Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26: Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

January 7: Off to School

I sent Matthew off to school today. It's still a jolt to realize there was no bundling up, packing a lunch, getting us into the car on time and heading to school to drop him off. His two classes on MWF are from 1:30 - 3:30 so we had a lovely morning. He headed upstairs and took a shower, cleaned out his backpack, loaded it with new spiral binders and headed off to school. Crazy. All that exhaustion from the daily "off to school" routine, gone.

It's his final high school semester.

I just watched a video on how FAFSA - Federal student aid - works. So much is now pointed toward, planned for and organized around preparing for college. The day is coming, so much faster now that I could have imagined. High school has been so very hard and painful, that I'm actually thrilled for the possibility of college. Praying already for a season in his life that feeds his mind and his soul.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

January 6: Ordinary Time

Today is Epiphany. Marking the journey of the Magi to find Christ after his birth. A surprisingly great opportunity after the flurry of activity of Advent and celebration of Incarnation on Christmas Day, to focus on journey. More specifically my journey to discover the Christ child, daily.

This season is also called Ordinary Time in the church calendar.

I love this explanation by Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year:

"The time between Christmas and Lent, and the time between Pentecost and Advent (are) known as Ordinary Time, time outside the seasons of the two great feasts of the church. Time to rest in the contemplation of those centers of the faith that are the lodestones of our souls...in this period that is between the two poles of the life of Jesus, we get to pause awhile. To take it all in. To make the connection between that life, that reality, and our own. Ordinary time gives us time to contemplate the intersection between the life of Jesus and our own...In the liturgical year, we live the life of Jesus day after day until one day it becomes our own."

I want "to take it all in."

Friday, January 2, 2015

January 2, 2015

I'm of the age when the difference between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 is, well, 24 hours. I don't stay up and I rarely party. But that doesn't mean this isn't a marker or a milestone. 2014 was such a year and it followed close on the heels of 2013 which was also another such year. I'm ready for 2015 to be a bit less memorable for all the wrong reasons. But if it is, He is faithful. That's just truth. Truth in 2013 and in 2014, and in all the years before and to come.

I have so many dreams for this year. Things I want to accomplish and enjoy. Things I want to do differently. Things I want to do more of and some I want to do less of.

This is the year I will send my one and only off to college. The infant I wasn't sure would survive his first weeks is now preparing for the start of his last semester in high school and taking all college transferable classes. Crazy. But if I have/am learning anything it is that he is resilient. I am amazed at his ability to rebound from adversity while always pursuing relationships and community.

I know that 2015 will have it's hurdles. Don't they all. Not just new years but all years. They all do. I just want to make a few choices to help navigate those bumps and lows; dare I say better.

So happy new year. For today, it is. But really I should say joy-filled new year, anchored in this truth:

Now (in my today and all the todays to come in 2015) to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we or ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within (me), to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21)



Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thank You Don Whitney

December 30, 2014
10 Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year or on Your Birthday
By Don Whitney

Once, when the people of God had become careless in their relationship with Him, the Lord rebuked them through the prophet Haggai. “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:5) he declared, urging them to reflect on some of the things happening to them, and to evaluate their slipshod spirituality in light of what God had told them.
Even those most faithful to God occasionally need to pause and think about the direction of their lives. It’s so easy to bump along from one busy week to another without ever stopping to ponder where we’re going and where we should be going.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to stop, look up, and get our bearings. To that end, here are some questions to ask prayerfully in the presence of God.
1. What’s one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?
In addition to these ten questions, here are twenty-one more to help you “Consider your ways.” Think on the entire list at one sitting, or answer one question each day for a month.
11. What’s the most important decision you need to make this year?
12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what’s one way you could simplify in that area?
13. What’s the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?
14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?
15. Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?
17. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?
18. What’s one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?
19. What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?
21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?
24. What’s the most important trip you want to take this year?
25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?
26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?
27. What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?
28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?
29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?
30. What’s the most important new item you want to buy this year?
31. In what area of your life do you most need change, and what will you do about it this year?
The value of many of these questions is not in their profundity, but in the simple fact that they bring an issue or commitment into focus. For example, just by articulating which person you most want to encourage this year is more likely to help you remember to encourage that person than if you hadn’t considered the question.
If you’ve found these questions helpful, you might want to put them someplace—in your phone, day planner, calendar, bulletin board, etc.—where you can review them more frequently than once a year.
So let’s evaluate our lives, make plans and goals, and live this new year with biblical diligence, remembering that, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage” (Proverbs 21:5). But in all things let’s also remember our dependence on our King who said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
You can download this post as a bulletin insert here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My 20 Things for 2015 Wish List

