Cherish the moment you’re in

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What if we woke up thankful for the beauty of a new morning filled with mercy?  If we relished the fresh, cool running water we splashed on our face? if we savored every warm sip of our morning coffee or tea?

If you are like me, you too often have your mind set on the “next thing” to enjoy the now.  We look forward to lunchtime, Friday, summer.  There is nothing wrong with living hopeful and expectant.  The pity is in letting the desire for what is to come, rob any pleasure from the current moment.

If you’ve had children, you know how fast they grow.  You might have even said, “I can’t wait until she walks, talks, starts school, graduates…”  When those milestones and moments pass, you quickly find yourself wanting to reverse them, often aware that you wasted precious time.

When I am living in the moment, that’s when I am the happiest.  When I slow down and allow myself to fully tune in and participate, I thrive.

The added benefit is to others.  When I am living in the moment, slowing down and taking notice, this is when I find myself really pouring into others or at least listening to them.  When I am fully engaged, I catch things like the sadness lurking behind a smile, the worry underneath the nervous laughter or the need for a hug.

When I make it a habit to be intentional about living fully in every God given moment, I am a better person.  I find more peace and more good.

In my spiritual life, it means I’m not clicking off scriptures or praying words of repetition with no heart behind them.  It means I can bask in His presence, taking time to enjoy my heavenly Father.

This is just yet another reminder of something we already know.  Slow down and truly live in the moment.  Be present.  If we truly love our fellow man, we owe it to them and we certainly owe it to our families.

Blessings,

Lisa

Simmering pots and changing views

food-pot-kitchen-cooking.jpg“Up, up”, cried the curly blonde headed toddler as I stirred the big simmering pot of lima beans.  The scent of supper hung in the air, tempting me to perform yet another taste test.  My pallet satisfied, I turned to put away the remains of the ham I has used to season my savory soup.

I felt a tug on the leg of my blue jeans, prompting a downward glance at a vision resembling my youngest 20 years ago.

The practical, get-things-done side of me almost said, “Go play, sweetie”, but the Nana in me bursting with love for this little angel, took one look in those blue eyes filled with curiosity and I picked her up and positioned her on my hip instead.

She was fascinated by the steam coming off the pot and pointed toward it, exclaiming “Hot, hot!”.  Right on the heels of “hot, hot”, was “eat, eat”.  I guess she repeats things to make sure she gets her point across.  God does that with me.

As I held her, allowing her to touch the cool, granite counter, hold a round, ripe grapefruit and smell it’s clean citrus scent she smiled.  I gave her a taste from a small spoon, after she and I “blew it” to cool it off, and I was reminded of something.

While she stood on the kitchen floor, hearing the sounds of lids banging, water boiling, the chopping of onions, she couldn’t see any of it.  She could smell something that awakened her hunger, but she couldn’t dig in, she heard noises but she couldn’t identify their source.  From her line of vision, her viewpoint, her perspective, things were unclear, possibly a bit confusing, maybe even a little scary or unsettling at times.  Only when Nana picked her up and began explaining things, did it start to make sense.  At her age, and with her limited knowledge, things still aren’t 100% clear, but at least she got a glimpse.

Another spiritual lesson or reminder for me in the everyday things!  We can’t see the whole picture yet, the goodness God has prepared for us continues to unfold, but often from our perspective we can’t understand.  At times, our lines of vision is obstructed or clouded by unbelief.  Since His ways are not our ways, we can’t fathom His plan.

As we lean into the Father, tug on Him and say “up, up”, we begin to get a least a glimpse.  And because of His unconditional, passionate love toward us, even if we don’t understand 100%, we have peace in knowing we are in good hands.  The more we seek Him, the more we find Him.  The more we eat, the hungrier we become.

Let His word and His love change your perspective today.

The love in the No-nos

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As Nana instead of mama, I can get tickled when my almost two year old granddaughter is testing my daughter.  I have earned that right but I am wise enough to hide my laughter.  My cousin’s wife has termed it being “rascally” when she starts acting like a little stinker.  This usually happens when she is fighting sleep, but lately with the two’s looming in the near future, it happens more often.

She will go up to something she knows she isn’t allowed to touch and get her finger as close to it as she possibly can and look at you, studying your response.   There is a snowman dish that captivates her, but she knows she can only look at the “no-man”, not touch.   The other day, she touched it and took off running.

