to the customer in the correct sequence. Who wants their pie alamode arriving before they’ve finished with their main course and getting mushier by the minute? True story.

But this lovely couple, who gulped down their meal so they wouldn’t have to drink their pie alamode with a straw, had mercy on me. They smiled and left me a decent tip. That’s something I noticed in the truck stop where I waited tables. If you put in the effort and did your best, even if your best was not very good, the patrons, many of who were truckers, were kind and tipped you anyway.

Then there was a time as a young woman when I was a ticket booth operator at an Amish tourist spot. One hectic day, I got flustered while counting change back to an old man and got a rather stern and heartless chewing out in front of a line of waiting people. Needless to say, his words made it hard for this already cracked person to finish her shift. Over the years, I’ve grown into myself and traded my wavering, trembling voicelessness for a more assertive, protective voice. To this day, I comfort and encourage those I see who are the victims of anothers harmful words.You can witness the weariness on their faces and a confidence that’s been ripped to shreds by another person who probably has their own story to tell. Most bullies do.

Why is it so hard to be nice? Are we so wrapped up in ourselves that we can’t feel anymore? Do we have to pull someone else down to lift ourselves up? Make them look bad? Embarrass and humiliate them and make sure we “one-up” them? Why?

We don’t need to micromanage every aspect of our lives and the lives of others and then get upset when our expectations aren’t met. We can learn to trust that God’s plan is at work without our direction and opinions. We can pause before letting loose with our frustrations on another poor soul. We can choose to give the benefit of the doubt.

We can learn the art of feeling empathy and feel it in our heart. Jesus is a wonderful teacher.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

FRESH

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Grandma Ferne

My beautiful African Violets remind me of Grandma Ferne, who raised and propagated them in her home for many years. I love the fresh touch of nature, especially when the new year commences with frigid temperatures as it ushers out the old.

In the last few years, I’ve chosen a word to focus on each year that will hopefully help keep me centered on a path of growth in my faith. Two years ago, the word was “trust” which was put to the test as I saw several friends pass through the veil in God’s timing, not mine, and as we answered the call to move several hundred miles from the place we called home for 35 years.

Last year the word was “Submission”. When most people hear that word, they first think of the biblical submission of a wife toward her husband. For Christ-followers, it goes beyond that definition to the goal of submission to the will of God in our lives. I am consciously aware of my daily choices and seek to bring honor to Him in my decisions.

This year my focus will be “Onward” by placing the past in its rightful place: a stepping stone to learning new, honorable, and productive ways while putting my weaknesses and the less admirable behind. I want my work and words to flourish with the encouragement and love of the Lord. For the benefit of others, I want the barriers of the past to dissove.

The beauty of a fresh start in a new year doesn’t cover the ugliness of the previous, but it does spark the hope of new beginnings.

Count your blessings every day, for they are a spark of hope with each new sunrise.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

This is the day which the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

JESUS

Jesus.

Too many, even Christians and Christian leaders, rarely speak His name.

Meals eaten without thanking Him.

Days are begun and end in silent weariness.

There are trials trudged,lessons learned, and decisions are made without calling on His name.

Christian songs are written without His name and Christmas celebrations void of Jesus.

If there is one good thing that can come from social media, it’s using the keyboard to speak the name of Jesus.

We who call ourselves Christ Followers could do better to acknowledge our Savior, even at the risk of offending.

JESUS is our HOPE.

Our soul waits for Adonai
He is our help and our shield. Our heart rejoices in Him,
because we trusted in His holy Name.
Let Your lovingkindness, Adonai,
be upon us, as we have waited for You. Psalm 33:20-22

KIND

Reprinted by approval of author

“Just be kind”.

What does that mean? Maybe it would be better to list what it isn’t. I know I need a reminder myself sometimes

Impatience
Sarcasm
Namecalling
Humiliating
Disrespectful
Ridiculing
Speaking over without listening
Hating
Rejecting
Shouting
Apathic
Harshness
Oppressing
Unrighteous Anger
Unrelenting Criticism
Lack of Remorse
Blaming
Shaming

Some people think unkindness makes them better, stronger, funnier, more effective, and well-rounded, but it doesn’t. They already know that, because most people tend to reflect their upbringing and life experiences whether they intend to or not, and they know how it feels to be treated unkindly by others.

It’s easy to spread pain along a path of apathy, but it’s better to do the hard thing and be who we know we aren’t, putting the feelings of others ahead of our own emotional needs because it’s the kind thing to do.

What if we skip the knee-jerk impulse and first ask ourselves, “Why do I feel the need to hurt another person? How can I be kind instead?”. Would the results be far more beneficial to everyone? Loving discipline doesn’t create malice. It creates honor, respect, and wisdom. Pain isn’t a requirement to teach life lessons for those who have known love.

Let kindness have a shot. Kindness softens the blows of the world and will soften your heart in practice.

In humility, let love prevail.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

STORIES

I can tell people sometimes think I am long-winded by their glazed eyes and staccato “yeah, yeah”s, but I prefer to make myself clear by way of an example. Kind of like a parable.

I wonder if people got impatient with Jesus. He often used parables when trying to get a point across. On the other hand, life didn’t seem so rushed back then.

I get it.

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28“ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” Matthew 13:24-30

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