Thursday, April 29, 2010

What a Wonderful World it would be

I’m reading my way through the Bible for the second time and this morning’s reading was the book of Joel, a prophetic book about God’s judgment. Joel also speaks much about the day of the Lord and the final cosmic battle between good and evil. After I finished the heavy reading of this book I felt I needed a little pick-me-up so I began to thumb through the New Testament. I came across the following verses.

1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16Be joyful always; 17pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

What beautiful thoughts and words to carry forth into the day. As I reflect on this passage I can’t help but think of what a wonderful world it would be if everyone followed this directive. God truly has given us life’s instruction manual in His Word. We just fail to follow His instructions.

I’m going to print out this passage and display it prominently in front of me today—no matter where I am. I intend to keep it in my line of vision so I will have a constant reminder to encourage, help, be patient, be kind, be joyous, be prayerful and most of all be thankful—in all things. Care to join me? Maybe together we can indeed make the world a more wonderful place.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remembering in the Wilderness

Wow! Talk about a timely message. The following devotional was in my Inbox this morning. How apropos! But then again God is amazing like that. Absolutely perfect... (And yes, in reading the Old Testament I've thought these exact thoughts about the children of Israel.)

remembering in the wilderness

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

So Much to Say

I have so much to say, so many things God has laid upon my heart that I’m not even sure where to begin. I’ve posted ad nauseam this year about challenges my family are facing. The “talking points” God has placed on my heart relate to these challenges. Perhaps God has someone specific in mind to benefit from this blog entry.

Let me just say again that the economy is kicking our tails. I’m so tired of thinking, let alone talking/writing, about it but I feel a need to preface what I’m going to write. We have seen a dramatic downturn in our business revenue and therefore, our personal income. Don’t get me wrong, we continue to be blessed beyond measure compared to many. Our company’s doors are still open and God continues to bring business through them, however, we have had to be very creative in reworking our operational budgets—corporately and personally. This is an on-going, constant project. The stress of this is overwhelming. We never seem to get away from it. It is present when we wake up, throughout the day, when we’re trying to relax at day’s end, when we go to bed and unfortunately when we are sleeping. It definitely takes a toll on us.

It gives me great joy to say it has not taken a toll on our family life. Our situation has opened our eyes as to how much excess we truly had. There is no shopping unless it is for Jackson, and even that is only at consignment stores. Thankfully they are plentiful in Palm Beach County. As for entertainment—it is non-existent outside of our home. If it costs money, we don’t do it. We don’t dine out. We don’t attend events. We don’t travel. Much as I’d like to, I don’t join the costly mother and child activity groups. Yet our recreation is plentiful. We cannot believe how much richer our lives are for this. Another unexpected yet cherished by-product of these trying times is that our marriage is stronger. I know this is usually not the case. Financial stress has been the death knell for many previously-healthy relationships. We give God the glory for bringing us closer together. A great analogy would be that of people adrift in the ocean on a life raft. My husband and I are huddled together, better yet clinging together, for strength and security. Praise God!

Yet despite these positive turns, life is stressful and most days I forget just how faithful God has been and is. I had this realization in church Sunday. We had our final, one-year post-placement adoption visit with our social worker Saturday. I was a nervous wreck for our first and even second post-placement visits but I hardly gave this visit a second thought. We sailed through the visit, talking to the social worker like she was a neighbor. No stress. No worry. We just chatted and laughed. And I never took the time to appreciate that until singing a song in church Sunday. God hit me over the head with that realization. I had stopped appreciating all the good things in life that happen every single day. Shame on me. I’ve become so caught up in the worry and stress that I stopped living. My life had become joyless.

I really focused on this realization this morning in my prayer time and in response God showered me—literally—with memories of all of the wonderful and wondrous things he has done in my life over the years. The memories just flooded over me. In my mind I could see struggles I’ve had over the years, but they were visually small—like looking through a pinhole. And I could see blessings and answers to prayers and they were larger than life! I really believe God was reminding me that the struggles we’re facing right now will be overshadowed yet again with amazing blessings—if we just keep our focus on Him and let Him work within us, refining us. He is glorified in this—in all things—good and bad. Always! It is imperative that we never, ever lose sight of His sovereignty.

