Milkshake or Margarita?

26 Feb
needs, Jesus, inspiration,

image from bing.com

My husband and I were sitting in an airport restaurant on a layover between flights. We had been en route since very early in the morning and it was difficult to know if it was breakfast or lunch we wanted.
I did a quick check of the time when I heard the waiter ask the people a few tables over if they’d like coffee, a milkshake or a margarita. It was 10:30 am. My first thought was, “Who would want an alcoholic drink at this time of the morning?”
This was quickly followed by the realization that we were in an international airport. There would be people en route from time zones all over the world. The waiter was taking into consideration that he didn’t know where people were coming from or what their needs were.
A good life lesson had just been presented to me. When I encounter people I really have no accurate way of gauging where they have come from in their lives or what their current needs may be. For this reason I need to be conscious of treating everyone with courtesy and respect.
Jesus set this example and if I keep myself aligned with him it will be easier to see others through his eyes of love and compassion.
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:1-5 NLT

Unlocked phone

23 Feb

God, free will, decisions, lifeI was speaking with someone who told me she and her husband brought unlocked phones to Mexico and then activated them with a Mexican phone number. This was so they would have local phones while on vacation.

Later I asked my husband what an unlocked phone was. He told me that with certain cellular providers the phone purchased through them could only be activated on their network. This was a locked phone. If the phone was unlocked it could be activated by any provider, even one in a different country.

We went on to discuss how God has, in effect, given us unlocked lives. Instead of demanding that everyone only follow his strict set of rules, he has given us free will to make our own decisions.

The decisions I make on my own are not always the right ones. Sometimes I’m aware of this while making them. Being stubborn, I persevere, wanting to prove I can do it on my own.

When I stumble and fall, which is often the case, God is there to pick me up and set me on my feet again. He does not force me but gently reminds me that his ways are better than my own.

My keeping my heart and mind locked on him my life has far more meaning and purpose than when I am unlocked and charting my own course.

The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. (Psalm 25:8 NLT)

My Stumble

19 Feb

focus, Jesus, My husband and I were walking along the beach when I reached for his arm so I could point something out to him. Since I was walking in one direction and looking in another I wasn’t paying attention to my footing.

My foot became ensnared in the fibrous strands of a sand bag that was being destroyed by the elements. This caused me to stumble. I caught myself before falling completely but still felt foolish.

Before long I was wondering how this was a mirror of my life. Do I frequently focus on something other than the direction I’m travelling in? Is this what has caused me to stumble along life’s path?

Sometimes a stumble is what I need to bring my focus back to where it needs to be. It is the complete fall that’s harder to recover from.

When I keep my focus on Jesus, the obstacles in my way won’t be a problem. He will guide me safely through them. It’s only when I look away from him that I become ensnared and stumble.

though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. (Psalm 37:24 NIV)

Muddy Waters

16 Feb

God, appreciation, lifeWe had spent several days walking along the shore enjoying the heat of the sun and the clear waters lapping on the sand.

Then a north wind blew in. The sea frothed with white caps as it crashed to shore. The sand and debris that it stirred up rode in on the waves. Our once clear water was now muddied.

Before the wind, people swam on this beach without encountering seaweed. Now I was amazed to see the volume of it being carried to shore. Where had it all come from?

This was a strong visual of what my life can be like. One day I can be walking in the sun, enjoying my peaceful life. The next day I can be hit with a storm that strews garbage all around me. Some of this may be unexpected, like the seaweed. Others might have been hidden well below the surface, like the debris churned up from the bottom of the sea. Out of sight, out of mind is a saying that comes to mind. Either way, I am caught off guard, my tranquility now a distant memory.

When I remember that God can make all things work together for my good, I know I will survive this. He will guide me safely through the muddy waters. When I once again reach the crystal clear waters and serenity, I will have a new appreciation for the life I’ve been given.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)

Heart of Stone

12 Feb

 

Heart stonesFor some reason I don’t feel the need to search for shells on our beach walks this year. Since this has been my focus for several years, it comes as a surprise that this desire is gone.

There have only been a few things gathered from the shore during our daily walk and it’s been my husband doing the gathering. It’s not shells he’s picked up but stones. The stones have been buffeted and shaped by the elements until they now resemble a heart. The shape is more distinct in some than others, and one has a piece missing from the side, but they are hearts nonetheless.

Out of the millions of shells and stones deposited on the shore, it’s amazing that our eyes are able to pick these out. It seems that here, as well in many other areas of life, we are drawn to hearts and the love that this shape represents. Not just on Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year, this shape brings thoughts of love to mind.

Finding them on our beach walk is like receiving a message of love from God. Evidence of his love is all around me. To make sure that I fully comprehend this, he has also drawn my eyes to the hearts he has placed as reminders for me.

The hearts of stone though cold and hard are a symbol of the heart God has for me. He has given me a warm loving heart of flesh so I am able to share this love with others.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV)

Starfish

9 Feb

starfishWe were nearing the end of our beach walk when I glanced down at the sand in front of me.  Right at my feet was a starfish.  As I bent down to take a photo I was reminded of a story I’ve heard several times over the years.

