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Posts Tagged ‘choices’

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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If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of the Chicago Cubs. I’ve been a fan since I was a little girl sitting in my grandpa’s white pick up truck, listening to Lou Boudreau call the games on WGN radio, or watching the games with my dad every Sunday afternoon on WTVO. My dad took me to my first game at Wrigley Field when I was about 12 and I was hooked. Though I followed the Cubs through some of the worst baseball seasons ever, I never wavered. The Cubs were, and are, my team.

You can imagine how ecstatic I was in 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series. I loved watching the huge parade that wove through the city after the series win, where literally millions of people cheered for the new champs. They climbed lampposts, hung from balconies, stood for hours, as the team was driven in open air buses down Lake Shore Drive. It was a glorious sight as fans, old and new, cheered their team.

A short few years later and people are writing them off. The team has had a rocky start to the 2019 season, and people are jumping off the bandwagon right and left. “What have you done for me lately?”

Do you know something similar happened to Jesus? One Sunday crowds of people stripped trees bare of palm branches so they could wave them as Jesus made His way into Jerusalem, riding on the back of a donkey. They shouted and cheered: “Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

The palm branches were a symbol of victory and joy. During the time of Jesus, the palms were waved as the people cheered in celebration when an important person like a king rode through the streets.

But just a few days later, Jesus was arrested, tried, and led out to a hill called Calvary to be crucified. The cheers He heard on Sunday turned to jeers on Friday. No longer shouting “Hosanna,” the people were now screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

The people were offered the choice of whether to free a murderer named Barabbas or to free Jesus. They chose to set Barabbas free and crucify Jesus. His once-faithful followers had now forsaken Him.

We have that same choice everyday. We can choose to follow Jesus and make Him our King and Lord or we can turn away from Him like the people who denied Him or shouted “Crucify Him!”

I want to be faithful to Jesus. As much as I cheer for my team, I want to be even more faithful to my Savior Jesus, who willingly went to the cross to save me from the penalty of my sin. This decision is so much more important than a game.

Jesus – today we choose to make you King and Lord of our lives. Help us to be strong and to follow you when all others forsake you. We shout “Hosanna! You are our King!”

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It’s a sunny Saturday. I’ve already been out for tea at the local coffee shop with my friend, and walked through WalMart getting a few necessaries. We have a birthday party to drop into this afternoon and another errand or two to get done before the day slips away. The pork shoulder is humming along in the Crock Pot and I’m learning how to upload my first video on YouTube.

Uh – what?

Yes – I am almost in my 60s and I’m learning something new today. Don and I try to learn new things every day…maybe not all as ambitious as establishing a YouTube channel and uploading videos, but new to us, nonetheless. We enjoy learning new vocabulary words, especially those that we can use in sermons or conversations. We enjoy using new vegetables in our cooking, or trying new recipes. We cooked bangers and mash for the first time on St. Patrick’s Day.

Recently Don learned more than he wanted to about home repair. Maybe not his favorite activity, but he did it and admits he learned a lot. Installing new windows, creating window wells, fixing sump pumps, replacing a ceiling fan and faucet…Admittedly, the learning is more enjoyable when you choose it, rather than it choosing you.

Rotary phoneSome of us think we’re too old (or too dumb) to learn new things, but I think that’s either a lie you’ve believed or a lazy way to live life. I’m sure you don’t still have a rotary dial telephone or a TV without a remote control. Along the line you’ve learned to use an electric stove and a gas washer and dryer. Maybe you’re really daring, using a smartphone with wifi, sharing iPhone photos of the grandkids on Facebook.

We all must learn new things every day or we’ll die. We’ll be left in the dust of technology and we’ll be boring in conversations. I found a fun and informative blog from a few years ago that shows why new things will enliven our lives, and ways to learn new things  right now via apps and the internet…ways to keep your brain alive and alert. YouTube is full of how-to tutorials, from how to upload your first video (that’s me!) to how to tie a tie or make slime. There are DIY channels to learn a new home or cooking skill, books to read on herbs to plant or window boxes to make. I’m not talking about learning a new language or how to play a musical instrument. It’s the small, incremental steps that make your life interesting…it all starts with making the choice. And NOT believing the lie that you can’t because of…(insert your excuse).

