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Posts Tagged ‘wisdom’

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Eating ice cream with Grandpa

All dads are major influences in the lives of their children, even the bad or absent ones. I was blessed with a wonderfully kind and gentle father, who loved me unconditionally and believed in my potential way more than I did. In honor of my dad, today’s blog is devoted to five tidbits of wisdom he handed down to his children.

  • Take care of the land.

My grandfather was a farmer, and my dad farmed with him until I was nine years old. We lived on a small acre plot of land adjacent to the main family farm, where my paternal grandparents lived. My dad loved farming, but when my grandpa passed away, my parents couldn’t afford to buy the farm, so Dad sold most of the farm equipment and started driving a semi-truck hauling grain and farm animals. But my dad always loved the land.

img_4309He spent hours in our wooded acres, cleaning up downed trees, and using the wood to heat our home. He loved those trees. My nephew recently found a video recording my dad made while walking through his beloved woods. To hear his voice again, poetically extolling the beauty and majesty of the massive oaks and elms…we were amazed at his eloquence. My dad was a quiet man, but his heart was huge. Listening to that recording revealed his passion for conservation.

  • Everyone needs some alone time.

This could easily be part 2 of the previous point. My dad was an introvert who loved people. And yes, that’s a thing. Dad enjoyed being around friends and family, but he needed to get outside or get alone for a while to re-charge. Dad drove tractors (alone), semis (alone), and lawnmowers (alone) so he could have his solitude. He told me often about having conversations with God, listening to the radio, observing nature, just soaking up the quiet without any competition for his attention. He could talk with anyone about many things, but he was most content when he could get outside, in his woods, alone.

  • Don’t cruise along in the left lane.

We just finished 12 hours of driving in the last two days. So many drivers have never learned this bit of wisdom that my dad drilled into me when I was learning to drive. People – the left lane is for passing.

  • Show up and work hard
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Though it looks as though Sean is miserable, this was a favorite activity: riding on the John Deere lawnmower with Grandpa.

My dad worked hard his whole life. He didn’t make much money, but when he left our house, he gave 100% to whatever needed to be done: field preparation, driving trucks, hauling grain or hogs or cattle, splitting and hauling wood, mowing lawn, planting and harvesting, etc. When he was an employee, his boss knew Bill would show up, no matter the weather or his health. My dad was more reliable than the U.S. Mail. And his kids learned that work ethic who have now passed it down to their kids.

  • Finish well

I had the privilege of spending a lot of time with my dad during the last few months of his life. He had been diagnosed with leukemia and I would travel to his house to sit with him to give my mom a little break from care giving. I loved listening to my dad tell stories about his young adult life. About how he first met my mom. How he thought she was the most amazing and beautiful girl he’d ever seen. He was a shy, quiet young man, but my mom flirted and joked with him and he was a goner. At least, that’s what he said. He also told stories of mistakes, regrets, errors in judgment. He was so sad about those things. My dad was not perfect. He made mistakes in his life and lived with some measure of guilt. If he were here, he would tell you the same thing. But the greatest decision he ever made was to ask Jesus to forgive him, to cleanse him and clear him of that shame and condemnation. From then on, my dad was a different man. Before his God-encounter, Dad had high expectations (for himself and his family) that were seldom met, but after he met Jesus, spent time allowing God to transform him, my dad became less judgmental, and more grace-filled. He experienced being set free from guilt. And those last few months of his life were marked with a love more profound that I had ever seen before. His love for my mom was deeper and richer. He took time to meet with the men he wanted as his pallbearers so they would know how much he loved and appreciated them during his life. He talked with me for hours about heaven, what he wanted us to do for my mom when he was gone, how much he loved me and my siblings…and how much he loved His Savior, Jesus. Those were precious times with my dad, priceless conversations I can still hear in my head. He taught me one final lesson – finish well.

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My mom and dad soon after their engagement. Mom was 17, Dad was 21.

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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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Taking a long look in the mirror today. Probably should do it more often. I have a problem and except for God, no one can help me solve it. My problem is pride.

img_2356As a wife, mom, ministry leader, co-worker, I need to know about a lot of things. People count on me to keep track of details and schedules, managing minuscule bits of information for later retrieval. The problem is I think I need to know a lot about everything…things that are none of my business. I think about how I would solve a certain problem, and tell others my way. I think about how I would respond to someone’s issue, and then communicate it, even though it’s none of my concern. I poke my nose into other people’s problems and most are too nice to tell me to “butt out.”

