Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Touching Others

Ok, true confession time. I am a hugger!! There, I said it. In most cases I can't just shake people's hands, I have to take it to the next level and wrap my arms around them and squeeze them. Oh, I'm no respecter of persons either. I admit it! Women, men, boys or girls; they all get the same squeeze treatment. I'm not sure why I am a hugger but maybe it's because I love to get hugs so I just think everyone should get them. Oh. . . . . . . .but not everyone wants them I have discovered. You can always tell the "wanters" from the "non-wanters", they either step back and stick out their hands for a quick handshake or they turn into a piece of lumber when you hug them. Gotta love the "lumber" ones, it's kind of like they just don't know how to react to a hug or any kind of affectionate gesture. And then there are the "germ-a-phobes" , they just put both hands up and make some excuse like, " sorry, it's cold and flu season you know"! They all still make me smile because I know that deep down inside there has most likely been some wound or scar or heaven forbid, no hugs at all in their lives. 
     There is something very therapeutic, I believe, about human touch. It has been proven that in infants there are definite adverse effects to non-touch. 100 years ago a great many  babies in orphanages in the U.S. died before they were 7 months old. They didn't die from an epidemic necessarily or disease or malnutrition but they died from a condition known as "failure to thrive" which is cause primarily from a lack of touch. You see, God's design started with the skin of each of us in the mothers womb. Our skin derived from the same cells as our nervous system and is the perfect instrument for gathering information about our surroundings long before birth. Also, newborn infants are not fully developed at birth because their vision isn't clear and they can't differentiate sounds. Babies communicate with the world almost entirely through their skin. So, messages that are received through touch will have definite effects on our behavior for the rest of our lives. I must have been touched "a lot" when I was a baby because, like I said, "I'm a hugger!" Being touched in some way was in Gods design and plan for each of us. So, if you are "hug deprived", begin to add it into your diet. If you are a hugger, like me, "keep on huggin" and if you don't particularly relish the thought at all of hugging other people. . . . . . Please, please reconsider! Hugging can change everything.

Insight Insert:  You may think that I am going to suggest that you start hugging more people this week but Im not! I will suggest to you to do just the opposite. If someone would normally hug you when they see you then I would challenge you to resist and try not to hug. I think you will see that this little experiment will be more difficult than you think. You see, we naturally crave and need human touch and whether you admit it or not you too may be a hugger! If on the other hand you know that you definitely are NOT a hugger then I challenge you to hug at every opportunity like you will never see that person again. In either instance I truly believe that you will come to understand a little better the importance of human touch.


Scripture:  Romans 12:10.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. ESV 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Death Comes To My Landscape

Today I cried for a tree. It wasn't any ordinary tree mind you but an "extraordinary creative work" fashioned and formed by our Creator and it was deemed “dead and unworthy to stand” so today it came down. I don’t usually cry for trees because well, they are after all, just trees. I think I cried because I knew that this particular tree had stood there for at least 200 years, given shade to some, acorns to the wildlife and ultimate beauty to all who stood in its shadow. It had stood the test of time and today was the day that it left the landscape of this world. One positive note is that it will still work its purpose for firewood to those in need of heat and mulch to landscapes thereby giving its last bit to the purpose of life going on. This last couple of weeks in my life have seemingly seen several things around me, like the tree, crumble and fall and come to an end. This house that I am currently blessed to live in sits high atop a hill overlooking a lake. It's stunningly beautiful. As part of my view I had an old bridge that was especially estetecallly pleasing to the eye at the base of my hill that crossed over the lake. It was an old cantilevered trussed bridge built back in 1942. Well, they have been building a new bridge beside it, a wider bridge, that could more easily handle the traffic. The new bridge just opened and it was simple and purposeful in its straight but flat architecture. The other day their was a massive explosion. I ran outside and saw that they had blown up the old bridge. Now I know it sounds a bit crazy but my heart was very very sad. You see, like my oak tree, that bridge was beautiful to look at but it had grown old and weak and had also served its purpose so it was brought down. It felt once more as if I suffered a loss or a death of something very close and dear to me. My friends that I spoke to about my losses were sympathetic but didn't seem to understand the depth of the loss that I was feeling. Thats ok because things affect us all in different ways at times. But two things in a short period of time felt monumental to me. The whole landscape of my present world was changed in a flash with a massive explosion and a chain saw. I know i know! Change has to come to everything at some point but my tree and my bridge was just too much. So, I cried! Now that the smoke and sawdust have settled and I have regained my composure I have to believe that I will grieve but I will be ok. You see, everything that happens to us in our lives is purposeful.  I truly believe that.  So, as I look out upon my landscape today it looks much different. There is an empty space where my magnifiscent tree stood and the green trussed architecture of my bridge is gone but still lingers in my memory. They cannot be replaced. But it's a new year and change has come so I must embrace it and make new memories. Tomorrow is a new day with new mercies as the Bible tells us. I believe it so im honor of a great old tree and a beautiful old bridge I will cry no more but give thanks for the change that still comes whether we want it to or not. There's a reason and purpose to every season. Great is they faithfulness O God our Father. 🌳🌉

