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Choose life

Deuteronomy 30:19 – “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live “

Yesterday was the anniversary of a friend of mine’s car accident. This accident left her with significant injuries that require 24 hour nursing care. I didn’t know her at the time of the accident. But yesterday, the reality of it all just kind of hit me (so to speak). 

She has been dealing with all kinds of issues for nine years. And do you know what she said yesterday? “I should have a party because I died, but I lived.” That statement makes me want to cry. She wasn’t down about her condition or feeling sorry for herself because of all that she now has to face. She wanted to have a party and celebrate the fact that she chose life. 

Before we accepted Christ, we were all in that dead state. We really didn’t know how to live. Oh, we may have had a good time and did some fun and crazy things, but we weren’t truly living. Real life, true life only comes through Jesus. Walking in His ways brings true joy, true life. 

I see all that my friend goes through and all the challenges she faces and I wonder “why?” Why does she have to go through all this? Why did this happen to her? And then I remind myself that the reason behind it all is not my burden to carry. God has a reason for all of it. God has a reason that He wanted her to live. God has a reason that He wants me to live. 

You know, the day that we accepted Christ should be a day to be celebrated every year. It is the day we chose to live. Days may get murky and problems may seem to be sweeping you out to sea but always remember this – You have chosen to live. So live today, princess. Live in each and every moment. And don’t just live for yourself. Live for the One who gave you life – Jesus. 

A little cup of water

Psalm 100:1-5 – “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”

Yesterday, my daughter and I were at the coffee shop. There were several people in there but one in particular caught our eye. She was about a year old with this big round face and chunky little thighs. She had four teeth and was being quite vocal. She wasn’t crying but rather babbling and just being happy.

As we waited for our drinks, the lady who was with this little bundle got her drink and asked for a little cup of water. The barista handed her this super tiny little cup full of nothing but plain, pure water. When the lady brought it over to the little girl, her eyes lit up. She was so excited. The lady began to give her the water out of the cup and oh my goodness….the child was elated! She was squealing with delight. She laughed. She smiled at everyone. Her little arms were going everywhere and her little feet were pumping. She was happy all over – because of a cup of water.

When was the last time you were that joyful over a cup of water?

When was the last time you were that joyful about anything? Let alone anything simple.

We get excited over big things. Things like an upcoming vacation or a nice gift or a good grade achieved on a hard test. But rarely, if ever, do we get excited about a cup of water. Why is that? Why are we so mature that we don’t show our enthusiasm? Why are we not serving with gladness?

We have so much to be joyful about. We have so many blessings to be thankful for. We should be ridiculously glad. It is easy to let our day to day life seem mundane and boring.
We were having some fun the other day at work. A coworker of mine is trying to stop drinking soda. She had had a really challenging morning after a great day the day before and she was ready to head to the comfort of her cola. We had such fun laughing and talking about releasing her from the hold of the devil that he had through her soda. Great fun and laughter yet spiritual truths were being discussed.

Princess, I want to encourage you to live gladly. Take joy in the little things. Choose to be happy. Life is too short for ordinary and mundane. Now, I’m not encouraging you to go crazy over a cup of water but maybe be thankful you have clean water that is refreshing and healthy. And I pray that in amongst your day, you laugh and be joyful. God has given us so much that we should let everyone know where our joy comes from – Jesus.

Attitude of Gratitude

Colossians 2:6-8 – “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”

Thanksgiving is two short days away. I love to cook Thanksgiving dinner. But, oh my, with work, running my son to soccer and laundry, I’m just praying to get it all done this year. I just got my 20 lb. turkey in the brine this morning. The bread for the dressing is drying. But there is still a lot to be done.

And then there is “Black Friday”. The insanity of it all is wild! Stores are opening on Thanksgiving day just for the almighty dollar. How sad! Their employees don’t get that special day with loved ones. They have to be at work. And for what? For somebody to get a present that may or may not be appreciated and that may or may put them deeper into debt.

