Monday, August 31, 2009

Can You Learn To Say It?

I wonder where it went. What happened to it? It used to be so prevalent.

Take for example this conversation:
Me; “I bought you some of your favorites and put them in the cooler”
Them: “That’s fine.”

Or perhaps:
Me: “Can I get you some iced tea or something else to drink?”
Them: “I’m good.”

Or this one:
Them: “I love your shirt. You look great in that color.”
Me: “This old thing?”

And finally:
Them: “I haven’t seen you wear that skirt before. I like it.”
Me: “Well I found this 75% off rack at the store and it was originally….”

What happened to the simple “Thank you” or “No thank you”? Why is “that’s fine” a valid response when someone does something nice for you or compliments you? Why is the hip response to an offer of a drink “I’m fine” instead of “No but thank you for offering”? We used to be more grateful and thankful as a society.

If we find it hard to tell each other “thank you” I wonder if we are ever giving our Loving Lord thanks! When He blesses our lives, do we just say “That’s fine?” When He offers us His love and even salvation through his Son, do we respond, “I’m good?” When He cleanses our hearts and other’s notice His good works through us and tell us we have a good heart, do we blow it off with “What? This old thing?”

Little Lesson Life Expression
Will you commit to making the words “thank you” part of your active vocabulary? When someone does something nice for you, offers you something, or compliments you, will you sincerely thank them using the words “thank you”? Will you take time out of your busy day to call someone and provide them a long overdue “thank you” for their impact on your life? Most importantly will you thank the most important influence on your life, our Loving Lord? Will you thank Him for all He has done and continues to do in and through your life?

Psalm 136:1-3 (The Message)
Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
His love never quits.

Thank the God of all gods,
His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
His love never quits.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How's Your Communication?

“You know, I meant to send him an email this week.” Dear Hubby was disappointed in himself. We have a friend whose dad is not doing well and may be in his final days here on this earth. “I wasn’t sure what to say because I can’t imagine what he’s going through.” He was right. We are both blessed to have both of our parents still with us and in pretty good health.

I told him that sometimes all we can say is “I’m here if you need someone to listen and I’m praying for you and your family.”

Just letting someone know you care is often more important than the words you say. In fact saying words can sometimes be more harmful than helpful. I’ve been in two conversations recently where the two people were trying to let me know they care about me and are here for me but the words ‘of clarification’ cut to where the hurt really lives and put me on the defensive. Thankfully I knew both of their hearts and I was able to move past the details and accept the love and concern they each were sharing.

Others will avoid talking to someone who is hurting because they indeed don’t know what to say. The downside, or unintended consequence of that, is that people think you don’t really care.

In this age of electronic communication, we often try to take the easy way out and shoot off an email because it’s quick, easy, and basically free. Just like prayer.

Oftentimes it’s easy to shoot off a prayer in passing hoping that our Loving Lord ‘catches’ what we are trying to say.

I wonder what kind of an impact you would have on the person you are trying to encourage if you took a few minutes of your time and a few dollars out of your wallet and stopped by the card store and picked out a “just thinking of you” card and sent it to them. Wouldn’t that show that you are honestly interested in them and in their life?

Our Loving Lord wants the same from you. He wants you to stop and chat with Him “spend” some of your time with Him.

Little Lesson Life Expression
Did you start your day with a good quality conversation with our Loving Lord? Or did you dash out the door with a quick “Let’s go Lord! I need lots of help to get through this day”? How do you think your day would be different today if you would had spent more time with Him? What about that friend that needs to hear from you today? Have you called them yet? What will you resolve to do differently tomorrow regarding your relationships?

Galations 4:7 (The Message)

Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you're also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What Game Are You Playing?

I'm an addict.

I admit it.

But ... it's all my parents fault.

Yep! It's true. Here's how it happened...

We recently went on a family vacation to North Carolina. Dear hubby, me, my son and daughter-in-love ... Mom and Dad ... my brother along with his wife, four of their five grown children, their daughter-in-love and two grandchildren.

I had one goal while we were have great family fellowship playing many games of Rook. It's a long-time family tradition to play Rook. Rook is a game that I only get to play when I'm with my extended family because dear hubby doesn't play. And it takes four people to play.

Before we ever reached our mountain retreat, Mom told me about a new game they were playing. I mentally blew it off because my number one game to play with these family member is ... Rook! I wasn't interested in learning to play any other game.

So we got to the cabin. I got to play a game or two of Rook but I kept losing my normal players to this 'new' game. I had to check it out. It's called Rummikub. I watched for about a half a minute and figured out exactly how the game was played...and I was hooked. I played the game every chance I got while we were at the cabin. We even went out and bought another Rummikub game so we could have two games going at once. We brought the second game home with us.

Then we got home and hubby had to go back to work and our son and daughter-in-love went to their home. There was no one to play with. But I was addicted and would not be defeated in my quest to play.

