Monday, July 24, 2017
This past week I have taken on a project bigger than myself: painting the garage. My garage is not just a double car size, it can house up to FOUR cars, so it is quite large. And made of concrete. It had about four, at least from what I scraped off, layers of paint. I did all of the prep work and, on a day when it was so hot, began as early as I could, to beat the heat.
When I finished, with the noon church bells pealing in the distance, I stood back, admiring my work. I had finished only one wall. This was going to take awhile, so I didn't fret about what I had accomplished thus far. I washed my tools out, covered the paint can and called it a day.
Later, in the cool of the evening, I went outside, pleased with my work. As I stood on the deck, I gave myself kudos for a job well done. From that vantage point, it looked good.
The next morning, as I walked alongside that same wall, I noticed spots that I had missed. They were tiny pin prick sized, but they were numerous! As thorough as I thought I was, I missed quite a bit and they were so easy to see up close; I was using beige over previous white! I sighed. Day two, I began another wall, but this time, I was prepared. I did what I thought again was a thorough job, I mean, I really lay that paint on thick. Again, when it dried, I noticed pin pricks of white through the new layer of beige. Day three, third wall. This time, however, I conversed with God about this issue.
What I heard was this:
"This is a metaphor of your life. Everyone's life. We go about blithely, doing what we think is good. In fact, we try extra hard to be that friend to others, we give, we love, we share...and at day's end, we think, 'ah, yes, I have done well!' In fact, though, if one looks under the surface, one can see where the blemishes show. One can see the scars, the hurts, the pain and more. How do we deal with that? We cover it up with lies, with excuses, with alcohol, with drugs, with overeating and more. From a distance, we look good. But as with a magnifying glass, the closer one gets to the problem, the more apparent it becomes."
And so it is with God. God knows our inner thoughts, our heart and how we think, act, what we do or say and more. To many, it looks good. And yes, many of us DO try as best we can. This is where we need to do an examination of conscience every evening. How did we fail/fall and how can we rise again? To just cover it up with excuses, telling ourselves that it really doesn't matter because "no one can see it...no one will know..." well, that is short sighted. God knows! How can you hide anything from Him? You can't.
This reminds me of a Bible Scripture. (Matthew 5:37) "Let your 'yes' mean yes and your 'no,' no. Anything else is from the evil one."
This summer I was asked at work if I was interested in being a part of a "summer garden" project that the school where I work has. I was to water it, students from an agriculture class were to be responsible for the harvesting and I then would process the produce. Sounded easy enough, I thought and agreed. The hard part, the harvesting, would be done by younger kids. I smiled at that part as I didn't know if I'd have the stamina to work in the hot sun. Turned out that the students suddenly came up with excuses as to why they didn't want to help. The green beans were growing daily and in need of being picked. I made phone calls and came up against...nothing. No one even responded. I was crushed. (Matthew 9:37) "The harvest is fruitful, but the workers, few..." I did get those beans harvested and there are more to come, beans as well as tomatoes, squash...the list goes on. Here's to hoping, right? Someone told me, "well, just don't do it! Don't go and do what others have said they should!" Well, I reasoned, I had an agreement and I am not one to shirk from it, even if it WAS something that was not part of the agreement, if I didn't do it, all of that produce would go to waste.
"Let your yes mean yes." I live by this. If you don't want to do it, say so, but don't agree and leave others hanging. Just as with my garage project, do a good job, look for the areas in which you can do better and then, make a go of it!
I went back over my work. Yes, I could hear that lazy voice inside my head telling me, "aw, it's just a garage, no one will know...no one will care..." but I know. I care. I made sure that all of my pin prick speckles were covered up. As I stood back once again to admire my work, I could see that it was indeed, a job well done.
Every day, I pray this prayer when I first arise and see the glory of a new day. Maybe it will help you, too. here it is:
Thank you, God, for this day. Help me in all that I think...and do...and say. Help me to be what You want me to be...and help others to see Jesus in me. Amen!
May you have a blessed day!
For extra reading and inspiration, click on this link:
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
"Bob" with his owner, James Bowden
Normally I don't write movie reviews, but in this case, there is a movie currently on Netflix that, if you haven't seen it, you should.
