Loving One Another

Archive for August, 2012

The Color of Faith


“Under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” James 1:3 (The Message)

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I have a small, leather-bound book titled, “Daily Inspiration for our Purpose Driven Life.” Have you read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren? I have read it several times – and I highly recommend it. This little book I have now is an extension of Warren’s original book. It is a chance to reflect on the five purposes Warren defines – to reflect and internalize. Today the reading is related to topic three: Created to Become Like Christ. The challenge is to continue to grow more Christ-like even in the midst of trouble. The question is, how do I respond when I am under pressure? James 1:3 says that’s when my “true colors” show. What are my true colors? What is the color of my faith?

When I asked my prayer partner who comes to my house each week so we can have time in Bible Study, fellowship, prayer, and reflection together, she told me she thinks my faith is green. Interesting – not red and glowing, or yellow and shining, not blue and crystal clear. No, green –  –  –  green and growing. Before she came I had asked myself that same question – and my answer was the same as hers. Green! That’s reassuring.

What color is YOUR faith? Has it been truly tested recently? Have you been thrown into the fires of trouble, temptation and pain? Did you emerge with greater spiritual muscle and moral fiber which produces greater character?

Romans 5:3-4 says “We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.” 

However, Rick Warren wrote this cautionary statement, “Problems don’t automatically produce what God intends. Many people become bitter rather than better, and never grow up. You have to respond the way Jesus would.”

What color was Jesus’ faith? Fully mature, full blown, fully bloomed, a kaleidoscope of colors! Will I ever get there?

To deal with life as Jesus did, I must keep on growing! Keep on studying His Word, praying for His discernment, learning His Will for my life. James 1:3-4 says, “Let the process go on until your endurance is fully developed, and you will find that you have become a person of mature character… with no weak spots.”

No weak spots. No brown on my green leaves. No insect holes in my petals! Wouldn’t that be grand? But, life is not a bed of perfect roses, all sweet and beautiful. Look carefully! There are insects. There are thorns. Those represent the trials, temptations, pains of life. We are promised thorns! Trouble is part of living. It’s not the suffering that defines us, though; it’s our response to the suffering, our attitude toward the pain, how we deal with the bugs! 

Isaiah 38:17 “It was for my own good that I had such hard times.”

What color is your faith?

My Dog’s a Nuisance


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My dog is a nuisance, an absolute pest.

With her in the house, there is truly no rest.

She buries her bones under bushes and trees;

She begs at the table and scatters her fleas.

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She flattens my pillow and sleeps on my bed.

I awaken at night with her nose on my head.

She runs us in circles; I’m getting worn out.

I won’t be a slave for this flat-nosed little sprout!

 

Errr, pardon, excuse me? But what did you say?

You ask if I’m giving my puppy away?

You’ve the nerve to suggest you’ll take her with pleasure.

Why, certainly not! She’s an absolute treasure!

 

      This is adapted from another of those old poems that my mom cut out of the local newspaper back in 1938 and pasted to a piece of cardboard that she tacked to the inside of her kitchen cupboard door.  We always had dogs when I was a kid growing up. The first one, Teddy, a fox terrier, was a house pet. None of them after him were allowed in the house. I think it was because we moved out to the country and the dogs got too dirty. I could hardly wait when Bob & I were married to get an indoor dog that I could cuddle the way I used to sleep with Teddy. Terriers are perfect indoor pets. Not too big, very little shedding, playful, and lovable. Our TazE is named for that little bit of devil in her – and E – for the big ears. When she was a pup the ears were just about all you saw! Since then she’s grown into them somewhat, but true to her Boston Terrier nature, they still are very prominent. (The better to hear you with, my dear!) She doesn’t have fleas – that was just a part of the whimsical poem – and she doesn’t bury bones, but she does occasionally beg at the table (I don’t reward it, but guests sometimes will give her scraps before I catch them!). She does run us in circles – and chases the bunnies that live under our porch. The antelope and deer know better than to come into our yard space, too. She’s a handy little guardian!

But no, I’m not giving my little nuisance away! 

In the Mirror


In the Mirror.

Check out this blog at http://www.momentumofjoy.wordpress.com   I wish I had written it! It says so well what I feel:  NOT old! The spirit of this blog is so totally joyful. Smile as you read it and then come on over. TazE, my Boston Terrier terror and I want to play!!

