All For A Bowl of Stew

stewThere was a time when I would go around and around the parking lot of a grocery store, just so I could park as close to the door as possible.  What good charismatic hasn’t claimed the best parking space “in the Name of Jesus!” Then, I would get a cart full of groceries, unload them into my car, and leave the cart wherever I could squeeze it.

Over time, stores installed cart return areas.  I am one of the rare people who pushes my cart to the return stall. By doing that, it doesn’t hit someone’s vehicle, doesn’t block a parking spot and makes it much easier for employees to gather the carts.  As a result, I rarely park close to the store.  Why?  The cart returns are never close to the store. I want to be in the best place to return the cart.  I am more concerned about the end of my journey than the beginning of the journey.

There is a man in scripture by the name of Esau.  His story is found in Genesis 25.  Esau is a man who shows us that spiritual blessings can be lost by living for the moment, and he did it all for bowl of stew!

Life is full of choices.  Every one of us will be offered the opportunity to live for the moment or to live for eternity.  It may be an occasion to cheat on your spouse, make a lot of money in a wicked way, indulge fleshly desires, receive a promotion in an illegitimate way, to become popular in an ungodly manner, or compromise the truth of scripture,  etc.

Esau made the foolish decision to take the immediate “payoff” of what he could see, touch, taste, and smell over much greater blessings in the future. Many people still do that today. Their whole lives are focused on what they can get now, and they end up missing the blessings of tomorrow.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[a] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Jeremiah 29:11

God does indeed have wonderful plans for His children, but be careful about parking in a place because it feels good right now.  How will it feel at the end of the journey?  I don’t want to look back in regret of what could have been, should have been or would have been, if only I had made decisions based on the will of God, instead of a bowl of stew or an easy parking place.

Spiritual blessings can be lost by living for the moment.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33

From the Inside Out

from-the-inside-out-650x269About three o’clock this past Sunday morning, we had stormy weather. The wind was blowing quite hard, and the rain was extremely heavy. I was lying on my sofa waiting for the storm to pass, when I heard a terrible crash.   Quickly I made my way to the bay window in my breakfast area.  In an effort to see what had crashed, I opened the blind to look out the window. The window was foggy so I could see nothing. I rubbed the window with my hand, but could still see nothing.   I decided to wait until daybreak to see what had happened.  As daylight pushed away darkness on Sunday morning, I looked out the window and saw that our large grill had been blown off the deck and into the yard.

That was not the only discovery I made that morning!   I knew the windows needed cleaning, but I had put it off.  The idea of going outside in the Alabama heat to clean windows did not appeal to me.  Then as cooler temps came, I was really not interested in cleaning windows while being cold.  What I discovered Sunday morning was that the fog I had tried to rub off the windows was actually dirt. The windows were dirty on the inside, not the outside.  My vision had not been clear, and it had nothing to do with what was going on outside, but what was going on inside.

Too often we are overly concerned about putting energy on the outside, when it’s the inside that needs the change.  As one writer said, “If you sit down with an angry, controlling man who is having marital problems and train him in communication skills, what will you have?  You will have an angry controlling man who is much better skilled at manipulation.  And most likely he will still have marital difficulties.  Without heart change we will just use what we have to serve the idols of our hearts.”

Situations will come and go.  It is a part of life.  We will become very tired and often fruitless if we are trying to work it all out while looking through a dirty window – thinking that all we need to do is change something on the outside.  What is needed is to sit with God, and ask Him to change our hearts, to change us from the inside out.

I can’t guarantee that all the situations of life will change and be exactly as you desire.  The situations of  life may remain unchanged, but by allowing God to develop the inside, you will have changed in the situation.  Only then can you actually see a situation accurately, and deal with it appropriately according to God’s plan.

Today I took the time to clean that bay window from the inside, and it’s amazing how much more clearly I can see what is going on outside!

“But this is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” – Jeremiah 31:33

Christmas Mourning and Christmas Morning


Like so many others, I enjoy the sacred parts of Christmas, and the fun parts.  I love nativity pageants with children waving at parents, picking their noses, or dropping the baby Jesus on his head!  While some kids will be perfect angels on stage, others will cause their parents to crawl under a pew!

I love a Christmas Eve candlelight communion service.  The softness of the music, and everyone’s thoughts united on the true meaning of Christmas, cause one to sense such a sweet presence of God.  It is one of my favorite services.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Yet, for many who love God and understand the true meaning of Christmas, it’s hard this year.  Many are suffering from grief and loss.  Many have mourning on Christmas morning.  For those suffering with deep grief and sorrow this Christmas, may I just express a few thoughts?

First of all, I feel your pain.  When we love someone deeply and are accustomed to having that person as a part of our holiday celebration, there is a hole when they are gone.  It is painful.  Last year was our first year without Bryan.  Though I love God, and I am deeply committed to Him, I went through the motions of celebrating last year.   I was trying to “be there” for the rest of my family, but I was so overcome with sorrow.

