Thursday, April 30, 2015

Always remember....

I saw a sign tonight in a magazine that said the following:
Always remember
You are
Braver than you believe,
Stronger than you seem,
Smarter than you think!!!
Pretty apropo, wouldn't you say?  Think about how many times you second guess yourself.
"Perhaps I shouldn't do such and such...."  or "Maybe I am not as smart as my co-worker, friend, sibling, spouse, so I shouldn't do _________" or "I could never do that!"
We talk ourselves out of taking part in an activity because we don't think we can or because we don't believe we have the talent or where-with-all to go the long distance to accomplish a specific task, or because we have never tried such and such.  Yet.  What makes us second guess our abilities, talents and perseverance?  That little voice in our head or is there a voice from long ago who told you that you couldn't, wouldn't, or shouldn't?
Do you remember the movie called The Help?  It was brought out to the movie theatres in 2011 and it was wonderful!!!  A slogan by Aibileen Clark from the main theme in the movie is:
"You is kind
 You is smart,
 You is important."
Do you believe that about yourself?  If not, have you ever asked your why or why not?  Go back to that memory - whether it is from childhood, young adulthood  or just yesterday that got stuck in your brain or subconscious that said:  "Nope!  I can't do that!  Or, "I am not good enough" or "there's no way I can complete that daunting task." 
Somewhere down deep there is a reservoir that says you "can!"  You may just have to muster up enough gumption to prove it to yourself!  Or prove it to your boss, a neighbor, or a parent that is no longer able to tell you that you "can't...."  Some of those old memories are just flat wrong!  Some may have been right back then, but what about the adage:  "Try, try, try again?"  Or, "Practice makes perfect!"  Or, "Wow, maybe I can accomplish this in my life!"
We have so many wonderful traits, attributes and abilities that lay dormant because of an old thought pattern or emotion that is "stuck" in our subconscious or unconsciousness.  The next time you hear that old voice in your head saying no, stop and say "YES!  Maybe!  or "Absolutely I can!!!"
Joyce Meyer has a wonderful slogan that says:
"Miracles come in CANS:  "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!"
One of my favorite scriptures is exactly that last part of her slogan:  Philippians 4:13.  Look it up.  Read it often.  Memorize it.  Say it out loud to yourself every morning until you believe it!!!
And, always remember you are braver, stronger and smarter than you thought yesterday....

Sunday, April 26, 2015

In Awe of Daily Miracles...

I just got done reading one of my daily devotions from Living Faith magazine and I just had to share his thoughts!!!  Steve Givens is one of my favorite writers in this devotion.  Here is his article for today:

In Awe of Daily Miracles

Psalm 118.23
"By the Lord has this been done;
It is wonderful in our eyes."

There have been times in my life when I have been left speechless by the wonder of what I saw before me, such as my first glimpse of the Grand Canyon, my wife walking down the aisle at our wedding, and the birth of our two children.  I had no words.  What I saw before me was so awe-inspiring that I knew the hand of God had to be at work.
Einstein said:  "There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle."  We can see each sunrise, each newborn child, each encounter with beauty and chalk them all up to chance, or we can stand back in wonder at these daily miracles and choose to see the hand of God.  The first option is a yawn; the second is a gasp.  You choose.

Lord, fill my life with wonder and a sense of you....
(by Steve Givens, 2015)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ten dads and their boys....

I was walking through a local park one evening this week with all the beautiful sounds and smells of Spring surrounding me and what did I come upon?  A small baseball field full of ten dads and their young sons!  I had to count them because there were so many!

As I walked past the field,  some of the dads were pitching to the little guys while other dads had the boys forming 2 lines so that they could try their hand at catching.  Another set of dads had a T-ball machine set up on separate part of the field, so that another set of boys could learn how to hit the ball. 

There were dads calling out to the boys as well as the sound of the ball hitting the glove over and over...practice, practice and more practice.  Laughter, laughter and more laughter.  Coaching, coaching and more coaching.  And, there were Moms on the side-line with babies in carriages and other moms romping in the grass around the field with the toddlers just barely able to walk. It was so fun to watch and I marveled at the activity and the team work being utilized to teach these boys how to play baseball.  There were Major League Baseball players in the making.......or perhaps, just little league and high school ball, but nonetheless, boys were being coached by the dads who wanted to be by their side.  Dads who wanted to be actively involved in their son's growth and development.  And, moms were on the side-lines cheering their boys on.  Wow - it was quite a sight to see!

As I observed this welcome site, I had to stop and remember all those times I watched my son, Matt play ball:  practices each week, some games played during the week, and many games every weekend.  Sometimes there were double-header games during the week or tournaments on the weekends.  Rain or shine, they played ball!!!  Cool weather or hotter than Texas summers, they played ball!!!  It was pure fun!!!

One summer, Matt was pitching and threw 8 strike outs in a row!!!  I had to keep asking the other parents:  "Is that really Matt???"  I was floored at how accomplished Matt had become at pitching.  Then, his batting started getting better and better.......When Matt hit his first home run, he waved at me as he ran the was quite a sight to see!!!

