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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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If Someone Offers A Gift—Take It

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

I’ve lived the better part of my adult life as a missionary supported prayerfully and financially by the gifts of others. If people don’t give, we get no paycheck. So I have learned over these 30+ years that if someone offers something, I take it graciously and just say thank you.

God has always met our needs and we have abundantly more than we need, so I know the power of receiving a gift, not only because it meets a need for us, but also because of the joy it can bring to the giver.

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We have living room furniture because friends didn’t need it anymore. We have a kitchen table and chairs because friends wanted proceeds from the sale of ours at a yard sale to go to our son’s missions trip (I know, it’s kind of a complicated story). We received tons of baby stuff when our grandson was born because of the generosity of a group of young moms who just wanted to be able to pay it forward.

We can give generously as well because we have received so much. If we refuse to receive, we dishonor the giver. Yes, it’s humbling to admit the need, but it’s good and it’s necessary. We don’t go through this life alone, and we shouldn’t pretend like we don’t need the generosity of others.

“God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).

Who Ya Rootin’ For?

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 “goal.”

I’m not a soccer mom, and I’m good with that. My kids never had an interest in the sport, and so we avoided the all-weekend tournaments and crazy practice schedule. And I’m more than good with that.

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But I have to admire one thing about the sport: the announcers.

I know it’s probably cliché, but to hear the fanatical “gooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllll!” when encountering the game on a television in some public place, it always makes me laugh.

But now that I think about it, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to meet our own personal goals if we had such enthusiastic support on our side?

Lost those pesky 10 pounds you’ve been trying to get rid of? Gooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllll!

Exercised at least 5 days this week? Gooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllll!

Finished that manuscript that’s been on your laptop for a year? Gooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllll!

Did the dishes right after a meal? Gooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllll!

Kept to your budget for 3 months in a row? Gooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaallllllllll!

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Who’s cheering for you on the sidelines of your life?

Who are you cheering for?

Maybe it seems silly to get so fired up about the little things in life we just want to accomplish, but it’s always nice to know that we have cheerleaders on our side.

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Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

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 “practice.”

Everyone has heard the saying, “practice makes perfect.” Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s a lie.

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Let’s say you are learning to play the piano. You have a piece of sheet music in front of you, but you have never actually heard the piece before. So you do your best, practicing and practicing to memorize the music.

Then a music teacher comes along and asks you to play the piece you’ve been working on. So you pull out that music you’ve been practicing and, lo and behold, you find out you’ve been playing parts of it incorrectly the whole time!

So did all your practice make that piece perfect? No. So, I am thinking the saying needs to be “perfect practice makes perfect.” You really need to know that what you’re practicing is the right thing.

My sister in law and her husband just divorced after more than 30 years of marriage. One of their main problems was that neither of them knew how to communicate. She would point out things that he was doing wrong; he would acknowledge that and work to change his ways. After awhile, he would think, Huh, I must be doing OK because she hasn’t said anything. Meanwhile, she’s seeing him slide back into old habits and think, He’s just doing things the way he always did them, so he must not care! Why even bother saying anything?

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The problem was that he had been practicing imperfectly. And he didn’t have anyone around to show him where he was going wrong. If you take two broken people who spent too many years playing the piece the wrong way, and only one of them wants to put the work into learning the music correctly, well, giving up is inevitable.

Coaching—in music, in sports, in life, in marriage—is essential.

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Make Me An Offer

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 prompt is “offer,” and this post is completely stream-of-consciousness, without form, and unedited. My thoughts were pretty jumbled so feel free to let me know what you think.

In order for an offer to be worth something, the person being offered it has to accept it.

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Someone can make an offer on a house that’s for sale, but the owner’s have to accept the offer.

When Cain and Abel made their offerings to the Lord, Cain’s was accepted, but Abel’s wasn’t. I have always wondered about that. Someone has probably preached a sermon on that over the years, but I haven’t kept it in my memory long enough.

I can offer to help someone with something, but they have to accept that offer, or it goes to waste. You know that saying, “It’s the thought that counts”? Well, I’m not sure I’m convinced of that. I think that the offer has to be appropriate, sincere and accepted in order for it to mean something to the other person.

I also think offers made in such a way should be seriously considered before they’re just turned away.

