Under The Influence

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. I write for just 5 minutes, no heavy editing, and see what comes out. Today’s prompt is “influence.” Check out all the other posts here.

I’m easily swayed, I admit it. Maybe it’s part of my people-pleaser personality, but it’s easy for me to see many sides of an issue and not be able to make up my mind as to which is better. But maybe that’s not a bad thing when it comes to issues that tend to divide.

Current issues like immigration, the government shutdown, racial injustice, or women’s equality. I tend to take a non-polarizing middle ground. I really can see the issues from either side. I come from a family of immigrants, just a couple of generations back. Yet I also think that we need to secure our borders.

I think women should be treated equally and get the same pay as men if they’re doing the same job and should be treated with respect. But I also know that men and women are different, created by God to BE different. Otherwise we wouldn’t need each other.

The fact is, I need to make sure that I am not being unduly influenced by those I consider authorities on certain subjects, because even authorities can differ in their opinions.

The Apostle Paul understood this. When he was writing to the Thessalonians, he said this:

“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (I Thess. 5:21 ESV).

Test everything. Don’t be unduly influenced by those who may be charismatic speakers. God is faithful. If you ask Him for wisdom, He will surely supply it.

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Believe It Or Not

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series, where I write for just 10 minutes, without heavy editing, and see what I get. Each post is based on a prompt given to me by a reader.

 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 English Standard Version).

I’ve been reading the Gospel of Mark lately. Lots and lots of things happen in the book of Mark. People are healed, authorities are challenged, parables are told. As in all the gospel narratives, one things always seems to stand out: the need for faith.

Above, I quoted a Bible verse that gives a definition of faith, but just after that, a little more is given: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

From Jesus’ questioning of the people who wanted to be healed to His wisdom when speaking to the religious leaders, it’s apparent that what He wanted was for people to have faith—in Him and in the plan His Father had for the redemption of the world.

“Repent and believe,” “your faith has made you whole,” “come and follow Me.”  All these are things Jesus said to the people He encountered. And yet, so many questioned. “Who is this man? Is he not Joseph’s son? Isn’t this the carpenter?”

They were short-sighted and hard-hearted. Jesus’ words could stir the hearts of those who heard them. Something deep within them told them that He was speaking the truth. But hard hearts have a hard time being stirred.

Have you ever tried to stir butter that has not been set out on the counter to soften? Or mold clay that has sat too long and gotten hard? Not easy, is it? If we let our hearts become hard, whether due to disappointment or discouragement or rebellion, we will have a hard time being stirred by God’s words to us. Faith will be hard to find.

Jesus encountered many lepers. Mark records an instance in which one leper came to Jesus and said, “If you will, you can heal me.” Jesus was moved by compassion and touched the man. Touched him! A leper! And made him well. The leper had faith and Jesus had compassion.

God simply wants us to believe that He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. Are you willing?

In The Fullness of Time

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I’m not very good at waiting. I admit that. Especially when I’m waiting for someone to respond to an email, or a text. Especially a text.

I can’t imagine what the Jews went through for hundreds of years waiting for the Messiah. “How long, O Lord?”

My waiting for a response from a friend, or test results, or a long-awaited desire to be fulfilled, seems pretty petty in relation to a Messiah. A Savior. The Jews were under  terrible rulers for so long. Roman reign was hard and cruel. The Jews must have thought God was never going to show up.

And so many missed it when He did. Expecting a political savior, they missed the One who would save their souls. Wanting an easier life here on earth, they turned away from the One who would give them eternal life in heaven.

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Their wait was worth it, if only they had been ready to see God’s answer to their years and years and years of prayers. In the fullness of time.

I don’t always hear back when I want to when it comes to text messages from friends, but may I never miss God showing up.

 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Five minutes of writing on a one-word prompt. No editing. Go check it out!

 

Curious About Curiosity

This post is part of my 10-minute Tuesday collection. Today is Wednesday, I know, I know, but yesterday got away from me. So today’s prompt is the word “curiosity.” Written in 10 minutes, no big edits, just free flow writing. Here we go.

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Besides killing the cat, what else does curiosity do?

As a journalist for many years, I was expected to be curious about people. I was going to be writing their stories, after all. I found in that job that I wasn’t a very curious person. I like people, and I liked listening to their stories, but I wasn’t very good at asking questions.

Kids are instinctively curious. Spend some time around a 3-year-old, and you will figure that out pretty quickly. Why? Why do I have to go to bed? Why does the dog drink his water that way? Why does the cat lick herself? Why do I have to eat my peas?

And then it gets harder. Why do I have to learn algebra? I’m never going to need it in real life! haha I’ve heard that plenty of times.

Answering our kids questions to the best of our ability will help ensure that they maintain that curiosity throughout their lives. If they are shut down, they will stop asking questions. Can it get tiring? You bet. But a gentle answer about maybe how that question can be answered another time might help.

