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Pet Peeves. I’ve come to the realization that pet peeves are just subtle forms of complaining but acceptable because we all have them (plural). Many of us could make a list: Top 10 Pet Peeves (and still have plenty left over for a second or third list).

There are those who specialize in grammar, harping on “their/they’re/there” and “accept/except” and “lay/lie” and of course, “you’re/your.” These people have become more vocal as texting and social media posting have become the norm. At least once a day I see a post on my timeline bemoaning the lack of proper grammar on Facebook. Personally, I won’t repost any cute meme if it contains a misspelled word…I’m guilty of being a Grammar Czar.

Maybe you have issues with technology…more specifically, those of us who are trying to keep up with technology. Do you do an eye-roll when encountering one of us old people trying to learn a smartphone? Yes you do…admit it. Do you sigh in exasperation when you text and text and text, with no response…not even a “k”? Or maybe you deplore the overuse of emojis.

I have a tech pet peeve list: GPS that takes me to the wrong address, iPhone batteries that don’t hold a charge (Thank you, Apple), and computers that (fill in the blank). Enough already – that list could get long real fast.Pet_Peeve_Toilet_paper

Then we have those whose pet peeves surround their idea of acceptable behavior, always willing to judge others on bad parenting, disobedient children, too fast/too slow drivers, tardiness and loud public conversations on cell phones, etc… For every behavior, we have someone who doesn’t like it.

Let’s admit it. Pet peeves, especially those that surround someone else and their behavior, is judging. You are assuming you are right, in whatever opinion you have, and the other person is wrong. We would all agree that none of us are perfect (especially when it’s us), but we still want everyone else to be our definition of perfect.

In the morning I grouse about slow drivers on the interstate and on the way home, I complain about the fast drivers speeding by me. Thank God for the “edit” button on Facebook postings because I have typed so many grammatical errors, I could fill an English textbook.

In an ongoing attempt to make better choices, I’ve been working on my decision to complain, instead of expressing gratitude. I proclaimed a “no complaining day” this past week. It was mildly successful – mostly because I posted a “no whining zone” sign on my desk and posted about it to keep myself accountable. But every day? It’s hard. So, once again, I’m making the choice to give people (myself included) some grace. To show love, instead of judgment. To offer a smile, instead of a frown, when I see something I may not agree with. I’m not going to compromise my convictions…but they are MY convictions and as long as no one is being hurt, I can live with a little public cell phone conversation.

P.S. Scripture shows a history of complainers who got what they deserved…some major heat and a few extra years in the wilderness.

“Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.” Numbers 11:1

“My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed You forever.” Psalm 45:1-2

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I try to take long walks over my lunch hour. One of my favorite spots is along the Cedar River. We have a beautiful downtown trail that hugs the river through town for over a mile, and will soon extend over the river in a beautiful bike/pedestrian bridge. We have all kinds of birds that use the river (and trail) as a food supply. As I was walking today I couldn’t help but think of the traits of some of these birds and how they mirror the traits of some people I know (no names, of course).

Year round, the Cedar River area teems with Canadian geese. They love the trail even more than I do…because they leave multiple deposits everywhere they go. They nest along the river, pecking along the grassy banks for whatever food geese eat. (This blog is not meant to be a science lesson on the habits of Midwestern birds.) And they are more than slightly territorial…especially at this time of year. When those male ganders see a pedestrian, they stick their heads pretty high in the air, make some serious hissing noises, and intimidate me to no end. Even if it’s all an act, they are very believable, and I go a different route.

We also have a crow problem. I’m mean a serious crow problem. Three years ago city workers installed dead crows in the trees to try to deter the living ones…maybe it worked to some degree, but not totally. As the snow is melting, it’s uncovering dead crows everywhere. Large, ugly birds…which I’m sure have a purpose on this earth…but while living, tend to be loud and obnoxious, pushing into others birds’ nesting areas and eating dead animals. Yuck!

