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Posts Tagged ‘God’

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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John 14 verse 6 gives us three more names for Jesus.

Read this verse emphasizing the word THE. It is singular – there is no other way, no other truth, no other life, apart from Jesus. For those of us who believe all the red words in the Bible, you can spin it no other direction. How can we access God? Jesus. What is truth? Jesus. What does this life mean? Jesus.

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Other years I’ve blogged through the days of Lent. This year it’s time for something different. Though I love writing, I also enjoy taking photographs, so this year, I’ll be posting pictures of my interpretation of the many names of Jesus

Christ, from Christos, meaning “Anointed One”

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer and fasting. Some choose to abstain from food, some decide to stop a certain behavior or habit. One year I have fasted coffee. It was ugly.

But Lent isn’t about food, or fasting, or ashes. It’s all about preparing our hearts for the ultimate sacrifice – Jesus. The Christ. The Anointed One.

Matthew 16:16 – You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.

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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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None of us want to have regrets in life. I want to live each day so when I look back, I can say I have no regrets. But I also realize that may not be totally reasonable. We all make mistakes. Maybe it’s as little as eating too much cake and cookies over these holidays (definitely) or sitting more than moving (maybe) or choosing my own comfort over someone else’s (probably). Maybe you’ve lived a life full of things you now regret. I hope you know it is not too late to change, to choose better moving forward, to ask and receive forgiveness, and to extend to yourself a wonderful gift: Grace.

My pastor reminded me today that our past (good or bad) does not define our future. God has a new thing for you – a path, adventure, purpose beyond anything you can imagine. Don’t allow regrets to keep you from saying “yes” to whatever God has for you. Don’t keep looking in your rear view mirror – you’re not going that way.

Milkweed seeds ready to fly

Monument to life

Reflection is necessary occasionally.

The colors of sunset – dramatic reminder of a full day

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Merry Christmas!

I hope you are able to celebrate this wonderful holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus.

You may be surrounded by family or alone today. You may be suffering with sickness or watching someone you love going through the ravages of a disease. You may be sitting in the midst of a wrapping paper mountain or didn’t have enough money for even one gift.

Jesus is your answer. Rich or poor, Jesus came for all of us. Those surrounded by loving family & those homeless and destitute of love. Those suffering & those watching someone we love suffering. Those grieving. Those anxious & depressed. Those who have all money can buy, yet ache with loneliness and despair. Jesus loves you.

Allow Jesus to heal your heart today. Allow His perfect peace to flood your soul. He may not change every circumstance, but He’ll be with you in the midst of it. Call out to Him – He is there to meet you. He wants you at His birthday party!

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It’s the Friday before Christmas and I’m swamped with a to-do list longer than any naughty-or-nice list Santa’s looking at today. Which means – how do I blog AND get my other stuff done. Came up with this: Friday’s Five. I’m offering five quick “what I’ve learned in my six decades of life” tidbits of wisdom. Take it or leave it.

  • Try new things.

We all get stuck in routines. Routines are absolutely necessary but occasionally, get out of your personal rut and try something new. A new route to work, a new restaurant, a new item at your old restaurant, a new coffee shop, a museum you’ve never visited, give blood for the first time, ring the bell for Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign, walk a new path, take a vacation to a different destination. These are all new things I’ve tried in the last five years. A couple of those new things have become new routines (I give blood every 8 weeks, and ring that little bell every Christmas) and I’m always looking for something else to try to push my comfort boundaries.

  • Don’t eat meat with an expired date.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Maybe I should have said, “check the expiration date of any meat product before consuming.” No explanation necessary. Live and learn. At least I lived, though I felt like death warmed over for a while.

  • Visit national, state, and county parks as much as possible.

img_3853My brother and sister-in-law took me to my first national park in September of 2016. And my second. And my third. All in the space of three days. That whirlwind tour was life-changing. God is out there, people. Check out His creation in the wide open spaces. Or the deep dark forests. Or the windswept prairie. Or the little path through the woods. I will never be the same. I will never view God the same. I’ve thanked Alan and Victoria multiple times, but I can never express adequately what that trip meant to me.

  • Watch someone else’s kids play sports, perform in a play, or sing/play in a concert.

We all love our own kids best. It’s natural. But there is something so wonderful about cheering for other people’s kids. They light up. Their parents light up. Everyone needs a cheerleader – be one for someone else’s children. And it will change YOU.  Love for others grows your heart.

  • Go without occasionally.

If you have enough money to purchase whatever you want, don’t. Live with less. Say “no” to that voice- the one that says, “you must have this.” Give yourself a day or two – find out if that thing you so desire on Friday is still necessary on Monday. Show your kids that living with less can be freeing, gratifying, enjoyable. Stuff clutters. And I’m still working on this one.

