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Tag Archives: Love

No Soliciting…. Again… and Again….

fd-no-soliciting-sign-classicWhen you enter our neighborhood there is a “No Soliciting” sign. It doesn’t work.  Beyond the neighborhood kids selling things for school fundraisers, which, by the way, don’t count, we have people come to our door who have tried to sell me magazines, books, security systems, religion, meat and candy.   It is not so bad if you are craving chocolate and someone steps on your doorstep selling M&M’s. That’s more like a miracle. However, it becomes annoying when you really don’t want the truck load of meat at a bargain price.

At our house, when we experience someone selling at our door, we point them to the neighbor across the street and say, “She usually buys things. You might want to check with her.”  Actually, she is the neighbor who gets so angry with them that she will call the police or at least threaten it. Okay, we don’t really send them her way, but when the seller interrupts something, the thought does occur.  It is not that I don’t want to help them, it is just I don’t like feeling like prey and so often that is the feeling.  However, soliciting doesn’t always involve a transaction of goods.  It can just be about asking for money.

It is not only at home and work that this “prey” feeling is often rendered, but I have been approached in public shopping areas by people with the same stories and asking for money.  I have been alone, with my husband, with my children, my co-workers and even with my mother when approached and again, the stories are all very similar.  I have had several just ask for $6 or $7 dollars and numerous ones have offered their cell phone as collateral of sorts.  There has not ever been an expensive cell phone offered but rather a pay as you go inexpensive one.  Regardless of the approach, stories and offers, so many are so close in nature that, again, they seem fabricated.

Also, in my line of work, people stop by or call our office often asking for financial help.  Each story is usually different, but oddly close enough in circumstance that it is easy to become desensitized.  It is not that I think each one is telling a false story, but when you hear the same story over and over, you begin to wonder how they all have experienced the same thing and what is real.  Naturally, we treat each story as if they are true, but also have a plan to help them get the help they need though valid resources and not so much us.

Now you know where my cynicism about these situations was born, but there is more; enter young lady.

Several years ago, after dark, a young lady approached me in a store parking lot.    She was appropriately dressed for the weather, but it was cold, rainy so I had her follow me to the store door. There was something about her that was a little different than the typical person who had asked me for help in the past.   She told me she was from a town in the region and was in town and ended up with a flat tire and didn’t have the money to get it fixed.  She gave great detail to her story which made me skeptical (yes, skeptical) but I decided to help her anyway.  I gave her $20. She thanked me and left.  I’m not sure if she asked others after me or not, but after I gave her the money, I just hoped it was legitimate.

I didn’t think anything about the situation again until one day while I was getting something inside a convenience store, my teenage daughter, who was waiting in the car,  was approached. When I returned to the car, as my daughter was telling me the story, a young lady approached my side of the car.  I quickly recognized her mannerisms and her look and I knew it was the same girl.  Her story was the same… in need of a new tire… mother-in-law and son are at the car… she had priced tires and was short 40 dollars… she had a cell phone she could give me….  I remember thinking that she probably had more money than me and that I should ask her for money… I don’t remember what I said exactly to her but I do remember that, though a bit out of character for me, I was miffed and didn’t help her.

I later shared my reunion story on Facebook with pride as I told of my refusal to help. Several comments made me begin to think about my treatment of this young lady.  Had I been too rude?  Had I shown love?  Had I helped her in any way?  I thought that what I had done was the right thing and maybe not giving her money was the right thing but I didn’t handle it with care.  Having been made highly aware of the ignorance of human trafficking, I began wondering….What if she was trapped in a lifestyle that she felt she deserved.  What if she was at one time a runaway.   What if she had been sold to someone and was working for them.  I really wish I done and said things differently.penywise_100_1480

Fast forward about 18 months to the other day.  I was in a parking lot looking for a place to park when someone flagged me down.  When I saw her face, I knew at that very moment it was the same young lady.  When she approached my car she began telling me the same story… she mentioned a flat tire, a child, offered me a cell phone…  It was then that I decided to really talk to her.  My first question to her was, “Are you okay?”   She looked at me and answered, “Yes, ma’am.”  Then I asked her, “Are you doing this for someone else?”  She said, “No ma’am”.  I asked her, “Are you safe?” She nodded.  I then said, “The reason that I ask you this is because this is not the first time we’ve met.”  She was speechless. I continued, ” You have approached me before and told me the same story.’  She apologized with an, “I am so sorry.”  I also told her that I didn’t have money to help her but I was concerned that she was not in a safe place.  With a confused look, she again apologized, said, “God bless you” and walked away.

