Category Archives: Inspirational

A Good Commercial

51088684-blank-billboard-with-urban-background-advertising-commercial-frame-advertisement-blank-outdoor-boardYears ago George and I were invited to travel with 2 other couples.  These childless couples traveled a lot for business, so they were flying first class while George and I were flying coach. This was back in the day when First Class was really something special.  At the airport, the one man asked if there was any way that George and I could be bumped up to first class using his frequent flyer miles.  There was only one seat left in first class, so George allowed me the treat of sitting up front.

I was seated by a businessman and I started to read my Christian Parenting magazine.  He smiled at me and said, “Are you a Christian?”  I said, “Yes, I am.”  He said, “Well, what does that mean?”  I hem-hawed around and stumbled with my words.  I’m not even exactly sure what I said, but I know that I stuttered a lot.  He very kindly said, “Well, sounds to me, like you need to work on a better commercial for Christianity in case you get the opportunity to answer that question again.”  I’m not sure what I replied, but then he smiled, stood up and said something like, “Let me show you a good answer.”

He went back to coach and found George.  He told George that he wanted to him to go to first class and sit with his wife and he took the center seat in the back of the plane.

We still aren’t sure we have a good commercial, but we never forget his.

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But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,…           1 Peter 3:15

 

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I Hate This Shirt…or Do I?

IMG_4020OK, so you all know I’m a Mom and as much as I hate to admit it, I often do such stereotypical Mom things that I’m embarrassed.  My favorite commercial currently is the Progressive Insurance commercial and my favorite line is “Why is the door open? Are we trying to air condition the whole neighborhood?” It just makes me smile to think that we all do share some of the same memories.  Today, though, I may have struck out some new ground of my own…or maybe not.  Do you other parents sometimes make things disappear in your house? Maybe it’s your kid’s cell phone that is overused and you just hide it under a newspaper for a while just to have some face to face conversation? Maybe you hide that last candy bar and say that they all must have been eaten? Do you ever pretend to NOT see the remote for the TV when they are looking in hopes that the kids will find something else to do for a bit? If you don’t, maybe you should give it a try. However, the above tricks of the trade in the parenting business are harmless, but my following confession may not be. Here we go…

Do you ever permanently make clothes disappear? The too short shorts? The too tight T-Shirt? The stained jersey? The handmade school spirit shirt? The one with a beer ad on it (that was “accidentally” worn to church?) and the ever-popular mismatched socks? Well, I do.

Today, the harmless T-Shirt that is pictured above almost met its’ demise. The threat was made the last time she wore it. “I am so sick of that shirt that the next time I see it in the laundry, I will make it disappear!” There is was today. Clean, fresh, appropriately crumpled in the laundry basket. I picked it up, began to fold it and realized that my chance was right there. I could cut it up and make a dust rag or I could throw it in the bag for the Salvation Army. With it in my hands, I paused and then I decided to fold it gently and put it on her pile of clean clothes to put away. What’s the big deal? What is so wrong with that shirt? It won’t fit forever. I’m sure she’ll decide to stop wearing it someday. Why on earth would that harmless shirt be something that I allow to upset me?

We are heading into the teen years. I will need all the help I can get and I need to work now on a relationship that will weather the real storms that we may face. This shirt cannot have the power to upset me and potentially cause a rift between my daughter and me. The next time I see her wear it proudly (which I am certain will be tomorrow when she sees it on the top of the pile,) I will say a prayer that we will be very careful in choosing our battles. I will be grateful for my healthy daughter and the blessing she is.

Now, I think I will go and let down that cuff on those jean shorts that I think are too short…I don’t think she’ll even notice.

Take a minute to be grateful for the battles you choose not to fight and also click on the commercial link above and have a laugh. I hope it makes you smile as much as it does me!

