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Press On…Yes, Life is an Upward Climb

Yes, life is an upward climb.

Doesn’t matter how old you are, how rich you are, how healthy you are…life is an upward climb…because as a good friend once reminded me long ago…there will always be people around you in need of help. Always.

So…press on…knowing that God can handle whatever troubles begin to pile on your shoulders…and you’ll be able to offer some measure of comfort to others in the midst of your own pain and hurt. Press on!!!

Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders…he’ll carry your load. Psalm 55:22

Max Lucado writes—

I wonder, how many burdens is Jesus carrying for us that we know nothing about? We’re aware of some. He carries our sin. He carries our shame. He carries our eternal debt. But are there others? Has He lifted fears before we felt them?

Those times when we have been surprised by our own sense of peace? Could it be that Jesus has lifted our anxiety onto His shoulders and placed a yoke of kindness on ours?

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Want More Time? Give Some Away

The world delights the generous but seldom overwhelms them.”
Mark Buchanan

Ever notice that the more guardedly we hoard our time the quicker it seems to take flight? Interruptions give cause for anger, irritation, and the like. The stingier we become with our hours, minutes and seconds, the further behind we get. It’s basic life truism, whatever is grasped is eventually rendered ineffective, unsatisfying, or altogether destroyed. While responsibilities loom large, deadlines threaten, and the workload seems to increase exponentially with each tick of the clock, the urgency of the day gives way to ever-rising internal combustion. Likewise, this inmost orientation of the mind also produces a scarcity of generosity in spirit. 

Study those rare individuals who are generous with their time, “…their worlds are more varied, surprising, colorful, fruitful. They’re richer. More abounds with them, and yet they have a greater thirst and deeper capacity to take it all in.” 

Conversely, those whose vision of what is “time-worthy” is only as encompassing as the next item on their agenda eventually find themselves trapped in an ever-shrinking, despoiled environment. For these skinflint-ish (often productive, but frequently purposeless) souls there is never enough to go around, of time or anything else for that matter, and they pay for the hoarding dearly. 

In this self-imposed prison of spirit, life erodes into an endless pattern of musts, have tos, and imperatives that never allows for the luxury of interruptions. Rigidity takes precedence over paying attention and in paying attention to those around us, their needs, wants, and cares, we quantify ourselves as people who see the value of interruption as the vehicle to some of life’s most fulfilling surprises. 

Writes Mark Buchanan, “Think for a moment of all the events and encounters that have shaped you most deeply and lastingly. How many did you see coming? How many did you engineer, manufacture, chase down? And how many were interruptions?” 

It is in the recognition that a day seldom passes whereby our schedules are not overridden by someone else’s needs, demands, or desires, that we discover what side of the time-punch we will position ourselves. Our task then (if our goal is to become the most efficacious of time stewards), becomes one of embracing a spirit generous with flexibility, offset with an extra measure of graciousness of heart. It’s one of life’s ironies, “…those who treat time as a gift and not possession – have time in abundance.”

· Spend time today squandering it for the sake of others.
· Lend your attention to someone in need of a listening ear.
· Take some moments to be curious about the express interests of another person.
· Anticipate interruptions and determine to greet them as opportunities to expand in knowledge and life experience.
· Focus on the larger scope of life by enlarging former perceptions of what qualifies as time-worthy.
· Give precedence to the people around you, and demonstrate this by refusing to give in to impatient distraction.

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Happy Thoughts (Are the Result of Godly Contentment)

Contentment is a good thing.

A very good thing.

It’s also elusive.

Contentment with our circumstances (you know, that inner, glad, happy, at-peace, state of mind) can only come when we let go of control…happily…and give the reigns of our life to Him who controls it anyway.

As Max Lucado writes…

When we surrender to God the cumbersome sack of discontent, we don’t give up something; we gain something. God replaces it with a lightweight, tailor-made, sorrow-resistant attache’ of gratitude.

What will you gain with contentment?

You may gain your marriage.
You may gain precious hours with your children.
You may gain joy.

It’s true.

Godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6

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Need an Internal Warm-Up? Here Comes Winnie-the-Pooh

It’s time to warm up with a little Winnie the Pooh!

Some months back, Winnie the Pooh decided to “follow” me on Twitter. 

Oh Happy Day. 

I loved Winnie the Pooh as a kid.
I loved him when I became a mom.
I still love him.

Everything about him makes me feel the world is a bit warmer, kinder, and more loving than it would be without him.

So, of course, I “followed” him back.