A part of me was pretty excited that I had the opportunity to meet her again.  I could hardly wait to tell my family.  However, in the reeling of my pride, that still small voice spoke and said, “You didn’t tell her that I love her.”  He’s right.  She may have walked away thinking that someone “caught” her.  She may have walked away thinking that was a close call.  Still yet, she may have walked away thinking that someone actually did care about her, but she didn’t walk away knowing what prompted me to ask her.  She didn’t walk away knowing that God loves her right where she is.  She didn’t walk away knowing that her Creator made her and loves his creation.

Maybe I’ll get another chance.  In the meantime, if you see her, don’t forget to tell her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Life Stories

 

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Celebrate the Season- Advent Daily Chocolate Day 1: Love is Blind

When I was a kid I used to look so forward to December 1st.  That was when I could open the very first window in my Advent calendar.  This was the calendar that I received around Thanksgiving and was tortured by chocolate desire for a week or so.  But on December 1st, I could finally look and see what the chocolate design was… you know, an angel, a wiseman, a shepherd, Santa, etc…. and then eat it up.  The main problem though was that by December 2nd, the only thing left behind in those little windows was a hollowed out shell and  the smell of the chocolate …. Yep, I had no self control and I counted down to Christmas in one day.  What do you expect?  The pieces of chocolate were wafer thin and the windows weren’t locked…I had to make sure they all tasted the same…16767

Well, now I’m all grown up and have self control ……. And I also have a job so I can buy an extra calendar or two just in case…..but, this isn’t about chocolate calendars….it’s not about self-control…..  It is about the Advent Season and the excitement that the countdown brings.

I’ve found myself many times when I’m reading during my quiet time, wanting to read more and then a bit more and even more …. pretty much like the chocolate of my childhood, I don’t want to stop until I’m satisfied.  So to add to my regular Bible reading plan,  I’m opening an Advent reading window a day (while eating a piece of chocolate, of course).  I’m doing this so I can share the “chocolate” that is satisfying to me and hopefully to others to.

So grab your chocolate …. the real stuff.. or not….. and hold me accountable to sharing with you a devotion, insight or story a day until Christmas.  Hopefully,  you’ll enjoy it as much as I will.

So, we’ll begin here in Isaiah…. Isaiah 11:1-5 to be exact

Isaiah is prophesying- He’s telling about a person (Jesus), a descendant of David, who is going to have some pretty obvious qualities about himself…. Godly wisdom, Godly Counsel, Godly Understanding…Just these three alone are enough to make you think He would be the one to follow, but as you move on down into the scripture there is something that I read that makes the whole appreciating Jesus thing even more precious.

It talks about his quality of blindness in Christ… not literal blindness, but instead, it is the ability to look at someone and not see them as others do and not judge them because of the way that they appear.  He judges the heart (That is why the Pharisees stayed so angry at him all of the time) .  In other words, he doesn’t love us just because we are attractive, or physically fit, or big givers of our money, are financially sound, teach Sunday School or sing in the choir or any other deed.   He loves us because we are his creation… made in his image..    That’s an incredible hope for a society who lives in a shadow of Hollywood images and lifestyles … It is also incredible hope for those haunted by their past.

We also find out He also judges by what he knows and sees … not rumor…He waits to know our hearts and doesn’t allow the opinion of another to persuade his thoughts about us.   More hope for those plagued with a history of poor choices or a past (or even present) that have been a topic of conversations of others.

When Isaiah was prophesying about this Messiah, he painted a picture of a fair and loving Christ that we fortunately now have an opportunity to know…. personally.

Have you pushed Christ aside because of a sin, a past, a hate, a bitterness or just an esteem that feels undeserving?  Look at how he see us… it’s different than what we are used to …. allow him to show you that love.

What about those who have experienced his love… How is your love? Is your love blind toward others?  Is it based on what you feel is attractive or not so attractive (appearances, financial status, hygiene, rumors, lifestyle, political positions, educational background, personality)?  Today is a great day to practice blind love… to try to see the heart of a person rather than what the world sees.

So, I’m off to buy more chocolate…. I love this time of year!

Isaiah 11:1-5

New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Out of the stump of David’s family[a] will grow a shoot—
      yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
      the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   the Spirit of counsel and might,
      the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
 3 He will delight in obeying the Lord.
      He will not judge by appearance
      nor make a decision based on hearsay.
 4 He will give justice to the poor
      and make fair decisions for the exploited.
   The earth will shake at the force of his word,
      and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
 5 He will wear righteousness like a belt
      and truth like an undergarment.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2012 in Advent, Devotions, Faith

 

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Thanksgiving + Christmas =Thanksmas

It’s over.  My family made it through the criticism, the sneers, the rejection, the envy and an assortment of other emotionally charged gestures and opinions.  Yes, we are that family who decorates for Christmas on the first weekend in November…..  and we can now finally breathe a sigh of relief and fully enjoy publicly what we had secretly been enjoying for weeks.