I found the ultimate playing companions...on the Internet. There is actually a site!!! All Rummikub, all the time! So I play. And I play. And I play. I play unless I'm working, sleeping, writing (which I need to do more of) or eating (which I need to do less of). I'm hooked. I'm addicted.

Just as I found these new-found online playing partners ... the Rummikub website went bonkers! You couldn't get on. Their servers were messed up. If you could finally get on and get in a room to play, you'd freeze and get kicked out and lose the game!!! Like my friend Robin, I don't like to lose!

What do you do when you can't do what you want to do???

Perhaps you rethink your priorities. Quit blaming others for your choices. (It's not really Mom and Dad's fault that I choose to play too much.) Admit your addicted to the wrong things. Set things straight in your life with the help of our Loving Lord.

Ouch. I wish I wouldn't step on my own toes. It hurts.

Little Lesson Life Expression
What is eating up your time today? How should you better use the gift of time our Loving Lord has given you for today? Is there a gift you need to get out and use? Do you need to _____(fill in the blank with your gift or talent such as: bake, write a note on an actual piece of stationary to a friend, call and encourage a friend, go visit...) to bless someone He has put in your path? What's stopping you? What are you addicted to? What do you need to do less of so that you can do more for Him?

Matthew 25:45 (The Message)

"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

Monday, August 17, 2009

What Are Your Eyes Seeing?

“Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see,
Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see!”

I love this song. Many of us learned it when we were growing up. I hope they still teach it to preschoolers today. It’s a simple concept, right? Don’t look at things you should not look at.

I’m thinking maybe we should also sing this song in Sunday morning worship (big church). As big boys and girls (in other words men and women) today we have so many opportunities to see things that we should not see like porn on the PC, sex on the TV, and R-rated movies.

But what about the things that you can’t protect your eyes from? Like when you walk down the middle of the mall and you see a girl that is almost dressed? Or a person who lives an alternate lifestyle ‘acting out’ in public in a restaurant where you are eating? Or the angry almost violent conversation between two neighbors that you see as you are working in your yard? Or worse yet, anything like this being done in your own home?

I’ve been thinking of this lately because of some personal events as well as some movies that I’ve had the ‘privilege(?)’ of seeing recently.

We need to remember that our Loving Lord does see everything we see. He sees everything we do. He sees what seeing does to our minds as well. He knows better than we do the devastating, lasting effects of visual imagery.

“Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see”
“Oh, be careful little ears, what you hear”
“Oh, be careful little feet, what you go”

Little Lesson Life Expression
What are you letting your eyes see today? When our Loving Lord looks through your eyes does He see things that are pleasing to Him? Or do you cause Him to want to look away? Are you acting in such a way that when others look at you they can do so safely? Or are you having a less than positive impact on their minds? Will you choose to honor our Loving Lord with your eyes and your actions today?

Psalm 17:7-9 (Contemporary English Version)
7Show your wonderful love. Your mighty arm protects those who run to you for safety from their enemies. 8Protect me as you would your very own eyes; hide me in the shadow of your wings. 9Don't let my brutal enemies attack from all sides and kill me.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What Do You Need To Water?

I received a small plant as a gift a few months back. Since neither one of my thumbs is green, it's leaves promptly withered up and died.

The leaves died but the core of the plant ... it refused to die.

As you can see in this picture, the stem of the plant is, well, green.

I have been watching this plant daily for weeks. I touch the soil and if it's a bit dry, I water it. From the bottom as I learned to do many years ago with an African Violet that refused to die. The African Violet always had leaves that came back to life within a few days.

This little guy, however, has not yet provided me with any new leaves. All I have is the green stem and the little bitty almost-leaves at the top. I'm sure if you looked at my sweet plant, you'd advise me to let it go and die in peace. NO! I think this plant will eventually have full-sized leaves again. I will not give up hope on it. I will continue to check on it each morning and water it as needed.

In life, we all have things that need nurturing. Marriages, children, careers, friends, our relationship with our Loving Lord. Many times these things suffer from neglect and wither up. They may even look like they are so close to death that they are not worth the effort to try to save.

Yet with some loving care and close attention they can make a come back. You just need to invest a part of yourself in the nurturing of the relationship.

Little Lesson Life Expression
What relationship is suffering from neglect in your life today? Have you lost, or given up, hope that it will ever come back? How will you nurture that relationship today? Will you make the changes you need to heal your marriage? Will you provide tough love to your children? Will you take the coaching that your manager has been trying to give you? Will you call that friend that needs to hear from you? Will you open your Bible, read some, and ask our Loving Lord to restore your relationship with Him?

Ezekiel 17:8
It had been planted in a good field by abundant waters in order to produce branches, bear fruit, and become a splendid vine.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Are You Responding To The Call?

I have a friend that is very special to me. She walked with me through some very rough times. I haven't heard from her in ... years.

I call her every year on her birthday. She doesn't answer the phone. I leave a Happy Birthday voice mail. She does not call me back.

I miss her. She lives too far away for me to pop in for a visit. Lately I've really wanted to have one of our chats. She always seems to know how to help me keep things in perspective whether we are talking about work, church, marriage, kids, or whatever.