She is trying to see how far she can push before it’s too far.  What can I really get away with?  Will this really hurt me, or is mom just saying that?  What happens if I touch the forbidden?  She runs full speed ahead trying to taste, touch and see everything as fast as her little legs will carry her.  When she knows she has committed a “no-no”, she will swing those golden curls back, look at you and swat her own little behind, all with a smile on her face.

She knows exactly what she is doing, yet there is something in her that rebels.  She doesn’t always just listen and obey.  At times, she has to learn the hard way.

This morning, I was contemplating sin and temptations and how long suffering God is with us.  I am a firm believer that Jesus died for my sins, but I also believe when I committ them, I need to repent.  Daily I pray that God will search my heart and help me to live a holy, committed life for His glory.

I thought about my granddaughter’s behavior and it reminded me so much of us as God’s children.  Oh, how He loves us!

How often do we run through life anxious to see it all and do it all, and we wander too close to the things that God knows might cause us harm?  He warns us, yet sometimes we fail to heed the Father’s voice.  That seemingly harmless conversation we are being lured into might cause us pain later.  A still small voice whispers, “no-no” but we ignore the plea and carry on, like a toddler running with scissors.

Thankfully, when we fall, He is there to pick us up.  He willingly forgives the offense and loves the hurt away if we let Him.  If we are smart, for our part, we will repent and learn something and we don’t have to repeat that lesson over again. We aren’t toddlers trying to figure out who is in charge.  We do already know that God wants the best for us, and that His plan for us is perfect!  Why do we question that?  If He keeps something from us, it will always be for our benefit.  If He changes our direction, it’s to keep us on the best path.

His banner over me is love.  Maybe we can remember that the next time the spirit of God is dealing with us about something.  His no is always shrouded in love, just like ours are with our children.   It always means, I know a better way or I want a better outcome for you.  It means, I love you.  Trust that love.

 

An authentic love

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Many times I am asked to explain what I mean when I talk about feeling close to Jesus and having more than a superficial relationship with Him.  How can I say he is my best friend?  How do I know when He is guiding me in a certain direction?

When I was very young, I was taken to church by my mother and grandmother and as I grew it continued to be part of my life.  In my pre-teen years, I went for the fun and games, to see my friends and because I genuinely wanted to be good.  I wanted to do the right thing and I was afraid of the consequences if I didn’t.  Somehow, in spite of all of the lessons telling me that Jesus died for me and how much He loved me, I couldn’t wrap my head around what it meant to be in a relationship with Him.  There were times I felt more inspired than others, but I still didn’t grasp the depths of His goodness at the time.

Many years later, after multiple failures and the death of my mother, I found myself in a bad place.  I felt alone, insecure and without much hope.  As a young wife and mother, I didn’t feel like I had anything left to offer the ones I loved.

But slowly and surely, the things I had learned in my youth came back to me and the timely words of a friend reminded me that there was somewhere to find strength and peace.  I found myself thinking about God and wondering what it would feel like to run to Him and cast all my cares in His lap.  Would it work?  My mind, educated in the bible, said yes but my emotions were a wreck and my doubts numerous.

I don’t remember the exact day and time like some people do when they have life-changing experiences, but I do remember feeling like I didn’t have anything to lose.  Why not cry out to God?  I was at the end of me (and therein lies the key).  That was almost twenty years ago and I haven’t regretted my decision to fully surrender to Jesus, not one time.

On the contrary, my love for Him has grown by leaps and bounds.  He has been my friend when there was no one else who could possibly understand me.  He has forgiven me though my sin was deep and He freely gave this precious gift of salvation.  All I had to do was believe and ask and surrender my life to Him.

Has it been easy?  No, I would be lying if I answered that with a yes.  There were times I felt weak and frail when He has been my strength.  When I felt faithless and my shortcomings seem to come in droves, He was long suffering.  When my tears fell like rain, He taught me to have joy in spite of my circumstances.  When I was afraid and fearful, He spoke peace.  Making a decision to surrender didn’t make things perfect and life still had it’s curve balls to throw but now I had a perfect God to run to, Who gave strength like no other and a peace that I had never known my entire life.

Having said all that, I still haven’t fully explained how I feel so close to Him, why I am certain of His abiding presence and direction.  How do I know how much He loves and and how can I confess such an overwhelming love for Him?  Intentional time spent with Him, loving Him, getting to know Him and in the process, getting to know me.