Every year, as soon as Halloween is over, my husband begins the routine of decorating for Christmas.  It is a quiet thing that we do…. no photos on Facebook, no talk in conversations to our peers, we just get out the decorations from the attic and begin putting them in their place.  The inside is garbed first and then the outside gets its makeover.  In fact, my husband is always full of surprises for as I was spending a late evening at the office and doing the basketball practice routine with our daughter, my husband had worked his way from the indoor decorations to the outside while I was gone.  When we turned the corner into our cul-de-sac, my daughter and I both said, “Whoa!”………As the Hallelujah Chorus rang throughout the neighborhood, we were blinded by the bright lights on our house. Okay, the Hallelujah Chorus thing didn’t actually happen and we weren’t truly blinded, but we were certainly the Griswold family in our own minds.  It was an amazing sight and also the signal that our household was Christmas decor complete.

Maybe you can picture how it looks….Beginning with the Hallelujah chorus approach from the street, you move through our well lit icicle guttering and step into a fully decorated house with a lighted tree (actually three trees now that I think about it), evergreen scented candles, a fireplace setting with a cozy Santa chair (aka Blue’s Clues Thinking Chair)  and Christmas paraphernalia pretty much everywhere. Oh, and of course, the Christmas music playing in the background….


Now, we know we aren’t alone in our decoration timing, we see it more and more each year, but we also know that there are many who do not understand why we “skip” or “forget about”  Thanksgiving.  But that’s exactly what we don’t do…. We are thankful… very thankful… We are thankful for Christ, thankful for his birth, thankful for the grace, peace and hope he gives, thankful, thankful, thankful and we don’t want to celebrate just for a little while….we want to make the most of it.  We want to prolong the feelings of good will, friendliness, peace, happiness and care for others that we see during the season…. So take our cozy, glowing, spirit-filled house, add the aroma of turkey, dressing, pumpkin pie, other Thanksgiving feast goodies and a dash of evergreen and you have Thanksmas.   That would be Latin-ish for a mass of thanks.

Okay, now that season of peace, kindness, love, joy, hope, giving, thankfulness that I mentioned….  yes, I realize that all of those things aren’t always so evident, but we do tend to see more of it during this season than any other time.  Maybe its the music, maybe the brightly (or blindingly) lit homes, maybe its the scent of cookie and homemade goodies baking….. whatever it is, we see families gather, co-workers and bosses celebrating together, thankful lists, people giving their money to help others, people letting others know how special they are through cards, gifts and time and more.   But the reality is, when the turkey leftovers are gone, the decorations are put away, gifts exchanged and the perpetual strategy to get rid of the new ten pounds creep up on us, we tend to fall back into the same stressful busyness that entraps us until the next year.  So why then is this season so different? I’m thinking maybe it boils down to one thing… EXPECTATIONS.   Because it is expected of us, we step out of the everyday routine and encourage peace, thankfulness, hope, love and all of the other great things within the holiday season. There are no seasonal rules that we have to obey, no holiday laws to break… it’s just a given…. It’s what we do because it is that time of year.

Recently my “verse of the day” reminded me that according to Colossians 3:15 , if we are followers of Christ, we are expected to be that way not just the month of December (and for some, November) but all of the time.  Can you imagine what it would look like if all followers of Christ lived by the expectations of allowing peace to rule our lives and always being thankful? I think we’d see no orphan without a home, no widow in need,  no elderly forgotten, no one disabled who is neglected, no one homeless without hope or needed treatment, no one who is dying without care… people would be freed from addictions, their pasts, stereotypes, loneliness, poverty and hatred…. we’d hear encouragement, feel love, gain wisdom and experience grace… we’d rest well, worry less or even none at all…. we’d spend time being thankful for what we have rather than spending time trying to accumulate more things….. we’d know God better than we ever thought possible…

If we can live by expectations from a holiday perspective then I would think we can live with the expectation of carrying a peace like Christ, which would also be a piece of Christ, and then top it with thankfulness at all times…. Now that would be a complete Thanksmas! …The only thing then that would separate the celebration of Christ’s birth from the rest of the year would be the decorations…. in early November! 🙂

Colossians 3:15

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2012 in Advent, Devotions, Faith

 

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A Masterpiece

“Aslan”

I read this morning about being God’s masterpiece…. That is a huge thing to consider.  I’ll admit that probably more days than not, I don’t feel or look much like a masterpiece.   When I think of a masterpiece I think of something great like the Sistine Chapel or “The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans” by Degas. (Okay, I totally looked that one up), but maybe you understand where I’m coming from.  I have in my mind that masterpiece is defined as something great but completed… done…. no additions, no subtractions…. just perfecto.  No more touch ups by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling because it was perfect. Then others see it and ooh and aah about it’s greatness and it becomes something distinguished, something of value, something that others love or at least pretend to love because it is a “masterpiece”.    Now, that’s how I picture a masterpiece.