I love the days after Christmas. I know that Christmas is the summit of all activities in December. It is the day for welcoming the Christ. Unfortunately, in today's Christmas season (and perhaps it's been true for many years, and perhaps even decades) there is so much other stuff that gets layered in. Stuff that creates distraction and burden. I wish it weren't so, but I just haven't been able to unpack it fully or consistently enough in order to live fully focused during this season.

However, the days after Christmas, I love them. The burden seems lifted. The expectations no longer challenge me to do better, be better. The days after Christmas hold so much expectation (the positive kind) for new beginnings and opportunities. Certainly I know that will fade quickly in the reality of life; it's twists and turns and reversals are inevitable. But today it's all fresh and hopeful.

I have so many things I wish for 2015. These are not resolutions - I have no delusions that I can attempt, or do, or complete, a fraction of this list. But it feels for exhilarating to make a wish list. It's like painting a fresh canvas. How wonderful if I could make progress on the areas that apparently I believe would make life healthier, happier, more fulfilled and/or more memorable.

My 20 Things for 2015 Wish List
  1. Move more, eat less and lose 20 pounds (doesn't this simply cry out to be at, or near, the top of any list).
  2. Read a book a week, yep 52 books! (Create a shelf for all the books I want to read this year.)
  3. Read through the entire Bible (excited to try this reading plan).
  4. Scrapbook several years; actually I'd like to catch up completely, but since I'm around 10 years behind that seems like a stretch even for a wish list.
  5. Sell all my extra stuff on eBay, Craig's list and/or through a huge garage sale.
  6. Secure a new client; save a ton of money to pay for Matthew's college costs.
  7. Make a new upholstered headboard for our bedroom.
  8. Reupholster and refinish $5 estate sale chair.
  9. Clean out the crawl space and reduce by half the amount of stuff we store in there.
  10. Become a runner. First step, become a regular exerciser.
  11. Cook dinner most nights.
  12. Enjoy Matthew fully during these last 8 months before he leaves for college.
  13. Send a thank you, appreciate you, praying for you cards every week - 52 cards.
  14. Send birthday cards.
  15. Give away more gifts from my gift closet.
  16. Spend less time on Facebook, Instagram and email.
  17. Turn off the TV more.
  18. Build my business website.
  19. Take a memorable vacation with Todd and Matthew after his high school graduation (Boston?)
  20. Go on more dates with Todd; or simply talking over coffee.
Here are a few other lists to get the juices flowing:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dec. 23: Preparing for 2015

Up early, again. This 5:00 a.m. wake up is fast becoming my favorite time of the day. All is quiet and dark. I love the stillness before dawn.

My mind is churning. One more meeting before a much-needed week off from work. I think it could be my first week off the entire year. And that has me thinking about 2015. As a lover of lists, I can hardly resist the urge to start creating: books to read, organizing to do, places to visit, soul care to accomplish, verses to memorize, Bible studies to complete.

I love the idea of a word for the year. I wrote about this back in July 2013. So I'm pondering words.

STILL - not necessarily the obvious "Be still and know." Although there is much to commend such a word in my life. I was thinking more about the word still as an adverb:

2 Chron. 14:7 - "...The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God. We have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.”  

Job 13:1 -  Job Continues: Still I Will Hope in God

Psalm 71:17 - God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.

Isaiah 9:17 - ... His hand is stretched out still.

Romans 5:8 - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

FILLED - another word that I am chewing on. I do a lot to fill my own cup. Perhaps in 2015 I need to be still (verb) and allow God and others to fill my need.

Exodus 40:35 - The Glory of the Lord ] Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.

Psalm 71:8 - My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day.

Psalm 81:10 - I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Psalm 107:9For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Psalm 147:14 - He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat.

Just searching the scriptures was fun.