Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stop and Go

In a distance, birds chirped their morning concert. Gazing at the clock, I debated––crawl out of my cozy, warm bed or watch the sunrise through the lacy curtains. The orange sun poked over the mountain, and the stars faded into the dawn. Too late to pull the covers over my head and drift back to sleep. My eyes begged to close, but my brain raced with the daily tasks at hand. Rising early would usher me into a quiet time with the Lord––I hoped.

I'm not a morning person. I prefer to be quiet in the morning except for talking to the Lord. You won't find me exercising, enjoying a morning conversation on the phone, or turning on the TV. Unless the calendar says get going out the door for an appointment, meeting, class, a hospital emergency or other work-related commitments, I'll relish the time at home. Now don't misunderstand, you won't find me on the couch. I'll be chomping at the bit to get in gear. Cleaning and laundry will most likely steal my attention from the computer that beckons me to catch up on correspondence and my writing schedule.

Watching from afar, you'd wonder how I do it all. A mystery to me also, but I do have help––supernatural help. The word "still" doesn't compute in my thought pattern. Not unless I choose to get my Bible and head to my cozy spot in a corner of my house where I enter my God Nook. Oh, how I love that place. So why don't I rush more often to that special place? Too Busy. But, is it necessary to get to my nook in order to meet with God? What does it mean to be still?

Do you go on a guilt trip when you see a photo such as the one above? When you saw it, did you suddenly grab your Bible and whisk away to a quiet place where you stared into space with still no peace? You're not alone. Where does the guilt come from? You know––the enemy. Until we find that peaceful place, we go in circles.

Until we stop, we can't be still. Until our minds stop, we can't focus on the One who stopped His earthly life when He went to the cross for us. He chose us. We can stop and choose Him. Choose to stop and focus fully on Him. Then we are still. Then our soul finds rest. "My soul finds rest in God alone." Psalm 62:1

For many of us, slowing down is work. It's natural for us to run, move, go, but it's unnatural for us to slow down, stop, breathe. However, it's possible to find that cozy nook anywhere--anytime, and for any amount of time. Just focus on God and nothing else.

There's nothing wrong with being busy, being active, being on the go––except, we often never stop.

Where I grew up, we had Stop and Go stores. Maybe you did too. We stopped, got what we needed, filled up our tank and our stomachs, then continued on.

Stop. It seems simple, but yet it's the hardest thing to do.

Practice these steps: Stop. Look. Listen. Breathe. Go.

Take time to focus on God in your God Nook––wherever that might be. Stop for a few minutes or an hour, look into His face, listen to His voice, breathe in His majesty, and then go. But, make it a habit to stop often. Know He is God. Bask in His presence.

Let's stop, get filled up, and go shine His light in the world.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Convenience or Commitment?

Do you agree with the two friends in this cartoon?  In a way, I see their point, but I don't agree entirely with them about friendship. I agree it is a blessing to meet a friend after a long separation and feel as though we never parted. That "feeling" is commitment––true friendship. But, three words stand out in this cartoon. Happiness. Feelings. Changed. Nothing's changed––so say the friends, but time does change things.

True friends accept the changes in us because they are committed to us. Friendship doesn't depend on feelings but commitment. Shouldn't we be changing daily? Isn't our goal to become more like Jesus? We all change––for the good and for the not so good. It's our choice. So what's the secret to lasting friendships?

Relationships will change over time. Hopefully, our relationship with God is changing––drawing closer to Him every day and becoming more like Jesus moment by moment. Change is good according to the Word of God. So why impede it? Probably because it's hard to change but easy––convenient–– to stay the same.

Human love is convenient. We choose our friends because they fit well with us. It's easy to be with them so it doesn't take much effort to enjoy them. It's convenient. It's comfortable. But is our friendship committed? Are we there for them when their lives change––for good or bad.

God's love is committed. His love isn't based on feelings, although He has feelings toward us. He decides to love us regardless of our actions. Do we choose to stay committed to our friends even when they change or their circumstances change? How do we choose to cheer them on and not leave them for more convenient relationships? If they move away, stay in touch. If cancer strikes, don't abandon them. Pray them through the hard times, and actively participate in their lives. It's not convenient, but we decide to commit to them. And, we shouldn't be absent when they succeed but celebrate with them.

Is there a moment in time when you move on from a friendship? Of course. If that friendship is destructive, by all means confront the situation, get help, and move on if it can't be resolved. God never intends for us to be abused––mentally or physically or spiritually. Seek help, don't stay if the other party doesn't change. We shouldn't stoop to their level, instead forgive them and walk away.  Paul moved on from a relationship that couldn't be worked out. It hurts, but God will fill the void.

I confronted such a relationship in my life. After many years of trying to work out an unhealthy relationship, I walked away. The person wouldn't come to the table to work it out. I chose to not allow it to rob me of my joy. I knew I had tried everything possible to restore that friendship. But, if someone constantly criticizes you, hurts you, insults you, or even tries to destroy your friendships with others, it's time to walk away. Don't let the relationship destroy you.

