Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Busy, Busy, Busy!


photo courtesy of The New Professional
 
I truly cannot believe how BUSY everyone is! I can't believe how much people take on. It's like the busiest, most exhausted person wins! But wins what? Lost relationships? An ulcer? No sleep?

I have to admit, I use to be a busy person. My illness slowed me way, way, WAY down. TOO "way down" if you ask me. But it really makes me treasure what's important. I guess if there's one thing I'm thankful for in regard to having a chronic illness is that I try not to take important things for granted. I ask myself.... Will this matter a year from now? What about 10 years from now? It may matter an HOUR from now, but does it have ANY lasting value?

Here's a big shocker, folks, hope you're sitting down.

It's not a competition.

If you get everything done on your list of 17 things to do today, but had no contact with a true friend, or helped no one, or didn't pass on a kindness to a stranger, then did today really matter?
I KNOW I can't be the only person on the planet who genuinely cares about people, and will make time for what's really important. But that's the key. You have to MAKE time. My theory is that if it's important enough, you'll find time for it. You find time to watch your favorite program. You find time to eat dinner. You find time to go shopping. You find time to read a good book. You find time to ______. And I'm still preaching to the choir, because there are many times that I could spend with God, that I choose to do something else...watch TV, read, etc. We just have to prioritize.

Some folks genuinely have busy lives because they ARE taking care of others; a sick friend, an elderly parent, a down-on-their-luck neighbor. And bravo to you! But don't forget that even in doing all these "Good Things" you can still be too busy.

In our world of immediate gratification, it is important to learn to slow down. I have had to by force. But it really has made me step back and see that so many of us are, or were, just like crazy little ants running around and going and going and going.....

So please. Take a minute to stop today. Stop and spend a few minutes in complete silence. Stop and spend a moment in prayer. Stop and just breathe! Stop and drop a card in the mail for a friend, or a shut-in at church. Stop, and ask your pastor what you can do to help. Everyone is “busy”.  However, if something is important enough, you WILL find time for it.


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Spectacle of Glory: A Book Review

What a remarkable book.  What an incredible woman!  Joni Eareckson Tada, for those who are unfamiliar, broke her neck diving into a lake she had dove into hundreds of times growing up.  But the last time, it was different.  She was only 17 years old, broke her neck, and immediately became a quadriplegic. Joni went from being on the cusp of all that life has to offer to the brink of death in one dive.  One action that she had done so many times before.

Now, Joni has been wheelchair bound for about 50 years, and she is my absolute hero.  She has inspired me on so many days when I didn't want to get out of bed. But I think, if Joni, who has to wait for someone to help get her out of bed, to help her use the bathroom and get dressed, and can still sing for joy to the Lord, I certainly can.

From the book on December 10 on page 371: "Christians often try to forget their weakness; God wants us to remember it, to feel it deeply. We want to subdue and free ourselves from weakness; God was us to rest and even rejoice in it!"

Now I can see resting, even though it's very tough to do, but rejoicing because I'm weak? That's a tough one. I used to curse my dependence on my husband and others, but slowly, I've realized that it's only when I'm weak, when I'm dependent on God that I am at my strongest.

Joni helped to teach me that. This is a daily devotional with a Scripture reference, a devotion from Joni, and a prayer.  I would highly recommend this book for anyone with a chronic illness.  It is available now in stores, or on amazon.com and other book vendors.

The prayer from Dec. 10: "Father, you know my heart. Even after all these years of weakness, it never becomes easy to accept. It never feels natural to have someone do for me what I would so much rather do for myself. Even so, I praise You today for every weakness that keeps me leaning on the power of Your Mighty Son, who loves me and gave Himself for me."

Wonderful reminders that God is always with us, and He always loves us.  Great devotional!


Friday, January 13, 2017

The Least of These




I saw a show on TV the other day called I Survived. I love this show...it has story after story of people who beat the odds and survive the most dangerous, horrible, unimaginable circumstances.