Learning to play baseball was something Matt loved....he never wanted to miss a practice, so that he could improve his game.  Dad after dad stepped up to show him and his teammates how to cultivate the talent they saw in each player.  I thank every dad and baseball coach who helped my son learn how to play baseball.  As a single mom and not a baseball player myself, I had to rely on those special dads to teach Matt.  They did an excellent job....they took the time to be there week after week, game after game to mentor the boys and be there for them. 

Wow!  What a gift that was to observe and take part in....I loved watching Matt play ball and loved going to every game - rain or shine!  Hot or cold - it was a blast to be a part of his life all those summers.........I will miss those now that he is 19 almost 20 years old and in college.  But, the memories will never fade because other boys keep stepping up to the plate to bat and many young men stand on the pitching mound to pitch every summer at 3&2 baseball fields at Shawnee Mission Park.  Other dads step onto the practice field and on the game field to coach, teach and be a part of the lives of these boys.....And as I walk through the park or drive past 3&2 baseball fields each summer, I can watch and remember.......and, I can say:  Thank you, Lord for these dads and their boys!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love - the only unstoppable force....

The only unstoppable force is love.....true, life-affirming, forgiving is the only truth that stands the test of time....have you ever experienced this type of love?  I have.  It is the ONLY kind of love that truly lasts.  We humans cannot even fathom a love like is the only kind of love that really, really stands the test of time -- God's unchangeable, immutable love.
How does love span the eternal boundaries of this world?  Only through a love that started from the beginning of time - through God.  The one true, holy God who loves us more than is imaginable created this type of love.  Forgiving, merciful, boundless as the sea love - it is deep, it is wide, it is high and it is longer than could we could ever imagine or could ever seem possible. 
Stand by the ocean, look at the waves rolling in with the tide coming in and going back out every after day after day after day....salt water which covers approximately 71% of the earth's surface - the Atlantic, Pacific, the Indian and Arctic ocean - even the expanse of such of an incredible witness to our eyes - cannot even come close to describing the depth of Love of God. His love never stops....never!
Stretch out your arms - from one side of your finger tips to the other - even this human wing span is not even close enough to the width of God's love.  Think about an Bald Eagle's wing span which is 5.9 to 7.5 feet wide - it is incredible and yet even this length is not long enough or wide enough to show the amount of God's love which was poured out for you.  Poured out for me.
Imagine standing at the base of  the highest mountain on the face of the earth:  Mount Everest at 29, 028 feet or Mount Kilimanjaro at 19, 314 feet - even the highest mountain is not tall enough to describe God's love....
Consider the largest, flattest expanse on earth:  The Russian Steppes which spans across 3,500 miles.
Can you imagine walking across that immense portion of the earth???  Even that length of land cannot describe the length to which God has gone for you and for me to bring us - we, frail, feeble, weak human beings - His love.
Ephesians 3:16-18 says it best:
"I pray that out of His Glorious reaches He may strengthen you with powers through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And, I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in LOVE, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Love - Human love pales to this kind of love which God offers....
LOVE - GOD'S LOVE - it is the ONLY unstoppable force we can experience as humans.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Closing a Person's Spirit....

I have found over the years that relationships are one of the hardest thing we do as human beings… is extremely difficult to wade through the myriad of emotions, feelings and ideals that are sensitive to other people.  Getting our “feelings hurt” is pretty common place in our society.  Look at the close relationships you have – whether it is a sister, brother, mom or dad, aunt or uncle, in-laws, friends, or even close co-workers -  whatever type of relationship you have, the possibility of saying something that hurts another person’s feelings can happen on a fairly routine basis.  When we hurt another person’s feelings, or our feelings get hurt, we can feel a tension that occurs and sometimes does not dissipate very easily until we address the issue that caused the hurt.  Hurt feelings can lead to closing a person’s feelings or our own feelings.

Have you ever had the experience when you knew you closed another person’s spirit?  Or, have you been on the receiving end where your own spirit closed or shut down?  It is not one of the best feelings in the world.  Whether it is your spouse, significant other, sibling, child, friend or someone we interact with on a regular basis at work, at the PTA, or at church, we can close off their spirit and offend them by our actions or our words.  Intentionally or unintentionally, this is a bomb shell waiting to explode if we don’t address it quickly.

Closing a person’s spirit can be done through many avenues.  Gary Smalley wrote in his book called Love is a decision has this list:

1)      Speaking harsh words

2)     Belittling a person’s opinions

3)     Being unwilling to admit that we are wrong

4)     Taking a person for granted

5)     Making jokes or sarcastic comments at the other person’s expense

6)     Not trusting a person

7)     Forcing a person to do something he/she is uncomfortable with

8)    Being rude to that person in front of others

9)     Ignoring a person’s genuine needs as unimportant or not nearly as important as our own

Look at the list.  Have you ever done one of these?  Or multiple ones to the ones you love?  I have.  I have not usually done it on purpose or intentionally, but it has happened more than once in my life.  We speak harsh words to our spouse because they did not put away the dishes “right” or the way we would have done them.  We even treat ourselves irrationally at times.  We berate ourselves for not doing something right at work or at home and them wonder why we have no energy, “feel down in the dumps,” or don’t feel like doing anything for days.   Unresolved anger and the feelings of bitterness or anger will crop up at a later date and bite us in the proverbial rear-end!  This is NOT the way God intended us to live.

