Tuesday, July 10, 2018

No More Sidelines!

I’ve always been one of those people who kind of sat on the sidelines of life.  I watched as others lived their lives and dreamed of someday living mine.  I always worried that there was never enough money for us to do anything, so didn’t, but I think I’ve moved into a new chapter in my life.  I have a new understanding of things, of life and how things work.  I’ve decided to stop worrying about not having enough. That kind of thinking kept me from living the life we wanted, a life of joy and abundance.

This Sunday was my DH’s birthday.  After church, we headed out of town to celebrate! First stop, St. Louis, Mo and the arch. What a fun evening we had!  First, a visit to see the arch,
birthday cake,
a carriage ride,

and fireworks!  

I guess someone told the city that it was DH’s birthday and so they helped us celebrate with a beautiful fireworks display by the arch!


In our 25+ years of marriage, we have always said, “Someday…”  Someday we’ll take a carriage ride, someday we’ll go on a just a little trip just us. Well, someday has arrived!  I wish we hadn’t let ourselves keep putting it off but I can’t do anything about that so I’ll enjoy our time now.  I’ll enjoy the joy we both feel as we explore together, laughing, walking, smiling, resting, just being together living our abundant life of joy.

As our trip continued, we received great news! Our trip was actually a long way to go pick up DD from her summer intensive in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  As we drove closer to our destination, DD called to tell us they had asked her to return in August to be a part of their trainee program! 
 What a wonderful opportunity for her.  She is so excited and we are excited for her.  The next few weeks will go by too quickly and I plan on living in every moment of it with her.  Planning her apartment and future visits.  Tonight, we have a Christmas in July date with Hallmark movies and DeBrand Hot Chocolate! 
Did I mention how much we love DeBrand? It is a fine chocolatier in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  You can see more about it in this post from our first visit there. 

I’m really feeling in the Christmas in July spirit. I love Christmas so much, everything about it!  The lights, the trees, the holly and tinsel, the music, the movies, the joy and goodwill that come with it.  The reason we celebrate to begin with!  I love it all and want to experience it more every day or at least more often throughout the year. Several years ago, I decided that I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, or really, who I wanted to be, Mrs. Santa Claus! (click the hyperlink to read more about it) And that hasn’t changed a bit.  


This new idea of really living life has made me feel more like Christmas every day because of the joy I get to experience with my family and friends.  Christmas isn’t just one day a year, it’s not just a season, it’s something that we should only think about once a year.  We should celebrate and experience the excitement of the birth of Jesus every single day and this working to live my life more is helping me to do that!

How do you live life every day?  How do you live Christmas every day?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Happiness Is...

 
When I was much younger, my mother was the musical director of the play, “You’re Good Man, Charlie Brown!” at East Texas State University.  I remember going with her to a few of the rehearsals and one of my favorite songs to hear them rehearse was Happiness Is…

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately.  What is happiness?  What brings me happiness?

This morning it’s this cup of hot cocoa and mint in one the Christmasy mugs I found in my cupboard. I seldom let myself indulge in this but I should do it more often.  It brought me joy just to pour the mix into the cup!  Hot Chocolate is one of the only places I actually like whipped cream but alas we are out.  Spraying that Reddi Whip into this cup would have brought a lot of happiness too.  

I’ve been thinking a lot about what brings me happiness lately.  

Happiness Is…

Time with my kids – as my kids get older I appreciate every second with them, whether in person, in a text, over the phone, Instagram or Snapchat.  Every single glimpse I get or word I read or hear brings me joy.

Alone time with my hubby – He travels A LOT and so when he’s home and I get a few minutes here and there alone with him, will that is Happiness.

Hallmark movies!!  I know they are sappy, and all the same but they can make a sad day, a hard day, a tiring day sooooo much better. Yes, I roll my eyes often but they always make me smile!

Music!  Music is my favorite.  Uplifting lyrics make it even better.  I love all kinds of music.

This list makes me happy. I think maybe I’ll work on this a little every week.  Trying to find out of the ordinary things that make me happy.

What makes you happy? What brings you joy?  Share your list in the comments below.  I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

My Perfect Life

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about what my perfect life would be like.  Sometimes I imagine traveling all over the world and seeing sights I’ve never seen.  Sometimes I think of having my dream house.  Sometimes I think of being able to give away lots of money to those in need. But every time, my family is there. This podcast I’ve been listening too lately talks a lot about the essence of your dreams.  What your dreams really represent and I’ve really been thinking a lot about that and well, I think it’s family and time.  Time to spend with my family.  Quality time. 
 I miss my kids and my mom and my siblings and I just don’t feel like I get to see them enough.  They all live at least 8 hours away and my dream is really more time to go and spend more time with them.  More time to laugh with them, to play with them.  More time enjoy life with them.  We all know that life is often too short
so I want to make the most of every minute of mine with my dear family.  Laughing more, loving more, playing more.  That’s my perfect life and it’s my new goal, my main goal.  So family, be ready cause here we come!




Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Choosing Joy

This week my daughter had a few days off from her ballet training so we decided to take a quick trip to where she will be spending part of her summer for training.  We've never been to Fort Wayne, Indiana and so we decided to go.  I got someone to lead the Bible Study for me and DH took a couple of days off and following worship, Sunday, we headed out.  We were excited for a quick adventure!

We had such a fun time filled with joy.  Sunday morning as we were loading the car and getting ready for worship, I kept saying, "Today, I'm choosing JOY!  and you guys better too!!"  Every morning of the trip I said the same thing and we succeeded.

We laughed, we played, we lived and I wouldn't trade a minute of it!  Well, maybe the minute we had car trouble but that's really it.  







We had such a good time that like I do everytime we go anywhere and have fun, I decide that we need to move there.  We met interesting people.  People who seemed surprised to receive our smiles and hellos and people who were a bit strange and some who will make it into my sermon this week!

As we were leaving, the staff asked where all we'd been while there and we told them and they mentioned other places we should go, and we told them we'd be back and they were so sweet and funny about it!  They were great.  Most of the people we met were, even if they were surprised by our joy.

I'm thinking there really needs to be a lot more joy in the world, a lot more living, a lot more smiling and definitely a lot more love.  It always surprises me the effect a smile can have on someone, or a gentle hello.  I feel like there should really be a bigger smile ministry in the world.  I think it would bring a lot more joy to our lives as a whole people.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

10-Step Program

It's been a while since I've shared a sermon here.  We are in the midst of a Lenten Series called Rehab.  
10-Step Program

Most rehabs usually have some type of program to be followed.  If you are in an addiction rehab, you have the 12-step program, cardiac and physical rehab has specific exercises or activities in their program and we as Christians have a program to follow too.  It’s a 10-step program and it’s what we are going to be thinking through today.  God lays it all out for us easy to understand and yet, we often stumble, we often don’t quite get it.  

Would you please pray with me?  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts and minds be acceptable to you, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.

So, I’m sure you can guess what our 10-step program is, the Ten Commandments.  This is a program that we, as Christians, need to be working every day.   Now Jesus summed them all up in two sentences.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  If you do that you will, for the most part, be following the program but I think it’s important to really hone in on the 10 steps from time to time.  They have a lot to do with our character and so this Rehab season is the perfect time for us to work on them. 

So, let’s take a look at our 10 Steps. 

Worship only the Lord God.
Don’t worship idols.
Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.  
Honor your parents.
Do not commit murder.
Do not commit adultery.
Do not steal.
Do not lie.
Do not covet what other people have.

Take a second to think about these, how are you doing?  How are we as a community doing at following these steps?

Now let's jump right in.

No other Gods, no idols-  well, as a community I don't think we are doing so well here.  Money, drugs, alcohol, food, sports, guns even sometimes ourselves are all things we, as a society, worship.

Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.  Oh, my goodness, how society fails here.  And it’s not just in the form of cussing either.  It’s when we use his name to stand behind so that we can ignore injustice; when we use his name as an excuse to not love others; when we use his name just to get ahead, to get elected, or to make money. 

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. The purpose of the Sabbath is to slow down, pray, and meditate.  It’s setting all other things aside, work, money, and everything else to find rest in time with God.  How are you doing that each week as an individual?  How are we as a community, as a society supporting this, encouraging this?  This is another one I think that as a society we are failing.

Honor your parents.  How are we doing at that one?  How many parents are sitting in nursing homes just waiting for someone to come visit them?  How many live alone in homes that are falling down around them?  How many can’t afford to take their medicine every day and instead take half a dose or just take it every other day because they can’t afford it, or even just don’t take it because they can’t afford it?  How are we as a society doing here?

Do not murder.  That’s one most of us think we’ve got covered right?  But how many people die because they can’t afford proper healthcare, nutritious foods, or housing? We avert our eyes to this, thinking they aren’t my problem, they should get another job, they should work harder and so on without really knowing their circumstances, we just assume.  You know, mass shootings have become a regular occurrence lately.  They can happen anywhere, schools, churches, movie theaters, malls.  I heard this week that suicide is the number one cause of death among teens in Johnson County and just like the school shootings, many of those happen because of bullying.  Bullying is often disguised as teasing.  But teasing can hurt, a lot.  And then we put our right to have a gun, a possible idol, over another person’s right to live.  I’m not going to get into the gun debate here but I will ask, is it really so awful for it to be a little harder to get a gun?  The people who need it immediately, probably don’t and do we really need for the everyday citizen to have a weapon that’s sole purpose is to kill in war?

