You Can Experience God

 

The holidays are over and the mailbox offers nothing but junk and bills. Winter storms and cloudy skies are the norm. It gets dark at 4:30pm! Flu bugs and close quarters breed bad moods, discord and discouragement.

I was sharing some bluesy feelings with my friend Marilyn* and she gave me some great words of encouragement.

When the days are dark, take heart. God is with you.

Now lots of people will tell you God is good and All you need is a little more faith, but when you are under the cloud of despair, you really need something more than a pat on the back and a platitude – even if it’s true.

What you need is an encounter with God. That’s what happened when the skies were very dark in Marilyn’s life.

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Restart Those Resolutions!

Are you on track or faltering?

I so wanted a different story to tell you but I’m already faltering in my New Year’s resolutions.

My first goal for 2020 was to abstain from chocolate for 30 days. Let me tell you how that worked. Girlfriend, it’s embarrassing! I fulfilled the letter of the law, I’ve had no chocolate. Instead, I had VANILLA pudding, strawberry shakes, and sugar laden coffee drinks.

My second goal was to exercise a little bit every weekday. Well, I sorta did this. But, a couple days, I counted grocery shopping or laundry as my exercise.

My third goal was to fast between meals (which is a fancy way of saying no snacking). This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I legitimized that if I didn’t CHEW, it wasn’t eating. It’s amazing what you can smash up enough with your tongue to swallow.

Take thoughts captive. 

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The Universal Language Of Kindness

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

The beautiful thing about kindness is that everyone can do it. Anyone … in any season of life, whether young, old, male or female, rich, poor or even sick can show kindness.

Not to be confused with generosity, (which I generally associate with giving money) kindness requires nothing more than intentional action.

Kindness is more powerful than anger, selfishness or even hate. It morphs us into women who look, sound and act more like Jesus. When we clothe ourselves in kindness as Col. 3:12 directs, we affect people in a positive and lasting way. 

Contagious and courageous.

Those who are shown kindness will surely pass it on. Like a train of Dominos, when the first one falls, the rest follow. Taking the lead to demonstrate kindness softens hearts, quiets tempers and provides space for tenderness to grow. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. Matthew 7:12 

In close relationships, kindness can overcome the temptation to hold grudges, get revenge and act selfishly. Random acts of kindness toward strangers can break down prejudice, overcome greed and restore faith in humanity.

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” – Kahlil Gibran

Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is put down a suffering animal. It’s tough to help pack up your best friend to move away from you. Being a listening ear or returning a lost wallet can be time consuming. Keeping someone company till the ambulance or locksmith arrives can mess up your schedule. 

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Try Something New

 

What’s new? 

A girlfriend I’d been wanting to know better called and asked if I’d like to get together and go for a walk. Alarms went off in my head. Meet for coffee? Sure. Go out for lunch? Yes! Walk? Mmmmn, no. “Walk?” I asked suspiciously. “Sure, walk and talk,” she replied cheerfully.

This is not a good idea, I thought. I hadn’t exercised in a long time. I don’t own yoga pants or exercise clothes. The closest thing to a walking shoe I own is a pair of Reeboks that I bought for an aerobics class I never went to in 1988. 

But I really liked this woman and wanted to spend the time with her.  It’s just walking, I figured. Surely I can try something new. I can walk!

Just to clarify, I asked, “Where would we walk?” I looked hopefully out the window as we talked, willing thunderstorms to come rolling in, but alas, clear skies.

“How about we walk around Reed’s Lake?” she said. Reeds Lake is a small body of water in the center of Grand Rapids. I only knew that because one of my favorite eateries was settled on its shoreline. Maybe I could divert her inside.

Another long pause on my part. Finally, “How far around is that?” “Just 4.15 miles.” The fact that my friend knew it was exactly 4 point 15 miles should have tipped me off that her pace was going to challenging. “We’ll go slowly and if you get tired, we’ll stop,” she said reading my mind. 

“Okay, sounds fun,” I lied.

I put on a pair of grey sweatpants that were actually old pajama bottoms and a T-shirt, laced up my venerable shoes, and set off to meet my girlfriend. 

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Tomorrow Is A Procrastinator’s Favorite Word

Tomorrow is my favorite time zone.

Full of promise and opportunity. If you’re a procrastinator, tomorrow might be one of your words in not favorite time zones.