My husband likes to say, “I come from a long line of people who don’t want to be an inconvenience.”

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That’s something we want to work with our kids on. You don’t need to, nor should you or can you, do everything on your own. Ask for help and then accept it. There are members of my family who will turn down offers all the time, even when they are in great need. Especially offers of financial help. Somehow they think that they must do whatever it is they need to do on their own. But I remind them of how easily they would offer their help if the shoe was on the other foot.

Don’t keep someone else from experiencing the blessing of giving just because you’re too proud to receive.

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There’s A Place For Us

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

In the last month or so, we have been in the process of wondering where our second son is going to live next year for college. We are in the same city as his university, but he has lived on campus his first two years. The university has a housing lottery, however, and this time, his name was not chosen to have on-campus housing in the Fall.

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So, we waited until the second drawing and then when his name still wasn’t picked, we knew we would have to seek another place. He could always come home, but his financial aid covers housing, and the daily drive + parking madness would not be ideal for him. And lo and behold, even University affiliated off-campus housing would be cheaper than the dorm he’s in now.

So on Wednesday he and I set out to tour apartment complexes. Wow, are these places ever nicer than the one I lived in when I was in college.

We settled on one that is affiliated with the university and we signed the lease yesterday. It’s nice to know that he’ll have a place to live near campus in the Fall. Who he will live with is still up in the air.

All this got me thinking about how much comfort we find in having a place to call our own. We know at the end of a long day, or after a vacation, we can come home. Ideally, that place is safe, restful, comfortable, peaceful.

I’m not ignorant enough to believe that everyone’s home is this way. I know there is strife, noise, clutter. And I also know that there are so very many who have no place they can call home at all.

I’m so grateful that, eventually, I will be able to call heaven my home.

No more tears. No more sadness. No more sickness.

Indeed, as the children’s song goes, “Heaven is a wonderful place.”

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Open-Heart Surgery

This post is a part of my 10-Minute Tuesday series. I use a one-word prompt provided by a friend and write for just 10 minutes without heavy editing and see what I come up with. Today’s prompt is “surgery.”

In the evenings, my family is reading out loud the classic At Home in Mitford by Jan Caron. Yesterday’s reading including a scene where Hoppy Harper, the town doctor, was telling Father Tim, the main character in the stories, how it was when his wife died several years before.

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“I’ve been away from church so long . . . so long away from . . . believing.” Hoppy leaned against the wall, avoiding the rector’s gaze. “I’ve been very angry with God.”

“I understand.”

“He operated without anesthetic.”

He looked at the man who had lost his wife of sixteen years, and saw the sure mark that bitterness and overwork had left. Yet, something tonight was easier in him.

At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon, p. 148

 

 

Loss can feel that way, like surgery without anesthetic. Hoppy’s wife had died of cancer, and he wasn’t really ready for it. And it hurt.

A lot.

It was a good analogy for the town doctor to describe the pain he felt.

People in the medical profession know that deep infections have to be cut out in order for healing to happen. If there is an abscess, work will need to be done. A gangrened limb has to be cut off. It’s really better to get these things taken care of before such dire measures are needed.

Likewise, God will perform surgery on our hearts whenever there’s something that needs to be cut out: idolatry, envy, covetousness. But He can also pry open our closed hearts if we aren’t letting ourselves be known by others.

We were created to live in community, and if we’re not experiencing authentic community, God may need to get our attention to let us know that we’re holding ourselves back.

Just having friends isn’t enough. We need to be willing to open up ourselves, to be real, to be known, to be authentic. If we don’t do this ourselves, we might find ourselves experiencing depression or extreme loneliness. It’s not healthy for our hearts to hide themselves.

There’s also a scene in C.S. Lewis’ The Dawn Treader where the boy Eustace, who has been turned into a dragon because of his greed and generally obnoxious personality, has an encounter with the lion, Aslan. In order to be turned back into a real boy, Eustace has to undergo a type of surgery.

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After several attempts to free himself from the terrible dragon scales, Eustace hears Aslan say,

“You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know—if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt—and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I had turned into a boy again.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, pp 90-91.

Our scaly hearts need God’s attention. And He won’t always use anesthetic. But we can be assured that the outcome will be worth it.

Ezekiel 33:26: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (New International Version).