Press On

Insight for the Journey

Peace April 28, 2010

Filed under: Life Lessons,Perspective,Uncategorized — Deb @ 7:24 pm

“Why don’t I do this more often?”

That is what I am asking myself as I sit in this quiet idyllic moment. All is right with the world. Not really, but for now I am remembering that God is in complete control. It’s amazing how that foundational truth frees me up to relax. And in this moment of peace I am filled with awe of the simple pleasures in my life.

…sitting on my screen porch wrapped in a blanket

….watching the slow setting of the sun

…the graceful movements of the pink clouds

…the sweet aroma of my lilac bushes

…Buddy, the wonder-dog, sleeping

….the birds serenading me

All I am observing points to a creative God who coordinates the universe to the cellular detail. And Scripture teaches me that God cares more for me than the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. He created me. He knows the plans He has for me. He knows how the details will work together. I need to remember that the next time l begin to hyperventilate over what I cannot control or don’t understand. I suppose peace flows out of a deep trust in my Heavenly Father.

 

Think Outside the… December 12, 2009

Filed under: Christmas,Perspective — Deb @ 1:06 pm

“There’s no way it’s going to fit!” That is what our family was thinking as we set up the bottom third of our beautiful, yet artificial, Christmas tree. We purchased the tree a couple years ago to fit into the seventeen-foot foyer of our former house. Now we are living in a 1941 cape with much lower ceilings! But I really didn’t want to spend the money to buy another tree, especially not at the pre-Christmas, full price amount. So my brain began to storm…

A book I recently read challenged its readers to “think outside of the envelope and push the box.” I think that inspired me because before I knew it an idea popped into my head and I blurted out, “I got it! I know exactly what we can do.” The kids had that “Oh no, mom’s got another one of her crazy ideas” look on their faces, but even that didn’t squelch my enthusiasm.

“Let’s just leave off the top piece of the tree and hang up a really pretty bra. Then when people wonder why we have a bra dangling from our tree, we can tell them it’s TOPLESS!”

To our amazement the tree actually fit, with room to spare. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed that our topless tree tradition ended before it began. How sad! The idea, however, that there are times in life when it’s important to expand your preconceived ideas is still a worthy concept.

Back in the days of Jesus, the Jews anticipated the promised Savior. They created an image of what they thought He would be. He would come as a victorious military and political leader who would free them not only from the crushing oppression of Rome but from all their enemies.  Instead, what they got was a suffering and gentle Messiah who taught them that true freedom comes through loving your enemies. Not what they expected. Only those who were willing to see beyond were able to recognize Jesus for who He was.

What about you? Is it time for you to expand your thinking? Is there something God wants you to do that is outside of your norm?

 

Skipping Through Life November 30, 2009

Filed under: Encouragement,Fear,Gratitude,Hope,Perspective — Deb @ 11:22 pm

I have discovered that what I think about greatly impacts my emotional state. Every day is filled with positive and negative realities. How I process these events, however, impacts my level of joy, peace and hope.

When I choose to focus on the bad in my day, I feel weighed down like I’m carrying a hundred pound backpack up Mount Everest in stiletto heels. When I choose to focus on the good in my day, I feel light as if I could skip down the street with childlike energy. How I feel is determined by the thoughts I allow to dominate my thinking.

Although optimistic by nature, when faced with a battering of negative information, comments, and/or events, I can really lose perspective. Before I know it, I’m in a mode of creating a case for why life is so bad and I forget to go to the only One who can give me the strength I need. I was recently feeling like this when the words of John chapter one caught my attention. Verse 10 says, “He (Jesus) was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” Ouch! I was guilty of not recognizing God’s active presence in my life. 

What a great reminder and challenge for me to make a conscious effort to identify God’s role in every aspect of my life. This means taking captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ, or in other words making my thoughts line up with the Truth. Personally I need to identify the negative thoughts and evaluate them from God’s vantage point. In doing that, I am acknowledging that the God of this Universe loves me, is in ultimate control, and therefore I have nothing to fear or fret about. With Christ living in me and the promise that He has given me everything I need for life and godliness, my responsibility is to trust God and move on.

In addition, it’s time to become proactive in my thinking once again. I need to make a conscious effort to recognize and be grateful for all the good and perfect gifts my Father provides for me. From the ability to breathe, see, hear, speak, feel, think, and move, to the undeserved forgiveness and salvation He has provided. The truth is “from the fullness of Christ’s grace I have received one blessing after another” (John 1:16). I do have so much to be grateful for. Not just at Thanksgiving, but every moment that God gives me life.