When I read that, not feeling much like a masterpiece, I began thinking about what that meant. If I’m God’s masterpiece, what does that say about me really?  Am I complete? I hope not.  Am I distinguished? Not really.  Do I need additions or subtractions in my life? Yep! (and my family and co-workers say a big “Amen”) Well then, if I am going by my definition then there is no way I am a masterpiece.  So, feeling a little uneasy, I looked up the definition and I was surprised to find out that masterpiece is not defined by what others think nor about it being complete or perfect… Though many of the sources varied in a small way, most defined the word masterpiece as an outstanding work of art.  So that raised another question…. outstanding to whom? Who decides if it is a masterpiece or a piece of junk?  Hmmm, more to ponder…..

“In Memory Of Andy”

I have toyed with art for years and recently found that my Ipad is a great canvas. I have an app that is helpful for the mental block that storms in when I ask myself, “Okay, what should I draw?” It gives daily challenges and competitions that spark that idea machine to turn it’s wheels….   So, because of those little idea boosters, I have created some artwork that I would have probably never drawn otherwise…. like a caricature of a celebrity, someone “caught” or a 4th of July firework….. Though there is one thing that I’ve noticed in all of the challenges and competitions.  I won’t or don’t enter my art into a either one if I am not satisfied with it.  I have to feel that it is good enough…. my best….. my own personal masterpiece of sorts.

However, as are most, I am my worst critic.  Once I’ve submitted my art, I find a dozen or hundreds or even more changes that I could have made to improve it…. It is my masterpiece but yet, I’m not truly finished with it and because of my eyes, as the creator of it, I probably never will be finished with it.  There will always be something to change.  And though I don’t know the story of Michelangelo’s painting, I wonder if he stood back while others “oohed” and “aahed” about his work and thought, “I should have added a bit more color to the clouds.”   Possibly, however, would he have said, “Okay, I’m done”, if he wasn’t pleased or satisfied or even proud of his work… his creation? I’m thinking a strong no possibility…

Tiger Lily

So, I drew a lion that was featured by the app creator and I also created a baby dragon that I really liked but didn’t receive the accolades that the lion did.  Both, to me, the artist, are each ones that I really like yet they are totally different. I can’t compare them because they are just not the same.  Though one took hours and hours to complete and the other took less than an hour, they both can use some touch ups here and there….  but I was satisfied with them both and still am.

So, if through Christ, I am God’s masterpiece, as the artist, he doesn’t have to keep me the way I am.  He can always make changes (or create in me desire to change) to help perfect me and still be totally pleased with who he has created….

I definitely needed that reminder today….. maybe you need it too….  You are his masterpiece…. his handiwork…. each of us different, each of us valued to the Artist…. and the Artist doesn’t care nor place our value by what others think….

What a great thing to soak in….

Ephesians 2:10

New Living Translation (NLT)

10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The artwork in this post is all original and created on my Ipad.  🙂

“Baby Dragon”

Feather Challenge

“Caught!”

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Devotions, Faith

 

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Celebrate the Season- Advent Daily Chocolate Day 1: Love is Blind

When I was a kid I used to look so forward to December 1st.  That was when I could open the very first window in my Advent Calendar, look and see what the chocolate design was… you know, an angel, a Wiseman, a shepherd, etc…. and then eat it up.  The main problem though was that by December 2nd, the only thing left behind in those little windows was a hollowed out shell and  the smell of the chocolate …. Yep, I had no self control and I counted down to Christmas in one day.  What do you expect?  The pieces of chocolate were wafer thin and the windows weren’t locked… it was like a chocolate free for all.

Well, now I’m all grown up and have self control ……. And I also have a job so I can buy an extra calendar or two just in case ….. but, this isn’t about chocolate calendars….it’s not about self-control…..  It is about the Advent Season and the excitement that the countdown brings.

I’ve found myself many times when I’m reading during my quiet time, wanting to read more and then a bit more and even more …. pretty much like the chocolate of my childhood, I don’t want to stop until I’m satisfied.  So to add to my regular Bible reading plan,  I’m opening an Advent reading window a day (while eating a piece of chocolate, of course).  I’m doing this so I can share the “chocolate” that is satisfying to me and hopefully to others to.