The only way I know how to explain is this.  When you love someone (and I’m not talking about the superficial relationships this culture is wrought with), you spend time with them.  You get to know them.  You read their notes or letters over and over again because you want to discern how they really feel about you.  You’ll take the time to discover what moves them.  It’s not a “hook-up” or a “best friends with benefits” type of attraction.  It’s way deeper than that.  You put them first and even in the midst of life’s craziness, they remain a priority.  You look forward to their touch and you share with them your heartfelt thoughts and desires.  You turn to them for direction and advice because they know you so well, they are the best to give it.  You take every opportunity you can to be in their presence.  It’s intentional.

This made all the difference for me.  I went from feeling like I was outside looking in, to a beautiful, holy relationship with my Maker.

I felt inspired to share this on this beautiful rainy Sunday.  We will all have our perfect sunshiny days, but we will all also experience the rain.  Let us love Him intentionally, placing Him in the proper place in our lives.  When the rain comes, He wants to be your shelter.

 

Door number two

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Let’s face it, some days are just harder than others.  Every once in a while you wake up realizing immediately that your attitude needs adjusting and sometimes all seems well until a challenging situation comes out of nowhere.

You wake up on time feeling ready to take on the day.   The aroma and taste and just right temperature of your coffee pleases 3 of your senses.  Your devotion reaches down to touch you in the very depths of your soul and your prayer time is heavenly.

Your cereal doesn’t get soggy and your toast doesn’t burn and you find the perfect outfit on the first try.   You get out of the door with time to spare and notice that your hair looks almost perfect in your rear view mirror.

You run some errands.   Everyone is pleasant.  Traffic is light and you find a nice shaded parking spot.  You’re in a marvelous mood.  That’s a pretty easy accomplishment when everything is going your way.

Then boom, out of the blue, just like that it can all change.  The day that was so agreeable just a few moments ago takes a turn for the worse.  Sometimes its a call or a text.  At other times, it is something more subtle and sneaks up behind you and grabs you before you know what hit you.

Either way, from this point forward something shifts, the atmosphere around you that was filled with peace and hope now feels like turmoil and dread.   Your once sincere smile turns into a pinched and pained one.  Tension hovers over you like a cloud ready to burst.

It is what you do at this point that sets your course.  You can choose door number one, the one our flesh wants to chose every time, and open it up to continued strife.  You can embrace the sour mood, wallow in the unpleasantness, welcome the surly attitude and guarantee more negativity.

Or you can choose door number two, and press in to prayer and worship.  Find your strength, peace and love in Christ and let Him be your rock.  Lift your head up, forgive quickly, remember to Whom you belong and encourage yourself!  Amaze yourself (and others) in your reaction to what the enemy tried to use to defeat you.

I’m learning to choose the second approach and save myself a lot of stress and grief (and repentance).  I don’t always succeed but I can definitely say my percentage is improving and that’s a start.   Mom always said, “it’s the little foxes that spoil the vines”.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Later

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LATER

I will tell him I love him later,
I will whisper it in his ear
Not now, but I’ll do it later
He knows, but he still likes to hear

I will call and apologize later
Right now I’ll just sit and stew
It’s not my fault that she took it that way
We just have different points of view

We will play catch outside a little later
After the dishes are done
When your bedroom is back in order
Then I promise we’ll go have some fun

The frustrating thing about later
Is that later sometimes doesn’t come
So let’s do it right now and not later
Please don’t wait til’ the sinking sun

Uncharted territory

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Life is like an expedition of uncharted territory.

We start out wide eyed, confident and seeking adventure, anxious to see the spectacular sights along the way. We want to see, smell, taste, touch and hear it all to our hearts content. We don our traveling apparel and forge ahead.  We are explorers, making our way across the great unknown. We are blessed to have direction and signs along the way but we don’t always pay attention. Sometimes we choose to go our own way and end up in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

At times the terrain is flat and easy going, filled with fragrant green grass and flowers. At other times it can be cavernous, cold or treacherous. There may be perils ahead, hiding in the darkness. The mountains loom, the seas rage and the valleys can be daunting. We often travel on with scars, hungry and afraid. At times it doesn’t seem as if we will ever make it, but when we think all hope is gone, mercy shows up and alas, we continue.

