Monday, August 29, 2011

What's In Your Faucet?

Recently, I was cleaning my kitchen sink when I noticed the sprayer by the faucet had some kind of build-up on it. I don't use the sprayer all that much. I guess it was build-up from the chemicals in our wonderful city water. 


Anyway, I took my sponge and wiped the holes on the sprayer. Then I scrubbed them. And yet the residue remained.


So I turned on the hot water and let it run through the faucet. When I moved the sprayer under the running water from the faucet, the remaining residue just seemed to vanish.


Water washed water (residue).


The water outlet that had a cruddy build-up needed water to cleanse itself. Of course it couldn't use the water from within itself to cleanse itself. It needed water from a nearby source.


Our Loving Lord used this to remind me that we can't cleanse ourselves of the crud we let come into our lives. Oh, we can start the process. We can make some good choices to remove some bad stuff that we let get caked up on our minds and our souls. But we can't do it completely alone. 


We need each other!


Sprayers filled with crud need faucets flowing with clean water. Our crudded up sprayers might be bad habits, spiritual misguidance, poor choices, or many other things. The water from the faucets might be a one-on-one conversation of accountability, a note sent in the mail, a phone call, a listening ear without a talking mouth, a shared scripture verse, or even a confrontation or intervention that helps the sprayer realize how much crud is there preventing the free flowing of their spiritual water into other people's lives.


Little Lesson Life Expression
Are you a crud-filled sprayer or a cleansing faucet? If you are the sprayer, will you place yourself in the cleansing flow of an accountable faucet near you...or find one through a local church if you don't know of someone who can help you clear the crud? If you are the faucet, is your water turned on? Are you available to those who need the cleansing assistance that you can provide? 



Ezekiel 16:9 (AMP)

Then I washed you with water; yes, I thoroughly washed away your [clinging] blood from you and I anointed you with oil.

Ephesians 5:26 (AMP)

26So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word,
   

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Which Necklace To Wear?

In my day job, I manage a great group of people. One of my responsibilities as a manager is to provide one-on-one monthly feedback. Usually this is very easy as my team does their job very well.

One morning I was getting ready for work and picking out the jewelry I would wear that day. It was a one-on-one day. I reached for a necklace and grabbed two at one time. One was a cross. The other was a heart. The necklaces were intertwined. As I unwound them, I tried to decide which to wear that day. 

A heart or a cross.

That month I had some difficult discussion planned. Some of my team members needed to step it up. I wasn't sure how they would respond. Would they argue or would they accept? Would I communicate well enough to help them improve where they were weak? 

My necklaces reminded me that I needed to communicate with a heart and I needed to trust my Loving Lord to give me the words to say. The cross reminded me my strength comes from the Lord and through His strength and compassion I could both say the right things in the one-on-one and coach these individuals to success.

In my strength alone, I would have failed.

Little Lesson Life Expression
Is the cross your strength? Is your heart showing the love our our Loving Lord? Is the cross intertwined with your heart?

Psalm 145:8 (AMP)
The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Are You Taking Care of Your Roots?

Our front yard is ... dead ... or more accurately, it's non-existent.  


It simply brown weeds, brown spots of a little grass, and bare dirt.


That's right. We are in a drought here in North Texas. Hadn't had rain in weeks or maybe months. I'm not sure. I lost track.


However! My neighbors on either side of me have beautiful green lawns. Same town. Same drought. Very different results.


So I got to thinking ... Why? Why the difference?


There's one big difference and that is both of those lawns have sprinkler systems. Buried beneath the surface of the lawn sprinkler systems. Deep rooted sprinkler systems. Sprinkler systems that most likely have timers so they are watered consistently.


Sprinkler systems that can bring steady streams of water to the soil and keep it healthy even in times of drought.


Our yard does not have that. Our yard has a hose and a portable whirlybird above ground sprinkler that sporadically sprays water in a hit and miss fashion depending on where we place it when we remember we need to do that.


Neither of us had ever been accused of being an environmentalist but we apparently did our part this year to conserve water during our drought. No. Not intentionally. But once we realized the yard was a lost cause for this year with these record high temps and no rain, we let it go. (We are determined to have a good yard next year. Any volunteers to help us lay the new sod???)


Recognizing the difference in our yards ... got me thinking ... more.


Isn't the Christian life somewhat like that? 