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give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                                                                                                                         –1 Thessalonians 5:18 

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The Lesson Goes On

textingAlmost a year ago, my family went through a very difficult time.  We were hurt by someone we trusted and though an apology was quickly delivered, the healing took a little longer to arrive.  During that time, I sought counsel from a trusted friend. He knew all parties involved and was able to put things into perspective for me.  He knew that we loved the offender and he told us to respond in love to all parties. In all things, respond in love was his teaching.  He explained that though we were hurt, we taught the person who hurt us a very valuable lesson and that no one will be hurt by him in the same way again.  He shared a story about a time when he unintentionally hurt someone by saying something and that though he wasn’t able to rectify the relationship, he learned to never make the same statement again.

A few weeks ago while driving alone in my car, I thought of my counseling friend. I know he hasn’t been feeling well so I prayed for him. As I was praying for him, I thought of how much he had helped me last year and how I should probably text him and let him know how the afflicted relationship from last year had healed and is better than we could’ve ever imagined. I decided to text him to encourage him and thank him again.  I pulled over to the side of the road to text him when I really felt the Lord convict me. All of a sudden, I realized I didn’t need to text him to thank him, I needed to text him to apologize. The last time I saw him, I said the exact hurtful statement that he had said when he was sharing his situation and I said it to him.  I said it in jest, but still!  What was I thinking?  Why would I do that?! Oh, there’s a ton of reasons beginning with SIN, but still! So, I prayerfully wrote out an apology text and then thanked him again for his wise counsel last year.

Driving on, I waited for the “ding” of a return text.  Nothing. I arrived at my destination and still nothing. The evening passed. Nothing. No response.  Not even a “k.” Strange. But then, I decided that in addition to the Lord humbling me and asking me to apologize, maybe He was humbling me again and not giving me the response.  Did I apologize to make myself feel better or to make my friend feel better?  Does he really need to reply? No, probably not. I struggled with myself and my pride issues, I rethought every word in the text. I placed myself in his shoes. I thought, thought and OVER thought. Enough.  I was prayerful before I texted, my intent was pure, I moved on.

It did give me pause though as I continued to wonder if we often apologize to make ourselves feel better. Lots of soul searching involved in that area.  One evening as I was having dinner with another friend, I shared with her the story since she is also a mutual friend of all involved.  I told her about my new awareness of why we apologize, etc. and how I was still learning from my friend’s response or lack thereof. With a big smile on her face she said, “Oh, I bet you don’t have his new cell phone number!”

Sure enough, I had the wrong number. So my wise friend continued to teach me lessons even without realizing it.  He never got the apology.  I hope he will read this blog so I can finally end this ongoing lesson. I’m sure there is another matter I can give this much time and thought to!

Oh, and Friend, this is for you:

Hey brother. God has had you heavy on my heart and I’ve been praying for your health and strength.  However, He also brought it to my attention that I should apologize to you for the comment I made at the meeting.  You told me the story of how you had offended someone. I remembered the lesson and would not do it to someone else, but for some reason, I did it to you and I am sorry.  You probably had to talk yourself into attending the meeting that evening and then you were greeted by my comments.  Again, my apologies.  I value our friendship and think so highly of you.  You’ve helped me more times than you know! God bless you and I hope you are feeling better and getting ready for Holy Week.

Let’s hope that “better late than never” works in this case. Also, funny how originally I said he had helped me more than he knows…..isn’t that still the truth?  Thanks again and I’m sorry Friend.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.  — Proverbs 17:17

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A Community Mourns

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I woke today, just another day. Tuesday. I headed to Bible study, the chiropractor, took my mom to an appointment and went to the grocery store.  Everything pretty typical.  Just another day.  Yet, it wasn’t just another day.  It was a day that I was super aware of the gift of this day, of this time.

A family in our community lost their son/brother/grandson/nephew. A real tragedy.  A family of 6 became 5 overnight. In an instant, their world changed.  My world didn’t change…or did it? Today I mourned along with my entire hometown.  Everyone I know knows someone in this family & we would like to help, but unfortunately, there is nothing we can do. We are at a loss, but we long to find something we can do. The town can think of little else and as we go about our “normal” day, we know that inside the walls of that home there are tears, hugs, and folks poring over photos of happier times. This family is surrounded by love and I have no doubt that they will survive, but right now they are in pain and the community wishes we could take the pain away.