As I have gotten older, I don’t decorate as much as I once did.  Last year I did no decorating.  My family kidded me about it, but I never told them that I could not bear to decorate.  It’s okay not to “feel” like doing some of these things if you are in grief.  It’s also okay if you do feel like doing some of these things.  In this our second year without our son, I have made my home more festive.  I literally cried the whole time I decorated, but that is okay.  I am now enjoying the beauty of Christmas.  I love the joy I see in my grandchildren when they see the lights, the Santas, the two nativities – one which plays music, the Christmas train and all the rest of the trimmings.

I am praying for those who are dealing with this kind of grief and loss.  God is hugging you today.  He understands where you are, and He cares about every tear.  Jesus Christ left the splendor of heaven, and was born as a babe into a world that was dark and broken.  He became Immanuel – God with us.    NEVER, NEVER, NEVER WILL JESUS LEAVE US!  He will be with us in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health, in success and failure, in poverty and prosperity, in joy and sorrow.  He will be with you if you are mourning on Christmas morning.

“A virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  Matthew 1:23

That’s Not What I Meant

What I meant (2)

We just returned from a fun-filled visit with our daughter-in-law Sarah and our grandson Tucker.  The days were filled with projects, laughter and food.

Tucker is about eighteen months old and wants to be in the middle of all conversations and whatever is going on.  While he was a baby, Sarah spent time teaching Tucker baby sign language, so he could communicate some of his needs and desires.

Tucker learned to wave his hand up and down, which means I want something to drink.  Think of the motion of moving a drink up and down.  As he was playing with Papa, Tucker got thirsty.  I was in the kitchen cooking, and Tucker and Papa came into the room.  Tucker was standing by the refrigerator and began to rapidly pump his hand up and down.  I waved back, assuming he was telling me, “hi!”  Tucker kept pumping his arm, while displaying desperate eyes.  Tucker knew what he meant, but we did not! What I interpreted him to say was not at all what he meant.

Later, I vaguely remembered that Sarah had mentioned that waving the hand up and down was sign for “drink.”  I poured Tucker a drink, and he was happy beyond words as the water hit his lips!  As I took time to think about it, I gained understanding of what Tucker was trying to say.

What Tucker and I had was a communication problem.

Too often we have a communication problem.  This happens in marriages, friendships, relationships and church life.  Like Tucker, someone is desperately trying to communicate something to us, and we interpret it as something else.  I find this especially true on Facebook and other social media, but it also true in real life.

In my younger days, I quickly wrote people off when I disagreed with them.  Over time, I realized that often I wasn’t really hearing what people were saying.  I also realized that I had to be right!  As I have matured, my goal is no longer to be right, but to listen to people, try to understand what they are actually saying, and even when I disagree, to say so in an agreeable manner.  I am responsible for me.

Before we just write people off because we disagree, let’s take time to sit down and try to understand where each other is coming from.  We don’t have to agree, but let’s hear each other out, who knows, like with Tucker, we all might win in the end.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” – James 1:19

What Kind of Cart Are You Pushing?


The day before Thanksgiving,  I decided to do a quick run into Costco to pick up a few things.  Quick run and day before Thanksgiving should not even be in the same sentence!

There were hundreds of people in the store and no grocery carts were available, so I decided I’d just carry my items.  After all, I am a strong woman!   I began meandering through the crowd in the food section of the store.  I picked up a bag of fruit, a gallon of milk and a few other items.  Pretty soon it was more than I could manage, and a cart was needed.

Off in the distance I saw an empty cart and raced to get it before someone else did.  I dumped my items in the cart and immediately discovered that the cart had a mind of its own!  When I tried to go straight, it decided to the right.  I had to work so hard to keep the cart in a straight line, that within five minutes, my arms were fatigued.   The wheels on the cart were out of alignment, thus the journey down the aisles was very tiring and unsuccessful.

I was blessed to come upon another empty cart.  Hooray for me!   I put all the items in that cart and continued on my journey down the aisles.  To my dismay, that cart squeaked very loudly and was also out of alignment.  All eyes were on me as I went up and down the aisles screeching and bumping into things.  My cart wasn’t just affecting me now, but those around me.  Surely I could make it the rest of the way even if I was out of alignment!  Once again, my arms become so tired that I did not even want to finish what I had started.  I was ready to give up.  I had much to overcome in order to be victorious in Costco that day, and it was going to be much harder if I continued out of alignment.

My eyes caught a vision of a third empty cart, and I put my items in it.  This one was in perfect alignment.  The journey was no longer sapping my energy.  I was no longer spending so much time fighting just to stay on the path.  I was now able to conquer Costco!

The problem had been an alignment problem.

Too often this is the story of the Christian walk.  God has given us His word to show us how to walk down the aisles of life.  As we journey through life, far too many wrong choices are made about dating, marriage, sex, finances, spiritual matters, Facebook posts and other issues. Making decisions out of alignment with God’s Word will cause our “cart” to go in directions it was never intended.   When we choose to do life our way, we get tired and burned out, and find ourselves struggling to keep it in the road. This can produce a lot of squeaking in our lives, the kind that affects others.

I have made a decision to try to walk my life as close to scriptural principles as possible.   I want to stay in alignment with Him.   What kind of cart are you pushing?  If your cart has you going in all kinds of wrong directions, then today is the day to let go of that squeaky, wayward cart, and lay hold of the cart God has provided.  It sure makes the journey better for you and those around you.

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”  Psalm 119:105