"Friends can destroy one another, but a loving friend can stick closer than family." Proverbs 18:24

There's the secret––a loving friend! A loving friend is a committed friend. A lasting friendship is the result of love and commitment. Happy friends. Yes! True contentment. One day, we'll meet our Best Friend face to face. Let's strive to be a friend like Him until then. If so, we'll enjoy heavenly friendships on earth––I'm blessed and thankful to have many of them.

How are your friendships changing? Do you choose your friends for convenience? Is it time to let go of an unhealthy friendship? Cling to the positive relationships––embrace, engage, and empower change.

Let's be a loving friend––a committed friend. And, let's learn from the Best Friend ever. He's committed! He never changes. He is our Best Friend Forever––literally!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crying Horse ~ Laughing Cow

Our pony, Rocky is a mirror image of this poor guy stuck in the fence. Behind him stands a cow--we don't own one, but they're all around our property. Our neighbors are dairy farmers. We've seen cows, not horses, stuck in fences. We've helped deliver baby cows stuck in the birth canal. Being stuck is uncomfortable to say it mildly. Have you ever been stuck and everyone around you seemed to be laughing at you instead of rushing to help you? What an awkward position to find yourself. What happened to get you into that situation? I'm sure this horse has a tale to tell.

What's the horse thinking now? I should have known better.  How many times do we find ourselves stuck in a fence wondering how we got there? Probably like the horse, we ventured into territory we shouldn't have. Maybe we crossed the line between right and wrong or were tempted by the larger, greener field on the other side of the fence. Where are our friends when we need help? Are they laughing behind our backs or do they have our back?

Where am I when my friends are stuck? Am I standing behind laughing, or am I giving a push to help move them to freedom from their present problem, trauma, or life difficulty. If you are anything like me, I'm still learning how to be a good friend––sometimes I fail. When someone needs a push or shove, I want to be there cheering them on, not enjoying their predicament, condemning, or standing afar hoping someone else will step up to help or encourage them. I want to step up to the fence. It's a cruel world out there––you may have noticed. Are we adding to our friends' misery or giving them a push to the other side of the fence where they can once again begin anew, free from the fences that keep them stuck?

Do we jump up and down and yell "Yay" for our friends when they succeed? If not, we should be. Everyone needs cheering and shoving from friends who have their back––whatever their circumstances. 

Are you an empath? I am. I am able to tune into the emotional experience of a person. It brings me great joy to have this ability, but it also brings me great sorrow because I feel so deeply for my friends and even people I don't know well. Do you have friends who laugh when you laugh and cry when you cry? If so, you, my friend, are blessed. Are you that kind of friend? Let's ask God to help us be obedient to His Word that says, "Laugh with your happy friends, share tears when they're down. " Romans 12:15 (MSG) 

Let's stick together so we don't get stuck in a fence. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Yawn for Your Brain

Go ahead, yawn. I won't think my blog is boring you because I know why you are yawning. Do you?

A yawn isn't a sign that I am putting you to sleep. Rather, it's a sign that your body is revving up your brain so that you can more efficiently process what I'm saying. It's actually the body's way of rejuvenating the brain so that it can function more effectively.

Research has found that yawning helps cool down an overactive brain as it attempts to regulate its temperature and metabolism. It helps us reset ourself. God has put a reset button at our disposal for our brain. He also has a reset button for our soul. We know what it is for our brain––yawning. But, what about our soul? How do we reset our soul?

It's a new year. A new beginning. Time to let go of the past and press on to new goals––maybe continued goals or even secret goals. I have a few of those myself but if I told you mine, then they wouldn't be a secret any longer.

The first few days of a new year it's easy to be revved up about our new dreams and goals or even continuing our old goals we put on hold. But, how do we pursue this journey throughout the year––maybe even years? How do we start, and how do we continue our journey to fulfill our goals––without giving up, and without burning out.

In my last blog, I challenged you (and me) to be busy––but with guidelines from God's Word. Now let's see how to be renewed so we are fruitful in our labors. Yes, a yawn to rejuvenate our brain helps reset us, but how are we renewed? How can we reset our soul? What's the reset button for our soul?

Press here...

Psalm 139:113 says, "You are my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me." Seems pretty simple––retreat to a quiet place, wait on God"s Word to renew us.

Reset: Yawn so our brains can rejuvenate and our bodies can reset––in other words, breathe deep, relax.

Retreat: Find a quiet place to be apart––revamp.

Renew: Be in God's Word and wait to hear His voice speaking to us––restart.

Result: "...And then take on an entirely new way of life––a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you." Ephesians 4:24 (MSG)

Go ahead, push God's reset button and be renewed to reflect Jesus––His character in us.