Saturday, March 24, 2018

What Is Your Yardstick?



I read an article in the Reader's Digest recently by Clayton M. Christensen, excerpted from the Harvard Business Review. The last point he made really struck me:

"Choose the right yardstick: Don't worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success." {emphasis mine}

And for some reason, I don't think he was talking about financial or personal success. I think he was talking about something near and dear to me: helping others. At the end of time, when we all stand before God and give account for our decisions, do you really think He will want to hear about the amazing investment you made in the stock market? Do you think He will want to know how many outfits you had? How many properties you acquired? How many speeches you made? How powerful you became at work?

I don't think so. I think He will want to hear how you dealt with your friend who needed you when her marriage was falling apart.

I think He will listen with rapt attention when you tell Him how you brought groceries to a newly single mom who couldn't feed her children.

I think He will want to hear about the elderly woman you helped by taking her to the grocery story because she cannot drive any longer.

I think He would LOVE to know about how you gave of your time and talent to help those in need. You can't take things with you. You CAN take relationships.

Our lives are not meant to be lived in isolation. We are a communal people. (Not like commune, like community!)

Acts 20:34-35 says, "You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

When I started writing, it was mostly for therapeutic reasons. I needed an outlet for my frustration, pain...for all of my feelings, good and bad. I never imagined what it would turn into: a vehicle to meet amazing people from all over the world, a place where I can encourage and be encouraged, and most importantly, something that has opened my eyes to the true meaning of the body of Christ.

The body of Christ is not the same as the church. It used to be. The body of Christ can be anywhere. And the body has many parts. Many of you have become the hands and feet of Christ in MY life, and if not in mine, in others'. Thank you for that.

The body of Christ consists of people who love God and want to do what's important to Him. And that is taking care of people. What did Jesus say was the most important commandment? Love the Lord with ALL of your heart, ALL of your mind, ALL of your soul, and ALL of your strength. And what came next? Love your neighbor as yourself.

Who is your neighbor?

Anyone you come in contact with.

How do you treat yourself? Are you fed? Are you clothed? Are you warm? Are you in good company? Are you content? Are you safe?

So should our neighbors be. What can we do today to love our neighbors as ourselves?


Friday, March 9, 2018

Time Passes On



“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.  The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” Earl Nightingale

I suppose I could have changed this quote to something a bit more personal: I won’t fear the time that passes just because I have an incurable disease. The time will pass anyway; I might as well put that passing time to the best possible use.

Even though, praise God, I am doing so much better now (except for this blasted sinus infection!), there are still so many things I wish I could do.  There are even more things I want very badly to do, but because of Myasthenia Gravis, I am not able.  But you know what?  I’ll never give up.  I’ll never give in.  I feel like I might as well try to do something good with my time; it’s going to go by… whether quickly or slowly, it will pass.  So why sit and pout and be miserable?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have my moments.  Ask my husband.  I have a pity party now and again, and I suppose I “boo-hoo” from time to time.  But I’d like to think that overall, my attitude is primarily positive.  You see, I have HOPE.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. Yes, you read that right.  I would NOT be here on planet earth any longer if I didn’t believe there was more.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’” John 11:25 NKJV


So if I die, how can I live?  Seems a bit oxymoronic, doesn’t it?  But friends, it is true. There is no truer truth in the entire world. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross so many years ago on a hill called Golgotha, when I die in my physical body, I will finally and truly be alive!  I will be pain-free, perfect, healthy, and never shed a tear again.  Oh, Glory!  Do you understand that?  Do you KNOW Jesus?

He has changed my life.  Living with a debilitating, chronic, neuro-muscular disease is not a lot of fun.  There are many times I’m not happy. But the JOY that lives in my heart! Oh, the joy!  Beloved of God (and that’s YOU, yes, you….anyone reading this!) I am able to have joy and peace in my very soul because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God gave up His one and only Son to die on a rugged cross so that I, so that you, might live forever with Him.  All we have to do is choose to say yes to His incredible offer of hope!