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve Silence




On the most beautiful of nights as the stars crown the sky
I stand on my porch as silence draws nigh
The quiet that comes just on Christmas eve
Is hard to explain and hard to believe

Each year after all of the gifts have been wrapped
I step outside just to take a deep breath
The night seems so calm as I stand alone there
Not a sound can be heard in the cool winter air

Its as if heaven and earth pay homage each year
On the eve of that birth that we all hold so dear
The heavens draw a breath and the angels stand still
The air ceases movement by its own will

All creation stops singing as the silence enfolds
Its as if the story was about to be told
Of the coming of hope on nights' silent wing
To the world that needed but one small thing

That gift very precious and unlike no other
Came quietly that night in the arms of his father
Is there any question why the silence still comes
Its there to mark the birth of Gods son

As I stand on my porch each Christmas eve night
I'm reminded of silence that always takes flight
For its in that silence that I recall why He came
So I stand and I listen for the hope that remains

Monday, December 18, 2017

Jesus: Lost In The World

As I sat in my living room during the Christmas season I happened to glance at the beautiful nativity set that I had placed on the living room side table. As beautiful as the scene should have been, it was lost in the clutter of my hectic, hurried lifestyle. What should have been a wondrous, awe-inspiring scene of my Lord and the wiseman as they bowed to give the Christ child their gifts, was now a dumping ground for all my disorganized droppings. Around the gathering of worshippers was a half-empty cup of coffee, a stray DVD, a jar candle and a partially eaten Christmas cookie. What had I done to the divinity of this solemn group? How did I manage to allow anything to desecrate the sanctity of that representation of the most glorious moment ever on the face of the earth? But I did manage it! I sat there staring at the ugliness of the scene and I knew then and there that I must again do something to right my wrongs, something to bring the honor back into a dishonorable state. 
Isn't it true for most of us though, we have forgotten to take time to honor the things which are the most valuable to us. We all have, at times, desecrated those things or people that we should treasure and take pride in the most. We've forgotten how valuable they truly are, not necessarily in dollars and cents but in the deepest sense of the word, "value". We may be guilty of not saying "thank you" for gifts of time given. We may not have taken as much care with a gift that someone truly sacrificed to give us or maybe with our words we have exposed the garbage that is truly 
in our hearts and minds. Whatever the scene looks like, it represents well what is truly going on in the natural. But, be of good cheer. . . . there is still time and lots of grace to right the wrongs of our desecrated moments.
"To err is human but to forgive is divine" or something like that! And divine forgiveness came my way that holiday season as I got up and cleared away the clutter from that most holy of groupings. I gave honor back to the moment and honor back to myself. As I wiped up some spilled coffee and swept away the cookie crumbs, I once again felt as if this whole little scenario most assuredly had come to my attention by sheer divine providence. And just maybe the baby, and me, had a much clearer view of things that had been temporarily lost in the clutter of my life.

Insight insert:  There are days and weeks and months that go by in some of our lives that we don't stop to notice or give honor to the things in our lives that are the most valuable. How many times do you leave for work in the morning and you don't kiss your spouse or children goodbye and tell them to have a good day? Somewhere there are others that need a financial gift to get by in a bad situation and we waste money in so many ways. There are many people that I know who don't own a vehicle and then there are those of us who have expensive ones and don't take care of them. This dialog could go on with many more scenarios but we hopefully understand these! Give some honor back to your dishonorable states this week in some way. Bless someone you know with a monetary gift or someone that has to ride the bus to work, go pick them up and grab some coffee for them on the way! Clean up your desecrated areas a bit, sweep the crumbs of selfishness away and give Jesus a much clearer view of who he made you to be!

Scripture: Proverbs 22:9  He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. NAS
Philippians 2:4. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others. NAS



Friday, December 15, 2017

Reflections

I  sun came streaming through the window causing my Christmas trees reflection to be cast on the wall. I noticed how detailed and exact the reflection was of the ornaments. It quickly brought to mind a famous painting that I had seen of the young little boy Jesus at the feet of Joseph in his workshop. Clearly he was handling the type of nails that would someday pierce his hands and feet but the other thing that catches your attention is the child's reflection. His reflection was the cross, the very epitome of the love that he was to show. It caused me to think about what my reflection might look like. Your life will always reflect the true you. Was my shadow dark, misshapen and ugly because I had just had an intense argument with my husband? Was my shadow bent and slumped over because I was experiencing shame, worthlessness or low self esteem? Maybe my reflection was blurred because I was apprehensive or indecisive. Whatever the case I needed to constantly be examining my heart, my true self to make sure that my thoughts, intents and actions line up with the will of my Father.  My prayer today will be "Lord let my shadow look like you when the light is shown upon me". I always love how God reveals these things that keep us always examining our lives and helping our focus to ever be on looking like Him. 