 

The Source of My Light


The source of my light
Is no mystery to me.
The chords of my heart string
To the love of God’s electricity.

He charges me up
With His Word every day
So I can go out and walk
In the light of His Way.

The chords of His beams
Are not seen by the eye;
An invisible source
Is His love from on high.

It sings chords of peace.
It sounds soft and sweet.
Anyone can tap into His Power –
It’s not “cyber-cheat!”

The source of my light
Is no mystery to me.
His POWER can be yours, too.
God sends His love – FREE!

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  I love that scripture. I know that my works can give glory to God only if I am God’s servant. If I am obedient to God, He edits my life daily. He sends me His love and power so I can stand up under the weight of the burdens of this world. Just as my poem needed rewriting as I rethought the use of cords and chords, my life and my thoughts, my intentions and my actions need God’s revisions. A cord is a thing – you can see it as a line drawn from a bulb, or some electrical appliance, to its power source. But a chord is a sound – an invisible vibration sending a signal to your ear, heard as a tone. To me, that’s more like my connection to God’s Will in my life. The Holy Chord is the Holy Spirit – the spirit of God in me. I can hear its music! I can feel its Light.

May you have the joy of hearing His tones – His music – His love singing in and through you! Shine on!!

Give It Away Now!


I have an old, tattered book end. It’s quite chipped. On it is an old man with a sombrero and a donkey, moulded out of plaster of paris. I think the set probably was purchased by my parents back in the late thirties shortly after they were married. Is that old Mexican fellow feeding his donkey or is he pulling the stubborn animal, trying to get him to go where he wants him? I prefer the latter story. This old piece of “junk” is probably not worth much on the open market. I doubt I’d get a quarter for it in a yard sale. But, to me –  it’s priceless. My sister and I used to make up stories about this old fella when we were kids. It’s place of honor was on a table in the sitting room where the furniture of blond wood and red fabric was a wedding gift from Dad’s best friend. He and Dad had a bet about which of them would marry first. Dad won. The friend bought Dad a red sofa, chair, ottoman, and a table with matching blond wood. My niece has the furniture. My sister, Sally, has one of the book-ends. I have the other.

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The book-end sits on the crowded bookshelf in my living room here in Montana. It doesn’t draw much attention to itself in the spot where I have it placed, but yesterday I met the old man’s parents – or maybe his elderly cousins. Made of the same plaster of paris, painted the same hues of yellow and red with touches of green, the elderly couple were front and center on the mantle in a new friend’s home. They were sitting closely on a wooden bench, knapsack thrown to the side where he was sitting, umbrella leaning on her side. Years of living together made them almost look as if they could be brother-sister, but experience told you – no, they were a husband and wife – and if that couple could talk, they’d have 60+ years of stories to share. My eyes were riveted on them as I asked my friend if her honored couple had a story. She didn’t speak. I looked at her. Tears welled up and her voice was husky. She whispered, “Oh yes!”

“Will you tell me?” I asked.

“Do you have time?”

“For this story, I have all the time in the world,” I replied.

We took a seat on her lovely white brocade sofa. “When I was a little girl,” she began… (somehow i knew the piece had to date back fifty years or more, so her introduction didn’t surprise me)… “my dear father used to take my mom every now and then to the local jewelry store and let her pick out a piece of jewelry. My sister and I were not trusted in the store where so many pretty, shiny things were sitting at finger-tip level, so we waited (in good weather) outside the store while they went in to do their shopping. In the window of Severson’s Jewelry Store sat this carving. My sister and I called the old couple Grandma and Grandpa. To pass the time while our parents were inside, we made up stories about them. Our imaginations were wild, and we kept one another well entertained. One day when we arrived at the store, the old carving was not in the window. Mr. Severson had brought it inside. It was in a glass case at the back of the store. He said it was time to revamp the store’s windows. With a promise that we would not touch anything, our parents let us come inside and sit in front of the glass case. By the twinkle in his eye and his occasional chuckle, we could tell the store owner was eavesdropping on our story-telling and enjoying the tales my sis and I created.

