Saturday, March 26, 2016

it's the little "I love you" that matter most!

Yesterday I was in a hurry running errands. I stopped in a photography studio to pick up some books that I had left there and a little girl of about four years of age ran up to me. She was all dressed up to (I presume) have Easter photos taken of her. "Look at me!" she exclaimed, "I'm a Princess!" and she twirled around so that I could see her pretty skirt and leggings that had glittery flowers on them. I smiled and replied, "yes you are!" With that, she hugged my leg and smiled up at me with such adoration, then took off to twirl some more. I then finished my errand and left. That incident has stayed with me ever since. 

Adulation. We all crave it, I don't care what age you are! But how many of us dole it out? It IS free, you know, yet we hoard giving it away as if we will never get any of it back. But give it away, I tell you....just give it away with all of the sincerity that you can! Believe me, when you give it away, it is received with so much's price is greater than all the gold in the world! People are starved, literally STARVED for affection and when they get it....they will hold on to that for a long time!

A gal I have known for almost 30 years is now a caregiver to her ailing husband. She told me that it is so hard on her. "What I miss most," she said, "is hearing 'I love you' from others. I don't hear that and I NEED to know that I have value...or am I just his nurse?"

We ALL have roles to play, be it parent, friend, caregiver, oh...and how about HUMAN BEING? Now THERE'S a role worthy enough.....yet we don't say "I love you"...we don't show someone they are valued, even if it is a child who thinks she is a princess. Or a co-worker who is having a bad day and just needs that quick hug and a soft, "you've got this!" Or an aging and ailing parent who is waiting for their grown kids to say, "thanks, dad...for everything!"

Life is short...don't wait to hand out praise at the funeral! it now, while the recipients can respond!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

when have you forsaken Christ?

"My God! My God! Why has thou forsaken Me?"

These words, uttered by Jesus while on the Cross, magnify that He was not only the Son of God...but also, the Son of Man. He had feelings just as we do. He laughed, He also cried. He healed, but He also walked the same journey that we also walked. He felt pain, yes...but it was His example of how He dealt with that pain that should be our inspiration as well.

At this time I am also reminded though, of Peter. Of his journey, of his faith and yes, sadly, of his temporary lack of it. Peter is so much like every one of us. When Peter denied Jesus three times, did Jesus think, "Peter! Peter, why hast thou forsaken Me?"

To forsake something or someone means to give up on them, to distance oneself, to literally abandon them. What a scary thought. Like a child, lost in the supermarket crying out, "mommy!" Like a child having a nightmare, crying out, "daddy!" Like a child who is frustrated with life, crying out, "I can't do this anymore!"  That child, even for the fraction of a moment it takes to be soothed, it feels forsaken. Sadly again, many children never have that comfort, though they may spend a lifetime seeking many ways, destructive solutions take over. Drug use, alcohol, toxic relationships. And once more comes that cry..."Someone, please....anyone! Why have you forsaken me?"

This can be seen from the opposite side as well. When someone is crying out in need, do you help...or turn away? Do you see the need and alleviate it, or walk away and allow it to fester? For every time you walk away, you have not only forsaken that person, you have just also forsaken Christ!

"I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'…  ~Matthew 25:43-45

When the Jews at the time cried out for Jesus' crucifixion, they gave up on Him. When Jesus took that agonizing walk with His cross, He was forsaken. How many people stepped out to help Him, even briefly? At the foot of the Cross, as He was breathing His last, who stood with Him?

And today...when YOU are asked about how you live out your faith, what do you do? How do you see Jesus today? How do you regard those who are lost...who are addicted? Homeless? In need of a helping hand? To any and all of these questions, if you feel ashamed to say that you follow Jesus, you have just forsaken Him. It is easy to be distracted by the noise that is all around you: movies that take the Name of the Lord in vain, the sex, the violence, those whose greed for money and pleasures mean more to them rather than seeking good...all of these are examples of how God has been forsaken.

"Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven." ~ Matthew 10: 32

Luke 12:8
"I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God."

Romans 10:9
"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Revelation 3:5
"The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels."

Friday, March 18, 2016

when have you offered "enough?"

who have you assisted today...whom have you lent your hand and taken from the murky waters?

It's almost Holy Week...that time of reflection and ponderings about the whole Easter story. It is said that one cannot have the joyousness of Easter morning without the whole Last Supper and Good Friday events that preceded it.