I don't know why we've lost touch. I don't know if I did something or said something that hurt her. Or perhaps she is just too busy for 'old' gets that way sometimes. Or worse yet, if something has happened to her where she doesn't have the strength to communicate. I pray it's not that.

No matter what, she is special to me and I miss talking with her.

You are special to Someone too! There is Someone that wants to talk to you every day. Wants to hear from you throughout your day.

Little Lesson Life Expression
How long has it been since you 'called' our Loving Lord just to chat? Is He calling out to you just to get your 'answering machine'? Are you returning His calls? Have you been hurt by another believer so you are giving Him the silent treatment? Why not call out to Him right now and let him know your hurts and disappointments and reconnect with One who loves you no matter what? ... He already knows your thoughts anyway :-)

Psalm 66:16-20 (Contemporary English Version)

16All who worship God, come here and listen;
I will tell you everything God has done for me.
I prayed to the Lord, and I praised him.
18If my thoughts had been sinful, he would have refused to hear me.
19But God did listen and answered my prayer.
20Let's praise God! He listened when I prayed, and he is always kind.

Are You A Faux Pas?

I'm a walking, talking fashion faux pas.

Fashion and me just do not get along. Recently, I managed to coordinate a blouse, necklace, and earrings. I looked nice. Even had on some eye shadow and mascara. (I rarely wear makeup.)

By way of a compliment, a friend said, "You know what you need? A bracelet! That would finish it off nicely!" Finish it off. I was more coordinated than you've seen me in over a year and I still needed to "finish it off."

Actually I'm a cheap walking, talking fashion faux pas.

I don't 'get' spending high dollars on clothing and accessories. I buy almost everything on the clearance rack. I don't see the differences in diamonds versus cubic zirconia. Sorry!

Anyway, because of the above, I got really excited when I found a little store in our mall that sells 'jewelry' and nothing in the store seems to be over about $20. I had recently bought four new tops and really wanted to try to get the right accent pieces to wear with them...out of character for me but I thought it might be good for my 'image'. So I found four sets. Each had a necklace and a pair of earrings. None were over $7 for the sets. Each matched one of the tops I had bought.

Over the course of a week, I wore each top and matching items to work. Got many compliments. This week, however, I started to wear one of the necklaces with another outfit. I looked closely at it as it was laying next to some other necklaces that had been bought for me as gifts and were of much better quality. This 'new' one looked cheap. Well, it was cheap.

I was suddenly embarrassed and disappointed that I had let people know that I had a new favorite store at the mall and it was the one that sold this jewelry.

Cheap imitations that take the place of the quality-made real thing.

Many times we do the same thing with our faith. We don't want to take the extra time to find quality Bible teaching and true worship so we settle for the first thing that comes along that fits our budget and sense of worship style. Because of the lack of quality, we accessorize our walk with cheap imitations of what our Loving Lord really wants for us. We become walking, talking, spiritual faux pas.

Little Lesson Life Expression
What value do you put on your spiritual image? When people look at your spiritual image, what do they see? Do they see a real, genuine, faith-filled life or do they see some cheap imitation of what our Loving Lord wants for you and for them? Will you invest some of your time today to get to know Him better and to let Him accessorize your life with the fruits of His Spirit?

Galatians 5:22-23a (The Message)
But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Are You A Burden Bearer?

While drying my hair this morning, I noticed the small frame on the wall.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Thinking of the struggles I've faced recently, I said, "Loving Lord, how? And why? Even with your strength I don't know how to continue working through these issues." Continuing to swirl the hair dryer around my head, I was pondering my questioning attitude when I was reminded of the verse in First Corinthians 13,

Love bears all things."


I can do ALL things...Love bears ALL things. After getting dressed for church, I checked my email. One of my daily e-devotionals reminded me of Psalms 103:8 (NIV);

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love."

In The Message it reads,

God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he's rich in love."

Ouch. Not easily angered. Ummmm. Anger is often my reaction to dealing with some of the issues in my life.
"Loving Lord, I'm not sure I can. Not sure I can be gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abound in love in my own strength. I'm human you know."

And quietly I was reminded I don't have to do it alone.

Not only is our Loving Lord there for me, other people are too. You may ask "who"? Other Bible believing actively practicing believers. How do I know? Galatians 6:2 (HCSB) says

Carry one another's burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

I like the way it reads in the Contemporary English Version:

"You obey the law of Christ when you offer each other a helping hand."

It goes on in verse three:

"If you think you are better than others, when you really aren't, you are wrong

Little Lessons Life Expressions
What are you struggling with today? Will you recall that in our Loving Lord's strength you can get through it? When you think it's too much, will you remember that love does bear all things? Are you utilizing the gift our Loving Lord gave us and sharing your struggle with a small group of strong believers that can 'offer a helping hand' and help you 'carry your burden'? If you are the trusted friend, are you carrying that burden with love and backed with prayer?

Galatians 6:1-3 (The Message)
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.