As a Christ-follower, it’s only my mental laziness that will keep me from recognizing God’s active presence in my life. I hope the next time you see me I will be smiling as I skip down the street of life in my stilettos twirling my backpack with ease. Want to join me???

 

When Life Leaves You Speechless November 12, 2009

Filed under: Hope,Perspective,Seasons of Life — Deb @ 12:47 pm

No matter how optimistic you are, whether by nature or personal discipline, there will be seasons in life when the hardships of this world attack and take their toll. Ultimately, they will not defeat you; but when you are under the pressure, you will wonder if you are going to make it through.

This is a time in my life when many of the people I adore are experiencing unspeakable pain. I struggle to find words of comfort. If I was only concerned about my reputation, I could probably give them some cliché advice, pat them on the back, and send them on their way: but these are people I love. I feel their pain and have no desire to sugar-coat reality. Words lack the power to produce the needed change, so I pray to the One who loves them so much that He gently cradles their hearts in one hand and fights for their protection with the other.

Psalm 142 records David’s feelings as he faced a lousy season of his life. He was hiding in a cave. I imagine he wondered how life had come to this. What had he done to deserve this? Was it his fault that God chose him to be king? He didn’t ask for that. When King Saul was tormented by evil spirits, didn’t he willingly play the harp to soothe Saul? What more could he have done? When the Philistines and Goliath threatened Israel, didn’t he step up to the challenge? Didn’t he put his life on the line over and over again when he led Saul’s military campaigns? Yet after all of that, Saul’s response to him was one of ingratitude, jealousy and anger. David found himself on the run like a criminal even though he hadn’t done anything wrong.

“I cry aloud to the Lord;

I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.

I pour out my complaint before him;

Before him I tell my troubles.

When my spirit grows faint within me,

It is you who know my way.

In the path where I walk life has hidden a snare for me.

Look to my right and see;

No one is concerned for me.

I have no refuge;

No one cares for my life.”

When life overwhelms us, we feel weak and empty. We feel alone, like no one has our back. We feel vulnerable. We desperately look around for someone who fully understands, but no one does. And when we come to our last drop of hope, we cry out to the Lord:

“YOU are my refuge,

my portion in the land of the living.

Listen to my cry,

For I am in desperate need;

Rescue me from this circumstance,

For it is too strong for me.

Set me free from my prison,

That I may praise your name.”

If you are struggling today, I pray that the Holy Spirit will convince you in the depth of your soul that God is your refuge, your sanctuary, your haven. He is the safe place to go for help, protection, and relief. He is your hope. And…He truly loves you so much that He is gently cradling your heart in one hand and fighting for your protection with the other.

 

Oops! October 28, 2009

Filed under: Life Lessons,Perspective — Deb @ 5:32 pm

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). I love that verse, but I can’t even count the number of times I have forgotten it right when I needed it the most. Life moves quickly and many times we succumb to a knee-jerk reaction instead of slowing down, taking a breath, and listening to the counsel of the Holy Spirit.

 

Usually God teaches me through my own foolish mistakes, but this time He allowed me to learn through observation. And it was quite a lesson.

 

I was on an elliptical machine and across from me was one of the gym’s regulars. He had completed his warm up phase and was into the challenging part of the bike’s program when the gym manager came over and told him that he signed up for the wrong bike and would have to move. The man was not happy and I understood why. Changing bikes meant starting the program all over again. Not to mention, there were other bikes available.

 

He asked the manager if she was serious. She reiterated that he would need to change bikes and should be more careful next time. Her response made his ears purple. He reminded me of my 22 month old nephew who puts his hands on his head and says, “OH NO!!!” right before he loses his temper. This man was ready to blow! But with a controlled strained tone, he said, “I could’ve made this an issue 10 minutes ago.”

 

He was referring to fact that the bike he signed up for was still occupied when it was time for him to begin. But instead of making a big deal over it, he simply slipped onto another available bike (but didn’t make the change on the sign-up board). He was just trying to be a nice guy.

 

To his credit he chose not to argue about it. He recorded his stats in his notebook and moved to the bike he originally signed up for. His frustration was obvious and I sensed that his attitude was going to be negatively affected for the rest of the morning.

 

At that point a slightly retarded girl, probably in her twenties, came bouncing toward the bike. Her eyes were twinkling and the joy on her face indicated that she had no idea of what just took place. She sat down on her bike, smiled at the man working out in front of her and with a sweet melodic voice said, “Hi, how are you? How long have you been doing this?” When the man said twenty years, she responded with a “wow” that was so enthusiastic it should provide enough encouragement for him to continue working out for the next 20 years!