Oftentimes, we loose sight of Thanksgiving. It gets gobbled up by Christmas every year. I think part of the reason that the world does this is so that we won’t remember and recognize all that we have to be thankful for. Because in doing that, we realize that we don’t need as much and then we don’t buy as much. And then I loose sight because of my preparation for the meal. In trying be and do it all, my thankfulness goes out the window.

Our pastor reminded us Sunday of some little notecards that had been left in the vestibule at church. They said, “What if you woke up tomorrow morning with only the things you were thankful for today?” I’ve heard that little question before but never really took it to heart. There are days when I would have a lot and days that I would have nothing at all.

One year I did a thankful journal. I think I’m going to do another one next year. It seems to me that by purposefully writing down what I am thankful for each and every day helps to keep my heart in an attitude of gratitude all year long.

You know, Christ lived a life a gratitude to the Father. He knew His time on this earth was limited and He wanted to make the most of it. The world tried to take His attitude of gratitude away. He knew the power of gratitude. He knew that it holds the key to humbleness and love.

With gratitude and thanksgiving comes a realization that you would be and have nothing without Him. There is no way you could love without Him. The job you have, the car you drive, the food you eat, the home you live in – all are blessings from Him. And even when things are sparse or poor, He still is blessing you in some way – you may just have to look a little harder for it.

So, as we face the two days before Thanksgiving, my challenge to you is this – be thankful. Be grateful. Let the distractions fall away and choose to see your blessings. And then, thank Him. Because without Him, we would be nothing.

Happiness and Joy

Psalm 146:5 – “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God”

Happy, happy, happy. We all want to be happy. But is happiness what we really want or is it something else?
“If I just had _________, I would be happy.” (Fill in the blank)

Webster’s 1828 dictionary describes “happy” like this:
Happy comes from a Welsh word that means: properly lucky, fortunate, receiving good from something that falls or comes to one unexpectedly, or by an event that is not within control. To be any degree of happy, we must be free from pain both of body and mind; to be very happy, we must be in the enjoyment of lively sensations of pleasure, either of body or mind.

Happiness is based on something. For example, I am happy this morning because I got a good night of rest. Life is good. But 10 minutes from now that happiness could be gone because my son won’t get out of bed. See how my happiness is based on something. Happiness is based on the happenings of a moment. One moment may be total bliss and the next total chaos. One minute we choose to follow after Christ and the next minute we jump off the path to chase a rabbit.

James 1:2-4 – “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

Joy. Now, joy is something a bit different. Webster’s 1828 describes “joy” this way – Joy is a delight of the mind, from the consideration of the present or assured approaching possession of a good.
In my crazy mind, I see joy this way – happiness, contentment and hope all wrapped up in one neat little ball. Joy is being able to find good in yuck. Joy is being able to find a shred of happy when someone dies. Joy has hope in the future. Joy is knowing that no matter what, God has got this.

Princess, you are going to have happy in your life. And you should also have joy. These two like to walk hand in hand. But sometimes when happy goes away, joy steps up to the plate and brings us a new friend – hope. And hope reminds us that one day all this pain and suffering and hard times will go away. And we will be left with an eternity on streets of gold where we will be with our Father always. Hope reminds us that happiness may go away but our joy should never fade because we are a Princess and that means that our Father is the King.

Lessons from the beach – Part 2

Psalm 33:6-9 – “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”

The other night, my husband and I were standing out on the balcony of our room looking at the moon and watching the ebb and flow of the ocean. It all worked so perfectly together. It was a cloudless night. The reflection of the moon on the water seemed to go on for miles. It was so bright that you could see the swirls in the water between the waves crashing on the shore. It truly was beautiful. Actually, it made me cry just watching it.

Why would the ocean going in and out make me cry? Well, first of all, it takes very little to make me cry. The “Titanic” movie was one tissue box after another! But the reason for the tears this night was two fold. One, I was so grateful for all my blessings. I had my family with me by the beach. We were enjoying one another’s company. The weather was amazing. We all know Jesus as our Savior. The list goes on and on.