It is titled, "A Streetcat Named Bob." It is the story of a drug addict who has hit rock bottom. Homeless and hungry, he finds a stray cat who gives him the motivation to rise...and although he faces quite an uphill journey, his desperation to never go back down is what gives this film credence. I won't give away the ending, but suffice it to say, I cried buckets!
It is a great film also for us...those of us who watch as the ones we love deal with their addictions and struggles. Believe it when I say, no one ever wakes up one day and PLANS to become addicted. They are pulled in, ever so subtly and then, like a roaring dragon, find themselves in so deep.
I am not advocating that alcohol or drug use is OK, for it never is. What I have always advocated for (and wrote several books about) is how we react to another's addictions. Compassion should always be our goal. Hate the addiction, yes, but feel for the one addicted. Unless you are being physically abused (in which case, make safety your #1 priority!) seek as much help as YOU can to understand the "why" behind not only the one addicted, but yourself as well. Take it from me, I have been there, that's why I'm here. I know...I have survived and am all the better for it.
One day at a time, people...one day at a time.
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Gratitude. To be gracious. To be thankful for what you have as well as what you may expect to receive. Today, gratitude seems to be in such short supply. It seems to be a given that when one sends out a card, be it birthday, graduation or wedding, with a gift, that receiving a thank you note is so passe....not required at all! What happened? One person I brought this subject up with said,"they just don't do that anymore! I don't expect to be thanked!"
Recently on social media, I reprinted a "Dear Abby" column about sending out thank you cards for gifts received. It was more of an "FYI" than anything else, just to gauge people's reaction.
Did I say "reaction?" It was more of a non-reactionary post, as only two people commented on it.
Heavy sigh. What has happened to the very act of graciousness?
I am reminded of how often we are told in the Bible to be thankful. Heck, here in America, we even have a HOLIDAY about being thankful, yet for many, it is a reason to have a holiday in which to spend money! Jesus told us many times about praying, knocking at the door, asking and we shall receive, but also admonished us that in receiving, we need also to be THANKFUL! In one story that he told, there were ten lepers who were healed by Jesus, yet only one came back to thank Him. And he was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:11-19). I bring that point up, because in Jesus' day, Samaritans and Jews did not get along. At All. Yet many times, Jesus referred to Samaritans in His examples of how we are to deal with people. And he showed us by example...many times.
The Bible is filled with many, many scriptures of thanksgiving! If one goes all the way back to Genesis, even God was grateful for all that He had made. He sat back and said, "it is good!" The Apostle Paul, even while imprisoned, wrote in his many letters of how God was good. Imagine that, being in the worst possible situation, yet Paul found reasons to be grateful! Grateful! Not complaining at all about the lack of accommodations, very little food, water or even sunshine! In all of that, he still was grateful to God! We can take a lesson from that!
When I was growing up, my family had very little. If ever I received a gift of clothing, be it new (which was rare) or a hand me down, my mother made sure that before I even wore it, spent it, ate it or played with it, I sat down and wrote out a thank you note! She would check it for errors in spelling or thought. It couldn't be some simple thing such as: "dear grandma, thank you for the coat, it is very nice! love, Diane." No, it had to be thought out, expressive. After all, she always said, my grandmother (or whomever I received the items from) took the time out to think of me, how hard was it to take my own time to be gracious?
As an adult, I have been stunned by many sunrises and sunsets, by many Springtime flowers and autumn beauty. I have been brought to tears by the sight of a newborn baby as well as by having a friendship of thirty years, a friendship that only death could take away from me. I am in awe every day just by having my wonderful husband at my side, a man who I never thought I'd ever get to have as a best friend and lifelong companion. And at night, in the morning and impulsively throughout the day, I find myself saying, "thank you, Lord! Thank you for my life. It is indeed good!" A life that, by all rights, I never should have had from day one! My mother very nearly miscarried me, an incident when I was only three months old nearly killed me. There have been accidents, illnesses and more that should have taken me out more than once, yet each time, God saw fit to keep me here. And for that, I am so grateful.
I am also grateful to you, the reader of this post, that you keep me inspired just by your own presence. May you take the time to read through the following passages I have written below. To be inspired by what God has given to you, and may you raise your voice in thanksgiving to Him!