Ecclesiastes 7:14
When times are good be happy; but when times are bad, consider God has made the one as well as the other.

Psalm 40:5
Many, Oh LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them they would be too many to declare.

Be blessed, whoever you are. Please don’t let your life be joyless. Find joy in everything, in ever blessing—no matter how great or how small, and remember to give God the glory. He wants only good things for you.

Jeremiah 29:11
“…For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I’ve been having a tough time lately reconciling the mundane “concerns” of my (family’s) life against the true trials and tribulations of life as a whole. I’ve wrestled with this dichotomy before, but it really struck me yesterday as I was trying to remedy the underarm stains of my husband’s dress shirts. I don’t mean to trivialize his problem. Really, I don’t. His appearance and presentation are direct representations of our business. The bottom line is this: the typical person judges man’s outward appearance. Period. If my husband doesn’t look his best, people may not want to do business with him. This is a sad but true fact.

As I was lamenting the best and most cost-effective way to treat the stains (which ironically occurred because the manufacturer felt the need to “improve” the antiperspirant formula) it really struck me that this absolutely has to be at the bottom of the “life’s most important things” list. There are people around the world and around the corner who are homeless, starving, dying, losing their homes, being exploited, victimized and abused—and we’re worried about underarm stains. Even writing this makes me sick to my stomach.

Where and how do we begin to make a difference? Some of you who are reading this know I’ve written in this vein before. This overwhelming feeling of inadequacy is not new to me. If anything, I’ve become even more aware of the disparate circumstances of humankind. I’ve read some great books as of late regarding our call as Christians to serve others so it’s fair to say the Holy Spirit is working within me, prompting me to get out and do something. I’ve been tossing some ideas around in my head—possible ways to raise monies to support causes near and dear to my heart. These are, of course, mostly causes that provide some manner of care for orphans.

I’ll keep you posted as to what transpires. As a matter of fact, be prepared because I just may come to you for support for a cause or two. Until then, I guess I will have to find a way to reconcile our family's simple yet abundant blessings— health, love, food, shelter, clothing, safety, freedom—to the poverty that truly isn’t that far removed from our lives.
Galations 6:2
Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not About Me

My earnest prayer for the past few months has been for it to “not be about me”. Seriously. I’ve had enough of me. I no longer want it “to be about me”. But things always have a way of turning themselves around in my head and before I know it—you guessed it—it’s about me. Grrrrrr…… How and why does this happen? I wish I could tell you this is meant as a rhetorical question, but it’s not. I don’t understand why it is so difficult to continue with a mindset for more than a couple of days. I couldn’t be more serious when I pray this prayer. I’m over me. I’ve worried about me enough over the years. It’s time I focus on someone else—a much greater cause than the Cause of Me.

There have been studies conducted on the subject of worry. Here are some interesting points to ponder.

40% - Percentage of what people worry about that never happens
30% - Percentage of what people worry about that has already happened and is unalterable
12% - Percentage of what the average person worries about that is said by others (about them), which is usually untrue
10% - Percentage of worry that deals with health matters, which are exacerbated by worry

If you add up these percentages this means eight percent of the things we worry about are real problems—which aren’t remedied by worry anyway!

What a colossal waste of time and energy!

So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to keep on praying. As a matter of fact, I’m going to ramp it up! I’m going to put this prayer into hyper-overdrive. I want more than anything to spend this valuable time and energy on making someone else’s life and circumstances better. Yep, that’s what I’m going to do. As my loving and wise husband tells me, I’m getting over myself. I’m stepping aside, out of my own way. I’m going to let it be about someone else for a change.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matt 6:25-26)

Indeed! And in deed! Let it be about someone else!