This particular episode had a story about a missionary in Haiti. He was from California. He lived in Haiti at least 6 months out of the year, running an organization that helped the needy (pretty much 90% of the population in Haiti). He worked with people in the slums, in the ghettos, and in the gangland.

One night he was driving through some gang territories to bring a small child to an airport to get him to the United States for eye surgery that would save his vision, possibly his life. Suddenly gunfire broke out all around him. He himself was shot, although the child was uninjured.

He was being kidnapped for ransom. The gang members asked for $300,000. The missionary had to laugh; he tried explaining he was a missionary, his organization had no money! Eventually he was released for $3000.00, and was able to bring the child to the United States for surgery.

I saw how these people lived. I saw the cardboard shanties and the nasty water. Now these people definitely qualify as "the least of these."

But you don't have to go to Haiti to find people in need. If the Lord calls you there, great!  But the "least of these" are all around you.  You just need to have the eyes to see them:

The woman whose husband just walked out on her and their children, leaving her a single mom working 3 jobs to keep her children fed and clothed.

The soldier's wife, raising a baby alone while her husband is overseas, serving our country.

The homeless man you pass on the street every day on your way to work. Have you ever really seen him?

The elderly man with no family left. No one to visit him. No one to cheer him up in the old folk's home.

The chronically ill. Those who can't leave their homes without help. The shut-in. The sick. The imprisoned.  You may be the only “Jesus” some people ever know. If someone is homebound, or in a nursing home, they can’t get to church.  They don’t hear the Word regularly.  They may be totally alone in this world. YOU could make all the difference.

It’s not always comfortable to do these things.  You may need to go out of your comfort zone a little.  Or a lot.  But if God is calling you to do it (and according to His Word He is), prepare to be uncomfortable.  

How comfortable do you think Jesus was on that cross?

What you do (or don't do) to “the least of these”, you do unto the LORD Himself.

Matthew 25: 40 “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it unto Me.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Anything But Lukewarm







So I've been thinking about this article for a few days not sure how to get it down. You KNOW I'm preoccupied when I can't get words out! My mouth has been getting me into trouble my whole life! Being the youngest of five, many of my siblings and I had the same teachers.  On my brother and sisters' report cards, it would say something like, "Lori is an excellent student; if she would just speak up and participate a little more in class."

On MY elementary school report cards, it was pretty much all the same: "Kerri is an excellent student...Now if we could just get her to stop talking so much and be a little less social!" Ha! What can I say? I love words! The spoken word, the written word...love 'em all!

One thing I don't love...in fact, I would  go so far as to say I HATE it: People who won't make a decision. Not people who CAN'T for whatever reason, but WON'T. And I'm not talking about the polite "I don't care where we go for dinner, where would YOU like to go?"; although this can get annoying if you have 2 parties involved who keep doing this....like the cartoon chipmunks, Chip and Dale. "After you!"
"No, after you!"
 "I insist..." Blah, blah, blah.

So what I want to encourage you to do today is live with passion. And I'm not talking about romantic love, either, before anyone goes THERE. 

There are over 200 synonyms for passion in my good ol' Synonym Finder. (No, I won't list them all!!) But think about it. If you lived with fierceness. If you made a decision with vivacity! If you woke up today and said, I am going to live with earnestness.

I'm saying that even if your body doesn't cooperate, even if your finances won't facilitate, make up your mind to make a difference! All you need is your heart and your mind. Have enthusiasm!

When I worked in the trucking industry, we sometimes had to make decisions in the moment; ours was a very fluid job, always changing and moving quickly.  So we had this expression, "Pull the trigger."  If I had to make a decision on whether or not a driver could start heading back to town when he was 200 miles away knowing we didn't have all of our usual customers scheduled yet, that would be a "pull the trigger" moment. It might work, and it might come back and bite me.  But the waiting was just not conducive to profit. 

SOME decisions require prayer, and seeking godly counsel.  I get that. That's Biblical, and it's important.  But MANY decisions can be made... Choices that you KNOW are right for YOU. Don't linger.  Don't meander in the in-between.

Pull that trigger.