When we water our faith just occasionally, in a hit or miss fashion, we aren't very strong when we enter periods of high heat/pressure and drought. We seem to die off if life is tough.


When we water our faith consistently, with steady streams of Bible study, fellowship, and prayer, our roots are strong and steady and we are able to withstand the high temps and the drought. The deep rooted system continues to supply the 'stuff' we need to continue to grow and even thrive in tough times.


Little Lesson Life Expression
How deep is your faith's root system? Are you planted in soil (a good local church) that continues to nurture you and provide you water even in the toughest conditions? Or are you merely getting water here and there and letting your soil dry out and die? If you aren't firmly planted, why not visit a Bible teaching church near you tomorrow? Why not starting watering your roots right now?


Jeremiah 17:7-8 (The Message)
But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
   the woman who sticks with God.
They're like trees replanted in Eden,
   putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
   never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
   bearing fresh fruit every season.



Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Well Was It Just A Penny?

Earlier this year, we filed a protest regarding the value of our home as it's appraised for tax purposes.


Why?


In an economy where all I hear is "housing values are dropping", our had gone up. Gone up considerably. It didn't make sense.


I had asked a neighbor if theirs had gone up. "Nope." So I started researching and found that our house was 'valued' at over $8 per square foot more than the average around us. Most houses around us had gone down an average of $3.24 per square foot over the past two years while ours had gone UP almost $4 per square foot.


I knew we had to protest. When Dave Lieber, watchdog reporter for the Ft Worth Star-Telegram said on May 26 that the deadline was May 31, I got busy. I filed an online protest form. 


Then I waited.


Finally we got the notice that our hearing with the appraisal review board was scheduled for Monday August 8.


And I prepared. I pulled the comps for my neighborhood. I calculated comparisons for based on square feet. I ensured some had a pool like we do. I practiced what I wanted to say. I prepared a printed presentation to share with the board. I arrived early. I was polite. I thanked them for taking the time to hear me. I did a lot of things right.


But the most important things I did right were....


1) I prayed. I prayed leading up to the meeting. Prayed for the board panel members. I prayed for the county representative. Prayed that I would stay calm and represent my family well. (I had to go alone as the hubby had to work. Some people actually hire lawyers to go to these things for them.)


2) Remember that penny from the other day? That was a 'little thing' that had to be done right. It was one little thing I could be faithful in.


I presented my case, our case, and asked for our appraised value to be lowered to be in line with my neighborhood. My request would have reduced it by $5.99 per square foot.


The leader of the board asked the representative from the county for his side of the protest. His first words were "I'm not ready yet" which brought a chuckle. It was clear that our Loving Lord had allowed me to present our case in such a manner that he had to consider our data.


After a long, long, long silence and a bit of clarifying chatter, the county guy looked at the leader of the board and said...


(I love this by the way...love hearing these words from a-n-y-o-n-e)


...he said...


"She's right"


My how I wish I could have seen my face. :-)


Then he gave a market value that was even less than what I had asked for! It even surprised the panel members. Thankfully they all agreed and voted to accept the county's new value.


I know it's crazy to get excited about the value of your house going down .... but come on ... this value is what determines how much we have to pay in property taxes ... and property taxes ain't cheap here in Texas.


My first thought, I'm ashamed to say, was "Yay! I fought City Hall and won!"


Then I came back down from the cloud I was on and realized that two things had happened.


1) God had answered my earlier prayers for calmness on my part and open ears on the part of the county and board.


2) God had honored my faithfulness over one penny with a monetary savings on taxes of tens of thousands of pennies.


Little Lesson Life Expression
What do you need to place in our Loving Lord's hands today? What are you trying to do in your own strength instead of His? Are you being faithful with what He has already given you?


Luke 6:38b (Amplified Bible)
For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you.



Saturday, August 06, 2011

Is It Just A Penny?

Did you know that Mickey D's sells any size drink for just $1? With tax, here locally, that comes to $1.08.


Did you also know they have pretty good sweet tea?


Well, for a while I picked up this (perhaps bad) habit of stopping and getting a large sweet tea on my way to work each morning. To make it easier to move through the drive-through line, I carefully counted out $1.08 which I withdrew from my change bowl. I then placed this money in my cup holder until I got to the restaurant window after ordering. Time to pay...dump the contents of the holder into my hand and pay the cashier.