Our companions come and go and we meet new friends along the way. Even in this, we must use discernment as everything isn’t what it appears to be. Some are sent by the one who would kill, steal and destroy to make us lose our way.

As the seasons change, we learn new lessons if we are wise and teachable. We are given the tools for a successful journey if we but utilize them properly.
The scenery is beautiful and changes frequently, but time begins to become more precious as it seems to pass by ever so quickly. We live and laugh and love and experience so many new things along the way. We also hurt, cry and mourn the loss of hopes, dreams, and others.

We alone can choose how we will participate in this expedition and where our journey will ultimately take us. The trip will be much more pleasant if we choose love, hope and joy; if we choose a positive outlook and have faith. If we on the flip side, approach it with negativity, dreariness and dread, we will certainly find more of that ahead.

When our final destination is looming, we become more thoughtful and realize more than ever what was really important. If we are granted more time on this earth, we attempt to impart that to others.

Time withers away like grapes on a vine and finally, our journey must come to an end. After all, we were only pilgrims passing through! Let us pray we have left someone better than we found them and shared the way to heaven with many.

Optic Flow

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At lunch today, I enjoyed warm sun, a nice breeze and fresh air; an elixir guaranteed to induce tranquility and on occasion deeper than normal thought.

The chair I was lounging in was positioned so that I could look across the creek to a more densely wooded area.  Although there is a small clearing, the foliage is pretty dense, so I have never seen much except a few birds and a lone raccoon foraging for food.  Birdsong is plentiful from that direction though and today with me having just scared all the black birds away from my cardinal feeder and scattering over there, it was exceptionally loud.

There are always multiple bird species around, but today I noticed something I had never paid attention to before.  I was watching a particular bird fly from somewhere behind me into the wooded area and I noticed that he flew into the foliage and managed to dodge branches without even slowing down.  Having just watched the raccoon pick its way along the branches and move along carefully, the difference was made all the more obvious.

So, once again, I sat amazed at the wonders of our Creator.  I googled it later and found out that birds do this by a trick of the eye called optic flow.  Optic flow is the way our eyes perceive motion as we travel thru a landscape.  It is the illusion that trees and buildings are passing us by; the greater the optic flow the more quickly things seem to be moving.  Below is a short pbs.org video, in case you are interested in knowing more.

Optic Flow Video

As I sat and thought about this, it reminded me how the bird fully trusts his Creator; he forges on ahead using the talent God gave him.  And as God cares for this little bird, He cares for me.  He sees every obstacle ahead and prepares me to meet them head on.  I just have to do my part and trust Him every step of the way.

Matthew 6:25-27 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

The Anything But Ordinary Day

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Today started out like most ordinary Fridays, with me peering through half closed eyes at the clock to check the time, then realizing its almost seven and feeling like I’m wasting the day away.  I stumbled to the bathroom and on to the kitchen for coffee.  Thursday is my Friday, so today I allowed myself to sleep late (for me) and take my time getting the day started.

Most Friday’s I do errands and this day would be no exception.  As I journeyed to town, I took the time to thank God for the beauty all around me and to ask for His mercy throughout the day.  I thanked Him for loving me and loved on Him as I enjoyed the view and the drive.  I felt such peace and such a spirit of gratitude enveloped me.  I determined in my heart that nothing would take that perfect peace away today.

I thought of a quote I had read this morning that said something about how we could be standing right next to someone who is completely broken and never even know it.  I would approach others with this thought in mind and show love.

As I drove on, I didn’t sense any agitation over other drivers or traffic.  I had a busy day ahead and many things to do, but I turned up “The Message”, sung along and resolved to do each errand without rushing and with patience and kindness.

Part of my list today included picking up some of my granddaughter’s medications.  This can be a test in and of itself because often they aren’t ready, doctor hasn’t approved yet, they require a specialty pharmacy or a compound pharmacy (all things I would have never known about until Cali).   I called the farthest pharmacy away (the compound pharmacy) and although that one wasn’t ready yet, they said they would text me when it was.  My first actual stop was another pharmacy.  The prescriptions weren’t quite ready here either, but they told me to come in and by the time I got to the counter, they would have them.  They weren’t all covered by insurance, but the cashier offered to find a coupon that saved me $20.

One of these meds needed to be refrigerated, so I bought an inexpensive cooler and ice and was on my way to grab lunch.  My hubby’s business needs required my next two stops and I found what I needed without delay and readied myself to kill time waiting on the other prescription.  But, I got a text hours earlier than anticipated and proceeded to the other place, where everything was ready.