So grab your chocolate …. the real stuff.. or not….. and hold me accountable to sharing with you a devotion, insight or story a day until Christmas.  Hopefully,  you’ll enjoy it as much as I will.

So, we’ll begin here in Isaiah…. Isaiah 11:1-5 to be exact

Isaiah is prophesying- He’s telling about a person (Jesus), a descendant of David, who is going to have some pretty obvious qualities about himself…. Godly wisdom, Godly Counsel, Godly Understanding…Just these three alone are enough to make you think He would be the one to follow, but as you move on down into the scripture there is something that I read that makes the whole appreciating Jesus thing even more precious.

It talks about his quality of blindness in Christ… not literal blindness, but instead, it is the ability to look at someone and not see them as others do and not judge them because of the way that they appear.  He judges the heart (That is why the Pharisees stayed so angry at him all of the time) .  In other words, he doesn’t love us just because we are attractive, or physically fit, or big givers of our money, are financially sound, teach Sunday School or sing in the choir or any other deed.   He loves us because we are his creation… made in his image..    That’s an incredible hope for a society who lives in a shadow of Hollywood images and lifestyles … It is also incredible hope for those haunted by their past.

We also find out He also judges by what he knows and sees … not rumor…He waits to know our hearts and doesn’t allow the opinion of another to persuade his thoughts about us.   More hope for those plagued with a history of poor choices or a past (or even present) that has brought about conversations from others.

When Isaiah was prophesying about this Messiah, he painted a picture of a fair and loving Christ that we fortunately now have an opportunity to know…. personally.

Have you pushed Christ aside because of a sin, a past, a hate, a bitterness or just an esteem that feels undeserving?  Look at how he see us… it’s different than what we are used to …. allow him to show you that love.

What about those who have experienced his love… How is your love? Is your love blind toward others?  Is it based on what you feel is attractive or not so attractive (appearances, financial status, hygiene, rumors, lifestyle, political positions)?  Today is a great day to practice blind love… to try to see the heart of a person rather than what the world sees.

So, I’m off to buy more chocolate…. I love this time of year!

Isaiah 11:1-5

New Living Translation (NLT)

1 Out of the stump of David’s family[a] will grow a shoot—
      yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
      the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   the Spirit of counsel and might,
      the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
 3 He will delight in obeying the Lord.
      He will not judge by appearance
      nor make a decision based on hearsay.
 4 He will give justice to the poor
      and make fair decisions for the exploited.
   The earth will shake at the force of his word,
      and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
 5 He will wear righteousness like a belt
      and truth like an undergarment.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Devotions, Faith

 

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It’s a Good Book….

Children’s lives are, in many ways, like good books. You become so engrossed with each page of their life that chapters fly by and before you know it, you have finished the book and you wish there were more pages to read.

But the Author continues with another chapter… a brand new book in the series is written. There are new characters and settings.  So it may take a little awhile to get caught up in it like the last one, but the Author is good and won’t disappoint …. the new chapter will be just as good and quite possibly even be a better book in the series.

The Hall household has just bought the next book. The first chapter in it is titled, “College”… I’m sure it will be a good book too, but I sure didn’t like having to put the first one down.  I’ll keep reading though…. I’ve heard the good part is coming up.

I do think, however, that I’m going to read the other two books that I have at home a little slower. 😉

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Brother, Can You Spare a Lens?

(I have not written for such a long time.  Not because I didn’t have something to write about…. there have been so many great things going on.  For a while I was writing once a week on our church forum (www.eastland.org) and I have been dabbling in a couple of book writings, as well as, writing a script for an upcoming project…. so I have been writing, but not much sharing.  So, I hope that I can get back into some type of routine again…. at least this is a shot at it. )

I wear glasses… If you know me then you probably know that I don’t wear them often… I do see much better with them on, but because of that little annoying piece that fits across my nose and those other annoying pieces that go behind my ears,  I can only wear them for a short period of time.  Without them I can function very well, so they tend to get stashed away often… as they have been for almost a year.  However, during the past few weeks… maybe because of age, maybe because of tired eyes…. I was reminded how much I need the less blurry view of life.   Now, I probably would have gotten them out again but when I went to get them out last time a lens was missing, so they ended up staying in the junk drawer. Unless I wanted to walk around with one eye closed, then the one lens would do me no good ( I know, because I tried it) so I thought it to be pointless.