But the other reason for my tears was this: There were so many people looking at this same sight without the appreciation of God’s handiwork. They see the ocean going in and out. I see God controlling the waters so that the land isn’t overcome. He brings it in at just the right time for the turtles to get on the beach (that’s another story). He takes it out at just the right time for the boats to head out to sea. I mean really, what stops the ocean from running all up on the land like in a tsunami? Yes, I know, the moon controls the water. But who controls the moon? I know the answer to that one as well. God! Yet on this night, it dawned on me how many people can look at God’s creation and not see God. I can’t look anywhere and not see Him. How can they do that? My heart was broken.

The psalmist wrote in this chapter “let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him”. How can you not? I don’t get it.
But do you use your amazement in His creation to express your awe of Him before others? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I need to be more faithful to praise His name before others. And not just people at church. I need to express my awe in Him to people at work, in my neighborhood, at the grocery store. Every where! It needs to be as much of my existence as breathing. The very last verse of the very last Psalm says this: “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 150:6)

Princess, today, make it your goal to praise The Lord. Praise Him at least once to as many of the people you come in contact with as possible. Everyone if you can. And take a moment and admire His hand in creation. Find something unusual today that shows His majesty. How do we know there is a God? All we have to do is look out our window. Praise ye The Lord!

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Romans 12:15 – “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

It has been a long last few days. I have flown across the south and driven across the state. But it was worth it. We laid my uncle to rest this last week. His body couldn’t take it.

But let me tell you, the celebration of his graduation was awesome. Hundreds of people came out to show their support of my family. It was beautiful. My uncle had an amazing impact on people. He was the kind of man to show up at any and all times. He came to celebrate weddings, graduations and births. He came to pray during trials and tragedies. He was there to support during games and lessons. He gave of himself, his time and his love without thought.

My cousin spoke at my uncle’s funeral. He said that uncle was known for saying, “It’s just what we do.” That has stuck with me the last few days. “It’s just what we do.” We fly across the land to be with our loved one who is mourning. We spend hours in prayer for someone who is in the midst of a trial. We call or text our friend to let them know that they do not walk this path alone. We go to celebrations to encourage the celebrator to treasure the moment and learn from the experience. So many times we find ourselves doing for others. And for what reason? “It’s just what we do.”

Jesus encouraged us to love and support one another. To rejoice when other followers of Christ rejoice and to mourn when they mourn. We are on this journey together.

So today princess, show your love to someone. And don’t do it for recognition or fame. Do it because “it’s just what we do.” Uncle would be proud.

“Show Jesus” by Jamie Grace

I have been listening to Jamie Grace a lot lately. Have you ever heard any of her songs? They are spunky and upbeat and singing about Jesus. Great stuff! She has a song out that seems to be in my head most mornings when I wake up. (Well, one of two songs are usually there. I’ll tell you about the other one some other time.) It is called “Show Jesus”. LOVE IT!!! Here is the chorus:
I gotta tell you that I like the way
Any time anywhere any place
It’s written all over your face
The way you love Jesus
And it always speaks to me
A little joy with a touch of peace
It’s so inspiring
The way you love Jesus

It makes me think of this verse: Matthew 5:17 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
You know, you can show people Jesus without speaking a word about Him. Check out the first verse of the song:
Your smile’s always shining out
And they know what it’s all about
It’s not hard for them to figure out
The way you love Jesus
You know love is what they heard
And you didn’t even say a word
Ain’t it funny that’s the way it works
When you know Jesus

True, true. Just your smile to a downtrodden person can show them the love of Christ more than any sermon they may hear. Oh, they probably still need the sermon but start by opening the door. No one wants to listen to a sourpuss Christian.

So today princess, I want to encourage you to first, listen to the song. Check it out. Dance a bit. Listen to it multiple times and sing along. Then, go out there and show people Jesus. The multitudes are waiting for the joy you have in your heart. Start by showing Him to one person at a time.