31 July 2008
29 July 2008
Have you ever thought about what this text REALLY means? We live in a world of excess...we have multiple homes, multiple cars, multiple televisions, cell phones, BlackBerrys. As Americans, we throw away almost as much food as we physically consume - and think little or nothing about it when we do. I have even had the experience of offering a homeless person something to eat and have them tell me that they didn't like strawberry yogurt and if that was all I had to offer, they would pass. Ok, is it just me or if you are asking for money for food and someone offers you food, wouldn't you accept it EVEN IF it wasn't your favorite flavor? I'm just saying.
Back in Jesus' day (and in some cultures today), there wasn't this type of waste. I have never been to France, but I understand that the culture there is to every day go to the bakery and get bread for the day. "Daily bread", get it. In order words, the Parisiens only get what they will need for just that day. There is little or no waste.
Too often, when we petition the Lord with our requests, we ask for the sun, moon, stars and throw in a couple of planets while you're at it...instead of just asking for strength for the day and the trials inherent in that specific 24 hours. "This day". Jesus reminds us with this short little phrase that all we need help with is the immediate. We don't have to worry about tomorrow or next week or next year - in truth, none of those are promised to us anyway. Yes, we are to "occupy" until...make plans and set goals, but don't "worry" about them in the moment. And trust God to give you just what you need just for today.
25 July 2008
Well, the new word of this summer is "stay-cation" - or when you take time off work to stay at home, instead of traveling somewhere for a vacation. With increasing fuel prices, it is becoming harder and economically infeasible for families to travel any great distance on vacation. Whether by automobile or airplane or train or whatever...with gas prices hovering near or above $4 a gallon, people have to make a choice with their vacation funds...and more and more people are choosing to stay at home. There was recently a Good Morning America spot about ideas you could implement to make it fun - picnics on the front lawn or at a local park; renting a hotel room and playing "tourist" in your hometown (added benefit: using their pool and facilities).
I'm taking a week off work next week and staying at home. Now granted, I will be getting my roof replaced - it was damaged during the tornado that hit our town in March of this year - so it won't be ALL fun and games, but I have some fun things planned as well. I took my first "stay-cation" last year and found it to be very productive and enjoyable. I made a long list of things to do - most of which actually got accomplished, believe it or not - but I also learned a lesson or two:
Time off work should be spent enjoying yourself. While you may have "projects" to do, taking time for a massage or spa day or afternoon at the movies will do wonders for the soul.Don't make too long a list of things to do. You'll look at the list, get overwhelmed and do nothing.
Set a time limit for how much time you are going to devote to a specific project each day. If you want to go through a closet and clear it out, set a time limit. "I will work on this closet for two hours - or until noon - and then I'm done." Setting a time limit means the end is in sight at the very beginning and maybe you won't resent doing it so much.
Stay focused. If your goal is to re-do your budget - re-do the budget. Don't distract yourself with doing the laundry at the same time or clearing out the DVR queue or ... well, you get the picture. One thing at a time will get more things done.
Turn off the alarm. Your natural sleep cycle will wake you up when it is time for you to awaken. This is always hard for me because I naturally wake up at 4:00a. On vacation/stay-cations, I have to give myself permission to burrow back under the covers and go back to sleep. It usually only takes about two days for me to not feel guilty about it.
Go to a new restaurant.
Go to that tourist attraction that you only get to enjoy when company is in town and insists on visiting. You will find you will enjoy it more when you don't have to play "host".
I don't know what your plans are for summer vacation, but if you are staying close to home, I hope these hints help. Have a great weekend. I don't know (yet) if I'm vacationing from blogging, but just in case...
24 July 2008
Obviously, waking up each morning "clothed in my right mind with all my limbs and faculties working as they should" is a major one.
Having a job to go to every day that on most days, I love and enjoy - and that pays me well enough to meet my financial responsibilities - and still buy shoes at will and leisure. [Of course, right now, I am still on my "shoe shopping fast" (only one more month to go), but you get the picture!]