The other day, however, I decided to do the unexpected… clean out the “company’s coming” cabinet.  The “company’s coming” cabinet is the cabinet that has very useful hiding spaces for last minute toss-ins just before I open the door to my home.  Now, what inspired me to clean it out?  I’m not exactly sure but regardless of the reason, I began working through the camera instruction booklets, SD cards, marbles, pens, rubberbands, coins, and then something landed in my hand that was so amazing that it almost seemed to twinkle…. it was the lens to my glasses.  I was so excited I could hardly stand it.  I would finally be able to see details again…. then it hit me… In one of my “trying not to be a hoarder” impulsive moments,  I, long ago, when the lens was no where to be found, threw my favorite glasses in the trash.  Sure, I had found the lens but it was pointless… the glasses were long gone.  So along with some inked out pens and old rubberbands, the lens was sent to the bottom of the trash bag.

The following day I was getting some scissors from my “no place else to put it” drawer and as I reached to grab them I saw  something sticking out between two drawer dividers… could it be?  Yes, it was my favorite eyeglass frames!  But, in my excited time of finding my faves, I remembered that I had thrown away the lens.  It wasn’t too late though, the trash had not been taken away yet, but was it actually worth digging through trash to recapture the lens?  Of course,  I could pop that baby back in the frames and voila…no new glasses… I’d have my old ones for my tired, blurry eyes and look stylish as well.   So the digging began…. I was pretty sure that I knew which bag it was hiding in, so my husband and I began to dig… We searched the bag but nothing… except, there was one other bag that was inside the larger bag… we began digging through it…. There, at the bottom of the little bag, hidden underneath a few broken pens and some dryer lint, was the precious lens.  This was the key to clearer vision.  We retrashed the trash and I eagerly grabbed my glasses and went to the table to begin the lens popping-in procedure.  I put the lens on the frame and popped  the lens completely through the frames and onto the table… there was absolutely no tension… there was no tension because the lens was too small… the lens was too small because it was not my lens.   All of that for nothing…Maybe had I looked for the frames before throwing away the lens, maybe had I looked through the lens before I decided it had to be from my glasses… had I done either of those two things I would have saved a lot of time and would have also not ended up at the same place where I started.

So often we spend life just like that…Walking around with blurred vision looking for something that will make things clearer.  We search and find a piece here and a piece there and think we have a total solution … only to discover that even when they are placed together we still have blurred vision… it wasn’t the right thing.

Maybe our blurred vision isn’t actually lenses and frames but instead a need for something to fill a void.  We end up constantly searching for something of importance … or something to make our lives important… or just something to make ourselves happy. … Our vision is distorted because we hope to “see” clearer by a new career, a new relationship, a new family, a new car, new “stuff”, a new whatever….. we keep searching for it and maybe, like the discovery of my lens,  we get a twinkling “hallelujah” moment or two … thinking we’ve found the answer…..only to realize that it wasn’t the true answer and then we still feel the same way we felt before…. Correcting my blurred vision could have been an easy fix… another examination, a new prescription… even used the same old frame if I had chosen to do so…but instead I chose to keep searching

In Jeremiah 29: 11-14, Jeremiah has written a letter to the Israelites who were in exile in Babylon.  He more or less told them that God said that during this time of exile they were not to listen to those around them (prophets and diviners) because they will deceive… the Lord knows you, knows your situation and has a plan to prosper you…. let Him be who you find peace in…

It doesn’t matter how hard we’ve looked, who we’ve listened to, what we have pieced together on our own, how long we have “worn” the pieced together “glasses”, or if we have been completely broken or stubborn…..God is always ready to show you his way of giving you a clear vision….He says you’ll find it if you seek it with all of your heart.

It is really that simple.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Stop! In the name of pug….well, more like poodle.. and Nix the Resolutions

Taking the back roads has its perks.  Things like few stop lights, if any… scenery prettier than buildings and concrete… and just all around less boring…. I also like to think that they are shortcuts but often times they take just as long if not longer because of the hills and curves.  Anyway, the other morning I had stopped to grab a cup of coffee and then began rushing myself to work through the not-so-shortcut back road shortcut.  I came zooming over the hill only to come to a screeching halt….. coffee was sloshing, but no problem for me… the lid stayed tight.

I looked ahead to find why traffic wasn’t moving and there, sitting in the middle of the road, was a little bitty poodle.  He was dirty and matted and had apparently decided that the line in the middle of the road was a comfy spot.  Amazingly, that little animal was backing up traffic about 7 cars deep on both sides of the road.  The school bus that was leading the line of cars opposite of me was honking the horn…. the dog just looked up… I wondered if possibly the dog was deaf but it seemed as if he heard the noise but just was too stubborn to move.  Finally, after sitting in traffic for a bit, a lady a few cars in front of me hopped out of her and started walking toward the dog.  Still the dog sat.  The lady began yelling at the dog and clapping her hands. In essence, pushing the dog without touching him.   The dog moved…. but only a small step… she now sat in front of the bus…. the lady continued clapping until the dog finally retreated to the middle of another road.

