Monday, February 17, 2020

Nostalgia: You Can't Go Back

One of my favorite things to do when I get on a phone call with my mom and my sister is talk about the "old days," better known as childhood memories. We got on a jag Sunday night describing all our old neighbors.

I do admit I have an affection for thinking about the places and people of my childhood.

Oxford says nostalgia is "a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations." In fact, the roots words of nostalgia from the Greek mean homecoming and ache, so nostalgia is a strong desire to return to the way things once were.

Hope you didn't mind the etymology study for today!

Although, I do love talking about my childhood, I have to admit I do not have a strong desire to return to the old days. I'm blessed in that I do have so many good and funny life stories.

I started blogging all those years ago just so those stories would not get lost.  I even once wrote a whole 31 Day series of life stories

So, I get nostalgia. But, I can't live there. All those events made me who I am today, both the good and the bad. It's fun to revisit the past, and good to see the lessons learned; but I can't stay long. I must press on.

If I were to press ahead on my journey, all the while looking back over my shoulder, what would happen? Wouldn't I miss what is in front of me? Wouldn't it be easy to fall into a pit or a trap the enemy has laid for me?

What about you? Do you love stories of nostalgia and dream of being back in yester-year? Or are you ready to press on with lovely memories tucked away in your heart but eyes wide open to the possibilities before you?

I want my eyes wide open and expectant.

This is post #14 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series," written from the perspective of a recovering perfectionist. You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.

It should be no surprise when events have conspired to waylay, me, the recovering perfectionist, from ending this series on time. The #Write28Days challenge started February 1. Today is February 17 and I'm only on my 14th post. I say this to point out before I started recovering from my perfectionism, I would have thrown out the whole series if I couldn't end it on February 28. Instead, I will write 28 posts. They might not be consecutive, but they will get written!

I'm linking this post with the community at Inspire Me Monday. Join us!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Exact likeness

On our journey, we are excited to think about our destination Home, seeing our loved ones and Jesus. I've not heard as many people say they want to see God's face. His holiness and righteousness may seem more than we can handle.

Maybe it's because a lot of people have this mental picture of Jesus as the friendly loving part of the Trinity, and God as the stern, righteous Judge, just waiting for us to mess up.

The truth is, Jesus is just like God. The Apostle Paul was describing the difference between Satan and Christ to the Corinthian church, and he put it this way: 

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. 2 Corinthians 4:4 NLT

God, the Father, is exactly like Jesus. Jesus is the exact representation of God.

In fact, Jesus himself said this:  Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! 

Yes, Jesus loved us so much, He gave His life for us; but the Father loved us enough to be willing to let Him go. We, as parents, can't fathom that kind of love. No way would we give up our child for anyone!

It's true both God and Jesus knew He'd be resurrected: but the amount of suffering Jesus had to go through was unbelievable. No one wants to see your child suffer.

But They have the same exact heart - one that was full of unfailing love, goodness, mercy and redemption.

So, don't think only Jesus loves you - the Father does, too.

"... for the Father himself loves you dearly because you love me and believe that I came from God." John 16:27 NLT

This is post #13 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series." You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.

I'm linking this post at the Inspire Me Monday community.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Surprise: 5 Unexpected Blessings

On our journey, we are going to be surprised by challenges, obstacles and blessings. Often, you'll hear someone say, "Whoa - didn't see that coming!"

But God is never surprised by what happens to us or what we might need. He knows before we even get around to uttering them in prayer. 

"Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!" Matthew 6:8 NLT

He still wants you to ask for guidance, direction and needs, though; because He likes communicating with you. It's a major reason why He made humans in the first place - He wanted fellowship.

In 2020, I've made a practice of reflecting upon and sharing 5 blessings from my week.

When talking about God knowing my need before I even ask, I realize it's the same way with my weekly blessings. He provides things to uplift and cheer me in this life without my even asking for them.

Here's my unexpected five:

1. Belated birthday dinner - On Sunday after church, my sister-in-love asked if we were free for dinner. They wanted to treat me for my birthday. Good food and good fellowship followed. It's wonderful when like minds get together. We had quite the fascinating conversation on end-time prophecy. Surprised by kindness!

2. We've had several days of cloudiness and rain. All I'd heard about was how cold Friday was going to be. Today is beautifully sunny. Surprised by the light!

3. I'd ordered Jennie Allen's new book, Get Out of Your Head to read as the same time as a friend; but I had fooled around doing it, and it was sold out. Today, I get a message it's on it's way. Surprised by speediness!

4. Yesterday, I'd related how I'd been studying the concept of hesed and God's covenant loyal love. I'm up to 108 instances and I know there are at least 247 total in the Old Testament. The King James Version translates it mostly as loving kindness, the New Living Translation chose unfailing love. Either way, I'll take it. I'm constantly surprised by His love. It's everywhere!

5. Surprised by anticipation. I'm looking forward to Saturday, the day I take as my personal Sabbath. I've been working two jobs for 15 years. I'm so happy to have rearranged things where I can have most of Saturday off. (I can't seem to make ALL of Saturday be rest - but I'm getting there.) I can't believe how much I look forward to Saturdays!

You might say these things are nothing earth-shaking (well, except for the one about God's love); but I think it proves the point I started out with in this post: He knows what I need before I ask and He provides little blessings all along my journey.

How about you? Has goodness surprised you this week? Let us know in the comments; or consider making your own post and linking up with the Friday's Fave Five group. You can find them here.

This is post #12 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series." You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.

I'm also linking this post to the community at Grace&Truth.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ponder; Uncovering Richness

As defined by Merriam-Webster, ponder means to weigh in the mind, appraise, think about, reflect on. Ponder is also a synonym for meditate defined as: to focus one's thoughts on, reflect on or ponder over.