Lastly, we have a large, but temporary, population of bald eagles. Last week I counted over 30 of the large, majestic birds perched on a tree along the river, sometimes swooping down to catch an unwary fish but more often, gliding beautifully up and up and up through the sky. Soaring_EagleI was mesmerized today by the three or four I saw on a different stretch of river. They were perched on a patch of ice, occasionally lifting off to glide just above the surface of the water, and other times, playing “chicken” with each other. One in particular kept my attention. At first he drifted above the river, close enough that I could see his beautiful white head. But as I watched, he soared higher, and higher, and higher, until he was just a speck in the sky. It was obviously a good day to fly.

I started thinking…what kind of bird am I? And, what kind do I want to become? Am I only interested in protecting what’s mine, taking over and leaving crap everywhere I go? Or maybe I’m loud and obnoxious, a bully that’s satisfied with taking what isn’t mine and pushing everyone around. No – I desire to soar on eagles’ wings. And that means I must place my hope in the Lord. Only He can cause me to rise above my circumstances, my fears, my disappointments. Only He can renew my strength and give me the ability to fly.

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

 

 

Valentine’s Day. A day set aside to celebrate love. And sell cards. And flowers. And chocolate. And jewelry. And cupcakes. Valentine’s Day can be pretty expensive.

Valentine’s Day can carry a heavy weight of expectation. Wives expect their husbands to show their love with something from the above mentioned list. Maybe even multiple things. Guys are expected to plan the perfect date, with perfect dinner, perfect romantic ambiance. Rarely can anyone meet the lofty expectations placed on them for this one holiday. My opinion? The only truly happy ones are the florists, restaurant owners, jewelry stores, bakers, candy and card sellers. $$$

I love my husband dearly. Kris_Don_balloon_2014I appreciated the cupcakes he bought for me last night. They were delicious!! I always love the sentiment of the cards he buys for me (but even more, the love expressed in the little notes)…but, don’t tell him this, I would love him just as much even without the cupcakes and card. Because my love isn’t tied to what he buys for me. Long ago I decided that I don’t need a special day to celebrate his love for me…because he treats me so well every single day. I learned that placing high expectations on another human being sets him up to fail and me up for disappointment. No one can meet the fantasy we build up in our minds. Something always goes wrong…flowers die, chocolate gets eaten, even jewelry fades eventually. But the strong and steady presence of a true love is based on relationship…it cannot be bought.

So no matter your place in this world (dating, married, single again), lower your expectations for a particular day and raise your awareness of how you express and receive love. Because the BEST love is unconditional and sacrificial…without expectation for reward or perfection…perfectly expressed through the model God gave us through His Son, Jesus.

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  ~ John 15:12-13

 

Valentine’s Day again…I love my guy more than ever…31 years and counting. And yes, I know it’s Wednesday.

Ordinary Life Extraordinary Destiny


Today is Valentine’s Day. I hope you have someone to love and love you back. It doesn’t need to be a girlfriend or boyfriend, a spouse or significant other. Just someone who appreciates you and tells you.

I’m so glad for the man God gave to me 29 years ago. He is my best friend and my favorite days are the ones I get to spend with him. He fills my “love tank” with every love language and I couldn’t have a better soul mate.

But if you are alone today, I hope you’ll turn to the One who loves you most and knows you best. Let God wrap His arms of love around you and fill your heart with joy and peace. No person on earth can love you as He can. He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb and he knows you now. Give…

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I’ll be blogging again for the 40 days of Lent – but first, a reminder.

Ordinary Life Extraordinary Destiny

Nose

I have a cold. It isn’t horrible but my nose is either running or stopped up. It takes quite a strong aroma to break that barrier. Like Vicks Vapo-Rub – remember that stuff? Every time I smell it, I’m taken back to my childhood…when my mom would spread that goopy gel over my chest and on the bottoms of my feet. I don’t know if it helped, but the aroma was pervasive and brings back all those feelings of love and comfort from my mom’s nurturing care.

That’s the great thing about our sense of smell – the trigger of good memories whenever certain aromas hit our nose. I love the smell of freshly-roasted coffee beans and freshly-brewed coffee (taste too!). There’s nothing like the smell of warm cinnamon rolls, baking bread, peppermint ice cream, fresh cut wood, pungent orange peels, fresh cut grass, newly-turned earth, incoming spring rains, strawberry…

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Choices

One word. For the last few years I’ve tried to select one word to focus on for the year. In 2016, it was “family” and it was a year filled with intentional effort to put family first. I saw my nephew play basketball and my niece play softball. I attended another niece’s wedding and saw my own son marry the love of his life. I proudly watched my younger son graduate from college and then spent many fall Saturdays working alongside him at Iowa State football games. I traveled to California to spend a dream vacation with my brother & sister-in-law as they shared their national park passion with me. My family year was an amazing success.

