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Posts Tagged ‘life’

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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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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If the meaning of “golden birthday” is turning the age of your birthday (like mine was 16 on the 16th), what is it when you turn the age of your birth year? Couldn’t find it on wikipedia so I’m going to call it my “platinum birthday” – platinum is valuable, precious and matches my hair color. And it’s my next one. One month away.

In the last few years I’ve been fixated on new beginnings. I’m not going to get into details (check out some of my earlier blogs) but I enjoy trying new things, stretching out of some long-held beliefs, and learning different skills.

So, as I enter the last month of my 50s, I’ve decided to blog about a few things I’ve picked up on in the last 6 decades. Some are no-brainers. Some were mind-blowing (to me). Some are very practical, others whimsical. Actually, I compiled my list while on a walk a week or so ago…had Siri jot it down in my notes app. Now that I think about it, I should make that one of my bits of wisdom. Use your smartphone for more than social media, talking, and taking pictures.

On my birthday I’ll publish the complete list, but starting tomorrow, I’ll select one (or five – I can do whatever I want, I guess) and chat a bit about why I find this bit of wisdom or advice important enough to share. If no one reads this, just the exercise of putting my thoughts down in writing is important for me. And there’s another thing to add to my list: Put your thoughts down on paper once in a while.

Just to whet your appetite for this mind-blowing (or mind-numbing) series, here’s what I found while out on my walk today. It was cold outside so most of my 3+ mile walk was inside the Cedar Rapids skywalk system. I’m adding it to my list. Good advice…take it.

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Is 60 the new 40? I’m not sure. I’ll let you know in a month.

 

 

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img_2978Our youngest son got married on Saturday. It was beautiful. Of course, when the bride is absolutely gorgeous and the husband is GQ-worthy (someone else said this first, not me…his mother)…it’s tough to have a bad wedding. But we learned a lot from the planning process and throughout the day into the evening. I’m passing along a little wisdom.

Five Things to Make Your Wedding Unforgettable.

img_2943(1)  Have an outdoor wedding. No matter what you do to out-think the weather forecast, the weather always wins. Always. Maybe it’ll be sweltering hot. Maybe the gnats & mosquitoes will dive bomb each guest. Maybe the storm clouds will gather behind the wedding party as they try to look cool and calm. Maybe the storm sirens won’t go off during the ceremony. Maybe the wind will blow the decorations into the next county. Maybe some of this happened to us.

(2)  Ensure you lose electricity during the reception because of weather. Everyone eats by the flickering candlelight. Toilets won’t flush. Band can’t play. The mother-of-the-bride’s best friends hold their camera flashlights over the food line so people know what meat they are putting into their tacos.

img_2944(3) Make sure the mother of the groom hurts her back the night before. With so many friends and family members in town, there’s a plethora of advice (and painkiller options) made available. In order to remember the day, keep the drug options to Tylenol and ibuprofen. And peppermint oil.

(4) Torrential downpours. Nothing like a little (not little) thunderstorm to keep everyone inside the building instead of enjoying the beautiful grounds of our venue. But we also didn’t lose anyone. Keeping our loved ones close makes for a very memorable day.

(5) Live band. Let’s be real – a live cover band with no electricity doesn’t sound good. Pun intended. But our venue staff (Koru Aronia Berry Farm) worked tirelessly to pull off miracles and the band (Strays) went live only 20 minutes behind schedule. We danced (not me) and sang and swayed and tapped our toes (me) for almost three hours. I loved watching my adult nieces and nephews enjoying themselves right alongside my little great-nephews dancing away the night.

I could add so much more because it truly was a wonderful day. No matter the glitches that could have ruined everything, Sean and Ellie planned and pulled off a magical wedding.

Huge thank you to all that came together to work, play, dance, serve, and celebrate this special couple. Sean and Ellie made it to Italy (eventually – but that’s another story) and you can see some of their travels on their Instagram pages. And I’m down to only two ibuprofen a day.

 

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It’s not even a word – but it so accurately describes my life. I have a lot of unexpectedlies – every day. And so do you. At first, I was blindsided by happenings in my life that I never planned for. Death. Accidents. Job loss. Broken relationships. All these and more kept me off balance, sometimes teetering on the edge of grief and despair. I felt more fear than faith – dreading the next bend in the road.