Worst enemyWhat new thing will you learn today?

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Every day we wake up to choices. Get out of bed or stay in? Bath or shower? Coffee or tea or water or…? Read my Bible or watch TV? Workout or sleep longer? Go to work or call in sick? 

Each choice brings a set of consequences, some immediate and some we won’t feel for a long time. Some consequences are the result of years of choices, made well or made poorly. For instance, the dark chocolate M&Ms I’m currently munching on give me short term happiness, but long term weight gain issues. Obviously I’m choosing instant gratification over long term consequences. 

View from a Cedar Rapids skywalk


Despite the rainy, gray spring day in Iowa, I chose to take a long walk today. I knew I may be uncomfortable in the short term, but glad for my choice later in the day when my Fitbit celebrates 10,000 steps. 

Tonight our children’s midweek church program ends until September. Though each adult helper I’ve talked to seems glad for the break in activities, I know each made the choice to serve in this area because of the long term consequences in the lives of these precious children. They know their choice to help in music or crafts or youth may not reap rewards today, but each child encouraged or fed or loved on will benefit for years to come. 

How are you doing on your choices today? Settling for the short term, or banking rewards for the future gain? 

Choose well. 

“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.” Psalm 119:30

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Ledge

My definition of “Hard Things”:

  • It must cause you to make a decision you may never have made before.
  • It must move you outside a comfort zone, a rut or a routine.
  • It must cause your heart to flutter or better yet, race.
  • It must make you learn something new about yourself.

Some examples of “Hard Things”:

  • Getting a new job in a different field (or city or country) because it’s your passion and you’ve put it off long enough.
  • Taking a trip by yourself to a place you’ve never been but always wanted to go (may involve going through customs or a foreign language).
  • Adopting a healthier lifestyle and all the food choices, or workout commitments, which that entails.
  • Changing your “look” because, seriously, high school was like, 30 years ago.
  • Engaging someone new in a conversation about them (not you) and by conversation, I mean, they talk and you listen.
  • Volunteering somewhere you are not comfortable (cleaning pens at the animal shelter, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, serving meals to the homeless, teaching children Bible stories, changing dirty diapers in the church nursery, etc.).
  • Stretching your physical abilities until you have new physical abilities.

Please feel free to add more examples in the comments section.

One “hard thing” I try to do periodically (and sorry, it never gets easier) – I play detective on myself. I ask myself questions like: Why do I choose “easy” when accomplishing something “hard” gives me such a rush? Why haven’t I learned a new skill or taken up a new hobby lately? Why do I sit back and allow others to experience inspiring adventures? Why do I get defensive when someone suggests a new perspective?

Therefore, my summer will be filled with “hard things” – saying “no” to sweet treats and beautiful carbs…hiking up and down hills until I’m sweaty and out of breath (and then doing it again)…carving out time to sit and listen to others (without giving advice or inserting my own story)…writing this blog (even when I don’t feel like it).

For some of you, my “hard things” may seem smooth and simple. And your “hard things” may appear effortless for me. I don’t have any problem speaking in front of groups of people, but others find it heartstoppingly difficult. I love learning stuff about technology – others would just as soon throw their computer against the wall.

The important thing is to make the decision and then follow through. And let’s encourage each other. If you’re attempting to accomplish something difficult, let’s hear about it. Either put it in the comments section of this blog, or on my Facebook post. Use the hashtag #DoHardThings and together we can all cheer you on.

BTW – there is a pretty good book entitled “Do Hard Things” written by a couple of homeschool kids a few years ago about teenagers rebelling against low expectations. I liked it. You may also.

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This is going to be a great summer! I’ve set some lofty goals, anticipating some pretty awesome results and all while enjoying my husband, my family and my friends. But it won’t be easy…because what’s the fun in that?

First, I’m joining with a long time girlfriend as we, once again, take control of ourselves and lose some extra poundage. We’ll be each other’s best cheerleader, motivator, inspiration and coach – all rolled into one dynamic package…actually two dynamic packages, I guess.It’s so easy to get off the path of healthy choices and slip down the slope into JunkFood Jungle. “But it tastes so good!” Yes, it does, but that momentary pleasure usually gives way a short time later to guilt, shame and condemnation – the Three Ugly Stepsisters. No thank you!