Once you follow or get followed, you’re able to look at a person’s tweets.

As I was reading some of Winnie the Pooh’s latest…I smiled (inside and out.)

Let me share a few of my favorite with you hoping they’ll make you smile (inside and out.)

Christopher Robin: “Winnie, tell me your favorite thing in the whole wide world?” Pooh: “My favorite thing is me coming over to see you.”

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” – Pooh

“I tell myself that I am not afraid.” – Piglet

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like ‘What about lunch?’” – Pooh Bear

“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh. “There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.”

“I’ve got a lotta bouncin’ to do! Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” – Tigger

Owl: “Now, now, Piglet, Chin up and all that sort of thing. A rescue’s being thought of. Be brave, little Piglet!”

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” – Pooh

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” – Winnie the Pooh

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Weaning Me from the World

Randy Alcorn shares in 90 Days of God’s Goodness a quote from J.C. Ryle “There is nothing which shows our ignorance so much as our impatience under trouble. We forget that every cross is a message from God, and intended to do us good in the end. Trials are intended to make us think – to wean us from the world – to send us to the Bible – to drive us to our knees. Health is a good thing but sickness is far better if it leads us to God. Prosperity is a great mercy; but adversity is a greater one if it brings us to Christ. Anything, anything is better than living in carelessness and dying in sin.”

If you’re anything like me, then you too struggle under the heavy weight of hardships, of sorrow, of evil, of suffering that either touches us directly (or indirectly).

I’m determined to see my trials through the lens of eternity.

How about you?

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Tea and Sympathy? I’ll Pass on Both Thank You Very Much

The people used to strengthen us are never those who sympathize with us; in fact, we are hindered by those who give us their sympathy, because sympathy only serves to weaken us. Oswald Chambers

What think you?

I read this and contemplated the countless times I’ve called my good friends and complained over my lot in life.

I realized something really important.

The friends who love me most are those who are hardest on me. (Which begs the question, can we as adults, be “parented” by our friends?)

From where I sit, a good friend is one who listens to my moans and groans just long enough for me to know they’ve heard and felt my pain before they zing me (in the most loving way possible) with the hard truth of taking responsibility for my attitude and actions.

The zing is the key element of a true friend.

Rather than seeking out tea and sympathy I know that my real friends will give me what I need most not what I want most.

The distinction here is not stopping with mere kindness and compassion when a friend comes with genuine pain and suffering. It is offering much needed doses of tough love that will fortify your friend through the hard hours ahead.

Only truth (spoken in love) can accomplish that robust feat.

Squishy warm fuzzy feelings are all good…but they rarely supply what we need most in our hours of darkness.

So here’s to good friends who don’t stop at offering us a cup of sympathy but take their love a step further by spoon feeding us strong doses of truth that will strengthen us for the days ahead.

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Are You Who You Want to Be? When Pleasing Others Becomes a Prison of Our Own Making

I recall a conversation I had with a friend many years ago when I told him I was really hoping for an exciting life. 

I didn’t think I had expressed anything to A) get upset about, or B) react with disdain/disappointment over.

Evidently I did both.

This friend paused and then responded with a statement that ran something along these lines. 

Aren’t you asking for trouble in desiring an “exciting life?”

No, not really.

Maybe his idea of excitement runs different than mine. 

But all I meant was that I wanted to use everything I’ve been given to create something worthwhile, something (anything) that made my heart sing (when doing the creating) whenever I engaged in it. 

I know Max Lucado calls this finding our “sweet spot” when our gifts/talents/passions all meet together and then Bam! an explosion of wonderful feelings explode inside of us and this creative action then causes a chain reaction of beautiful expressions that bless other people too.

Which brings me back to my conversation from over thirty years ago (but which I still recall in high def clarity), I remember the sound of disappointment in my friend’s voice when I shared my heart. His response, though I’m sure he meant well, hurt me. 

It also caused me to doubt myself and invalidate my desires. I remember spending too much time after that talk trying to figure out if I was right or if my friend was.

Of course, every time I failed (which is, like, almost constantly) I heard his judgment ring in my ears and dampen my spirit. 

The funny thing is I can see myself speaking the exact same words today (and sometimes do) but now my reaction to my friend would be different. Night and day different.

I believe I would try to gently challenge my friend’s faulty assumptions and bring him over to my side. But I wouldn’t spend too much time trying to do so.

After all, life’s too short to waste so much time trying to convince somebody else my way is right (because, many times, it’s not.) 

Today is all I’ve got. It’s all you’ve got too.