At the Last Supper, Jesus taught us with words and most important, by example. He told His disciples how important it is to "wash the feet of others" and did so Himself. But if one reads the Gospel narrative, He was not the first to do so. Remember the woman who used expensive oils and lotions for His feet, washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair? It was a gift and a sacrifice for her to do so, just as it was His final gift that preceded His own sacrifice, that of the torture and eventually death on the cross for Him.

That lead me to think about the sacrifices that we make daily. It is so easy to comfort a friend, to hug your child, to give to those that you know. The sacrifice comes when you must forgive someone who has done you wrong when you know that it may not be accepted or returned. Sacrifice happens when you help a stranger....when you offer comfort to one you may have never met before. It is always easy to write a check to a charity and put it in the mail. Yes, it is a sacrifice of sorts, but the "hands on" sacrifice means more, when you actually see someone who needs you and then, you perform a service for them.

In Jesus' day, feet were extremely unclean. People then wore sandals and they walked everywhere. Roads were probably covered in the excrement of the animals who traveled it before...dust and dirt was unavoidable. I am sure their feet didn't look very pretty either, with scars laced over and under toes, sometimes feet were deformed for whatever reason. Yet there was Jesus, offering His service of washing those same feet and admonishing others to do the same. In fact, He even said that! (see John 13:1-17)  The final two verses refer to how we must humble ourselves to become exalted. Those who exalt themselves will surely be humbled, also another reference that is mentioned in all four Gospels! Time and again He told his followers that to gain something--Heaven--they must lose something, they must give away something, they must be like Him in every way. The one who questioned Him, saying how hard it would be to give up everything and follow Him was told that, sadly, Heaven had no room for that option.

How about you? It can be so easy to avoid others, especially others who are suffering. Have you seen those commercials about the starving children in Africa? How many of you change the channel? Yet we also have starving people right here in your own communities, they just are not as readily apparent. Hunger knows no country....more and more our own nation is becoming a nation of the "haves" vs the "have-nots". No matter how long you work, there is not enough paycheck to survive on. What is your response to that? Jesus said, "the poor you shall always have with you." That is not to say that it is inevitable....because when one thinks about it, if we shared out of our own bounty, those in need will have "enough." Out of my "enough," there is always room for another. Out of my time, I can find room to offer comfort. Out of my busyness, I can always help someone. Out of my efforts, another may be healed because of my efforts. "Enough" doesn't have to have a dollar just needs to have as much Love as you can offer to make another feel as if they belong.

Ponder on that as we enter Holy Week...may you find someone and offer them "enough" so that they may be filled.

Monday, March 7, 2016

a time for work...and a time for rest...

 take time to smell the roses and see how Nature is all around you!

 the Song of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

The circle of life. It isn't just a song from a Disney movie, it is true that what goes around, comes around. If you look around you you can see the circle in Nature, when the seasons constantly shift and rotate from Spring to summer, Autumn and winter. I try to see the beauty of winter, a time when everything lies dormant. It is a time of rest for the Earth as well as our souls. The harvest is in, we can now take a break and rest. A seven day week is also a circle of life in that we work, but save the seventh day for rest. Rest is always important.

I am  a go-getter. To me, the word "rest" seems so "lazy." If I'm not moving, I feel as if I am letting someone down. I really need to work on that! Or is it "rest on that?" Of course, if I mull it over at night, sleep doesn't come easy either!

Jesus gave us a the story about this. Luke 10:38-42 tells us:
 "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to himShe had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Many times I need to remind myself of this. I feel that if I don't do whatever needs doing, the world will collapse within itself. It's a horrible cycle that began when I was very young, with a mother who always called me lazy, that I would "never amount to anything!" I took that to heart. Although I did everything I could to please her, it was never "good enough." I see that in me now, that if I don't always perform, I am never "good enough."

God loves us unconditionally. When we try...and sometimes fail, He doesn't hold us up for reprobate. He doesn't say to us, "OK, heaven has a special place for you" and points out a small chair in the corner. He sees us in all of our struggles and understands us, how can He not? He made us in His image and likeness.  I think so many times we can be harder on ourselves than we think God will ever be on us. This is not a license to go out and commit sin...but rather, a gentle reminder that though we try and not always succeed, we need to just pick ourselves up and try again. But we also need to balance out our efforts with rest, giving ourselves time to see what works...and what doesn't...and go on from there.

Today, listen for God's voice....know when you need to stay on top of the ball and when you really need to just step off for a bit and smell the roses among you! With Spring in the air now, roses will surely be in abundance sooner than you think!