 

Now it all made sense. “The culprit” had followed the directions exactly as she was taught. She put her initials in a blank box, but when she looked at the bike and saw someone on it, she was confused and innocently asked the gym manager for help.

 

How many times do we react too quickly? How many times do we default to anger based on assumptions? How much emotional energy and embarrassment could we save ourselves if we would slow down and try to understand all the facts before we react?

 

Once again, God gently reminded me of the importance of following James’ wise counsel…especially if I want to represent Christ well.

 

Forever Friend October 21, 2009

Filed under: Friends — Deb @ 4:05 pm

The older I get, the more I value my true friends. The ones who know me, the real me, the person I am when no one is looking. We live in a world of quick fixes, instant gratification, and frantic activity, but that is not conducive to creating deep and authentic relationships. Genuine friendships take time. Shared history is what knits our hearts. We must do life together.

 

A dear friend of mine just moved away to another state. I am rejoicing that God has ushered her into a new season, but I am grieving what feels like the loss of a friend. For years I met with my Dunkin’ Donuts Buddy and we “encouraged one another and built each other up.” We would share our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and disappointments, our victories and personal ugly moments. We stretched our minds as we discussed theology, ministry, family life, and what God was teaching us through His Word. We challenged each other to take the next step in becoming more like Christ. I will miss that. I already do.

 

Our mode of relating to each other will have to change. I hope the weapon of modern technology will be strong enough to defeat the enemy of Distance. The realist in me, however, knows the internet can never replace a face-to-face conversation. We will question whether the weekly details and insights are really that important and we will hesitate to share through the typed word. Reality is it’s hard to “do real life” with someone in cyberspace.  Accountable friendships tend to need proximity for maximum effectiveness.

 

I’m sad. My heart is lonely. Yet I know that it’s okay. It’s part of life. I will chose to use this as an opportunity to remind myself how blessed I am to have a friend who always sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). I am grateful for Jesus. He is my most faithful, loving, and wise friend. He knows everything about me and still promises to never leave me or forsake me. He cares about every detail of my life…none of it bores him. He is not afraid to confront me when I’m wrong or to challenge me if I’ve grown too complacent. He rejoices with me when life is good and compassionately listens when life is hard. He is committed to doing life with me and being my forever friend. This allows me to hold friendships on earth loosely and to celebrate them for all they are.

“A friend is one to whom you can pour out the contents of your heart, chaff and grain alike, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.”  (I can’t remember where I got this quote, but when I find it I will credit the author).

 

Too Grand For Coincidence October 14, 2009

Filed under: Home,Story — Deb @ 7:53 pm

Some things in life are just too grand to give “coincidence” the credit. And this particular happening has God written all over it!

 

I woke up one Saturday last March with an idea. I sat up in bed and the words tumbled out of mouth. “I think we should downsize in order to help the kids with college.” Poor Rex! What a way to start the day. But after 19 years of marriage he’s accustomed to my wild brainstorms. He patiently listened and replied that he thought the idea was worth exploring, but two criteria would have to be met to make it work. We would need to save enough money to make it worth giving up our home (basically cut our expenses in half) and it needed to be within fifteen minutes of the church. Both of those contingencies would be difficult to achieve. But nothing is impossible with God….

 

One night, my son Chase and I decided to drive by a couple homes that we thought might be possibilities. Most of what we saw left us shaking our heads. As we pulled away from the last house on our list, we felt discouraged. The neighborhood was adorable, but the house looked like it needed too much work. Then it happened.

 

As we drove down the street, we saw a man walking his dog. I pulled to the side of the road. Chase rolled down his window and asked, “Hey, do you live in this neighborhood?” That was the beginning of a conversation that led to a story that will forever make us smile!

 

Mark, the man walking his dog, told us his neighbors were going to sell their house but they weren’t planning on putting it on the market until May. Chase and I drove by the house. It was an adorable brick cape cod with a curved front door and I fell in love.

 

Fast forward two months….

 

Jenn and Seth, the owners of the cape cod, were ready to sell. After hearing what they were looking for, I told them it was too bad they didn’t want to live in our town because it sounded like our house was exactly what they were looking for. They decided to look at our home and the next morning, they made us an offer.

 

Yes, it is true! Neither yard ever sported a real estate sign. And two families, who did not know each other, swapped houses.

 

In one of the worst housing markets ever, God orchestrated what some would call a long shot. I’m partial to calling it a miracle.

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.