Closing another person’s spirit can happen so quickly, so easily and so unintentionally!  Watch the shoulders of your co-worker next time they are criticized by the boss or by you.  They sink down.  Their smile fades.  Their spirit closes.  Unless the issue is addressed in a positive or constructive criticism type of approach, the person taking the beating can feel defeated, lost and unworthy of anything.  Be careful with your words!  Be careful with your actions!

Time after time, we can close a person’s spirit and not even know it.  The other person doesn’t show any anger or hurt at the time.  They may even laugh at your joke.  But, they walk into the other room or hang up the phone, and you have no idea that what you said hurt them or that your actions hurt them.   Days or weeks go by and you don’t talk, then the next time you do have a chance to chat, you find out that what you said hurt them deeply.  Thud. 

If we are lucky enough to recognize a closed spirit, then we may have an opportunity to open a loved one’s heart again.  Again, as Gary Smalley says in his book, Love is a Decision, there are several ways to reopen a person’s spirit:

1)       Become soft and tender with that person

2)     Try to understand as much as possible what the other person is feeling and listen to what they have gone through in the past few hours or days.

3)     Acknowledge that the person is hurting and be sure to admit any wrong in provoking their anger or hurt

4)     Touch the other person gently with a hand on the shoulder or gentle hug

5)     Seek forgiveness – and wait for a response!

6)     Never give up on trying to reopen their spirit – gently persist until you see progress

Relationships are important.  They verify our value and worth.  They increase our confidence.  They bond us together in love.  If you have closed a loved one’s spirit, try the approach above and see if you might just crack that veneer of hurt!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Double Rainbows.....

Imagine waking up early one morning after a night of pure rain, to see the fog lifting off the horizon, the sun beginning to shine through that fog and all of a sudden, there in the clouds comes a beautiful, iridescent prism or spectrum of colors gleaming all across the sky - a rainbow!!! 
Red, orange, yellow, green, aqua blue, dark blue and purple.....Ahhh....beautiful colors that span from one end of the color spectrum to the other!!! You take a deep breath and realize that God just surprised you with one of His special gifts of the day... a gift of promise and hope.

Rainbows are special because they represent a promise from God.
Do you remember the story in the Bible of Noah?  Well if you don't or have never heard it before, here is a brief rendition from Genesis 6:5-9:
"The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually.  And, the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth and He was grieved in His heart.  For the Lord said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth both man and beast, creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."   But, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.  This is the genealogy of Noah.  Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations.  Noah walked with God."

Noah was the one man on earth that God chose to save when His people had turned from His ways and rebelled against God.  They became so wicked and evil that God saw fit to destroy them all except Noah and his family.

Noah did as God instructed him to do and built that ark that survived 40 days and 40 nights of hard-driving rain.  The flood waters prevailed on the earth for one hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 6:24.) 

Finally, the flood waters receded and behold God established a covenant with Noah.  
Genesis 9:11-16 tells the story:
"Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.  And, God said:  "This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations.  I have set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.  It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh....the rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."

Think about it:  A Rainbow -  this beautiful spectrum of colors that God gives us periodically (if we are watching!), God gave to Noah after the flood that wiped out all the people off the face of the earth.  This gift was the very  "bow" in the sky or clouds that shows His promise that never again, would He send a flood that would wipe out His people from the earth!  Never!!!

That is quite a promise.  And, I suppose that is the one reason why I love rainbows so much!!!  Rainbows  remind me of God's love - of His promise to us even though we live thousands of years past the time of Noah.  God keeps His promises - every one of them!  I have experienced it first hand in my life over and over and over again.

One of the best times I have been blessed to see a rainbow was while we recently went on a Mission Trip with our church to Mexico.  We drove from Kansas City to Del Rio, TX and then crossed the border the next day.  As we woke up early on Monday in Del Rio, TX ready to drive across the border into Mexico, our church group was packing up the van ready to go and what did God surprise us with???  A double rainbow!  Not just one rainbow, but two............what a beautiful confirmation that we were standing on Holy Ground and heading to do the work of our Savior!!!  What a confirmation of His Love!!!  We were headed in the right direction:  Mexico!  We were headed to help a family by building a house for them - a sign of hope.  A sign of love. A tangible sign to a family who desperately needed more space for their family and did not have the means to make that happen on their own.

 Wow!!!  What a privilege we were offered....what a gift was given that morning....a "bow" in the clouds....a promise from God.  His love reigns:  even 2000 years later!!!