Tag Archive | Christianity, family, women, devotions, new year

Changing Valentine

This has always been a special time of year for me.  I look forward to the flowers, gifts, dinner, and all the celebrations of the day.  Now, since my beloved has gone to be with the Lord, Valentine’s Day has changed.

Strangely, I am saddened as well as comforted.  My heart goes back to last year’s Valentine’s day as my husband and I attended a funeral in Tampa. Our friend died suddenly, and the circle of family and friends was in deep pain.  We had just been told of Richard’s illness, and were struggling with our own emotions as we tried to comfort our friends.

After the funeral we did our usual Valentine’s ritual. We went shopping for my gift and to dinner.  Years ago, it was agreed between us that the best approach to gift selection for me was to allow me to pick it out and Richard to pay. This way everybody was happy. We went to a nice mall in Tampa.  Richard sat at the counter while I tried on various rather pricey perfumes.  When I made my selection, the sales associate asked if he was paying, and he cheerfully replied, “but of course!”  He looked at the credit card slip and asked it that was all.  I confirmed that it was. Later, at dinner, we talked about the sudden death of our friend and the beauty of her life.  We did not speak of his own battle. Valentine’s Day was changing.

IMG_2315As with all holidays, I decorate my front door.  This holiday it is filled with red hearts.  I think it is rather pretty.  The red hearts are so deep and rich in color. Have you ever wondered why red is the prevailing color for Valentine’s day? When I returned home on Sunday after participating in the communion service, the red hearts reminded me of how we celebrated the power of the blood.

I said earlier that I am comforted during my first Valentine’s Day without my husband.  It is because I know that though Valentine’s Day is changing for me, God’s love will never change. He has assured me and the whole world that He loves us with an everlasting love. Many of us are faced with changing situations because of death, illness, disaster, and countless other reasons.  But we do not lose heart.  Our eternal love is sure.

For God so loved the world that we gave His only begotten son.

“We love because, He first loved us.”  Happy and joyous Valentine’s Day!

 

Velveeta Really?

In the past few months, I have become interested in baking.  Primarily, because our family wished to reconstruct our mother’s recipes.  She was an excellent cook.  One of her sure fire hits was mac and cheese.  Well you know that mac and cheese is just about a cult happening in its self.  So, I  did some research during the holidays into good mac and cheese recipes,  Several of them used Velveeta. As the holidays unfolded, and I attended family gatherings, mac and cheese was almost never omitted from the bill of faire.

At one particular gathering, the conversation turned to mac and cheese and the fact that many restaurants were including it, even making a mac and cheese hamburger! As we dug into the dish provided at this event everyone weighed in about how great it was and discussed the possible combinations of cheeses and spices used. Well, true novice as I was, I asked if anyone used Velveeta. Two of my family members looked at me in sheer disdain, and pronounced that they used a combination of real cheeses.  I felt like a defendant in the court of Judge Judy with Martha Stewart as the the bailiff.

Many days after this encounter, I was searching the “fridge” and came across a box of Velveeta.  My mind went back to the mac and cheese episode. Upon examining the ingredients, it was clear why these ladies dismissed my question about Veleetta.  Velveeta is not real cheese.  Now, I have to say, the recipes for mac and cheese using Velveeta are much easier than the ones using  real cheese combinations, and the preparation time is more shorter. Is the taste that different?  Can the ordinary person really tell the difference? Does it really matter that much?

Of course, my mind took me to the question of the real deal in my christian life. My answer may  lie in this analogy. A genuine christian life requires time in preparation, study, meditation, and sacrifice.  Or, we can take some short cuts and create some very convincing looking christian lives. But upon close examination, do we stand up? Does it matter that much? Can anyone really tell the difference?

God can.

Velveeta, Really?

 

 

 

 

Synced in Purpose

Recently, I have been reminded of the importance of purpose. It seems that throughout the media we are reminded of purpose. Purpose headlines magazine articles, motivational books, and even advertisements.  We are urged to find purpose in living… purpose in learning… and  even purpose in praise and worship!