Last year my word was “intentional” and though it’s a great word, I don’t have specifics on how it made my year extraordinary. But I know it did because I focused on being intentional in how I spent my time, who I gave attention to and where I put my energies. I loved this word so much that I’ve transitioned it into 2018.

This year’s word is “choices.” Everyday I’m faced with choices – who, what, when, where, why, how? I can choose to stay fixed right where I am or I can choose to grow and change and respond with love and kindness and grace.

I’m choosing to cut back on activities that are energy drainers and put more positive energy into relationships and activities that bring growth in me and in others. Choices bombard all of us, every moment of every day. By thinking of where I’ll spend most of my energy, I can be better prepared for the last minute, “have to” choices that tend to suck me dry.

I’m not perfect and I’ll make mistakes but I’m looking forward to a year of choosing kindness (over animosity), generosity (over selfishness), grace-filled truth (over gossip), and courage in the face of fear. I’ve always been a “glass half full” girl but now it’s time to listen to those who don’t think like me because optimist or pessimist or realist, none of us have all the answers.

So pick a word for yourself. Have fun. Spend the year you’ve been given to be all God created you to be. Open up to new and different and defining. It’s your choice.

To_Tell_The_Truth_image

The old television show “To Tell The Truth” featured a panel of four celebrities whose objective is to correctly identify  a described contestant who has an unusual occupation or has undergone an unusual experience. This “central character” is accompanied by two impostors who pretend to be the central character. The celebrity panelists question the three contestants; the impostors are allowed to lie, but the central character is sworn “to tell the truth”. After questioning, the panel attempts to identify which of the three challengers is telling the truth and is thus the central character.

The show expects people to lie…and lie very well. The challengers get paid if they fool the judges into believing the lies. Satan is like that. Instead of two other contestants lying to convince the panelists that they are the real person, we have the devil and our pasts which try to convince us that we aren’t really who we say we are. But the best part – instead of having a group of celebrities question every one and vote – we have the Creator of the Universe, our heavenly Father, who declares who we are for all to hear…we just need to believe it. Because HE really is telling the truth.

What is the Truth?

Most of the time we believe certain things about ourselves based upon our experiences, or things people have said to us or about us. On the surface, those things may appear to be true, but usually, we believe lies about ourselves.

For instance: I used to think that I was mediocre, just average. I talked about my “mousy brown” hair (before it was this beautiful silver), and being overweight. I refused to believe it when someone said I was pretty…because that isn’t what I saw in the mirror. I was average in sports talent, less than average in musical talent and certainly not particularly special. I “faked” confidence because inside I was trembling and scared that people would see the “real” me…a phony. I thought if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me…so I stayed on the sidelines and watched others do talented and successful things…all the time, wishing I was brave enough to get out there and try something big.

When I became a Christian, I didn’t automatically change my thinking. It has taken the unconditional love of my heavenly Father; love and words of affirmation from my husband and then making the choice to believe the truth and not the enemy’s lies about me – all have combined to help me see myself as I truly am…and as you are too.

Who you are in Christ is all that matters…

But let’s look at a few of the lies the enemy of our souls would like us to believe…

Lie #1 – Satan tells us that we are sinners because we sin

Yes – we were sinners, but the blood of Jesus washed away our sins when we asked Jesus to be our Savior. We are no longer sinners, but saints because God has declared us righteous through the blood of Jesus.

1 John 1:7 –  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin, He sees an adopted son or daughter, brought into the Kingdom of God through His only Son’s sacrifice. You are no longer a sinner – You are a child of God.

Lie #2 – Satan says our identity comes from what we have done.

He wants us to believe that if we were cheaters, liars, thieves, adulterers, cowards before we accepted Christ, than that is still who we are…but that is a lie.