I know there are a lot of people out there, myself included, who are going through not so great things right now. But DECIDE. Gather up every ounce of courage you have, and live with PASSION!

Think about what drives you. Concentrate on what moves you. Choose something positive to focus on. And LIVE! 

Many Christians are lukewarm.  About them Jesus said,
 15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Revelation 3:15-17 ESV (emphasis mine)

Now those are some passionate words!  Do you love Jesus?  Act like it!  Speak up!  If someone asks you about your faith, tell them about it.  Tell them about the passionate Jesus who died for them.   You can't do salvation half way.  You can't be lukewarm!  If you want to make a commitment to Jesus, then JUMP in and do it.  Don't be a Christmas and Easter Sunday Christian. 

Jesus was a passion man.  He felt deeply.  He loved without reservation.  He gave up His very LIFE so that others could live. 

Today, be brave.  Make that decision. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

You Carried Me: A Book Review

Book Cover photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Melissa Ohden was 14 years old when she discovered she was the result of an unsuccessful abortion.  Yes, you read that right.  Melissa was adopted after a saline abortion failed to kill her.  This book is an incredible memoir of a life determined to be lived.

Melissa Ohden was adopted; a fact she had known her whole life.  What she did NOT know, until she was 14 years old, was that her birth mother had a saline abortion to try to terminate her life.  Four days after the abortion process started, her birth mother delivered a baby that she was told was dead. Melissa's maternal grandmother was the nurse that delivered the baby and attempted to cover up the fact that the baby was very much alive.

A kind nurse took Melissa (whom they nicknamed Katie Rose since she obviously wasn't given a name), to the NICU where she continued to grow and even thrive.  She had NO physical scarring from the attempted abortion.

"A saline abortion is performed by injecting the caustic saline solution into the amniotic fluid that surrounds an unborn baby in the second trimester. The baby breathes in the fluid, which burns her lungs and scorches her skin, causing her to die within several hours. The mother then goes through labor to give birth to the dead baby."  http://liveactionnews.org

Melissa's miraculous story is told in her book, "You Carried Me", just released today. The fact that she survived this horrific procedure is miracle enough; the fact that she has NO physical scars is beyond astonishing.

Melissa tells of her search for her biological parents, her own parenting adventure, and her faith in God that always carried her through. This book is truly inspirational.  For anyone who has ever doubted their reason for being here, I highly recommend "You Carried Me."

You can find this book here:You Carried Me  

Or here: Barnes and Noble

Friday, January 6, 2017

Failure





If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose; for this thing we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down.-Mary Pickford

Sometimes I catch myself...."I feel like such a failure."

Usually it's when Jacob needs something I can't give him (physically), or my house is a mess and I just don't have the energy to clean it. Or even that I really wanted to get the dishes done, because that's one thing my husband really likes; that the dishes are clean.

Well, when I read that quote this morning, it really encouraged me! I thought, I guess I can never really fail then, because I just don't have it in me to "stay down". God gave me spunk, that's for sure. So that same tenable spirit that enabled me to fight when I was physically dying is the same one that's keeping me going now.

That same obnoxious, bumptious attitude I had when I was younger that really annoyed some of my teachers (and probably my parents) is the same fortitude with which I now fight my battles.

Jon Sinclair said, "Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo." Think about that for a minute.  What happens when you get a bruise?  It hurts.  It turns colors and can look really bad. Sometimes bruises can look WAY worse than they really are.  But you know what?  They fade. They always, always fade.  Failure is not permanent unless you stop trying. 

It cannot brand you unless you let it.

So I can say this to you my friends. I will not fail. If failure means lying down and giving in, I promise you that will never happen. I just don't have it in me. And I have God to thank for that, because that's the way He made me. He knew I would have this battle to fight later in life, and He gave me all that I needed to fight it from the moment I was conceived.

I could NOT do it alone, however. I need His strength to resupply that tenacity when I'm running low. I need my husband and son to encourage and love me through the hard times. And I need YOU, dear friends, to continue to spur me on, to pray, and to just be there. Thank you for that.

So I say to this day, to this week, to this life: BRING IT!

I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3