Do not commit adultery.  This is another one where most of us think we are doing OK, but are we really?  I wonder if we need to rethink what it means to commit adultery.  We hear more and more often of affairs among public figures, we hear way too often about sexual harassment and abuse.  We excuse rape by teenage boys as boys just being boys.  Promiscuity is rampant on TV and in movies.  It’s glorified even.  As a society how are we doing with adultery?

Do not steal, lie or covet.  How are we doing with these three?  I’m thinking not well.  How often do we pass lies on social media?  Share things without checking to see how true they are, just sharing them because it sounds awful or because we agree with it.  We don’t even bother to check it we just click share.  These days we have to have fact checkers to check the facts that our public figures share.  And coveting?  That’s rampant too!  On social media, well everywhere!  The grass is always greener over there.  We have to try to keep up with so and so.  They have something new, and we need something new too!  But do we?

Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect at any of these. In fact, that last one is one I struggle with a lot. I don’t think any of us are perfect at this but I wanted us to see how important it is for us to stay focused on these, to think about them more often.  Most people as they begin a new program find it difficult to stay on track, they make mistakes.  I think God surely knew how hard it would be to always get it right.  He probably knew that these rules would be broken but maybe following the program isn’t about being perfect at it, maybe it’s more about working on our relationship with God and with one another.  I see where working this program would help with our relationships in the world, in our neighborhood, in our families and yes, with God. 

Here in a moment, we are going to choose just one of these steps to work on this week and I want to encourage us all to overtime work on them all, to take time to sit with each step and think about what we can do better and encourage others to do better too.  We’re probably not going to get perfect, we are human after all but I really hope we will try.  Amen.



Call to Work the Program
I want to invite you to write down at least one commandment you struggle or have struggled to keep over time, and one thing you will do start doing this week and keep doing to overcome the struggle and work this part of the program.  I invite you to make two copies and give one copy to one other person with whom you will check in during the coming week to share how you have (or haven’t) made progress on the commandment you’re working on, and what has happened as a result.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Meditation

Do you meditate?  I've always wanted to but thought it would be too hard.  Me, sit still for any length of time and be quiet??  Are you kidding?  Quiet my mind?  What the heck is that?

Well, I've got to tell you, I'm learning the art of meditation and it is one of my most favorite things ever!  

People meditate for different reasons and in different ways.  You can meditate to relax, to relieve stress, to get more in tune with yourself or with God or with the universe and for prayer.  I've tried off and on to meditate for years but I've never been very good at quieting my mind.  Recently, I've decided to try again.

I've made myself a little meditation corner with plants and candles.  It's a comfortable place with a lovely blanket and pillow and I play quiet contemplative music.  

In one of my most successful (they all are but this one just felt amazing) meditation times, I found names flowing through my thoughts.  As they did, I would lift them up in prayer.  If I knew their circumstances I would pray specifically for them but otherwise I just asked God to meet them where they were and so on.  

And then the list of names just slowly ended and it was a peaceful quiet, a calm stillness, just peace, and relaxation.  When I felt finished, I thought I had maybe been in there for about 15 or 20 minutes but when I looked at my clock it had been over 40 minutes!  I felt so good and happy and relaxed and just really GOOD.

I find myself excited to meditate now.  I look forward to it.  Some days it like above but other days, it's more like 10 to 15 minutes of me trying to be still and quiet.  It's not always perfect but it is always good and I'm so glad I have found this new practice for my life.

Do you meditate?  I would love to hear about your experiences.  Share in the comments!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Journey to Gratitude

So, I'm trying something new.  I've been toying around with the idea of a podcast for years but didn't know what it would be or even how to do it but last week I thought, "Wouldn't it be neat to put my daily devotions on a podcast?"  And... so I did it!  You can find them over on the sidebar to the right.

Then, this morning, I was talking with a friend about gratitude and generosity.  It was a great chat!  One that has been running through my mind all day.  It's funny how things like this can just work on your mind and heart.  Anyway, as I thought on it, I remembered some devotions I wrote a while back on gratitude and thought maybe I could share them as a separate series on my podcast channel and so... yep, I did it.

I started a new Journey to Gratitude devotion series podcast and I thought I'd share the first one here.  If you enjoy it, you can subscribe to it by going here and click follow.