Not having a better idea, I decided to buy some paper products and drop them off at their home. When I pulled into their driveway, I noticed their garage doors were open. I got out of my car with my packages and walked up to a garage full of drinks, cases of water, paper plates, jugs of juice, etc. I was struck by the overwhelming amount of items that people had been dropping off. I didn’t see a family member and I didn’t need to.  They know that people are heartbroken on their behalf because they would be hurting if it happened to any other family.  They would be the first ones there with gifts and prayers. No words can express our deepest sympathy and paper plates and cases of water can’t either, but maybe the love behind all of them will be felt and ease the burden a tiny bit.

Today was just another day, but as I went through my normal routine, I was aware that there is nothing normal for them.  They will need to figure out their new normal and it will take a long time, but from the looks of it, they will have enough paper plates and love to get them until that time.  Until then we will keep on praying.

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“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”        2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”         Matthew 5:4

 

 

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Lenten Blessings

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I have had the privilege of hosting Wednesday evening suppers throughout Lent. Our community is pretty unique in that we celebrate Lent together among denominations.  So, on one Wednesday,  the Presbyterian pastor preaches at the Lutheran church, another one the Reformed Pastor will preach at the Methodist church, etc.  We all worship together and grow and learn with different congregations.  It was truly a blessing and as we head into Holy Week, we will have a few more opportunities to worship together.

This year, my husband and I decided to host supper before each service.  It has been a fun time to get together and socialize a bit before church.  It was a huge blessing for me.  And, speaking of blessings, I printed out a couple and made table tents of them so that they could be on display so if someone arrived late, they could say their own prayer before eating.  As the season progressed though, we started just holding up the printed cards and everyone prayed together. We used two different blessings.

The first one was handed down to me from my mother’s father. John Dunlap Wise.

Dear Heavenly Father, We thank you for the many blessings that are conferring us from day to day. Bless this food now to us. Watch over us and guide us through life, and at death, accept us. Amen.   I can hear his voice and his cadence as I pray it.

The second one I found online:

For food that stays our hunger, For rest that brings us ease, for homes where memories linger, we give our thanks for these. Amen.

They are great blessings to share. Happy Easter!

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A Funk Buster!

IMG_3353Yesterday I was in a funk.  No doubt about it.  Today I looked up the word “funk” and found out its’ synonym is depression.  Woah, that’s heavy.  But, yesterday I was in a funk and it just felt heavy for no real reason.  Plenty on my mind, but nothing terribly pressing.  I just sat and went deeper and deeper into my funk.  I played games on my phone, watched junk TV and ate an entire bag of potato chips.  At an event last night (an eating event where we sampled foods from different countries,) I shared with some Moms that I had eaten an entire bag of chips.  Then I did the math.  170 calories per serving, 7 servings per container equals 1190 calories!  I quickly admitted that I was growing sick towards the end of the bag and didn’t finish about 1/2 serving so they allowed me to deduct some calories.  OK, so I will have to sit with the fact that I consumed 1105 calories worth of Baked Sweet Potato Chips. (A healthier alternative to regular potato chips if you eat less than the entire bag!)

Regardless, the chips didn’t cheer me up. Being entertained by mindless television didn’t lift my spirits and playing Sodoku on my phone did not make me a genius. I went to bed discouraged and dissatisfied. However, I also went to bed with the resolve that today was going to be a much better day.  Before going to bed early to get adequate sleep, I deleted the games on my phone, I laid out my clothes for the day, I sat out a lemon to start my day with a cup of hot lemon water and I changed my attitude.