One weekend TrailI had an epiphany. I came to realize, with the wooing of the Holy Spirit, that these unexpectedlies are opportunities. Opportunities to find blessing in the midst of sadness. Joy in the midst of sorrow. Healing in the midst of pain. Instead of finding the gray on the backside of every cloud, I really do attempt to find the silver lining.

This past month, three close friends have passed away. One was my beautiful daughter-in-law’s father. He was a huge influence in my life, in the lives of my friends and family. Another was a man who helped me navigate the stress of my first radio job, moving from co-worker to great friend. He and his lovely wife gave me support in the hardest time of my life and for that, I will be forever grateful. Just this past Tuesday, another friend entered in the presence of Jesus. We’d only known each other three years but we became the best of buddies, joined together through our love of the Chicago Cubs and our little church family.

Each man was an unexpectedly in my life – unexpected voices of encouragement and affirmation, sometimes challenging, always loving and supportive. I am a blessed woman to have known these three and I am so grateful I was able to run part of my life’s race alongside them.

Takeaway – celebrate the unexpectedlies. Look for the blessing in each one. Grow through the experience. Choose to respond to each one with grace and forgiveness. Love fiercely because unexpectedlies happen…every day.

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If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

I am so grateful for the provision of God. He gives us life, and breath, and hope. He knew us before we were in the wombs of our mothers, and has a plan and purpose for each of us. He provides ways for us to work, talents for us to use, gifts for us to share. He cares about every detail of our lives. God does not live in some far off place, moving the affairs of men as chess pieces…He is a loving heavenly Father who weeps when we mourn, rejoices when we are happy, and gives us so many good gifts. Of course, His greatest gift was sending His only Son Jesus to die in our place, that we would not be punished for our sins, but will instead be welcomed into His Presence once we have accepted that gift, and proclaimed Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I cannot imagine my life without God’s provision. There are some in this world who deny His existence, and yet they breathe the air He devised, they walk the earth He formed, they exist in the body of man, who He created to walk with Him.

God’s promise to renew my mind gives me access to His deep thoughts. The presence of the Holy Spirit in my life gives me a Comforter, Teacher, Guide and Friend…Someone who will instruct me throughout this turbulent and sometimes, terrifying journey of life. God has given us armor to wage war against the enemy of our souls. He has given us His Word to wield as a living weapon more powerful than any man made missile. He has provided each of us with spiritual gifts to bless and build up the Body of Christ.

I cannot name one provision of God that I am more grateful for than another. I am dependent on Him for everything I am, everything I do, and everywhere I go. I pray He will always provide me with words to encourage and uplift, talents to build up, and strength to finish the race He has set before me. That is my prayer for you as well.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter  1:3

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Juanita & Gloria Damon (my mom) dressed for prom (circa 1945?)

 

I don’t know about you, but I had a mom who wasn’t shy about speaking her mind. She was the youngest of three daughters and admittedly, teased and tormented her sisters most of her growing up years. As a teenager, she was a spitfire who boasted about having quite a few friends who were boys. But once she met my dad, it didn’t take long to say “I do.” She had just turned 18, and my dad was just 21, when they tied the knot. Their marriage lasted almost 56 years, though not without quite a few painful twists and turns. Through it all, my mom stood pretty firm. She had a way of seeing the world and expected almost everyone else to see it her way. I loved my mom, but she was a stubborn woman.

As the middle of five children, I was the born peacemaker. I wanted everyone to get along. I didn’t like fighting…between mom and dad, brother to brother, or even with my sister. My usual way of handling conflict was hiding or running, or lashing out with hurtful words. One of the first sayings I remember my mom telling me: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” She didn’t always live by that motto, but it’s one I’ve tried to use, especially since joining social media. It’s an early lesson I heard that I’m most grateful for.