It feels like today's world does not meditate or ponder much. We're like butterflies flitting from one idea to another. It's hard for us to land on one thought and sip the sweetness from it. And, it's too noisy to hear anything with all the stimulation going on around us.

I've found silence to be so healing. I do admit that silence enables one to think; and some of us don't want to, but it really is good for us!

If you're a believer like me, pondering things as I'm traveling this journey helps bring scripture alive to me.

For example, this morning's scripture for my Daily Offering - otherwise known as Quiet Time - was this:

But as for me, I will sing about your power.    Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.For you have been my refuge,    a place of safety when I am in distress.O my Strength, to you I sing praises,    for you, O God, are my refuge,    the God who shows me unfailing love. Psalm 59:16-17

Here's what I found to ponder - three times it's mentioned about singing. Now in the old days, when I was just reading Scripture to mark off boxes for my daily reading; I would have skipped over that - or not even noticed it was said three times.

And to be honest, I've been on a hesed hunt for 108 days now - finding instances where the word in the original language, "hesed," most often translated, "unfailing love," was listed. This is the reason I was in Psalm 59 in the first place. Hesed was there three times; today, I found unfailing love in this passage twice.

But I got to thinking ... hmm.. singing three times in two verses. Perhaps God wants me to take notice of something. So I looked it up and found something worthy of note. The three times "sing" was mentioned was three different words.

(Word study is so interesting!)

“Three different words are used for this, which might be rendered ‘I will sing…I will shout (59:16); I will raise a psalm (59:17).” (Kidner)

I also notice each time was accompanied by the word, "will." In other words, when trouble comes, I make up my mind to sing, shout and praise.


I challenge you to join me on pondering God's Word. I'm only doing the smallest chunks of scripture at a time; but boy, what richness I'm uncovering!

This is post #11 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series." You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.

I'm linking this post to InstaEncouragements LinkUp and #TuneInThursday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Experience: Can't Argue With It

On your journey, you will find several who will be skeptical of your passion for God. 

They might even try to argue with you, wanting to convince you God is not real.

The best thing to do is to share your experience. People might try to twist the words in the bible and hope to trip you up; but they can't argue against what has happened to you. 

This is also another reason why it's vital for you to find community. Sharing of each other's experiences only helps strengthen and encourage. Don't be shy! Don't hold back! If God has done something for you, let everyone know. 

Your words might be just what the one on the brink of despair needed to hear.

There is so much noise out there in the world. A great percentage of it is negative, disturbing and dark.

But like a lone candle brightens the darkest cave, your testimony of God's provision and protection in your life can banish shadows.

My experience is God has sustained me through family addictions, infertility, my spouse's mental illness, job loss and hard times. He has blessed me abundantly with 3 children, 2 sons-in-law, 3 grandchildren, love, laughter, a calling and community.

What's your experience? Do you find it easy to share the goodness of God wherever you go? What keeps you from saying anything?  Although, they might not look like it, the world is hungry to hear there is a God who cares.

May the Lord provide opportunity for you to share His goodness today!

This is post #10 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series." You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.

I'm linking this post to Recharge Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Learn: Find out what works.

Sometimes I've said unkind things to myself.

When making a repeat mistake, often I'll shake my head and whisper to myself, "When will you ever learn?"

The truth is, mistakes are the proving ground to help us learn. We can be told some theoretical practice and believe it to be so; but it is only when we put a practice to a test can we see what needs to be done.

An example everyone can relate to is balancing your checkbook. When I got out on my own, I had a hard time learning to reconcile my account frequently. It would be the last thing on my mind until I got my statement. But mid-month, mistakes would be made, I'd utter, "When will you ever learn?"  Then, I'd pay the price and go on.

I'm a slow-learner, but nowadays, I've built into my daily routine to check my bank balance. Simple, yet effective.

Would it be fair to say that making mistakes is the best way to learn? After all, the loftiest ambition, the most noble ideas must be lived out in real life - and sometimes we find out the idea is a dud. Then we must dust ourselves off and try again. If we are wise, we will take what we have learned from our mistake and make adjustments. It might take a series of failures; but that helps us to find out what works.

Like it or not, we are lifetime learners. We might not crack open the books once we leave academia; but we are learning from our experiences. Will we be wise and make adjustments? 

I can't speak for others; but I don't want to "keep going around that same mountain until I get it right." I want to take what I've learned, implement it, and then see some new ground!

How about you? Are you kind or impatient with yourself when you've failed to learn something?

This is post #9 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series." You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.

I'm linking this post at #TellHisStory.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Explore the Bible

There is a series of bible studies I order as curriculum to be used in the Sunday School classes for one of my churches entitled, "Explore the Bible."

I like the name, "Explore the Bible," and feel it is a mantra every believer should adopt. Becoming a student of the Word is an occupation that is vital to our spiritual growth; but exploring the Bible adds a new dimension. We are not just studying and memorizing; but we are discovering.

What do we discover as we read the Bible? The characteristics and attributes of God; His covenant love and mercy extended to His children time and time again; His holiness; and His standards of justice towards the disobedient.

Most of all, as we explore His word, our thoughts and intents of our own hearts are revealed to us. So many times, we have no idea what is lurking in our innermost thoughts. As we read, our eyes are opened. Then, we have an opportunity to repent and take care of wrong thinking.

Being an explorer of the Word is something anyone can do. Before starting on any exploration, ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide and companion. You'll be amazed at what He will reveal.

Do you want to be an explorer? You don't have to be talented or have a sense of direction. You don't have to be young and agile. All you have to have is a teachable heart, a desire to learn and be willing to invest your time.

Be an explorer and dive in to the Word.

This is post #8 of my "Walk the Walk Christian Living Series." You can go here to see the links of each post as they go live.