I went on about my day and every single conversation and experience was a pleasure.  Traffic seemed to be waiting to give me the best spot in line; everyone was kind and helpful and returned my smiles.  At my last stop, I talked to lady who was busily stocking shelves and she gave me a much appreciated compliment and then at the checkout I got to hear a story about a man who is helping build homes in earthquake devastated countries.

I left there with a grin on my face and the realization that today had been an extraordinarily good day; a day filled with peace and laughter.    Many days are filled with impatience and agitation.  Some “errand Fridays” I complain about traffic, rude people, long lines and anything else I can think of.  Today, I didn’t!

Yes, I know that all days aren’t amazing and bad things happen, and we are faced with trials and troubles.   However, I also know that how you approach your day makes a big difference in the outcome.  Oh, the problems are going to show up.    It’s how we deal with them that matters.

If I mediate on and implement the scriptures that say “love is patient and kind and long suffering” and the ones that say “think on good things” and “say things that edify others and build them up”, I know without a shadow of a doubt my day is going to go better than if I gripe, grumble and complain and look for the bad.  If I meet others with a long face or a scowl, guess what I will probably get in return?  If I greet the day with a grateful heart, thankful that I am saved by grace and given this precious gift that comes with such amazing peace I am much more likely to stay on the positive side of things.

As I sit here, errands done and the day winding down to a close I am thanking God again for His many blessings and for this anything but ordinary day.

Slow and Sure or Fast and Faulty?

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Like much of the time spent in my car, I had my music on low, enjoying my time alone with my Father.  Driving down one of the major roads in my area, I was again touched by the beauty that we pass every day, often taking for granted.  I thanked my Creator once more for the profound splendor He freely bestows on us daily, if we just take the time to notice it.

If you live in SW Florida during season, (Jan/May’ish), you know what it’s like to be at the end of a very long caravan of cars on a doubled lined, two way road with plenty of curves and no hope of passing.  The little green bug at the front was going all of 40 (in a 55) and I decided to just fall back and enjoy the drive.  Yes, I could start passing one of the 10 cars at a time, or pass on a double line like the maniac in front of me with a death wish but I know from experience that the best thing to do, in order to retain my peace, is to keep my distance.  I remembered someone saying how they had passed every car on this road, only to see those they passed pull up beside them at the first red light. Slow and sure won out.   This decision was likely influenced by the fact that I was in the midst of prayer at the time.

I looked ahead and saw a couple of older gentleman standing on the side of the road, waiting for the procession of cars to pass.  I slowed down even more as I noticed one of them, who just couldn’t wait another second, begin his jaunt to the other side.  He had a fishing pole in one hand and a tackle box in the other and he practically skipped to the other side.  I chuckled at his very apparent excitement to get to his fishing perch.

His friend however, stayed motionless on the side of the road, likely realizing I was the last car in the line.  He would just wait and take his time.  It might take him a little longer, but he would get there safe and sound.  I looked in the rearview mirror as he cautiously ventured out and across the road at a leisurely pace.

It may seem silly, but it warmed my heart to see these aged men out enjoying themselves on a beautiful day.  Watching them made me think of how some of us are like the first man, always running out ahead, leaping out in faith that we’re on the right path, anxious to move forward and arrive first.  This is great, but sometimes we find ourselves in a dangerous situation because we bolted ahead and didn’t think things through.

Others are like the 2nd man; we might be in pursuit of the same goal, but we approach it more cautiously, we wait for just the right moment and the best conditions and then we slowly and carefully progress, eyes wide open for danger.   But, could this cause us to miss out?  Doesn’t the early bird get the worm?

For a few moments, I focused on trying to ascertain which man used the best method to reach the goal.   I think I am little of each but I think I often tend to be more like the 2nd man.  My desire is to be as sure of the outcome as possible, before I venture out.  My goal going forward is to be a little more like the 1st man and just jump right in sometimes, especially in matters of faith.  Where faith is concerned, I don’t want to wonder and ponder; I want to dance to the other side knowing Who is in control.

I found myself unable to pick an all-out winner though because either scenario could serve us well, dependent on the particular circumstances.  One thing I do know;  in this case, they both arrived at their intended destination, with their bodies and equipment intact.

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