Family and friends that love me - in spite of...
Sunrises, sunsets, full moons, rainbows, flowers
Traveling on the crazy, traffic-congested, construction-obstructed roads and highways of a major metropolitan city every day without accident or incident
Food, food, glorious food
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I admonish you to "stop and smell the roses" - learn to take time to appreciate the little things and the big things will be even more magnificent - take time to take stock of the many miracles that surround you every day. Maybe by doing that you will take your focus off of your problems and issues and concerns - and find relief from your burdens ('cause we all have them!)
23 July 2008
Last night, I celebrated a "girls night out" with a group of six FABULOUS women (including me) and during the course of the night, as we were reading our fortune cookies, one declared, "I have the best girlfriends in the world!" and I have to agree with her. Not only the five women I dined with last night, but my life is chockfull of women who have "been there" for me. Which is an amazing thing in and of itself since I am a self-declared lover of male friends as opposed to female friends. (And not just for the obvious physical reasons either!) As a child (and even into adulthood), I was hurt several times by female "friends" who, out of spite or jealousy or over some man or whatever reason, lashed out and caused harm. And, if I am brutally honest: I KNOW I have done the same to some women who have passed through my life. And even if/though I have apologized, the wounds are still there. So for YEARS, I have loudly proclaimed, "I would rather have a male friend than a female one." And there is still some validity to that statement, but I have found (as I get older and hopefully more mature), there is value in having good female friends as well.
A magazine I was reading recently had an article about the "7 Female Friends Every Woman Needs" - and I don't remember all their categories, but it went something like: a travel buddy, a comedian, a wet shoulder, a spiritual guide, the childhood friend...etc. etc. I remember as I read the article thinking that I was blessed to have female friends who filled all their categories and then some. In a blog I did around Mother's Day, I paid tribute to a lot of women who have impacted my life...and in the spirit of the appreciation quote above, I'd like to briefly say "Thank you" to all the female friends, my sistagirls, the girlfriends, "my girls" who:
...continually lift me up
...support me in all my crazy endeavors (and I have more than one occasionally)
...are there at 3:00a when I text them crazy messages
...pray for me and with me
...offer financial advice and solutions to situations I put myself into
...don't judge me
...love me unconditionally
...are "related" to me, even if the same blood doesn't flow through our veins
...go shoe shopping with me
...remember me when they travel
...stand in line to get the autograph of my favorite authors "just because"
...travel with me - and still desire to remain my friend after we get back home
...laugh with me
...are honest with me when I mess up
...compliment me - even when I'm having a bad hair day (and yes, people with locs can have them too!)
...help me dye my hair because I need a little "pick me up"
...help me feel better when I decide maybe I should have stayed with the original color after all
...listen to me vent about ... whatever ... no matter how many times I need to vent
...tell me I am fabulous when I am feeling less than
...know me and love me anyway
...give me my space when I ask for it and wait patiently for me to come back
...encourage my ministry, even when I am feeling less than worthy
...send me little notes in the mail because they know how much I enjoy going to the mailbox and receiving personal messages
...text me just to say "hey, how you doing?" or call because it's been a while
...nourish my soul in inexplicable and unexplainable ways
I am truly blessed to have each of them in my life. I pray you have a circle of friends who do the same to and for you. If you do, take time to tell them how much you love and appreciate them. It will mean the world to them...and a lot to you.
20 July 2008
17 July 2008
I seem to be surrounded by people who "hear" me, but never "listen" to me. And YES! THERE IS A DIFFERENCE! I am convinced of this fact. Listening, truly listening to people, is becoming a lost art. Webster's Dictionary defines hearing as "the sense by which sound is perceived" and listening as "to pay attention; to heed." Unless you are deaf, we all can "hear" - we are given the ability to discern sounds and words and translate them into language...but listening...that's something totally different. Listening is something we have to learn how to do...and unfortunately, there aren't a lot of classes out there teaching this skill.