Insight Insert : Take time this week to examine the motives and intents of your heart. Ask the Lord what is dark, bent or blurry in you and what He would like you to do to change that reflection. Make your prayer always to be changed into the image of Christ. Ask him to cast the shadow of the cross behind you, always. 

Scripture:
Ephesians 4:22-24

To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bags, Bows & Hope

So, here we are again at the start of the Christmas season. My halls are completely decked and my shopping has started. I look forward to the coming days that will be spent with family and friends. i  wonder what the world might look like during Decembers if our Savior had not come. Of course there wouldn't be the festive trimmings that brighten up our homes inside and out. There wouldn't be the beautifully wrapped packages that sit under our sometimes "overly ornate" Christmas trees. There wouldn't be the Christmas dinner that serves up usually a beautiful ham or roasted turkey. No egg nog, no candy canes no chestnuts roasting on that open fire. All of these things are truly wonderful and they bring us the sense of warmth, home and family during the season but they are not the things that would even be thought of if the Christ child were never born. I can imagine the days of December to just be cold and empty as we would sit around and wait on Spring and flowers to bloom again. The meaning of winter " blues" or "cabin fever" would be the norm for most people. It would feel cold, empty and meaningless without our God given gift of that little baby boy! The hope, the light of the world, the Savior of us all was born that night in a cold, primitive and probably smelly animal stable. He was sort of like that homeless person on the street in the cold of winter who had no place to lay his head. He wasnt born in a warm, comfortable home or hospital and the smell of cinnamon or pumpkin pie didn't waft in the air. The fireplace was not crackling with a toasty fire and there were no stockings hung for treats and packages. It was another winters night just like any other but. . . . Was it? I think not! I think it was the night that "changed the world"! It was the night that our hope came into being. It was the night that started all of the wondrous celebration that we have today! It was that night that gave us silver and gold and tinsel and lights and bags and bows. It was that night that gave us the greatest gift that we could ever have received. You see, we mustn't get caught up in the sparkle and glow of Christmas because of what the world has spun for us. We must get caught up in the hope that was born into this world on that very special night. So, as we give our gifts this Christmas and as we gather around the fireplace with family and friends and as we sing our songs of the season, let's celebrate the bundled package of hope that we all sometimes forget about in the midst of our celebrating. Merry Christmas, not "happy holiday"! May the gift of Hope remain in our hearts as the best gift that we have ever received! And, may the sparkle and shine of the season remind us of how very dull and hopeless our lives would be without him. Merry Christmas.
  

Insight Insert: Take time this holiday week and all throughout the season to bless someone that you may never have blessed before. Take time to pick up the phone and call someone you know is alone for the holiday and take them out for coffee and a pastry.when you're in the drive-thru picking up a quick coffee, pay for the persons order that's in line behind you.  In short, don't get so caught up in your own routine of shopping and wrapping that you forget about unselfishly sharing the love for others as that baby ultimately did! Be Jesus to someone you've never met. That's Christmas!


Scripture:  Philippians 2:3,4.   Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  NIV

Saturday, December 2, 2017

In The Waiting

So, let’s talk about waiting! There’s the waiting room in the doctors office, the waiting on the birth of a baby, then there’s waiting on a favorable response to all of the job interviews you’ve probably been on, and the waiting for a much anticipated visit from loved ones who are far away and lastly, there is waiting for Christmas morning as a small child. The anticipation runs wild! However you are waiting, the honesty of the waiting can be grueling. Our hopes, our want tos,  our ardent desires and longings can cause our hearts to strain at the bit while reality pulls back on the bridle to hold us suspended. We can think that the waiting will actually be our undoing at times. But in the anticipation there is a lesson I think. There is occasionally the lesson of self restraint or maybe  the lesson of selflessness and quite often the lesson of patience. Whatever the outcome we must always believe that God has a purpose and a plan in the waiting. Waiting, I believe, according to God’s Word affords us way more benefits than we could ever count or realize. “Waiting” renews our strength; waiting   produces endurance and character and hope; waiting helps us to become compassionate and merciful; it produces joy. In the waiting God hears us and pulls us up out of our trouble. In the waiting God hides us and shelters us and delivers us. In the waiting we are made better. So, “in the waiting” is where we walk in the blessings of the Lord for our lives. So, even if it’s hard, even if it seems unimaginably painful and even if we think we will burst, “ the waiting” is the reward. The waiting and your response to it are where your victories lie. In the whole plan of our lives Gods blessings alone make “waiting” something worth enduring. In your waiting I pray that you find the treasure that Christmas morning holds for a child and in the waiting I pray that you see and experience the gift of love that your Father has for you. It’s sooooo worth “ the waiting”.

Insight Insert: I challenge you to make a list of the things that you are waiting for. After each entry, when your waiting is over, write down a prayer of thanksgiving beside that entry and date it. I’ll be waiting to hear how many moments of anticipation are met with good news. I’m thinking it’s a sure thing!


Scripture:  Psalm 27: 13-14  “I believe thatI shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”