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Posts Tagged ‘choices’

Unless you’ve lived on a deserted island for the last six months, your life has been impacted by COVID-19, the novel coronavirus currently sweeping over our world. This is no place to put statistics—mostly because they change every moment—but by now, you probably know of someone who has tested positive for the virus. Hollywood celebrities, sports figures, politicians, missionaries, doctors —no one is immune. It gives no distinction for race or gender, age or ethnicity, economic status or occupation. We are at war with a silent, but deadly enemy, and right now, it’s winning.

Our schools are closed, our favorite restaurants unable to host diners, our churches attempting online services. We are learning new terminology every day. Pandemic. Self-isolation. Self-quarantine. Social distancing. Community spread. Shelter in place. PPE. The more fragile members of our society are most susceptible so we’ve given them special times to shop when they would be less exposed. Online shopping is flourishing as we choose to stay at home to minimize the risk. The world is nothing like we’ve ever seen it before.

So, what do I do?

I pray. I follow the guidelines set in place by my local, state, and national officials. I keep the TV off most of the time. I post encouragement on social media sites. I check in with my kids, my extended family, and my friends at work and church.

And sometimes I’m afraid. But not for long.

Fear is a liar. Fear spreads faster than any virus, and infects anyone who entertains it. If fed, fear will lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. And I will not invite those three ugly emotions into my house.

In the darkness of the night, after my usual bathroom trip, I sometimes lie awake while sleep alludes me. It’s then that I am most vulnerable to fear. It’s then that I must rely on the power of the Word of God I’ve spent my whole life studying. One night last week I was gripped by worry – about my kids (who work in the grocery industry), about my co-worker (who was in Scotland on vacation), about our church friends who are older and sometimes don’t listen when told to stay home. So I started praying, asking God to overcome the fear with His Word. I quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Or Psalm 27:1- The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?

I posted about it that night

What will tonight look like? I don’t know. What will tomorrow look like? Unknown.

I may not know the future, but I know Who holds my future. I’ll trust in the One who doesn’t need to worry about social distancing. My heavenly Father holds me close – and He’ll hold you too. Trust in Him. Follow all the guidelines. Be a kind person. Wash your hands. But ultimately, our destiny lies with God. And I’m good with that.

 

 

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Own_Your_ChoicesI ate a cookie this morning.

I usually eat healthy foods during the week…fruit, nuts, salads, veggies. If I eat sweets, it’s because one of my colleagues has brought in something she’s baked and I’m not going to hurt her feelings by saying “no” to banana cake. But today, I caved. I ate a cookie. A plain old, comes in a box, cookie. I have no excuses. No one forced me. No one threatened me. I made the choice. I. Chose. The. Cookie.

We all have choices every day. We choose what to wear, what to eat, what route to work, what to spend money on, where to go to church (or not), what to do with our time. Our choices are just that. Ours.

If I want to achieve a certain goal, I’m going to need to make certain choices. Sometimes those choices involve sacrificing what I WANT RIGHT NOW, for what I want down the line. If I want to be a healthy 60-year-old, I’m going to have to choose to live a healthy lifestyle. (P.S. – It probably won’t happen tomorrow. I will be eating sweets on my big day). But if I don’t make those healthy choices, I won’t be blaming someone else. It’s on me. And I’m good with that. I’m tired of seeing social media postings blaming everyone else for the circumstances in our lives.

“I can’t believe that cop gave me a speeding ticket.”
“My teacher gave me a D – just for one missing assignment.”
“I have no time to exercise (read, pray, call my dad, visit with my grandma, shovel my neighbor’s walk…)”
“It’s my mom’s fault.” (A particularly touchy one – Thankfully for them, this has not been posted by my children)

Yes, there are a lot of people in our world who have very few options.  Circumstances, and other people’s sinful choices, have kept them in bondage. But for MOST of us, we must take ownership of our choices. If we want a different result, we need to make a different choice. We want a different life. We want a smoother road, We want a better job. Or financial freedom. Or healthy relationships. It begins with one step, one choice. And only you can make it.

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A local coffee shop has the phrase “Live Passionately” on their wall in great big calligraphy. They have incorporated that phrase into their logo and have it on their to-go cups. It is who they are.

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What a great statement to embrace! It is inspiring but also causes me to contemplate my choices. It encourages me to live with purpose, with intention, with passion for whatever I’ve chosen to do, whoever I’ve chosen to be.

Back in November, when I started thinking about this upcoming birthday (2 days away), I worried a bit about how a 60-year-old woman would be perceived. That one year change from 59 to 60 seemed like such a huge chasm. The difference between January 15 and January 16 was monumental in my own mind. But as I mulled over all the lessons I’ve learned in the last six decades, the ones passed on by my mom and dad, the ones learned through parenting and pastoring, the accidents & mistakes that turned into blessings in disguise, I’ve come to realize that my birthday means only one thing.

I’m just one day older. One day closer to becoming exactly who God designed me to be. One day more to choose well – to live as an influencer for the Kingdom of God…salt and light to a world that needs to see the love of Jesus in action. And it’s not how others perceive me that matters. I live for an audience of One – and I know I matter greatly to my heavenly Father. He doesn’t see me as a birthday…He sees me as a dearly and desperately loved daughter of the King.