I live in an old farm house with closets the size of your refrigerator. Consequently, I only have room for in-season clothes. Off-season clothing hibernates in the basement. Last weekend, I switched out summer outfits for winter layers.

And I discovered a problem!

My winter bottoms like jeans and slacks were TIGHT! Oh well, I’ll just back up the ice cream binging a bit and I’ll be back in those clothes in no time.

But, wait. Culver’s flavor of the day is my favorite Dark Chocolate Decadence. I can’t start today, I’ll start my regime … tomorrow.

I’ll start … tomorrow.

The next day, I remember we have company coming for dinner in and it would be rude to serve them rabbit food and no dessert.

Again I said, “I’ll start … tomorrow.”

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When Good Intentions Fail

What a week!

We met up with both boys and our daughter-in-love for a week of camp. (Not camping, our “cabin” had indoor plumbing) We all sat around talking and eating and playing games. There were many campfires, lots of shooting guns, and some pitiful fishing adventures.

After a full week of revelry, an 11-hour drive home, and more pitstops at Micky D’s than I care to admit, we arrived home late at night. Exhausted, I dumped buckets of tie-dye projects and a ton of damp, sand-filled, smoky clothes in the house and went to bed.

The next day, I was up before dawn to speak at a conference. After two packed days of speaking, I returned home only to face piles of fermenting laundry, the science projects in the fridge, and the 10,000 emails in my inbox.

Lord, have mercy!

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Sin is Delicious

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sin is delicious. I wish it weren’t so, but it is.

Just this past weekend I almost dug brownies out of the garbage can. The willpower I had to toss them in the trash at 6pm was completely gone at 10:30pm and I wanted those brownies in the worst way. Who cares that I’d have to rummage through the garbage can outside with a flashlight? So what if I had to scrape a few coffee grounds off of them? I thought, Tomorrow, I’ll resume my “eating plan”, but tonight, I’m bingeing on brownies! If Mr. 4-Ever hadn’t caught me in the act, I’m sure I would have written this blog with fingers covered in gooey chocolate.

I never meant for this to happen. 

I work with so many women who get caught up in things they never dreamed would hook them.

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The Secret That Changes Lives

 

When Sylvia and I started working the same shift, I liked her right away. She was smart and confident and full of life. She had good ideas to make the work flow better and it was fun to be in her cubicle space.

At lunch, I often read my Bible or worked on a Bible study. Sylvia had no interest in God, but she was intrigued with me. “How can you go through so many hard things and not be angry at God?” she asked when I told her I was working at the office because my husband had died at 39 leaving me to take care for our two kids by myself.

As we learned more about each other, I realized Sylvia’s performance at work was exemplary but her personal life was messy. Her weekends were parties and binging and hooking up.

When she first started to tell me about her raucous weekends, she anticipated being judged, shamed, and lectured. But instead, I showed Jesus’ love to her.

Sharing the secret

As she accepted my acceptance of her, she stopped trying to shock me and began to confide in me, asking for advice. It was the open door to talk to her about Jesus.

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My Finest Recipe

The recipe everyone wants. 

Last week, I made the best balsamic Brussel sprouts … ever!  They were so good, everyone at the potluck wanted the recipe. (That didn’t surprise me, cuz I got the recipe at a different potluck.)

Though the recipe was simple, the dish was not easy to make. It took planning, timing, prepping and double-checking the instructions to make sure it would turn out well. But it was worth it to see it consumed with glee and share the goodness with others.

We readily share recipes for lasagna, banana bread and glazed Brussel sprouts, but what’s the recipe for a life that works?

The recipe for disaster.

I tried all sorts of things before Jesus.

  • Drugs.
  • Men.
  • Food.
  • Shopping.
  • Will-power.

Nothing worked till I surrendered my life to Jesus and found a woman to disciple me. Louise recognized how quickly a girl like me, who knew little about God and nothing about the Bible, could get discouraged or misled, so she took me on like a project and never made me feel like one. She provided a safe space for me to ask questions I was too embarrassed to ask in class.

  • How do I talk to God?
  • Where do I start reading the Bible?
  • Is there forgiveness for my past?
  • How can I let go of the pits and patterns that keep me stuck?
  • Where do I find peace in the midst of cruddy circumstances?
  • How do I know if God is leading me or if it’s my own idea?

Louise discipled me from starting out to standing firm. Could you do that?

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