Traffic began moving along as normal once again.  I noticed as I passed by that there was another lady who had maneuvered her way out of traffic to the side of the road to see if she could rescue this poor little, confused, dirty, matted dog.  She very gently and slowly walked up to the dog and though I couldn’t hear what she was saying, it was apparent that she was talking sweetly in that “you’re a good puppy, aren’t you” voice.   You would think that this unattractive little dog would have been excited to hop in a warm car with a sweet person who obviously cared about its welfare, but instead it barked and growled and when the lady backed up a bit the poodle took off running into a tangled brush area just off of the road.

As I drove past I could see the look on the helpful lady’s face and I think it was one of disbelief or frustration or that of helplessness.  She had done all she could do.  The poodle made its own choice.

A part of me chuckled at the whole situation… a little dog holding up so much traffic.  He got warnings and he even got sympathy but even after he begrudgingly moved, he accepted nothing from anyone and continued on the same path that he was already on. All I could think of was what a sad, little stubborn (or maybe dumb) dog.  And it was then that I think I got a little kick in my rear …. you know, I tend to be just like that little dog.  I’ll sit in traffic (theoretically, not technically) … as dangerous as it might be… and a warning may push me to move a little bit, but even at times when I am completely moved, I may run back to the same old routine. Are ya with me?

I usually don’t make  New Year’s resolutions but the New Year  is a great time to begin a new routine.  I heard on the radio yesterday morning that the average person will have abandoned their resolutions by day 18.  But I have also heard that it takes 6 weeks to create a new habit… so pushing beyond day 18 for a little over another 18 days will create a changed person.  I can imagine that if that poodle had gotten into that car, he would have been cleaned up, nourished and ended up looking like a cute, lovable little guy.  That is a good ending to a bad situation.  So what makes us stop before day 18 rolls around? Could it be fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failing, fear of stepping out of what is comfortable?….

But you know something else… there were two women in that situation who were very important… the one who moved the dog and the one who tried to rescue the dog… Sometimes we don’t even realize we are in the middle of the road and we need a reminder, someone to move us.  I think that is where God jumps in and does the motivating that gets us to move and provides the rescuing of our lives… maybe it is a friend or family member who urges us to get help, maybe it is an invite to church, maybe it is a song or story that is heard or maybe we look up and step out of ourselves and see the lives we are affecting (just like the backed up traffic).  Then we find ourselves at a crossroad to an encouragement, a safe place, a hope…. a loving God…..or back to the same old tangled brush.

Maybe you are a like that little dog in the road…. possibly in a dangerous situation… maybe it is a habit that is killing you,  a lifestyle that consumes you,  a relationship that alienates you, an attitude that robs you,  an ailment that embarrasses you, or a spiritual neglect that is calling you… Whatever it is, you don’t have to sit in the road or run to the tangled brush… you can hop in the car and be changed.

This can be the year to not make a resolution to change but to actually change.  That’s my prayer.

Philippians 4:13

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2010 in Devotions, Faith, Life Stories

 

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Celebrate the Season-Advent Day 1- What’s in a name?

I find it pretty funny that, according to several books, my name translates to the meaning, “Graceful” or “full of grace”.  Assuming the translation refers to the art of being graceful (or “lady-like” as my mother would say),  hang around me long enough and you’ll find out how graceful I am not.  My name was not picked by happenstance… I was named for two of my aunts.  Though I could be wrong, I’m pretty sure my mother didn’t name me with the thought that either I was a graceful baby or that I would live my life gracefully just because my name translated so.

Picking a name for a child is a tough job… my husband and I had the hardest time deciding on each of our girls’ names.  Honestly, I didn’t look at the meanings of their names or if I did, I didn’t give it second thought.  I just went with the name that I liked.

My advent reading today was Isaiah 9:1-7 and I focused on the names that this prophecy gave Christ…the names were descriptive of who this “son” was going to be… Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  I love these terms, not just because I can sing them (Hallelujah Chorus), but because of what these four or possibly five names can really mean.

Wonderful- astonishing, amazing.. wonderful goes beyond good, even beyond great….. wonderful exceeds expectations and in most cases blows us away

Counselor- who can I depend on to guide me in the best direction?  Who can I confide in? Who can I gain understanding from?  Yep, it would be the counselor…. or rather, the Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God-  I love the term mighty.  From what I can comprehend about God… there is nothing that can touch Him… He is mighty and more powerful than all

Everlasting Father- Never ending…. No death…. infinity and beyond … However you best understand it, God is forever.