When I see “live passionately,” I don’t think of my local coffee shop. I think about the life I have left – be it one day, one year, or until I’m 100. I think about living so the passionate love of Jesus shines from my passionately lived life.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)

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Books are a big part of the McGarvey household. I’m proud that I taught my boys to read, and though their literary tastes are different, I read books with them and to them until they were older teens. One winter Don and I catalogued our personal library – about 3000 volumes.

Our shelves hold a variety of genres.

We may not have a huge variety (most are non-fiction, Christian educational or children’s classics) but we’ve been known to enjoy a sports biography, mystery, or Christian thriller.

I depended on my local library while homeschooling and still check out a book or two a month. And the introduction of Kindles in our home upped our reading game exponentially.

I’m going to try to read more physical books this year, choosing different authors and genres than I’ve read before. I asked Facebook friends for suggestions from recent books they’ve enjoyed. The responses ranged from The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather to Crushing by T. D. Jakes to The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I need to update my Goodreads profile to add all the suggestions I received.

One of our favorite authors – Joel Rosenberg.

All this to encourage you to stretch your reading choices this year. Make reading a habit each day so that by the end of the year, you can give me some new book ideas for 2021.

One of my favorite books

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Now that 2019 is in my rear view mirror, I’ve set my focus forward. Each New Year’s Day I set goals for my year, begin a new Bible reading guide, plan ways to improve or change behavior or attitudes. Today is no different, and yet it is. As I approach my 60th birthday, I’m not as interested in improvement and change as I am with celebrating what’s already a part of my life. Yes – I still desire to grow and learn each day, but I also know God has done some amazing things in my life, given me wonderful relationships to nurture, gifts to be grateful for. I’m going to FOCUS this year – focus on what is right in front of me and do what is necessary to live in grace and walk in love.

My 2020 devotional by Bob Goff

Still have a daily Bible reading guide (two, actually) and habits to maintain (daily movement, healthy lifestyle choices), so this year is going to be my best one yet as I FOCUS on God, His plan for me, and the people He has put into my life.

Happy New Year!

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But it’s so _______. Insert your weather whiny word in the blank. In the winter, in the Midwest, I usually use words like cold, windy, freezing, icy, or snowy. Maybe in your location or time of year you’ll change those words to hot, humid, rainy, or stormy.

Basically we are creatures of comfort and my comfortable temp is partly sunny and 70 degrees. But that particular weather happens about three hours a year. If I waited to enjoy the outdoors until it was perfect, my concept of perfect, I’d be inside all the time.

So suck it up and do whatever’s necessary to get outside for some time every day. Buy the clothing you need to help you stay warm (or cool), invest in good walking shoes, find a walking buddy or build in some accountability somewhere, even reward yourself after a particularly nasty day but Get. Outside.

As a child I played outside all the time. Usually by myself because my sweet little sister wasn’t the tomboy I was. I tromped through the woods, jumped the creek, rode my horse, played in the barn, walked back and forth the quarter mile from my house to my grandma’s all day long. Somewhere in my growing up I lost my fascination with the outdoors and ended up 30 lbs overweight in my 40s. It was when I started working full time that I again came to realize the mental, emotional, and physical benefits of a walk outside. And I rarely miss a day now.

Besides dropping those extra pounds, I’ve gained a fresh perspective. And reconnected to the God who created the world around me.

My almost-60 year old self is looking forward to warmer days but I’ll persevere through the snowy and blustery ones too. My Creator God gave me a big world, with beauty to discover every day, in every type of weather.

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Have you ever considered what you would do if you knew you only had one day to live? Would you celebrate all the blessings in your life with those you love? Would you call people to ask forgiveness for any offense or hurt from the past? Would you care what people thought of you? Would you eat your favorite meal? Would you take a hot air balloon ride or zip line adventure or sky dive? Would you sit peacefully waiting for the end to come?

One of my favorite songwriters is Ben Rector. He recorded a song called “Like the World is Going to End,” addressing some of these questions.

If we found out that the world 
was gonna end on Tuesday morning
What would everybody do
It’s funny how the thought of that 
can make something real important
And a lot of things pretty worthless too

The lyrics are poignant, the tune is catchy, but the thoughts I’ve had since first listening to it a few years ago have stayed with me. Read the lyrics of the final chorus:

‘Cause I’d be dancin’ like a fool
I’d eat ice cream every mornin’
I’d call up everyone I loved
And drive them out to California
And we’d say the things 
that we’ve been scared to death to say till then
Now that I think about it
Maybe we should always live like the world is gonna end

Today is Maundy Thursday. It signifies the last 24 hours of the life of Jesus. What did He do?  No big meal – just wine and bread.  No apologizing for wrongs done – He had no sin. No selfish adventures – he served and prayed and forgave. He ate one last meal – with those He loved but knew would abandon Him and the one person He knew would betray Him.

Bob_Goff_Maundy_Thursday

On Maundy Thursday Jesus knew He was headed to a painful, gruesome death. He knew He would be abandoned by friends and forsaken by His Father, yet He chose it anyway. He chose US anyway. Maundy Thursday – our opportunity to receive what Jesus offered on his last day. My friend Jennifer Dukes Lee provided this graphic to help visualize all that Jesus did for us BEFORE the cross. On his last night. At his last meal. With his betrayer.

On His Last Night

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