Thursday, April 28, 2016

are you the best person that you can be?

Back when I was in high school, there was a military slogan for the Army that said, "Be All You Can Be!" Posters that represented that slogan were plastered in hallways and the counselor's office. I didn't just see that as a recruitment tool for the Army, but as a metaphor that we should always embrace.

Be all that you CAN be. Not "Could be"....CAN BE!

My husband's father passed away yesterday. He was perhaps the best person that I have met, next to my husband. I do believe that because of the influence he had on others, others were able to be the best they could be just because he made them feel that way. He brought people up. Whenever anyone said an unkind word about someone, or shared gossip, he would jump in and remind us how we are not to judge. Most important.....he treated his wife with so much Love, compassion and dignity. Everyone who knew them knew of the deep love they had for each other. It rubbed off to my benefit, as my husband treats me like a Princess....and for that, I am ever so grateful.

If there is a moral lesson in all of this, it is just Jesus admonished us, love others as much as you love yourself. Love God above all. Treat others as you'd WANT to be treated! I don't know of a single soul who has ever---EVER said, "hey, treat me like the piece of crap that I am!" have you? You don't like it when others gossip about you or treat you with disrespect...yet how often do we do this to another?

Little kids, older folks, dogs, cats....anything that crossed his path, my father in law was sure to pay it gentle consideration. He had an easy smile and a zest for life. It was so easy, and I do mean, easy to see Jesus in him. For all of the inspiration he was....he will be truly missed. He was the wind beneath the wings of many.

May you rest in peace, dad. You are truly loved.

Friday, April 15, 2016 was just an old pick axe....

About a week ago, due to our impending move, instead of having a "garage sale," I set a whole bunch of odds and ends miscellaneous stuff on the curb with a sign that said, "FREE!" next to it. Within a few hours, everything was gone. Garden fences, new cat litter boxes, an outdoor BBQ grill, a hose and an old pick axe-- all found new homes.

Yesterday I received a note. In short, it said, "thank you for the axe. Once I replace the handle, it will be as good as new and I can't wait to begin using it for my many projects!"

That axe was, to me, just a piece of junk. I was tempted to toss it in the trash but on a whim, set it out with everything else. Someone was able to see something useful in that tool and decided that, with love and care, it would be good as new once more. That got me to thinking....

How about you? What are YOUR criteria when you see others in the world? Do you look for beauty? Size of house? Type of car? Maybe what someone does for a living is a precedent.

When I was in junior high, I remember a gal who was friendless. She didn't dress as all the popular girls did. She was painfully shy. She didn't even "look pretty" like many of the other girls were. However, she had a caring heart. She was helpful to teachers, polite to everyone, even to those who bullied her. I liked her. Then I moved away...but ran into her about four years ago. She was still the same: helpful, polite and eager to know others.

The point is: to see beauty, you must look deeper than what you may see initially. What you may think is worthy of being tossed aside, may in fact, be the best thing you have ever come across. When I met the man who is now my husband, he was unemployed., no thanks to the bad economy of 2008. He was so surprised that I wanted to be with him, despite his "lack of income." I told him that money means nothing...I had met many who had money and very little else. What he had was so much love and compassion within his heart, how could I resist that??

Where I am moving to, I had no use for an old axe, but someone saw the intrinsic value of it and appreciated it. When I was in Junior high, I saw the intrinsic value of inner beauty and made a friend. As an adult, I appreciate that money does not make a person, it is love, compassion and putting others first instead!

Today, what inner beauty, what usefulness do you see that can make something that others may toss aside, seem all the more wonderful to you? Beauty IS everywhere...we only need to open our eyes to it!
May God be with you all today!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

is Jesus welcomed in YOUR home?

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." ~ Matthew 19:14

Several years ago, I found a concrete statue of Jesus surrounded by two children. Eagerly I purchased it and had it sitting on my front stoop to my house. Before winter, I'd bring it in to keep the snow and ice from pitting it, then set it out once more in the Spring. When I moved, Jesus came with me. 