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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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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I enjoy sharing my favorites with you. I know it’s just my opinion and you may not share it, but it’s been fun to think about what I like and then narrow it down to just five things. So to conclude a rainy, sloppy, cold-then-hot-then-cold-then-wet-then-tornado month, here are my final five for May.

(1)  Casey’s pizza

For those of you reading this from anywhere other than Middle America, you have no idea what Casey’s pizza is. I’m sorry for your loss. Casey’s General Store is a chain of convenience stores in just about every small town throughout the Midwest. They have decent coffee, really good donuts (if you get there before they’re picked over), normal convenience store items like small cans of oil, overpriced 2-liters of pop, whole shelves full of beef jerky, beer (and more beer), bottled water and…pizza. Really good, greasy pizza. Download their app so you can order it at the end of your tutoring session and have it ready for pickup at your most convenient location. As I ordered my large pepperoni pizza the other night, I had four Casey’s locations within 1 mile of me…life can be so good sometimes.

(2)  Lemon Asparagus Pasta with Grilled Chicken

img_2780-1Don and I enjoy trying new recipes. Made this pasta dish over the weekend. Definitely a keeper!! Didn’t take any pictures of the finished dish but trust me, it looked and smelled amazing. And tasted so so good. Lemon zest and lemon juice in the alfredo-style sauce made it feel lighter than other pasta dishes…so I had two helpings. Don’t judge.

Another culinary entry – this makes 3 out of 5 favorites are food related. I know – I’m suffering.

(3)  Gianni’s Italian Beef

My downfall is that Gianni’s is within close walking distance from my work so though we’ve only been there twice, we’ll definitely be going back…over and over again. Take the time to read the back story on the restaurant’s owner and how the name Gianni’s was selected…and tissues.

If the story doesn’t grab you, the Italian beef will. Or the Italian sausage. Or the seasonal Italian ice. I plan to try the salad and the beef hot dog at some future visit, but that Italian beef is tough to pass up. Small menu but big flavor. Love the atmosphere too.

(4)  Joy Williams 

My go-to resource for new music is my adult children. All four of them love music so I have a never ending list of artists to try out. David and Tristen love Joy and now I do too.

img_2788

Joy Williams – Front Porch

Give a listen to her latest album “Front Porch” – such a sweet, soulful, slightly country sound. An interesting side note: I am also a huge Ben Rector fan. Ben’s song “Boxes” off his “Magic” album talks about CDs given to him by wanna-be musicians as he tours around the country. It’s a really good song (as are all of his) and includes these lyrics:

“On through this Rolodex of railroad tracks and fresh-cut hair
I see Joy who won some Grammys and is now a millionaire”

That’s Joy Williams – isn’t that cool? Well, I think so anyway.

(5)  Ephesians 4:1-3

I read my Bible every morning. Sometimes things jump out at me…sometimes not. But I trust that my obedience in reading God’s Word will feed my spirit, even when I may not “feel” like it. Recently read this passage from The Message version…

“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.”

Isn’t this awesome? Run on the road God has called you to travel. Run!! Quit sitting around waiting for God to tell you what to do. Move forward until He tells you to stop. This journey He has for each of us is not a sprint – it is a marathon. And our training isn’t done via YouTube…it’s done out there in the real world. So put on your running shoes and run!

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The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter can be spent in a frenzy of activity, scrambling to buy jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, baking hams and pies, scrubbing bathrooms, and laying perfect dinner tables.

Or maybe this day was spent in reflection, contemplating the hours the disciples mourned their rabbi, their Messiah, hiding in fear for their lives after watching an innocent Jesus crucified by the Roman soldiers.

Holy Saturday. Black Saturday. Joyous Saturday. The day of despair, hopeless, fearful, wondering “now what?” It is easy for us to skip over the importance of this day. We know the story. We know what’s ahead. Sunday’s coming. Easter will bring new life, our resurrected Savior.

But the disciples didn’t know. They heard what Jesus told of this time but how do you really prepare yourself for this day? Do you hope? Do you hide? Do you leave? Do you stay?

Did they trust? Did they believe the One who poured Himself out, teaching, praying, healing?

Maybe your life is currently sitting on a Black Saturday. Your dream seems dead. You’re fearful, hopeless, despairing. You grieve and hide, questioning “now what?”

Do you trust? Do you believe the One who poured Himself out for you? Stand firm and know – Your Easter is on the horizon.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.”

‭‭John‬ ‭16:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

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