I’m a big tech fan. I love using my computer and my smart phone, my iPad and my Apple Watch. But I’m only slightly curious as to how they work, whereas I have a son who will take things apart to figure out how they work. I have another son who read copious amounts about nature and animals, and he is our go-to person when we have a question about a species or geography or things like that. I also have a daughter who is attuned to people and likes to know what makes them tick.

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Curiosity leads to creativity, it seems to me. Curious people say, “If we could put these things together in a certain way, I wonder what would happen.” Creating new recipes, or works of art, or works of literature, all these have an element of curiosity in them. I was recently part of a conversation about writing fiction, and one of the principles the authors agreed upon was that being a people watcher was important to building good characters in your writing. Being curious about what they’re like and what their stories are will help you create a believable world.

I have an 11-month-old grandson who is not yet talking, but we’re gearing up for the “why” stage. I hope that I am able to have all the patience I need to feed his curious nature so that his creativity can grow strong.

Oh, and the second part of that old saying I started with? Curiosity killed the cat? But satisfaction brought it back!

 

Still

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I wander

Oh, how far I wander

But still You remain

Watching, waiting, loving

Looking for my return.

I turn away from You

But still You remain

I am unfaithful to You

But still You remain

 

I rail at You

But still You remain

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I go my own way

Do my own thing

Make my own choices

But still You remain

I shake my fist, dare You to stop me from doing what I want to do.

It doesn’t matter. You love me still. You will never leave me. You will never forsake me.

Every day you watch out for me, waiting for me to notice that You’re still there.

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For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. Check it out!

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Parenting By Osmosis

This post is part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. Today the prompt is “osmosis.” Let’s see what I can do with that.

IMG_0191My 11-month-old grandson is getting about by himself these days, so we’re having to be more vigilant in the hours that we take care of him. One of the things he loves to do is check on our parakeets in their cage. And by “checking” I mean banging repeatedly on the side and squealing when they move about.

I know that loud noises like that are not good for the birds, so I am constantly having to tell him to be gentle. But I know that just saying “gentle” isn’t going to get the point across since he doesn’t know what the word means. So I take his hand and put it softly on the side of the cage while saying, “Gentle, Zayne, you need to be gentle with the birdies.”

As soon as I remove my hand, bang! bang! bang! He’s at it again. So I need to move him from near the cage to some other activity.

LLIW+lRCRBSRCaKubl4MWQThe same goes with the cats. One of his favorite things to do is put his head down on their soft fur and stick his thumb in his mouth, using them as living pillows. Again, we say, “be gentle, Zayne,” but we also know that the cats have the ability to run away if they’re not happy with how they’re being treated.

I know, though, that I can’t just sit on the couch and tell Zayne to be gentle. He’s not going to get the idea simply through osmosis. His learning is going to have to be hands on training. So I sit with him and guide him, knowing that at just 11 months old, he’s not going to completely grasp the concepts I’m trying to teach him. It will take time.

But we can go through a lot of parenting that way. If we say it often enough, our kids will just get it. Somehow, their brains will be able to assimilate the information simply by hearing it over and over.

“Improve your attitude!”

What’s an attitude?

“You need to show more respect!”

What’s respect?

“Be more careful!”

What’s being careful?

I asked my 19-year-old the other day when we were playing with Zayne if he remembered everything he didn’t know when he was Zayne’s age. Obviously, the question was not serious, and his answer of, “Um, I don’t think that’s how it works,” acknowledged that, but the point remains. Unless we are training our children, they’re not just going to suddenly understand what we mean.

We see that every day with Zayne, and we need to understand that others in our world—and we ourselves—don’t simply learn by osmosis, but by hands-on, down-on-the-floor with them training.

After all, haven’t we always heard that actions speak louder than words?

 

Learning to Walk

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My almost 11-month-old grandson is learning how to walk. He’s becoming more confident every day as he practices and falls and gets back up again. We’ve noticed something about this learning journey: when he’s distracted and  holding on to something else like a toy or a book, he walks with more confidence. But if he’s only walking and thinking about what it is he’s doing, he’s slower and more hesitant and falls more easily.

I thought this was a really good analogy to my walk with God. When I focus on Him, I find much better balance. If I’m thinking only about what I’m going to do next, where I’m going to put my foot, all that I think I have to do today, or tomorrow, or the next day, then I find myself unsteady and close to falling.

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Balance isn’t easy. By nature I want to get things done before I take time to do the fun things. But sometimes, rest and fun and play are necessary, even when there is a ton to do. I have to remember to keep my eyes on Jesus, to focus on Him, and let the balancing come naturally because I’m seeing Him and doing what He wants me to do.

Like my little grandson, I am learning how to walk, even after more than 40 years of following Jesus. One step at a time, not worrying about whether I’m doing everything right, just keeping my eyes on Jesus.

This post is a part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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