“Eventually Mr. Severson retired, the store was closed, and the old couple on the carved bench disappeared. My sister disappeared at about the same time. She was twelve years old when she was tragically killed in a car accident. Mr. and Mrs. Severson came to her funeral to express their condolences. A few years later, we went to Mrs. Severson’s funeral to express our condolences to the jeweler who had become an old friend of the family by that time.

Years went by. I graduated and went away to work. I was home one weekend visiting my parents when there was a knock on the door. Mr. Severson stood there with a wrapped box. Inside was that precious carving – Grandma and Grandpa on the bench. ‘You need this,’ he said. Speechless, I hugged him. ‘It means as much to you as it does to me,’ he explained. ‘It’s time I give it away now.’

“Does it have a story?” my friend repeated my question. “What story would you like to create for Grandma and Grandpa today?”

I came home and pulled my book-end off the shelf. I looked at that old man with the donkey and wondered, is it time to give him away? Should I give it away now? Is there anyone to whom it means as much as it does to me? I wonder…

Love is an act of faith


Love is an act of faith.

This is another winning blog by Gina at Professions for peace. Three simple quotes on love that are profound in their simplicity. Do go to visit and follow her blog. She’s terrific!

Learning to Live in Contentment


It’s a New Day

Are you facing trouble? Aren’t we all? We live in a troubled world! Whether the pain is physical or emotional,  it is real. Pain is a part of life, just as loss is an inevitable part of life. How can we live with trouble and still live in contentment? Each morning we wake up to a sunrise. It’s a new day! The sun may be hidden behind clouds of gray, but it is there – and the clouds will eventually move on so that we can enjoy the sunshine. Meantime, what do we do?

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You may have read my recent blog, “Stuck on Stupid.” The picture above is the red barn where our friends walked to try and find help. As they walked the two or more miles down the dirt road to look for help, a storm brewed. The thunder rolled, the lightening flashed, and no one was home at the red barn ranch except a terribly frightened dog. My husband had driven up a one-lane dirt road and got his pick-up stuck in the mud while backing up to make room for an approaching gravel truck to pass. The good news is that we eventually got out with the help of a tow-truck and rescued our friends before they got drenched. The bad news is, we should not have been going up that road to begin with. There was a sign that said, “Road Crew at Work.” That should have been our first clue!

Sometimes our troubles come because we failed to notice or heed the warning signs along the way, and we drove right into the pain – caused by our own … (no, it’s not always stupidity – but sometimes – well, I won’t go there!).

Other times, our pain has nothing to do with our own making. I spoke today to a friend, John, who is recovering from a horrible virus that attacked his muscles. John was a talented handyman. He is having to learn to use his muscles all over again.  “I can’t even drive a nail,” he complained. How can I encourage John to live in contentment?

Another friend is in the process of helping her elderly Aunt Edith move from her home of 30+ years into a retirement apartment across the state to be closer to family. Aunt Edith was a world traveler who had a home filled with precious souvenirs from her many adventures. With no children of her own, this dear widow has no one to whom she feels she can pass along those treasures, so she has sold most of them – and is moving away from 30 years of friends and memories. The sense of loss is enormous. How can I encourage Aunt Edith to live in contentment?

One of the inspirational writers from Guideposts magazine, Sharon Hinch, approached this subject in a book of daily encouragements for your soul, Mornings with Jesus, 2012.  She wrote, “During times of significant losses, as I’ve laid down things that were precious to me, I’ve found comfort in remembering that Jesus understands loss. He set aside the glories of heaven to come to earth… ”

Hinch used one of my favorite scriptures to make her point, Philippians 4:12-13  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content. In any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”

In her Guideposts devotional, Hinch went on to explain, “Contentment sounds like such a deceptively mellow, easygoing word. But some days it takes fierce, stubborn courage to walk in it. For any of us facing painful loss… I pray for God to breathe the courage of gratitude into our hearts and keep nudging our focus back to Him.”

The key to encouraging John and Aunt Edith to live in contentment with their losses is to encourage them to live with gratitude for what they have. Live with hope for the promise of the sun behind the clouds to peek through, and with a focus on the One who understands our pain of loss – and who holds the promise for our futures in the palm of His gracious hand. It is a new day. Praise God!

Now – as far as the key to helping the ones who drive into harm’s way – on their own accord…

Heaven help us all!

Amen?

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