2020’s Direction? Be a Blessing

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s word is “direction.”

Each year for the past 3 years I have asked God to give me a word for the new year, something that can help focus my attention on something I need to improve, or something He just wants me to be intentional about. First it was “obey,” then it was “trust,” last year it was “let go,” and this year, the direction He has given me seems to be the word “blessing.”

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What I am garnering in talking to Him about this is that He doesn’t want for me to just focus on all the blessings that He so generously has given me, but rather on being a blessing to others. I see that as sometimes happening in very practical ways.

For instance, I order health and home products from an online company and a couple of friends usually add to my order. This month, I used some reward points to get an item for free. The free item ended up working out best to be the one my friend ordered. So instead of just equaling out the cost and both of us saving, I made the decision to give her the benefit of the free item all her own.

Might not seem like that big of a deal, right? In a sense we’ve both earned the points because we both order, though my portion is usually bigger than hers. But I actually struggled with the decision for a few minutes, until God reminded me of the word He had given me just a few days before. I repeated it to myself, something I figure I’m going to be saying often, over and over: “Be a blessing.”

(Adding just a few minutes past the prescribed 5): The working definition I’m going with for “blessing” is this: To bring people closer to God by providing for a physical, emotional or spiritual need. That’s not a dictionary definition. It’s not one I’ve read anywhere, but it seems to be one that works with what I have learned about blessings. It’s not just the #blessed that people post online about all the things that they have; it has more to do with our relationship with God.

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I will be looking for opportunities to be a blessing this year, and I will also be looking to see how God is drawing me closer to Him through those around me.

Happy New Year!

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Darkness Dispelled

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes from a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “darkness.” 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5 ESV).

It’s Christmas time, obviously. I love it, and I don’t love it so much in some aspects. I hate the commercialism. I love the lights and the pretty decorations. I hate that sacred songs are used to try to sell stuff. Although I do know that many “sacred” songs were taken from old bar songs and other not-so-sacred arenas.

I also know that we have taken other celebrations from the secular, and even pagan, into our stable of Christian holidays. And I’m really OK with that, for the most part, because I know that when God came into my life, He changed me. He brought His light and it dispelled the darkness.

So taking something that was once used for pagan rituals and making it new follows the gospel narrative, does it not? So when what once was a bar song becomes remade into a hymn of praise to God, I think God smiles.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Transformation, that’s what it’s all about.

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So Jesus, coming into the world and bringing the light of life to a dark and musty home for animals, transforms everything He touches. The dirty become clean, the broken become beautiful, the dark become infused with light.

That’s the gospel. That’s the message of Christmas. That’s what the beautiful lights represents.

Darkness is dispelled.

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To Not Know But Be Known

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “unknown.”

It seems that we humans like to have things explained. We want to know the why of things. I recently lost one of my beautiful koi to unknown causes. I just went out one morning to the small pond in my front yard, and the water level was extremely low, and one of the two remaining koi I have was dead.

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There didn’t appear to be any reason whatsoever.

My husband has had ulcerative colitis for almost 30 years. They don’t know why. The origin is unknown.

I have another friend who collapsed one morning and was taken to the ER. They have no idea why it happened.

It’s very frustrating to be on the questioning end of the unknown. No amount of researching or exploring seems to be able to answer our questions.

It’s frustrating with the sudden death of animals, and it’s frustrating with medical situations. We don’t like to settle for not knowing, but sometimes, we just have to. But thanks be to God, we can also accept being completely known by Him.

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Wait For It

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt and see what happens. Today’s word is “Wait.” 

out to canaanMy 17-year-old daughter, my husband, and I are reading aloud each night from Jan Karon’s wonderful Mitford series. We’re right now on Out to Canaan and one of the big themes in this particular book is “wait.”

Under nefarious circumstances, several different real estate investment firms from Florida are trying to swoop in and buy up properties in the small, North Carolina town of Mitford. All these properties are meaningful to the town’s beloved Episcopal priest, Father Timothy Kavanagh.

When the mansion of a wealthy deceased parishioner, dear to the town—and Father Tim—needs to be sold and an investment company wants to come in and build a spa, Father Tim says he wants to wait 30 days before making a decision on the way-under-value offer.

When the local bakery owned by a dear friend is for sale because she thinks she needs to move to Tennessee, and she’s unsettled about the whole thing, Father Tim advises her to wait on an offer that is way below her asking price, but the only offer that’s come in.

And then, to top it all off, when his very own parsonage goes on the market because he is retiring—in a year!—a full-price, cash offer causes him great concern, especially when they want an answer immediately. He says he wants no action taken for 10 days.