Bible_blogpostWe’re going to go through Donna Partow‘s “Becoming the Woman I Want to Be,” the book I used three years ago to get started on my 30-pound weight loss. Great time to crack it open again and get back on track… This isn’t solely about physical changes, but discovering a plan to renew myself spiritually and emotionally as well. Of course, today was the day my office served Panera for lunch and dropped a 25-box of chocolate cookies in the lunchroom. Great way to get started – No! No! No! I’m so weak – but so far, so good.

Another goal is getting back into the Word, regularly. I don’t know why this is a struggle for me, but I’m being vulnerable here…I love God’s Word but I can be easily distracted by louder, yet less important, things. So this summer – the Bible is the first thing I’ll read – even if it’s not until my lunch break.

I’m scheduled to backpack the Sierras with my older brother in early September so another goal is to get in hiking shape…which, I suspicion, is quite different from sidewalks-through-downtown-Cedar-Rapids walking. I’ve borrowed a couple of library books, researched hiking boots and proper backpacks, priced flights to Sacramento and prayed for wisdom on how to record this whole amazing journey without electronic gadgets.

Lastly, I’m going to attempt to blog throughout the summer – at least on Mondays and maybe more. You’ve been warned. You may want to set your own goal of getting off social media for a short time, or cutting back on unhealthy food choices, or spending more time playing (as opposed to working), or doing something you’ve put off because you never found the time to “git-r done.” Now’s the time – time to kickstart your summer.

This is going to be fun!

P.S. The following is one of many verses I meditate on as I train my spirit, soul and body to say “no” to temptation:

“Let your eyes look straight ahead,
Fix your gaze directly before you.
Make level paths for your feet
And take only ways that are firm.
Do not swerve to the right or the left;
Keep your foot from evil.”
Proverbs 4:25-27

 

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One of my favorite singer/songwriters is lesser-known, but brilliant in my humble estimation. He has a pleasant voice and very engaging personality. I’ve seen him once in concert (as part of my favorite band’s tour last year) and I’m looking forward to seeing him as the headliner in about 10 days in Des Moines. But his brilliance isn’t his voice (sorry) or his personality or his choice of friends – I love that he writes songs that every man (or woman) can relate to. He writes songs like a regular guy – love songs, songs with catchy tunes & lyrics, songs to his family members, songs in celebration, songs about life, and songs about choices. His name is Ben Rector and his newest album is called “Brand New.” The album includes what I believe is one of his best songs about choices, relationships, and life.

Brand_New

Instead of writing on and on about what he’s talking about, here are the lyrics and you can see for yourself…it isn’t rocket science or difficult theological concepts…it’s just an honest man’s assessment of what he’d do if he knew the world would end on Tuesday morning.

“Like The World Is Going To End”

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

But I’d be dancin’ like a fool
I’d be laughin’, I’d be cryin’
Callin’ everbody I’d ever hurt and reconcilin’
I’d call everyone I loved
Say what I was scared to say till then
Now that I think about it
Maybe I should always live like the world is gonna end

I’d hit all my favorite resturants
They’d be open for business
Would not care what people thought, yeah

And I’d speak love to everbody
Who came close enough to listen
And if someone done be wrong
I’d call and tell em’ I forgot

And then I’d be dancin’ like a fool
I’d be laughin’, I’d be cryin’
Callin’ everbody I’d ever hurt and reconcilin’
I’d call everyone I loved
Say what I was scared to say till then
Now that I think about it
Maybe I should always live like the world is gonna end

We spend most our lives
And almost all our time
One what we don’t care about
What we could do without

Every tragedy
Is that we can’t see it
We can’t see until time is running out

‘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

Live like the world is gonna end
I find myself singing this song at periodic times throughout the day. It makes me think. Hopefully it makes me act and make better choices too. Hopefully it’ll do the same for you. Because it’s only Friday – you’ve got about four days to eat ice cream every morning.

If you want the album, you can go to his website, or iTunes, or Amazon…wherever you buy your music. If you want tickets to his Des Moines concert (which is on March 28th – a Monday night fortunately), go to ticketmaster.

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