I have a tendency to think my way of doing things, saying things, thinking things, is always the best way. Pride is a beautiful, ugly monster. The two-sided coin of believing in myself, but knowing I am but clay in the hands of the Master Potter. My trust cannot be in my own abilities, but in the Creator God who formed me in my mother’s womb. Ego is necessary for life…but without that mirror of self-reflection, it becomes a weapon of destruction.

Dan Rockwell writes a daily leadership blog that I find fascinating. His blog on the 10 Practices of Humility for Egotistical Leaders is one I need to read at least once a month. Probably should post it around my house and office too. He begins with the six symptoms of egotistical leadership…things like: ego thinks “I” and “me”…ego can’t be wrong…ego dismisses criticism and correction…and my personal favorite (cringe)…ego listens with a personal agenda. “What’s in it for me? How does this make me look? Who can I blame?”

So today I’m looking in the mirror – truly seeing the pride that has become a problem in all facets of my life and asking God to forgive me, give me a new heart of humility, to serve others before myself, to show Jesus to the people I’m surrounded by every day. I pray He shows me people I need to apologize to – for offending them – even unintentionally. I’m hoping He gives me opportunity to shine His light on others. Am I self-serving or others-serving? Because if I’m a leader, a co-worker, wife, mom, or “whatever” – I need to think “you”…not “me.”

Pride

 

 

 

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Sometimes I make the assumption that everyone has access to the same resources that I do. But that is not necessarily accurate. Yes – most people now have access to the internet and can google just about anything. But not everyone knows how to search online and not everyone has the time or inclination. And that World Wide Web is a super humongous place…easy to get lost and discouraged. So, today’s blog will highlight a few online devotional sites that continue to create wonderful content for us to enjoy.

Dayspring began as a greeting card company in California by four Christian men. They have grown into more than cards with inventory including gifts, home decor, books and Bibles. They also provide a daily devotional delivered right to your email every morning. Some are very short, such as this morning’s offering. Others a bit longer. All are excerpts from books published by Dayspring. If you’d like a quick devotion, easily read in a couple of minutes, this may be the right fit for you.

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An offshoot of Dayspring is another wonderful resource: (in)courage. Female writers from across the country are regular contributors, designed to encourage and enrich your life with real life, relevant material. The devotions are a little longer (probably will take 5-10 minutes each) but you’ll want to shout “Amen!” when you’ve finished. The authors are engaging, humorous, vulnerable and wise. By the time you’ve read a few, you’ll feel as though you’ve made new friends. They’ve recently published a CSB (in)courage devotional Bible. If I needed another Bible, I would certainly have this one. Sign up here to receive these wonderful daily blogs/devotions.

I’ve just recently come across the writings of Rachel Wojo…Her last name is so long and with so many consonants that she’s shortened it on every thing she publishes…and she publishes A LOT!. I first saw (and use every day) her monthly Bible reading plans. Then I looked through her website and saw so much wonderful, Biblical material. She says she started the website to keep herself accountable to God’s Word and to “help others enjoy fresh faith on a daily basis.” She has so much free material including free Bible study videos. Her testimony is amazing and inspiring. I couldn’t even begin to describe her life’s journey. Please, if you do nothing else today, take a peek at Rachel’s website.

That’s enough to get you started. Happy reading! May the Word of God sink deep into your hearts as you lean into Him more and more every day. I pray these resources will help guide you toward the Source of all Truth…Jesus.

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Fear of the Lord is fountain

Not all fear is bad. Not all fear puts you under the table in a fetal position. Not all fear keeps you bound up and irrational. Not all fear is a trap from the devil. In fact, the Bible is full of encouragement (and even commands) to fear…to fear the Lord.

Most of us would define fear as a “distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” And that is one definition. But the dictionary includes another definition of fear – a reverential awe, especially toward God. And that’s the very best kind of fear…one we should embrace and encourage, not shrink from.