“They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:16-17 NKJV

Please read that again. God Himself will wipe every tear from your eyes.  That is heaven, my friends.  That is what we get to look forward to. Thank you, Jesus.

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’
Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”  Revelation 21:3-5

Hallelujah!  Again, God is saying He will wipe our tears! Do you know what that means to someone like me who lives with chronic pain? With many, many tears?

In the Old Testament, the tabernacle was the earthly house that God lived in.  In the book of Exodus, God gave Moses and the Israelites very specific instructions on how to build it. Because the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness, this large “house of God” was able to be moved from one place to another while the people traveled. But not just anyone could go into the house of God.  Specifically, the Holy of Holies, where God's presence literally dwelled, was only accessible to ONE man: the High Priest. 

So in Revelation 21:3 we read that the tabernacle of God (His home) is now with MEN! God Himself will dwell with us!  He will be with us. He will be our God. And He WILL wipe our tears.

I have had this disease called Myasthenia Gravis for over 20 years now.  I was 25 when I had my first symptom. It has taken a lot from me.

A LOT. 

But one thing it can NEVER take from me is the hope I have.  Hope for a future, in heaven, with God…

Pain-free.

Perfect.

Healthy.

Whole.



Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala: A Book Review


Lawrence.  Timiney.  Rich.  Robin. Kaitlyn. Alex. Toni.

These are the seven people that you will meet in the book The Rescuer by Jim Cymbala.  I have not previously read anything by this author, but if this book is any example of his work, I might just find something else of his to read!

In, The Rescuer, Jim Cymbala tells us the first person stories of these seven individuals.  These are ordinary people with ordinary lives, who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, whether at their own hand, or at the hand of another. They dealt with things like disease, addiction, alcoholism, the victim of rape and sexual abuse among others.

And all of these people have something else in common other than their troubles; they needed help, and they needed it now.  Desperate people, desperate for a Rescuer.

Robin is the granddaughter of Jewish emigres who now live in Brooklyn, NY.  Although her father was never really in her life, her grandfather raised her until her mother remarried.  While Robin was in high school she started experimenting with alcohol and drugs; that behavior continued in college, and then one day her parents called telling her that her grandmother had a heart attack and she needed to come home right away...  I don't want to say much else because I don't want to ruin the rest of her story.

Toni's story will break your heart.  But I promise you'll want to see how it turns out.  If you've ever struggled with heartbreak, addiction, sexual abuse, illness, this book will encourage you and inspire you to hang in there until Your Rescuer comes through for you.

You can purchase this book on amazon HERE
Or at ChristianBook.com by clicking HERE

I hope you check this book out.  It's really, really good, and it's a quick read.
I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

His Eye Is On The Sparrow


     
photo courtesy of the spruce
One of my favorite things about living in the country is that we get to watch so many birds.  Out the front living room window we have a bird feeder and another one in the dining room window right behind my chair.  In the winter we put suet out front, and in the summer we put out hummingbird feeders. A couple of years ago we even had Baltimore Orioles build a nest in one of our pear trees.

     When I lived in the city, about the only birds I saw were sparrows and blackbirds, and sometimes a robin.  Sparrows would always build a nest behind our basketball hoop on the garage; it was the "safest" place they could find.

    Out here...there's everything.  We also have blue jays, (stay away from their babies!  They will take your head off!) bluebirds, which I had never even SEEN before, sparrows, robins, and woodpeckers... and these giant things that LOOK like red-headed woodpeckers, but are really red-bellied woodpeckers.  They are about a foot tall and LOVE our cedar trees out front.  We have like 4 or 5 different kinds of woodpeckers.  They are really cool.  We also have nuthatches...they walk down the tree head first toward the feeder.  It's hilarious!

     I love the tiny chickadees.  They are so cute....and in the summer we have barn swallows, which I love, and yellow finches.

