Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Happiness

Happiness

He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20

Something my mother and I would do this time of year would be to bundle up and go to the beach to feed the seagulls. It didn't matter what was going on in our lives at the time, we would lose ourselves in the fun and joy of it. But best of all was to sit in the car, looking at the ocean with my mother and having wonderful talks. We both talked and both listened to each other. A great time of sharing time and love.

It has been said that happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. You know if you have it or not. You can walk into a room and sense the environment and immediately know if it exists there.

What is happiness? The dictionary says, “pleasure, contentment and joy”. And laughter often means the presence of happiness. Look at a child who gets tickled about something and laughs over and over again. They are sharing their pleasure. However, some folks believe they don’t have anything to laugh or be happy about. They may look to life for what it can give them. Happiness wouldn’t carry the weight it does if we didn’t experience the down times too. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.  And that speaks to all of our circumstances, whether we are up or down. It is considered to be one of the most worth-while things is to do to put happiness into the lives of others. Proverbs 11:25 says “Who refreshes others will be refreshed”. So when we are seeking that sweet spot of happiness for ourselves, we must first do for others under God’s direction. It is there that we will find the spiritual contentment known as happiness.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow


(Photograph by Martin Glass)

Snow


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3: 15-17

There are some people that like snow and some that do not. I happen to love it! The excitement and frenzy at the grocery store to stock up, to fill the gas tank of the car and to check the birdfeeders are all part of my pre-snow routine. Snow doesn’t come often, particularly to these parts, but when it does, it is memorable for young and old. A fresh blanket of snow on ordinary things makes them look extraordinary. Traffic slows and school and work stops. It’s a time to make that special soup, bring in the firewood and enjoy the beauty of the white scenery through the windows. There will be plenty of time for shoveling and scraping later, but for a moment or two, the snow makes us stop long enough to feel the peace that surrounds us. It’s like everything has been put on hold, if only briefly.

Sometimes we need something out of our control to make us stop our busy lives long enough to renew and reflect on our journey. It may be something as simple as a snowy day that gives us this time and causes us to lessen our pace. I notice that when snow is in the forecast, everyone seems friendlier, neighbors look out for one another and there is an overall sense of community spirit. Everyday can be like this. Living in peace with one another is a good place to be. God’s peace dwells within us and we just have to tap into this gift to enhance our lives and those around us. Like a blanket of snow that envelops everything in its path, God’s promise of peace fills and embraces us, if we allow it.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Doing Right

Doing Right

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17

Each day we are given opportunities and free will to choose which road to take in our lives. We may want to cut a few corners when no one is looking. We think about putting ourselves first over others’ needs. Yesterday it was raining and I had to cut my dogs’ walk short for the sake of both of us getting soaked. But he knew he was shortchanged. He stared me down and if a dog can give its’ master a scowl, I got one! I have heard it said before and I chuckle at the thought: my goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. There is some truth to this!!

Are you a person that others expect the best from, always trying to do right? Or are you that person that is known for lazy half-heartedness? But to go even further, if you are doing right to the best of your ability, but don’t have a loving attitude about it, there is no joy reaching heaven. The sweetness of a heart full of love for others, joined with a willingness to do the right thing, is a blessing to everyone. Aren’t we drawn to people like that? We study them, trying to learn from them and emulate their kind actions.  Well, you may say, “so many people do the right thing and they don’t seem to gain a thing by doing it”. But what we may miss would be the peace and joy that lives on the inside of a that person. Their riches are not measured by the things they have built or stored but by the lives they have touched. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Seeds

Seeds

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  2 Corinthians 9:6. 

What are you expecting in life? Take a moment and explore that thought. Little children don’t understand limits. They are invincible and think they can do anything. School children are impressionable, and while dealing with peer pressure too, their dreams and expectations can be influenced. Young adults get a taste of real life. Working jobs, keeping a marriage healthy, balancing finances and caring for their youngsters. They have dreams but it is often hard to resist comparing themselves to their friends and co-workers. Middle agers may become caregivers for their parents and grandchildren and find little time for their own dreams. And then seniors start talking in terms of “how many more good years they have left”.  

Not everybody reacts in these ways, but it happens. If any of this describes you, be assured God placed dreams in your heart the day you were born. He planted them there. You just have to believe that there are seeds of greatness on the inside of you and set your expectations to align with God’s Word.


My grandfather loved gardening. He planted a beautiful flower, cockscomb, from seeds and they were the talk of the Garden Club and the neighborhood. Everyone had to stop by and admire the fruits of his labor. When I used these flowers in arrangements in the Jr. Garden Club, I received many first place ribbons. Imagine my delight when I found a little manila envelope recently, tucked in one of his books, that contained seeds from those flowers! Over 50 years old! Thank you granddaddy!  I am going to plant some of those seeds this week with great expectation and I will keep you posted.  The message is this: it is never too late to nurture those seeds of greatness and to dream the dreams instilled in us. Just believe and have expectations of good things. Even when setbacks occur, and they will, keep moving forward. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Discipline

Discipline

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12

As a southern born and bred woman, I have always put importance on manners. My children will tell you that they were disciplined to be polite, appreciative, grateful and respectful no matter what the occasion.  They are now respectable and respected adults today and for that I am grateful.

Now, while looking after my grandson, we are learning about manners too. It’s a new generation, living in different times, but some things don’t change and that is to respect others as well as yourself. He is learning the simple manners. Very basic. Saying “please” and “thank you”, sharing, not crying or throwing a tantrum when things don’t go his way. Then, napkins in laps, saying grace before a meal and saying “thank you” afterwards. This is a work in progress!!!