I think the problem with listening is that, when you are truly listening to someone, you have to stop and focus on them - what they are saying (and sometimes what they are not) and often, [let's be honest here], we engage in conversations by just waiting for our turn to say something. How many times have you been in a conversation with someone and they are going on and on about something and after a while, all you hear is "blah blah blah blah blah" and you are just sitting there waiting to jump in with your comment or two cents or change of subject? That's "hearing", not "listening". Listening is truly a self-less activity - you have to suspend your natural tendency to make the conversation about yourself, and truly focus in on what the other person is saying or trying to convey. And that is not always easy - especially if you have had the conversation in question with the person in question before...several times...every day....for the last few years. I mean, really...how many times do you want to hear about a faulty relationship if your advice is going unheeded and no effort is being made to change the circumstances of the relationship? Probably not more than two or three times...but a good listener will sit there and listen to the story again as if it were the first time it were ever told.
I strive daily to be a good listener because it irritates me to no end when people don't listen to me and I have to repeat myself over and over again. But it is hard and few of us do it well. Turning yourself off in order to tune into the needs of someone else - difficult to do because most of us are basically selfish in nature. I admire professionals who, by the very nature of their professions, have to be good listeners - therapists, psychologists and pyschiatrists immediately come to mind. I know I couldn't do it. I would be too impatient..."Mrs. Jones, we have been working on this issue for ten years now - what part of (insert issue here) do you just not get?" Yeah, I don't think my practice would survive very long...
Thankfully, my Heavenly Father is a good listener. Would that I would listen to Him more often.
This blog is dedicated to my mother who hears me say, "You never listen to me!" at least once a day.
15 July 2008
14 July 2008
And horror of horrors, don't let something tragic have happened over the weekend - then what do you do? I mean, we've all been in the position when you innocently ask the Monday morning question, only to find out that the house was flooded, or the kid or pet is sick, or word was received of a death of a family member or loved one. And then you're really stuck! Because now you have to give consolation or offer advice or commiserate or...well, you get the picture.
I hate making this admission because (1) it makes me sound somewhat cold, callous and unfeeling - which is not my normal character...[stop laughing!]. (2) I know there will be some people who are going to read this the wrong way and run with the story that I said "don't ask her about her weekend and don't tell her about yours because she really doesn't care." Which is not what I am trying to say at all. I'm just saying...do you ask the question because you really care about the answer - or do you ask the question because it is what is expected of you? Is it just part of what you are expected to do on Monday mornings? How many times have you been asked the Monday morning question and just wanted to invent some fantastic, fabulous, unbelievable story just to see how the person asking the question would respond? I am often tempted.
That may be the reason that I started answering the other hated perfunctory question - "How are you?" with the response, "I'm fabulous - how are you?" When I first started responding that way, people stopped in their tracks..."Fabulous? Really? Why?" and then I could tell them - something, anything...but it started a TRUE conversation as opposed to a false one where no one was really listening. Unfortunately now, at work, people expect that as my response - so much so that when I respond, "I'm fine", people think something is wrong with me.
All I am really trying to say is this: I'd rather have a "real" conversation with someone than a conversation that I will forget the moment I am out of their presence. We have too many "fake" conversations during the course of a day, a career, a lifetime. I think it is time to have some meaningful conversations - conversations that will make a difference. If you don't want to know about the weekend, don't ask. If hearing (yet again) about the fabulous vacation someone just took will make you want to stick a fork in your eyeball - don't ask about it. Don't fake it. Be sincere in your relationships.
Oh, and in case you were wondering: My weekend was great - how was yours? (smile)
11 July 2008
Ok...I have to admit, I am ADDICTED to Facebook. It just sucks you in! It's like legal "crack". I can see what my friends are up to, gauge how their days (and lives) are going by their cryptic status updates, see their pictures, send them virtual gifts, challenge them to online games and competitions...it is amazing...and time consuming. And I haven't even mastered 10% of the stuff that my younger friends know about the site. I mean, I thought I was the woman when my friend list hit 100 - but I have younger friends whose list of friends number in the thousands. I'm jealous...sort of. Because...for the most part, all of my friends are people that I actually KNOW - or know someone they know. I have very few "virtual friends" on my list (meaning, people I have never met, but we have connected due to mutual interests or hobbies, etc.) But even my "virtual friends" (shout out to Ms. Janice Ellis from London) have made significant impact on my life. Janice sends me "wisdom" on a daily basis as well as "growing gifts" and it always brings a smile to my face.