I want to be wise, don’t you? And I want to live a long life. Those are just a few promises for those who fear the Lord. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 10:12

 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…”

So what does it mean to fear the Lord? I’m not a theologian but I guess, for me, it means wanting what God wants, loving Him with all my heart, seeing people as He sees them, doing what He has placed in front of me to do, and obeying the Holy Spirit’s voice. It means reading and studying God’s Word, serving the Body of Christ and telling (with my voice and my actions) others about this wonderful Savior who died for my sins, and yours. It means repenting when I’ve sinned, praising Him in good times and bad, trusting Him when I don’t see any possible way out of a crummy situation, and knowing He loves me, no matter what I’ve done.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (according Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10). It is pure, enduring forever (Psalm 19:9a)…a fountain of life (Proverbs 14:27) and can lengthen your days (Proverbs 10:27a). The fear of the Lord leads to life (Proverbs 19:23) and of course, what self-respecting Christian woman hasn’t claimed Proverbs 31:30 a time or two:

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”

Our fear of things (part 1) and our fear of man (part 2) are snares the enemy wants to trap us in to keep us ineffective in life and most especially, in the kingdom of God. Fear is never from God. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 specifically says that God does not give us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love and a sound mind. I think that was the first Scripture my kids memorized after John 3:16. Spirt_of_fearWe used (and still use) it to ward off nightmares when the darkness threatens to overwhelm and our hope seems gone. Another favorite “fighting fear” Scripture is 1 John 4:18a – “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

God has given us these weapons to defeat the schemes of the enemy in our lives. The Holy Spirit will give you the wisdom you need to wage warfare against the wrong fear. Commit once again to fear the Lord – the very best kind of fear!

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

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As much as we fight and complain, all of us want to get older. Because the alternative is obvious and no one really wants that road. But the path of aging is fraught with potholes and deer crossings and railroad tracks. Some places are well-paved, four-lane highways and others are one curve away from a two-lane dirt track made by migrating yaks. Aging isn’t pretty. But it is necessary and that means it’s my attitude that’ll make the difference between facing it with dignity and grace or petulance and irritability. We’ve all known those cantankerous old people…and I don’t want to be one.

I’ve never been too worried about getting older. My hair began it’s elegant slide toward silver back in my mid-30s. I was too cheap (and lazy) to purchase stock in Clairol so I’ve been au naturale for quite some time. And I’m perfectly fine about it. Oh, once in a while I’d make a joke about being the only gray-haired mother with preschoolers, but in reality, I am comfortable in my skin (or hair, as the case may be). (Side note: I’ve noticed the recent trend of young women coloring their hair gray – I wonder if that makes them cool or me cool?) I’ve been blessed with good health and with my recent weight loss and healthy life style changes, I’m looking forward to many more years to love and live. But I am on the back side  of my 50s and my body has given me a few signs that it’s not as young and agile as it once was. I’ve recently had to start taking a medication just because I’m now an “older woman.” Pretty much hate that.

So what’s necessary to age gracefully without succumbing to society’s marketing of youthfulness forever? First – admit it. Second – accept it. Third – Get past it.

Admit it – say this after me – “Yes, I’m getting older. Yes, my body is changing. No, I don’t have to look 15 (or 25, or 35 or even 45 for some of us) anymore. I am beautiful, inside and out, just as I am.”

Accept it – ok, we can talk the talk, but can we walk it out? Accepting the reality of our aging means acting it out in all we do. No more putting ourselves down as “the old lady” in the group (hey – I’m preaching to myself here). Take advantage of the wisdom that comes from living life. Feel free to buy clothes you like wearing and add some color. Everyone looks better in color. And remember, beauty comes from the inside so work on that inner beauty thing. It’s way more valuable than any lift, tuck or injection.

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Lastly, get past it. No more fixating on our age. It’s really just a number. “You’re only as young as you feel.” Nope – because somedays I feel 80 and somedays I feel 16…and that’s when I do something stupid. Like a cartwheel. More accurately, you are only as young as you determine in your heart you are. So, if you’d like to attend a concert with all 20-somethings, go for it. (I do it all the time – with the intention to never embarrass my children in attendance.) If you want to go rock climbing and have the ability, do it. If you want to learn a language, take a cooking class, run a 5k, get a dog, change your hair color, join a gym, buy a motorcycle, teach a class, write a book, volunteer at a homeless shelter, get a job, travel the world…go for it!