Yesterday, my grandson and I were lunching at a restaurant. Things started out well until the little one decided to shake his cup full of milk which was about to explode. I intercepted, and he let everyone in the restaurant know how unhappy he was that I took his cup away. Oh, he has quite a loud cry when he wants his way. Given that he is only two and a half years old gets him a little leeway, but not much…manners can be taught at any age, and sooner the better. We took a quick little walk outside the restaurant and I firmly told him that there was a better way to behave. That his milk might have spilled on the floor or gotten on the other people. The crying stopped, we walked back in, hand in hand, happy and ready for a good lunch. He understood firmly, but with love, that his actions were not acceptable. Sometimes, discipline is simply redirecting with an explanation of what is expected.  I have more patience now as a grandmother than I did as a mother. I don’t know how I managed back then and am glad I can’t remember!! My praise to parents everywhere for the hard work it takes to raise godly children in a fallen world.  And this grandmother is certainly trying her best!


God uses discipline to teach us. And it is said that discipline is the evidence of love. Setting boundaries for our children because we love them is exactly what God does for us. Enduring difficult times and hardships are things we should consider as possible discipline from God. What parent does not discipline his child and God is our Heavenly Father. Our nature is to rebel against boundaries that don’t suit us or that we don’t agree with. But often times, there is a bigger picture. If we allow it, God is constantly shaping us, molding us. And yes, disciplining us too. And that is how we can have a fruitful, faithful life living within God’s boundaries and expectations. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Feeding on Faith

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2


I don’t have to check with the weatherman for the forecast. I simply look out my kitchen window and the feeding birds are the best predictor of things to come. My little garden, originally intended for the butterflies, has expanded and is now an oasis to a cardinal couple, a titmouse family, chickadees, finches and the occasional dove. This past week when a storm was brewing, there was a flurry of activity at my house. It was a feeding frenzy. Every little creature, including squirrels had come to eat heartily before hunkering down. The sun was still shining and there was no indication a storm was coming, but the birds knew. God has equipped them with the senses to prepare and protect themselves.

When storm clouds circle over our lives with health, relationship, financial or job concerns, we try to fix things on our own. We lie awake at night trying to figure out a solution. How many times have we been successful when we have relied on our own strength?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26 It is only when we tap into God’s power, feed on his wisdom and love, can we see things with more clarity.  New ideas pop into our heads, people that can help will reach out, our heart changes and our attitude improves. God may not reveal everything to us at once. But, He does have the answer to our situation and if we allow, He will guide us to it. If the answers come too quick, we often want to take credit for it ourselves. But it is when God walks along side of us, over time, teaching us through scripture, through the loving words of those wiser, that we really grow.


Years ago I had a health issue and I prayed for an instant miracle. But that is not what I got. Instead, God walked with me for many years to teach and show me, step by step, what He wanted me to know. This caused me to lean on Him. God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 We are still walking together, me leaning on Him, just like my little birds have come to depend on the fruits of my little garden.  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Daily Walk


Daily Walk

 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

-James 4:7 NIV

 

 

A daily walk is a good thing to do. It exercises our bodies and it promotes good health. A walk can be taken early in the morning, during a lunch break or at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter when. What does matter is that it is not forgotten. There is another daily walk that is important too and that is our daily time with God. But, somehow it is often the first thing that is shelved when a day becomes busy and overbooked. Everything else becomes a priority and God is left to wait for us to show up later.  A daily dialogue with God is not only the most important time we will spend each day, we should try to make that time first before anything else.

 

But, what happens if we become lazy and put God off day after day? No longer seeking God’s help and protection, we unknowingly open the door to the enemy. Fear, bitterness, anxiety, resentment and anger are just a few of the things that can come upon us and they are all destructive and harmful to our minds, bodies and souls. Our attitude and outlook turns sour and negative. Our vision is clouded. We become oppressed and find it hard to shake things off.

 

So, what is the benefit of this daily walk with God? One of the benefits of spending daily time with God is that it keeps us in dialogue with Him. We will begin to discern His Voice inside of us giving us guidance and direction. He is our protection and our shield. In our daily time with God we should repent of our mistakes and failings and be sincere and genuine. It means that we start off each day forgiven with a new heart and a new start. We learn that we can live in a place of blessing.  While a daily walk exercises the body, a daily walk with God engages our faith. Why not do both? Each day can be a new beginning, knowing God is on our side in all we do.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

No Limits


No Limits

 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. –Philippians 4:13.

The first of January brings about a lot of evaluation. Am I doing what God would have me do? Am I happy? Do I bring joy to others? What can I do differently? How can I improve? Those are some of the questions I ask myself and ask God in prayer.

In years’ past I reflect and realize I self imposed limits on myself. Not daring to try something because I would have talked myself out of it before ever beginning.  Or going out on a limb to do something out of my comfort zone and stopping at the first setback.  I know I am not alone. Remember that saying….”if I knew then what I know now”?

My younger days were about what I could do on my own. I pushed hard and was determined. But when you go it alone, without God, you can only go so far. Now, I know that all things are possible. That I can dream “no limit” dreams and give God control. There is great peace to be found trusting in Him.

But you are reading this and maybe you are saying, the doctor said there is no hope for this disease or my marriage is failing or I can’t find a job. What happened to my dreams? God would want you to hold His Hand through this valley. A scripture to engrave on your heart is this….Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean NOT on your own understanding, but in ALL ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3: 5-6.