Technology devices and programs offer sharing of information through syncronization. This process puts all our information, plans, and processes in agreement.  We are told that being in sync makes out world easier to manuever.  This leads me to ask if my plans are in sync with God’s purpose for my life?  What has God designed me for?  What is his perfect plan for my life? Scripture teaches us that God knows the plans He has for us …  plans to give us hope and a future.

Discovering God’s purpose has to be the most vital part of our search for meaning in our lives. The special gifts and talents invested in us by the creator God are precious resources for maximum success.  I think that we do our children a disservice when we tell them they can be anything they want to be.  Through the years, I have come to believe that each of us is uniquely gifted for a particular path of service and living. When we seek God’s guidance through payer and preparation, we find the source of our strength.  Many years ago, I read a book entitled, “Do what you want and the money will follow.”  The message of the book is that when we follow are passion we are so motivated that success is a given.

Could it be that when we live out our purpose as designed by God we touch that part of ourseleves that wraps passion with purpose, and life is made meaningful through our desire to please Him?

Do you know your true purpose?

Survivors

This month. October,  is observed by millions as breast cancer awareness month. During the past two weeks I have been inspired by the many stories of courage and faith that women and men have shown during their individual and family trials of cancer.  The images that stand out in my mind more than any are those of smiling faces. Survivors seem to know something so internal and deep within them that sends a message that nothing will stop me from living, loving, and laughing.

Survivors of cruel news, invasive chemicals, financial ruin, and  loss of precious time  seem to know what it really important.  They stand firm in the middle of overwhelming circumstances to say that, we are yet alive and embrace the blessings of this moment in time.  Thank God for the survivors.  They are the rallying cry for prevention, research, support, and awareness. They are the living reminders that life’s challenges are not fair.  Challenges and trials are simply  a part of the ever changing fabric of our existence.

I remember a friend telling me that when she learned she had cancer, nothing she had been concerned about before that day mattered.  Everything changed within those seconds the awful words surrounded her.  She thought of everyone she loved and what this would mean to them. She thought of how she could share the news with her family and how they would deal with even the rest of the day.

Isn’t this what survivors bring to us. The fact that all we have is what is before us…this day.  So much of the unimportant robs us of the things that matter until the lines are no blurry we cannot recognize that we have crossed over into meaninglessness.  Ecclesiastes teaches us this lesson so well in chapter 12:13 “Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man.”  Jesus went on to teach us that all the commandments are summed up in love. The important item at the top of the “To Do” list is be an example of love today.  Respond to every situation in an attitude of love. Someone needs to know that God loves them.  Someone needs to have a touch of love’s awesome power to survive.

As we look forward to the following days of October and marvel at the beauty of the season, please remember the beauty of the spirit of survivors who remind us that each day is a gift.  Live to the fullest, and show love in everything you do just as God has commanded us.

A Matter of Heart

This past week we have been asked to focus on the condition of our hearts. Heart health has been at the center of our attention. we have been urged to  keep recommended check-ups, tests, and to heed warning signs. This national campaign has been invaluable in bringing our awareness in line with the threat of death from heart disease. Even Barbara Walters sounded the alarm and many responded by making changes in diet, exercise, and medical attention. The heart is the most vital organ of our bodies. It demands our attention.

Preparing for worship makes me think about my heart. Is worship a heart matter for me?  The Bible teaches that from the wellsprings of wisdom is as a flowing brook. Taking care of ones heart is wise. It certainly is the right thing to do if we want to live a healthy and long life.  However, how I place my heart in worship determines the health of my soul.  Afterall, what good is a long life with no true eternal rewards? Worship is at the heart of my surrender to God. It is not just an act of tradition for Sunday. It is the center of my faith. In worship I am able to come before His presence.

But have I truly put my heart in my preparation… is my all laid at His feet? Mary had no problems with this as she washed His feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Jesus had given her a new heart, and she gave all her heart back to Him.