At this point in the book—we’re on chapter 18—we know what happens with 2 of the 3, but we’re still waiting to hear about the 3rd. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say, waiting is not easy, especially when you’re being pressed for action. Sometimes we just want to jump at what’s right in front of us. But waiting, especially when God is asking us to, is always the best thing to do.

IMG_1858Think about Abraham and Sarah. They got anxious about seeing God’s promise fulfilled, so they took things into their own hands. That did not end up well. (See Genesis 16 for the full story.)

Waiting is hard. There’s no doubt about it. But waiting on God is always good.

On that note, I highly recommend Rebecca Brewster Stevenson’s wonderful book Wait: Thoughts and Practice in Waiting on God. 

 

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Getting Out the Word of God

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes (I cheated a little today) on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “active.”

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV).

IMG_1848For more than 30 years, my husband has worked for a ministry called The JESUS Film Project. The movie “JESUS,” taken from the book of Luke, is dubbed into all the major languages of the world, and lots of minor languages as well. The thinking is simple: No one should have to learn another language to understand that God loves them.

For many years the ministry has worked alongside Wycliffe Bible Translators to get Luke translated first so that the movie can then be dubbed into that language and the people can hear and see the story of Jesus in their heart language. (Learn more about it here.)

Lately, I have had the privilege of working in two areas that are helping people hear and understand the Word of God. The first is called her.Bible. This is a project that seeks to record an audio Bible with diverse women’s voices. The producer of this project realized that there was a silent space when it came to audio Bibles in women’s voices. her.Bible has produced the entire New Testament and the books of IMG_1847Proverbs, Ruth and Esther in the Old Testament. They are now seeking funding to be able to continue recording the rest of the Old Testament. My role is to make sure that the recordings are word perfect to the New Living Translation of the Bible. Check out her.Bible here.

The other work I’ve been doing is with a Christian meditation app called Abide. It is the #1 Christian meditation app and has been helping thousands and thousands of people worldwide to meditate on God’s Word, hiding it in their hearts and growing in their faith because of it. I am writing daily meditations and bedtime stories to help people get peaceful sleep, and helping in the editing and planning processes. Oh, and they also have a YouTube channel!

IMG_1849The app is free for the shorter versions of the meditations, and costs less than 11 cents a day for the full version. Learn more about it here and by checking it out in the Google Play or Apple app stores.

The Word of God is active. It is living. It does not return void. Everything that we can do to get His Word into the hands, hearts and ears of people is worth the investment of time and money. The JESUS Film Project has an app, Abide is an app, and her.Bible is working on an app. Won’t you go and check them out? Have questions? Put them in the comments.

 

 

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The Life Giving Lake

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “deep.”

I walked to the edge of the lake and stuck my toes in the water. It was surprisingly warm. I figured it must be shallow because everyone knows that deep waters are cold. And mysterious. And dark.

So I began to walk further in, exploring, a little hesitant, not knowing exactly what I’d encountered, but figuring I had heard enough about this particular lake to have some idea of what I was getting myself into.

Boy was I wrong.

I knew nothing about this vast, unsearchable body of water. I didn’t know that it would beckon me to go deeper.

I didn’t know that it would encompass me, overwhelm me, yet buoy me and keep me safe.

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I didn’t know that I would never, ever be able to fathom its depths. That I would never know everything there was to know about it.

But I could see myself reflected in its depths.

And I would be drawn back to it time and time again. In fact, I would never want to leave. And I never had to. I could live there, in fact, I had to live there.

What I didn’t know is that life was in its depths. And after all, it wasn’t dark beneath the surface. It was surprisingly, amazingly, overwhelmingly, bright.

 

1, 2, 3, Go!

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just five minutes on a one-word prompt without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “start.”

My 20-month-old grandson has a little plastic slide that he likes to climb on and sort of slide down. I say “sort of” because he likes to put his sticky little feet down and therefore stop himself before he actually gets to the bottom. But when he is at the top, he will look at me expectantly and say something that sounds like “1, 2, 3, go!” because that’s what he has heard me say when he’s up there.

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Then he’ll push himself down, get to the bottom and say “weady?” and jump off the end onto the carpet. He feels quite proud of himself for his accomplishment. Every time.

Jesus encouraged people to have childlike faith, and I would submit that having childlike enthusiasm would be a good idea as well.

How many times have you just sat on the couch and thought, “I should just get up and take a walk” or clean the house, or make dinner, or take a shower. The list of things we procrastinate on goes on and on.

So next time you find yourself procrastinating, say out loud, “1, 2, 3, go!” and then actually get up and get started. You can’t accomplish what you never set out to do. That may sound obvious, but it’s not always easy.

Nike had it right. Just do it. Let’s get this party started.

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