In my current neighborhood lives a little girl who lives two houses down from me. One day as I worked in my yard, I heard her ask, "daddy?" 
"Yes?" came his reply from the direction of his garage. 
"I see Jesus over there!" 
"Yes, that is Jesus, isn't it?" 
"Yes, honey?" 
"Can I go give Jesus a hug?" 
I heard a chuckle, then his reply made me smile. "Yes, you can go hug Jesus!" and so, she got off of her tricycle, walked up my sidewalk and hugged Jesus, then just stood by Him. After a moment, her father called for her and she went back to her trike, stared at Jesus a bit longer, then slowly pedaled away. When she reached her house, she stood on the driveway all excited, "daddy! I got to hug Jesus!" Almost every day this ritual took place...she'd pedal up to my sidewalk, get off her trike, hug Jesus, then pedal off to other adventures.

Here I am today...another move looming, this time to help care for my husband's parents, a new adventure filled with possibilities. With possibilities, however, comes sacrifice. One by one, I gave up many things that went to the thrift store, realizing that combining two households leaves me not really needing extra blankets, towels, furniture and especially, knick knacks. 

I stood next to my statue of Jesus, contemplating.

This statue weighs almost seventy five pounds. It is heavy to move. "But You aren't heavy!" I tell myself. "You're my Brother!" (as the song goes). Yet to move it once more...I'm older now and this statue is cumbersome to move from here to there. I came to the conclusion that Jesus needed a new, permanent home. I asked my sister in law, who loves Jesus as much as I do, if she'd take Him. In fact, her whole family is very centered on Christ. "Will you take Jesus for me?" She was excited in her reply. "Yes, I'll be happy to have Jesus!" One more time, I cradled this statue and together, we made the trip to her house. Now when I go there, I smile...He is in a nice place. He is welcomed there. All who see Him will be blessed and graced. (By the cradling this awkward statue and carrying Him, I was reminded also of how Simon of Cyrene also carried Jesus' Cross....of how what could have been a burden was suddenly made lighter because of Who it was for.)

How about you? Do you smile when you see Jesus? Where IS Jesus? Is He welcomed in YOUR home? Not just a concrete statue, but also IN your home as well as in your heart? Is He present in all that you Do your friends also welcome Jesus? "What would Jesus do" should not just be a catch should be how you live your life. If Jesus were with you right now, would you watch that porno flick? Would you listen to hateful rap music? Would you be reading that particular book? Would you walk past someone in need and shrug your shoulders as if to say, "You're not MY problem?"

Ask yourself this..."is Jesus welcomed in my my my head?" Because if He is...would HE accept YOUR ways of living? Would He laugh at the raunchy jokes you tell or pass on social media? Would He appreciate the way you speed past someone on the freeway, not caring if you may cause an accident? Would He sing WITH you to lurid song lyrics? Would He approve....would He?

In my preparations for this move, with each piece I give away, I am doing what Jesus admonished His followers: "give up ALL that you have...and come follow Me!" I am doing just that...not only material goods, but whatever thoughts of selfishness pass through my head as well. You see, when one makes a move such as this, one has to come head to head with the mortality of life. "You can't take it with you" really begins to make sense. "Do I really need this?" I ask...referring to whatever bauble I may want to keep. And I realize...STUFF doesn't matter...PEOPLE do! It's all just STUFF! But thoughts, feelings that come from deep within the heart...these things cannot be measured...instead they spill forth and grow...Love grows! It's a small miracle that I watch in astonishment. My heart feels so light....and it is hitting me like a whirlwind what Jesus' disciples also must have felt! "Give up ALL that you have...and come follow me!" Wow!

Like that little girl mentioned earlier, we all must have that sense of wonder within us. "Daddy, can I hug Jesus?"
Yes, please...please embrace Him with all your heart...and come...follow Him. We're going to change the world!