Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, Resolutions, and Legacies

Most people make resolutions at the onset of a new year------weight loss and getting finances in order seem to top the list.  I have spent much time thinking what I want in the new year.  I think I can sum it up by saying I want to be more pleasing to God, to rely more on Him, and to be more like Jesus. I have the traditional resolutions, but they seem to fall under this umbrella.

What does it take to please God?  I think He is pleased when I rely more on Him, seeking Him for guidance as well as in times of need.  That is what a relationship with Him is about:  reliance.  I really don't know how people make it through this life without Him.  It is hard.  Life stinks sometimes...actually, much of the time.  If I rely on Him, I can accomplish the resolutions I make.....be they weight loss or finances.  It may take a moment-by-moment reliance, but that's ok.  That is what He wants of His children.

To be more like Jesus-----That is a hard one.....and one I really need to work on.  We are commanded to pray for our enemies, and I have to admit, that is a hard one for me.  When we are in the midst of trials provoked by another, it is human nature to balk at this expectation. Likewise, we are commanded to pray for those in authority over us.  How many of us do that?  How many of us who don't like the current President, pray for him rather than curse him?  I have had to change the topic with my own family members when one of them brings up the President.  Such vitriol is not productive.  Period....

To be more like Jesus also involves giving to those in need.  He has taught me much in the last year about that......and He continues to teach me.  In giving to those in need, He has shown me to rely on Him to provide the resources.  There have been times when I have said, "But how am I going to do this, God?"  He has responded by telling me to let Him worry about that.....and He has always provided.    A friend recently posted, "Nobody has ever become poor by giving to others."  Think about that.

Many people say we have but one life, so we should make the most of it.....have as much fun as we can while we can.....get what "things" we can to enjoy life.

I agree.....that we do have but one life here on earth; but, what does it mean to "make the most of it"?  When we are gone, do we want to be remembered for all the "toys" we accumulated, all the trips we took, all the people we trampled on to "get to the top" of our profession......or, do we want to be remembered for all the good that we did for others, for the blessing we tried to be?

What will be your legacy?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

On the outside it was not a beautiful cake; one could tell it was not done by a pro.  But the inside was scrumptious when I tasted the batter----real butter, eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, coconut, sugar, flour----and the outside was equally divine:  butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, walnuts.  The outside was every bit as decadent as the ingredients on the inside, but it wasn't "Cake Wars" worthy.  I was worried as I drove to deliver the cake to the client.  I shouldn't have been.  She knew the inside was far more valuable, because what is the purpose of the cake?  To sit and gaze at or to EAT?  It's the inside that truly matters.

So it is with us as humans.  1 Peter 3:3-4 cautions,
                           "Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles
                      and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.  Instead, it should consist
                      of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet
                      spirit, which is very valuable in God's eyes."

Our society has everything mixed up.  We have a celebrity like Miley Cyrus named one of the most intriguing people of the year, hang on everything the Kardashians do, and brushstroke models in magazines so young girls think they have to strive to be anorexic to be beautiful.  Once we reach a "certain age," we are deemed old and unattractive.....in society's eyes....and our society is driven by Hollywood.

God tells us in 1 Samuel 16:7:  "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

And, finally, Proverbs 20:29:  "The glory of young men is their strength; and the beauty of old men is the gray head."

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Show your beauty with your actions.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Keeping the Christ in Christmas

Tis the season.....for depression and commercialism.....yet, it is also the season for hope.........

The holiday season...........while I have no statistics to substantiate this, I know this is the time of year when most people hit the doldrums, seasonal depression, whatever you want to label it.  I speak from experience, and this morning was a classic example.

I found myself before 8 am in a local national retailer, wandering with a buggy.  I was looking for one thing on my son's Christmas list......and I was depressed.   As I meandered through the aisles, the Christmas music was subliminally trying to get me to buy more ....I am sure.  I could not find the item on my son's list, but I did do some Christmas shopping.  This is how I now approach Christmas:  I do not need anything (except a new phone).  Since this season is so hard on me emotionally (I am not happy with the place I am in life.), I seek to not focus on myself, but on others.

Today I started Christmas shopping for my school Angel.  This is a boy who has moved on to a higher grade, but he is one that last year went home on Fridays with a backpack of food he may not have had as well as special kid treats because God told me to help him.  While I see "I want" postings on Facebook and read of people stun gunning each other and knifing each other on Black Friday, I want to simplify Christmas.....I want to get as close to what I think Christ would want me to do.  And, to me, that means doing for others. 

If you know anything about Jesus, think of whom he hung out with:  tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers...............the misfits of society....those society spurned.........He, the Son of God, came to offer us, any of us, including the "marginal" of society (society's "cast-offs").....life everlasting beyond this broken, corrupted life on earth.  I believe He shakes his head in pain when he sees the greed demonstrated during this season that bears His name...........at how commercialized we have become so that the average person has either forgotten the reason for the season or gives Him a minimum nod.

I think of this boy who doesn't have much; and on his questionnaire he filled out, he is not asking for much.  God has given me the resources to help him, and that is my calling.  I do it in Jesus' name and for Him; I have to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Jesus is why I am compiling a baking list of items I need from the grocery store to bake for the kids at school...........any 6th grader, not just the 67 I teach.  A large number of the kids I contact daily live in poverty and in less-than-desirable home situations; I may be the only light some of them see on a daily basis.  That is why I  scoured the internet on-the-spur-of-the-moment for eggless brownies (I had no eggs but still wanted to bake.) the other night.  By the way, the kids LOVED them! 

So.................in this season of "I want" thinking when you may find yourself feeling depressed or harried from the "expected" shopping, slow down.  Ask yourself what you can do for someone else this season....connect or re-connect with the true meaning of Christmas:  Be  Christ to someone who may not know Him.........you may be the only light in that person's life.