We are not those things any longer. Our identity is not what we used to do…God’s Word says our identity comes from what Jesus did for us. Instead of a liar, I am now a member of Christ’s Body…instead of a cheat, I am now redeemed and forgiven…instead of a coward, afraid of everyone, I am now a friend of God. And I am free from any condemnation – one translation says I no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.

“The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 (The Message)

Romans 8:1-2 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

You are free – no longer chained to the lie that we are what we have done in the past.

Ok – here’s Lie #3 – The devil says your identity comes from what other people say about you.

We’ve all believed this at some point or another. I had coaches who told me I was average…a good teammate but never good enough. I had classmates who told me I was too smart to be their friend…I wasn’t any fun. I wasn’t ambitious enough…I wasn’t pretty enough…I wasn’t outgoing enough…I was never enough!

But the truth of God’s word says my identity comes from what HE says about me…what He says about you!

God says you are fearfully and wonderfully made…He says you are chosen and He has a plan and purpose for your life. God says you are a temple of the Holy Spirit. You have been chosen by God and adopted as His child. You have been bought with a price and you belong to Him.

Psalm 139:13-14 – For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[a]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.

1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?;

Ephesians 1:3-8… just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body[a]and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Stop believing the lies that we are what someone says we are – believe the truth that you are what GOD says you are.

And finally, Lie #4 – the devil will try to convince you that your behavior tells you what to believe about yourself.

The truth is that what you believe about yourself will determine your behavior. When you realize this, you can see who you really are…no longer stuck in the lies but choosing to believe the truth.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – “…has given us the ministry of reconciliation…ambassadors for Christ.”

We don’t have to sit back and accept anything…we had DO what Christ has given us to do.

Ephesians 3:12 – “…in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.”

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.”

The Apostle Paul thought of himself as the “least of all the saints,” – talk about a self-esteem issue…yet he didn’t let that keep him from moving forward, doing the work God had given him to do…and with boldness. He may not have been a naturally outgoing guy – but he knew what God said about him, and accomplished it all because he refused to believe the devil’s lies.

How about you?

Instead of saying, “I really screwed up at work, so I must not be smart” – we should say “I screwed up, so I need to admit it and move on, because God has given me the mind of Christ, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Instead of saying, “My kids are struggling right now, I must be an awful parent” – try going with “My family is struggling right now, but I have access to the God of the universe who loves me & my family. He wants the very best for me. He will give me wisdom to know how to pray and what to do or not do for my kids.”

Or, “I was a bully, treated my parents badly, hated my teachers, disobeyed the law so God can’t really love me, I’m such a rotten person.” You don’t have to be that person anymore. Your behavior doesn’t mean that is who you are. Once you start believing the truth about yourself – then you’ll start to see behavior changes.

I used to only try those things that I was comfortable with. I was afraid so I didn’t attempt anything outside my comfort zone. Because I never thought I was enough…I behaved that way. I was told I wasn’t good enough at any sport so, instead of fighting against that opinion, I believed the lie and just went with it. I didn’t push back against the enemy’s schemes…I went along with all the lies. I was nervous and scared of being noticed, I tried to blend in…instead of standing out anywhere. I didn’t want to embarrass myself so I never tried anything new. I went with what was safe…all the time. I allowed my fears to rule my behavior and in the process, I missed out on the excitement of adventure.

It was all a lie. My behavior doesn’t mean that’s really who I am. In reality, my belief about myself will determine my behavior. And I needed to change my belief…I needed to believe what God says about me…and you need to believe what God says about you too!

Read this out loud – so your ears can hear what God says!

I am accepted…therefore I am renewed day by day. I am a friend of God so there is nothing too difficult for me. As a child of God, I have no reason to fear. I always have access to God – what can man possibly do to me?

I am secure…forever free from condemnation, I cannot be separated from God’s love. I am established, anointed and sealed by God.

I am significant…the salt and the light of the world, seated with Christ in heavenly realms, a branch of the true vine. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

You do not have to believe the devil’s lies about who you are…God’s truth is the final authority. Now you need to tell yourself the truth. You can stand up and proclaim that you are accepted, you are secure and you are significant.

Would the real ­­­­YOU please stand up?!