I don’t know the exact words so I’ll paraphrase it.  A man was walking along the beach when he saw hundreds, if not thousands of starfish that had been washed up on shore.  A young boy was picking them up, one at a time, and tossing them back into the sea.  The man said to the boy, “You can’t possible return all of these to the water.  What you are doing won’t make a difference here.”  The boy picked up another, tossed it into the water and said to the man, “I made a difference to that one.”

Seeing the starfish and being reminded of the story brought an important lesson to mind. I need to reach out to help those that I can. Ronald Reagan said, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”  How true this is.

Jesus said that we are to love others as ourselves.  After loving God, this is the most important commandment.  For this reason I need to pay close attention when he impresses a need on my heart and then do my best to fulfill it.  He will direct me to those I need to help and it is my duty  to obey.

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”   Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV)

My Shadows

5 Feb

Jeson, Son, Sun, lightI walked along the beach with the sun warming my back. Soon I noticed my shadow in front of me. Despite the peaceful and beautiful surroundings, my attention kept returning to the shadow before me.

On my return the sun was in my face and the shadow was now behind me. I turned once to see it and then it was soon forgotten.

New revelations came to mind as I thought about this. The shadow in front of me represented the shadows of past hurts, disappointments, regrets and insecurities. When these are constantly before me I tend to focus on them and not on what surrounds me.
This happens when Jesus, the Son of God, is put behind me. I know he’s there but it is my darkness and not his light I see.

When I allow my focus to be on the Son, his light is on my face and the shadows are safely behind me. The past is behind me where is belongs. This allows me to move forward into the bright future he has in store for me. When Jesus is in control the shadows no longer hinder me.

…the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16 NIV)

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”(Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

Hiding in Plain View

2 Feb

trust, God, inspirationWe were walking along the beach when my husband suddenly stopped and looked at the sand behind him. He pointed out a small crab. It was very still and blended well with the surroundings, making it difficult to see.

I commented on his good vision at spotting the crab. He said his foot had brushed it and he’d felt the scurry. He’d stopped so he could see what had caused this.

For the crab, being able to hide in plain view is a method of self-protection. This ability helps to keep it safe from predators.

I thought of how I have used this method of self-protection in my life. I’ve done this when I’ve been in uncomfortable situations or ones in which I feel threatened. At these times I withdraw and do my best to blend into the background. In effect I am attempting to make myself invisible to those around me.

The result is feelings of isolation. This is not what I want and is definitely not comfortable.

When I remember that my value does not come from others but from God I am much happier. I turn my focus to the fact that God knows me intimately and still loves me unconditionally. From him there is no hiding, nor does there ever need to be.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 NIV

When I am afraid I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise – in God I trust and am not afraid.  What can mere mortals do to me?  Psalm 56:3,4 NIV

What’s My Agenda?

29 Jan

agendaMy husband bought a magazine recently that came with a bonus. Also inside the wrapper was a purse-sized calendar. Across the front of this little booklet was written 2015 Agenda. I knew that this little calendar was to keep track of appointments but I still looked at these words with a different mindset.

Agenda and calendar are synonymous. That’s why agenda was written on the cover of the calendar. There is also another meaning for this word. Merriam-Webster defines agenda as a plan or goal that guides someone’s behavior and that is often kept secret.

My thoughts were of the agenda or plan I have for my life this year. Do I have lofty goals? Is there an action plan to bring them to fruition? How focused do I need to be?

Maybe I’m happy with where I am and have no desire for change. In that case, my life is planned so that things will stay the same.

No matter where I am in life it’s pretty much certain that I will have a personal agenda. There are things I want to see, do, or accomplish. The problem comes when the plan that guides my behavior becomes all consuming. If this is all I look for, I will not see the other opportunities that the Lord presents to me.

By focusing only on my own agenda and not on the people and situations around me I will miss so much. God has a wonderful plan for my life and to fully reap the benefit of that I need to focus on him and not my own agenda.

A person may plan his own journey, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 GWT)

Band-Aid Repairs

26 Jan

 forgiveness, Jesus, emotional wound,When we packed for our vacation my husband put a new tube of toothpaste in his toiletries bag. After checking into our hotel and unpacking we realized that the tube had been punctured. I cleaned the mess in his bag while he did a quick repair on the tube by putting a band-aid on it.

Looking at the toothpaste tube I found it amusing to see the words repair and protect on the tube that had a band-aid wrapped around it. We don’t know how long this temporary measure will last but it serves the purpose for now.

Later I pondered the deeper meaning in this. There have been situation in my life where an emotional wound has been caused. Repairing it properly is more than I want to deal with at the time, so I apply a temporary fix. This band-aid approach seems to work. It’s quick, easy and I don’t have to examine the wound.

What I have failed to realize is that these wounds fester not properly cleaned fester under the surface and flare up at unexpected moments. When someone has hurt me I have a choice. I can turn my back on them, thus using the band-aid solution, or I can choose forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the tougher choice but the only one that will enable me to be whole and healthy again. This is not a quick fix but something I man need to do over and over until the process is complete.

It is also a biblical principle. Jesus tells us to repeatedly forgive. He set the example and is the one that can guide me through this process.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! Matthew 18:21-22 NLT

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