Prince of Peace- I’m not sure if this title is descriptive of world peace or peace within but I believe that Christ showed us how to live peacefully within ourselves and among the world

I love the fact that Christ lived up to his names…. I’ve experienced the Wonderful and was blown away.  I’ve experienced the Counselor and was guided in the correct direction.  I’ve experienced the Mighty God… so much power and never backs down… fights the enemy for you.  I’ve experienced the Everlasting Father…. time is of no issue… He is always there.  I’ve experienced the Prince of Peace…. there have been times when I thought my world was falling apart or times when I was broken… Peace came in and rescued me..

Christ lives up to his name…Just one of the many reasons to celebrate the season and the hope that it brings.

Isaiah 9:1-7

1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory.

2 The people who walk in darkness
will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness,
a light will shine.
3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel,
and its people will rejoice.
They will rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest
and like warriors dividing the plunder.
4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery
and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders.
You will break the oppressor’s rod,
just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian.
5 The boots of the warrior
and the uniforms bloodstained by war
will all be burned.
They will be fuel for the fire.

6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor,[d] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 His government and its peace
will never end.
He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David
for all eternity.
The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will make this happen!


 
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Posted by on December 2, 2009 in Devotions, Faith

 

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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! (Must say it with a Gomer Pyle drawl)

surpriseI realize that not every surprise is a pleasant experience.  Yes, I’ve been on the boat of unpleasant surprises many times…You can ask the boat pilot whose name just happens to be Officer Gotcha  A.K.A.  Mr. “Can I see your License and Registration, please?” …Anyway, I am not naive to the fact that people may tend to connect surprises with a negative emotion, but I am also aware that surprises can be a wonderful thing.

Sometimes the unexpected is a great way to show someone that they are loved or a great way to feel that you are loved.  Here’s what I mean…You know you are loved when:

  • You go to work to find a surprise drawing on your computer wallpaper from your daughter that says, “I love you, Mom.” (Happened even with a post-it note this morning)
  • Your seven-year-old surprises you with a shoulder massage. ( It was actually a job well done)
  • Your co-worker brings to work your favorite dessert just to surprise you (Banana Pudding…. she is so thoughtful)
  • You receive an unexpected phone call from your friend who just called to say that you are loved (Makes me miss ’em)
  • Your health conscious husband surprises you with Krispy Kreme donuts on a Saturday morning while you sleep in.  (Okay, that one didn’t happen.. but it might if he sees that I wrote this)
  • Your husband surprises you by cleaning your office while you are in a meeting  (that one did happen!)
  • You wake up to a surprise of hundreds of plastic forks sticking up in your yard….. (Yes, you read that correctly… My neighbor and her accomplice put Howie Mandel, Allen Funt and Ashton Kutcher to shame)

See, not all surprises beat to a negative drum… some are just great reminders of how much you are loved… Okay, some might beg to differ about the whole fork thing but I’m leaning on the love side of the prank…forked yard

I’ve always felt that if those surprise moments were common place then they would mean nothing.

Take for instance the the story of Paul and Silas.  Here are these two guys in prison, chained up, praying and singing their hearts out … probably pretty annoying to the non-believers in earshot and the jailer who has to listen while he does his job… but they were singing praises while chained up when all of a sudden an earthquake type event happened… their chains are broken off and they, along with others, are now free.  I would imagine that the area was dark, possibly the jailer had a rock bump his head or maybe just in the panic of the situation, he, the jailer, had fail written on his forehead… he was ready to kill himself for slacking on the job and not keeping the prisoners in their places… earthquake or not.   Now, Paul and Silas were given the opportunity to flee… to get out of there fast.  But instead of running they surprised this man.  They, along with the other prisoners were still there.  They told him to not harm himself that everyone was still there and they weren’t going anywhere.  The jailer was shocked.  Their surprise stopped his suicide.  Instead of his tragic intention,  he was so blown away by their actions that he wanted to know more about who they were singing about.  In reality, I guess their surprise showed so much love that he was changed then and there.  He had Paul and Silas come to his home and he became a follower of Christ.   Had this guard been used to seeing prisoners who had the opportunity to flee and didn’t……if this had been normal behavior that Paul and Silas had shown then their actions would have meant nothing.

Just like my family… if they did all of those things mentioned above on a daily basis then I would probably soon forget the importance of what they were trying to show me.  Maybe it is not so bad to surprise others…

I think I know who my surprise “victim” will be today ….and I won’t even use forks.

Who needs a surprise from you today?

Acts 16: 22-40

22The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten. 23After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. 27The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.

35When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”

37But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”

38The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city. 40After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia’s house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2009 in Devotions, Faith, Fun, Life Stories

 

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