“When I come into His presence, I humble myself
Lift up holy hands and worship Him
I worship Him for all He’s done for me
Redeemed and set me ,
Because, just because, He’s God”  (paraphrased from He’s God by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir)

God desires our worship. We are transformed when we surrender to Him. Can we truly surrender without making it a matter of heart?

Where is Your Mountain?

“Go tell it on the mountain” While organizing some music, I came across this song. It traditionally is used during Christmas on my IPOD playlist, but I love this song and the particular arrangement, various artists from My Christmas Album, is awesome. I could not resist listening to it and immediately got caught up in the words which make me want to tell somebody about the love of God that sent His son for us.

My mind began to organize ways I could tell about Jesus. Perhaps I could go to a shelter or maybe to the mall, or while working on some volunteer project. There were so many possibilities! My excitement and anticipation was consuming. I was pumped, ready, and determined.  Just at that point, my husband came in, making some totally unimportant request. My irritation was immediate.

“What do you want?” I asked with impatience and a tone of  can’t you see I am in the middle of something great here? I am planning a sharing   of the love of God project. What, what, what?

He looked at me with a slight puzzle, and a little hurt in his eyes. Then he apologized for the interruption. I recovered momentarily and asked him to repeat his question. But he assured me that it was OK and to forget the question. As he left the room, I felt completely ashamed.  “Where is your mountain?” echoed in my spirit.

Proverbs tells us that every wise woman builds her house, but  the foolish tear it down with their own hands, and that it is better to live in the corner of the housetop than with a contentious and fretful woman in a wide house.  My husband deserved a better response from me.  My priority as a disciple of Christ is to build my own home.  Yes, the world needs love and kindness and the gift of evangelism from us, but if our homes are not places of love, kindness, and peace, we are but sounding brass and tinkling symbols…….hypocrites.

I realized that I do not have to seek out places to show love. Every place I find myself is a place to be a disciple. My mountain of proclamation is the very ground I stand on each day.  It could be as I search the isles of the grocery store; talk on the phone; compose emails; fellowship with other believers in Christ;  teach a Sunday School lesson; or  show love and kindness to the people in my own home. My mountain is my position in Christ Jesus.  As Christ taught, I must take up my cross and follow. Following is a position… a constant obedience to self-denial and complete covering of love and compassion.

Where is your mountain?

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

That phrase kept coming to my mind all day as I considered where I was in my life. Now in the “golden years” approaching retirement age and yet grappling for a meaningful way to spend the rest of my years. Sure, grandchildren are great, and gardening is expected of older people. Afterall, haven’t we just about fulfilled our destiny as working contributing citizens by now?

Somehow, I am not quite ready to go the way of the porch rocking chair. Experiences, adventures, awesome moments, and breath-taking events cloud my mind and burst with enthusiasm to be shared with others. The blessings of God have been so wonderful, even in the face of heartaches, despair, and unavoidable loss that they scream be shared with the ones coming behind us and remembered with the ones who grew old with us.

Growing up has always seemed the perfect state of being for us. We murmured undertones of “when I grow up I will not do it that way. When I grow up, I won’t have to put up with this…Oh, when I grow up!”

Yet, when we grow up we become so entangled with the cares and responsibilities of adulthood, that we too often forget the wonder of dreams and possibilities. Too often growing up results in leaving behind the very essence of what made life the beautiful gift God intended. The Bible teaches us that God has a plan for us. I am so glad that it is never too late with God. We are still His handwork for a purpose. Let us pray that we seek it fervently each day. You may not be able to run out front, but you can cheer from the sideline. The world could use a lot more cheerleaders. I am glad He is allowing me another day. May I grow in a way that brings glory to Him.

So, this is what I hope I am, now that I have grown up.

  • A good listener
  • A teller of encouraging and amusing tales
  • A student of the Bible
  • A welcomed friend
  • A soft place for my loved ones to land

What do you want to be when you grow up?