Like anything that starts off good, there are negatives to social networks as well. We've all heard the MySpace predator horror stories, and Facebook could lend itself to "stalking" (if that is a personality disorder you suffer from...hey! I'm seeking treatment! pray for and with me! hahaha) But as I delve more into the many layers of Facebook, I am finding positive things as well. Christian discussion groups are popping up more and more, including those that are based on my personal belief philosophy (the Seventh-day Adventist Church). I see young people joining in and discussing what they believe and why they believe - and I see them using the Internet as a tool to witness to others. And I am encouraged.
The Bible teaches us that "this gospel must be preached into all the world" before our Saviour returns to take us home with Him. No longer does that mean that missionaries have to pack up and move into wilds of Africa or Australia or even downtown Atlanta to preach the gospel. With technology, we can spread the gospel - on Facebook and MySpace - through text messaging and IMs - through our cell phones and Blackberries. We can each do our part to finish the work of the gospel - all through our social networks - real and virtual.
Have a great weekend.
10 July 2008
08 July 2008
Just writing that - I'm tired already...and yet, that is my weekday routine (few tweaks here and there depending on the circumstances), but to do what I do, I have to have "guidelines", a routine, some order in all the chaos. And when I am out of my element - on vacation, a day off, the weekend - the routine gets dropped and it ain't always pretty. This was brought home to me very clearly on my recent trip to DC for the Independence Day holiday. I was "off my game", not in a way that was immediately visible to others, but I felt discombobulated a lot because my routine was off - because things were not done in their usual manner.
I wonder if God has a "routine"? I mean, I know "He never sleeps, He never slumbers" (and praise Him for that!), but ... when you are keeping the universe in line, and making sure the planets don't collide with each other, and that the sun shines in the daytime and the moon shines at night; and sending the rain on the just and the unjust, and keeping the birds singing and the flowers blooming and the animals roaming, and answering the prayers of the saints and the desperate, and comforting the bereaved, and healing the sick, and laughing at the foolishness of the human being who calls herself your Favorite Child ... do you have to have a routine to keep it all going the way it is supposed to go? Or are you just God and it just happens that way without effort, thought, or planning?
Just another thing I need to make it to heaven so I can ask for myself, I guess.
07 July 2008
02 July 2008
And our lesson study for church this week talks about Christ, His crucifixtion, but more importantly, His resurrection and what that means to us as Christians. BUT, do we really think about the cost He paid for us? I know that I don't think about it as much as I should. If I did, I wouldn't do some of the things I continue to do...but that's the subject of another blog at another time....maybe.
One of my favorite Christian authors (Ellen G. White) admonishes us that we should spend some time EVERY DAY reflecting on the cross and the sacrifice made there for our sins. EVERY DAY...I cannot think of anything I think about EVERY day...not even Denzel or Shemar. (Ok, maybe Shemar...sigh) But I can see the importance of thinking on the sacrifice Christ made for...me. And He would have done it JUST FOR ME.
Have you ever really sat down and thought about that? IF everyone else on the world was perfect, never messed up, never did anything wrong - followed all God's commandments, treated everyone with love, compassion and mercy, shared their abundance with joy and not begrudging - if EVERYONE else did that and I was the only one to mess up, the only one to be mean, irritable, nasty, disobedient, intemperate...If I was the only one - Christ would have still given up glory and His place next to His Father on the throne - become a babe in a manager and died on the cross JUST FOR ME. Unbelievable! And He would have done the same thing JUST FOR YOU as well.
Something to think about. Something to ponder. Something to hopefully change your life.