      But on the birdfeeder outside our dining room window, we have a Mafia ring.  One little sparrow, who isn't even the biggest of the sparrows let alone the other birds, is like the "Godfather".  (Or would that be God-feather?) Sorry, couldn't resist.  Seriously though....this little bird will sit up there and scare away anyone he doesn't want on the birdfeeder.  He has chased after other birds that didn't "listen", and makes a fuss when other birds land, even BIG birds...and scares them away.  It cracks me up.

     We have several pairs of cardinals this winter.  The bright red birds in contrast to the stark, naked branches and white snow is breathtaking.  But the males always get the attention because they are so bold.  The females however, at a distance, look drab and boring.  But when you see them up close, they are really beautiful.

     Some people in this life have the male Cardinal personality...like me.  We tend to hog the attention because we are bold and show up and say "HERE I AM!!!"  There are many however, like the female cardinal, that if you keep your eyes open, you see their real, genuine, heart-stopping beauty.  I'm sure we all know someone like that.

     My best friend Linda was like that.  She was truly beautiful on the outside as well as the inside, but she never drew attention to herself.  Whether she was just content to let me have the spotlight, or just didn’t want to compete for it, I don’t know.  Linda passed away just over nine years ago. And my heart is still broken.

     Anyway. The other day I was watching dozens of birds come and go, and even scratch on the ground like little chickens for the seeds that have fallen out of the feeders.  And I thought, “God is watching these little sparrows.  He takes care of them, He loves them...and I KNOW He laughs at the God-feather.”

     In Matthew 10:28-30 it says, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (emphasis mine)

     We don't need to be afraid of the things in our lives that we can’t control.  I know I want to be like the little sparrow that kind of “controls” the order of things.  But I am not in control of this life.  God has control, and I’m very grateful for that.  It means that I don’t have to fear chronic illness.
 
     We don't have to be afraid of that mean boss who has it in for us. We don't have to worry about how we are going to pay our bills; we don’t even have to worry about death!  God loves us, and takes care of us.  If God takes such good care of a sparrow, which were sold 2 for a penny, how much more does He love and care for us? 

     Whether you believe in God or not, He believes in you. He loves you. He wants to take care of you.  Even more than the sparrows.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs called, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow:”

1.    Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
o    Refrain:
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
2.    “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
o    Refrain:
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
3.    Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
o    Refrain:
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.



Friday, March 2, 2018

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children: A book review


If you know me, you know that my son is not quite an adult yet (although he *thinks* he is sometimes!), but I figured it's never too early (or too late) to start praying Scripture over your child.  I freak out a little (okay a lot) over thinking about Jacob as an adult, quite frankly.  So I thought I better get started now.

Jodie Berndt has a real winner here.  In a practical, personal way, the author gives us varied situations in which we might need specific prayer for our adult children. These categories cover their health and well-being, their future relationships, jobs, and more.  Ms. Berndt gives examples of praying Scripture, one of THE most powerful prayers anyone can pray over another. 

Because I have suffered from depression and anxiety, I can relate to praying for emotional and mental health both for myself and my family.  A HUGE part of dealing with mental illness is dealing with the stigma of it.  Sometimes it's very difficult to share with others the *real* reason we need prayer, whether it's for ourselves or others.  But in chapter 13, for example, one of the author's prayer principles says this:  "When you pray your child through a mental or emotional illness, don't let shame or fear keep you from enlisting trusted prayer partners to help carry your burden." pg 195, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children.

Then you could specifically pray 2 Timothy 1:12 (paraphrased to fit your situation)..."When our family suffers, let us not be ashamed. Instead, let us be confident in your ability to guard whatever we entrust to you, including our child's emotional health." (pg. 205)

When I got sick, my mom immediately started praying.  She has a group of precious women she has been meeting with for nearly 30 years!! Whenever I needed prayer for *anything*, physical OR mental, I would call my mom and ask "her ladies" to pray.  Never, ever underestimate the power of praying God's word!

I would recommend this book for anyone with children in their teens or later.  Although as I said, it's never too early to start praying over your children.

You can purchase the book at Christianbook.com by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received this book at no cost in exchange for my fair and honest review.