One morning I carefully counted out my $1.08, got in the car, looked in the holder....and saw a penny laying there. The ONLY time I put money in this holder is when I'm going to use that money to pay for my tea. That meant the penny had to have been from the day before. I must have accidentally shortchanged the cashier.


Now "normally" I go to the same Mickey D's each time. However, the day before...they day I must have made this mistake...I went to a different one. The one I normally go to had an extremely long line so I went to the next one along my route. As an FYI, I have at least three to choose from between my house and work.


So what to do now? 


It's just a penny, right? And several times, before I had started counting my money out each morning, I had paid with a dollar and a dime and told them to put it in the charity thingy. 


If I go to the Mickey D's I normally go to and say "Hey, here's $1.09. I shorted the other store a penny yesterday" they'd go, "HUH?" and it wouldn't help balance their books anyway.  


Would the other store really care if I take them their missing penny? It's just a penny, right?


I knew the struggle wasn't about the income of the restaurant chain. The struggle was about something we don't talk about much anymore. The struggle was about right and wrong. The right thing to do, since I was stopping at "a" Mickey D's anyway, was to take the lonely penny to it's rightful owner.


No one would ever have known if I had chosen to do nothing. 


No one...no one but...no one but me...no one but me and...me and my Loving Lord.


I knew the right thing to do and I had a choice to make. 


A) Do I go the easy way and stop at the store I normally stop at and just keep the penny? It's just a penny, right?


B) Do I go the almost easy way and stop at the store I normally stop at and give them the penny with or without an explanation? 


C) Do I go to the other store, order my tea, give them $1.09, and say "There's an extra penny. I think I shortchanged y'all yesterday when I was here?" leaving the poor cashier completely confused?


I'll take option C, please.


It's just a penny but it's a penny that didn't belong to me. Until this moment, only me and my Loving Lord knew this happened and only me and my Loving Lord knew what I did. I did go to the other store. I did pay $1.09 that day. I did tell the cashier about short-changing them the day before. I don't know what our Loving Lord may do with that. I don't know if a small act of integrity will impact the life of a drive-through cashier. But I do know that I know that I took one opportunity to do the right thing and I believe my Loving Lord will honor that.


Little Lessons Life Expression
What small decisions are you facing today? Will you take the easy way out or will you do the right thing? Will you trust our Loving Lord to use your faithfulness to Him and your integrity to possibly touch another life? Will you be faithful in the little things?




Matthew 25:23 (Amplified Bible)

23His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the blessedness) which your master enjoys.





Monday, August 01, 2011

Are You an Air Church Member?

I had flipped the radio to a country music station but forgot that I had done that. The music was mindlessly playing in the background. Suddenly I heard an interview with a group that had a song playing on this station. It sounded like "Air Church". 


Hmmmm...I'd never heard of them...So I looked down at the XM Radio screen and it said "Eric Church"  Ahhh yes! I was on a country station. I remembered now.


But it got me thinking!!!


Air Church. Like air guitar, right?


Many people play air guitar. They hold their hands like they have an invisible guitar and they move their fingers on one hand like they are playing chords and strum the invisible strings with the other hand. It really 'looks' like they are playing the guitar and I'm sure they "hear" the music in their head. Hand them a real guitar and they have no idea what to do or how to make real music come out of it.


I think many people play "air church" as well. They learn all the motions. They learn all the right words to say. They know when to show up at the right place at the right time. Yet they do not know the real Reason for church. Hand them a Bible and they have no idea what to do with it or how to get something out of it. They play church just like the air guitarist plays his 'music'.


Little Lesson Life Expression
When we attend Church, are we attending in true corporate worship, praising the One who made us and lived and died for us? Or are we going through the motions, seeing whose there and who sees us? Are we willing to give up our air church for real worship?


Psalm 22:24-16 (The Message)
 22-24 Here's the story I'll tell my friends when they come to worship,
      and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
   Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
      give glory, you sons of Jacob;
      adore him, you daughters of Israel.
   He has never let you down,
      never looked the other way
      when you were being kicked around.
   He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
      he has been right there, listening.

 25-26 Here in this great gathering for worship
      I have discovered this praise-life.
   And I'll do what I promised right here
      in front of the God-worshipers.
   Down-and-outers sit at God's table
      and eat their fill.
   Everyone on the hunt for God
      is here, praising him.
   "Live it up, from head to toe.
      Don't ever quit!"