I woke early after a good nights’ sleep and began my morning routine.  Cup of Lemon Water (I prefer tea, but started the day off healthy!) & headed to my Bible.  Maybe that’s where the funk came from.  Maybe I haven’t been spending as much time in the Word. Where should I begin? I decided to employ a technique I learned a while ago to just read a chapter in Proverbs based on the date.  There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so you can just pick one and start reading.  (Yes, I know it’s like that old joke where you randomly open the Bible and put your finger on a passage and do what it says with sometimes scary results.)  But, this method would give me a place to begin.

Proverbs 23:1,2

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.

Are you kidding me?! I can’t make this stuff up.  Seriously?! After sharing my eaten bag of chips story with the Moms at the event, with my daughter on the phone, with my Mom during a visit, with a friend in a text the first scripture I read for the day is “..and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony?”

Needless to say, I read the entire chapter, wrote in my journal and then made myself a smoothie with almond milk, spinach, avocado, protein powder & banana. I had a nice salad for lunch and I sincerely have had a much more productive day. (I haven’t even turned the TV on.) All is well, but if I thought I might unwind with a glass of wine this evening, I shouldn’t have read on:

Proverbs 32:29-35

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaints?
Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes?
30 Those who linger over wine,
who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.
31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup,
when it goes down smoothly!
32 In the end it bites like a snake
and poisons like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange sights,
and your mind will imagine confusing things.
34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas,
lying on top of the rigging.
35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt!
They beat me, but I don’t feel it!
When will I wake up
so I can find another drink?”

I can’t even believe that’s in there…but it is, and obviously “SOMEONE” thought I needed to hear it this morning.

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Be Early & Bless

IMG_3213My family and I had scrambled to get ready. We needed to be in Pittsburgh by 4:30 and we wanted to stop and eat before then.  Having appointments and obligations all morning we ran from thing to thing.  Late for our first stop, because I made a cup of tea to take, we arrived, got to work and helped while keeping an eye on the clock because we had to go to a training at noon. We sorted and worked and left at the last minute possible to get to the training.

We arrived at the training, found a close parking spot, stuck our hand into the closing elevator door to make it open and accept us. We rushed past the receptionist, briskly walked back the hall, found our seats and began.

We needed to leave the training which was running late while the speaker was still presenting. We gathered up our handouts & raced out the door.

We picked the kids up, stopped for a sandwich and were finally on our way to our final destination.  Breathing again, but no time for error, we made it to the concert at 4:30.  Aaaaaah, Success.

But, was it? We mentioned the poor unfortunate man along the highway with a flat tire, and we were hopeful that slowing car with their turn signal on was going to assist him but we can’t be sure. We didn’t have time to stop and ask. It made me wish we hadn’t been so rushed that day. And it makes me wonder what other opportunities to share God’s love we missed.

Maybe that close parking spot could’ve gone to someone who had trouble walking and if we had had time, we may have parked further away and walked. We may have spoken to the person on the elevator if our minds weren’t preoccupied with being tardy.

I wish we had greeted the receptionist, made eye contact and smiled instead of rushing past her as if she were invisible. It would have been nice to be at the training earlier and converse with the attendees a bit to share what we have learned and glean from them what they know.

When we are late or rushed we miss out on opportunities to bless others and to be blessed by them. A smile or a short conversation about the weather may be all the other person needs to have a brighter day. A quick conversation may be all you need. I have always been a pretty punctual person. I think it’s in my DNA, but I know people who struggle with being on time. They intentionally set their clocks five or ten minutes fast so they can be on time. (Until of course, they remember their clocks are fast and adjust their schedule accordingly.) I don’t need to play this trick on myself to be on time, but maybe I need to do it so I can be early. So I can maybe have the margin needed for God to use me to do what He wants me to do, not just what I want to do!

Maybe if I had an extra margin of time, I could bless someone by letting them go ahead of me in line. Maybe I would notice someone fumbling with their keys while juggling packages and offer to help. Maybe I could let that car merge first. Maybe I could ask someone how they are and wait for an answer.

I think I’ll change my clocks and change my mindset and give it a try.IMG_3209

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37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’    –Matthew 22:37-39 NIV

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