God has given us a number of days – He has a purpose for you and me. I want to live in such a way that God’s purpose is being fulfilled everyday. I don’t want to be one of those old ladies who look like they suck on lemons every morning. I want to embrace children and the elderly. I want to smile at strangers. I want to give love out of the abundance that Christ has put in my heart. As my husband often says, “I want to be saltier salt and brighter light.” It’s my choice and I choose to have a wise heart and youthful spirit, even while my body ages, gracefully.

 

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I started another challenge at the beginning of June. Reading through the whole Bible in 90 days. It’s hard. It probably takes me between 30-45 minutes a day to get through each large section of Scripture. So far I’ve galloped through Genesis, escaped with the Jews in Exodus, learned the Law in Leviticus, counted and re-counted in Numbers, dashed through Deuteronomy, defeated the enemies in Joshua and Judges, and lived the romance of Ruth. All in 19 days.

I hope you read the Word each day. You don’t have to take on this kind of challenge but I hope you take the time to listen to what God is saying from Genesis to Revelation. Oh – I can hear you now…all kinds of excuses. I know this because I’ve used them too…

I just don’t have time.

Yes you do. We all make time for what we value. It isn’t unspiritual to actually make an appointment with God. Makes perfect sense to me. We all keep appointments with doctors, teachers, accountants, friends, church activities…why can’t you schedule a time to read God’s story every day? I know many of you have young kids who take up boatloads of your time. Get them involved in your Bible reading. There is no better lesson they can see than Mom and Dad reading Scripture every day. They will understand the importance of Bible reading when YOU place it as a priority. Read with them – read it out loud to them (as always, use wisdom when reading certain portions to young children. “But Mom, God said to wipe them off the face of the earth,” says Billy as he straddles Susie in the backyard).

Yes – you may need to skip your daily dose of Facebook (at least 30 minutes of it), or pass on Dr. Phil or Judge Judy. Take a Bible audio app with you on a long walk. Multi-task with steps and Scripture. Now that’s how to get fit!

I just don’t understand it.

Then find a way. Use a different version. There are literally hundreds of versions to choose from. Go to a Bible website and browse. Try a new one every day, just as a test run. Maybe you learn better through the spoken word. Try an audio version. Maybe you like to see the Word come to life. There are DVDs which use the New International Version to “act out” Scripture – word for word. Don’t believe the lie that says “I’m just too dumb” to understand this stuff. There are all kinds of study helps available online. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of each book and He can give you understanding too. Ask for it. He wants to speak to you. He wants you to know Him and the only way you can is if you read what He’s written.

I’ve already read it once.

My husband is a really smart man. He knows the Word of God better than anyone else I know. He teaches it, lives it and breathes it. I don’t know how many times he’s read through the Bible but probably more than you have. Yet – he still does it. He still reads it every. single. day. You know why? Because he knows God still has a lot to say to him and he always finds out new things about God every time he reads it. Once is not enough. Twice is not enough. Keep at it. Don’t stop. Change it up if you want. Read a different version. The Message is kind of fun for a change of pace. Listen to it instead of read it. Watch it on video.

It’s boring.

If you haven’t noticed by now, the excuses are just that. Excuses. Once again – what you value you will pursue. If you find God’s Word boring (another word for “I just don’t get it”), then find a way to make it exciting. Read it with a friend. Challenge each other with a reading plan or a memorization plan. Read up on the backgrounds of the various authors. Determine to find something you can take away from each day’s reading. Recently I read through Leviticus. Before I started I determined I would find some practical lesson I could use. Quite a few people skip Leviticus. It’s a hard book to wade through. Lots of details. And I mean lots. But God was faithful. I found lessons on salt, blood, value, atonement, festivals & celebrations, grace, consuming fire, unauthorized fire, the holiness of God and how to approach & who can approach God. And finally, I learned God is in the details. He cares about everything. If He cares about skins sores and moldy houses, I’m pretty sure He cares about the details of my life too. See – Leviticus speaks to us today. Don’t skip it!

Find an accountability partner. Print off a paper Bible reading guide. Pray for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit who will teach you the deep things of God as you read His Word. I promise you – you will not be disappointed. The value of Scripture – the richness of His Word will saturate your Spirit and refresh your soul. A little side benefit – when you’re tired and worn down, only the Word that you’ve placed into your heart will revive and restore. When the battles rage around you, only His voice, speaking His Word, will keep you fighting. It isn’t called the Sword of the Spirit for nothing.

 

Dust it off and get started. No excuses. No regrets.

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