The book of Proverbs is full of advice similar to my mom’s (and I’m sure she didn’t know it at the time) – “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)… “The mouth of the righteous is a well of life…” (Proverbs 10:11a)… “The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom…” (Proverbs 10:31a). When I get frustrated with the hate and vitriol spewing forth on television and the internet, I try to keep my mouth shut. I’m not always successful. More than anything, I want my lips to speak wisdom…my words to be encouragement…my mouth to speak life into a world that desperately needs words of hope and grace. O Lord, let me hear my mama’s voice one more time: “Kris…if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

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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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Flower_reflectionMy 40-day journey of addition begins today. And I wanted to start with something which will help me all the way through this adventure.

Reflection. So many definitions. One involves a mirror. Yuck.

Some of us use the mirror as a tool to pluck a stray hair, check for green stuff in our teeth, or make sure that eyeliner went on straight. Others  use it as a tool to beat ourselves over the head…”too fat,” “too pale,” “big nose,” “big butt,” “big ears,”…the voice in my head can depress me more than any Donald Trump sound bite. My self-esteem can take a big hit if I saw myself the way that mirror says I am.

But there’s another mirror…a magic mirror…I can use every day, at any moment, if I choose it. This mirror reflects the real me…the me that God says is valued, loved, cherished. The mirror of God’s Word is the only true reflection of who I really am.

Another definition of reflection has to do with  meditation or consideration.

I think about stuff. Don’t you? I spend a lot of time in my head, constantly talking myself into and out of things. So today, I’m committing to spending more time in reflection. Intentionally considering my life, my schedule, my choices, my God. I’m looking forward to listening to the Holy Spirit as I try to reflect who I am because of who He is in me.

That’s another reflection to consider. How do I reflect the love of Christ into this world I live in? I’m a pretty flawed human being but Jesus lives in me and I want His love, His words, His character reflected in my words and actions.

Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthian church and in it he included a section we like to refer to as “the love chapter” – 1 Corinthians 13. It’s very beautiful (if you take time to REFLECT on all of it). There’s a long list of what love is and isn’t (love is patient, kind, not envious…). But one of my favorite parts of the section, toward the end, of what it will be like when we see Jesus.

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

When we see Jesus, we won’t wonder if we are too fat or too thin, accepted or not accepted, loved or not loved. I will know all things as He knows. A reflection is good for now, but I can’t wait until I see Him face-to-face.

 

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the traditional beginning of the Lenten season in many Christian churches. Lent is a period of 40 days of fasting and repentance leading up to Easter (actually, they only count Monday through Saturday as “fasting” days, with Sunday as a “feasting” day, and therefore not counted in the 40-days). There’s your history lesson for today.

Last year I wrote a short blog for each day of Lent, which was a lot of writing and probably more than any one person should, especially any one just plain ordinary person. But it was a great discipline for me, even if no one read anything. I took the theme of fasting and chose a different topic each day to “give up.” I tackled giving up unworthiness, apathy, guilt, failure and a lot of other stuff. This year I think I’ll flip things around. This year I’m going to choose those things I need to add to my life.

Let me be honest. My schedule is very full. I work full time, tutor once or twice a week, lead a small youth group on Wednesday nights, attend a prayer and teaching session at least once a week at our WFM Missions Base in Robins and serve with my husband as he pastors Troy Mills Christian Church each Sunday. I also spend time volunteering, working out at least three times a week, cleaning my house (mostly fail this one) and giving time and attention to my kids and husband. In between all those things, I read my Bible, do the laundry, cook a few meals, walk a few miles, read a few books, keep up with the family finances, talk to my boys, go out with friends and live my life as joyously as I can. On top of all that, my youngest will soon graduate from college and my oldest son and his beautiful fiancee are getting married in May.

So, why do I think I need to add anything else?

Especially because I’m so busy, there are quite a few areas in which I need plenty of work. I need to add things like margin, compassion, patience, joy, adventure….You get my drift. Starting tomorrow, my blog will be short (promise!) advice to myself. My goal is to add those essential elements I’ve missed while sprinting through each day. The actual definition of “addition” is the uniting of two or more numbers into one sum. I’ll be uniting what is great about my present with what is necessary to make life even better.  I’m going to set my face toward the end of this journey, trusting God to show me ways to add richness to each day. You can join me if you want.

mission addition

 

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