"My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours. Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track, you and I,of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories, in all their particularity,as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally." -Frederick Buechner

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Loving Deeply

Earlier this week a close family friend of my daughter-in-law's died. Her mother called me moments before she told her the news as I live near her. Her mom thought she might need a hug.  I waited a few minutes and then I went to her apartment, unannounced. When I rang the doorbell she met me with tear-filled eyes and accepted my hug. We went inside, sat on the couch and talked awhile. Becky told me about Chuck, sometimes laughing in amongst her tears. After some time had passed I told her the truth. One of the things I love most about her is her deep love and commitment to people. However, when you deeply love people you also deeply hurt. But it's worth it. It's the way God intended it to be.  It's how He loves.

"This is how God showed  his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for out sins. Dear Friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." I John 4:9-11 (NIV)

God loves us so much that He sacrificed his only Son on our behalf so that we could live. That is deep, deep love. Because of that love we are meant to love one another.

Becky's family has experienced a lot of loss due to death in the past few years. Listen to her words on dealing with the grief: "What holds me together in these times?  My family.  Our family is not perfect.  Our family doesn’t necessarily stand out among the crowd.  What my family does have is love.  Deep and caring and compassionate and all-encompassing love.  We hold each other together.  We know that sometimes talking isn’t what you need.  Sometimes you just have to cry it out.  Sometimes you just have to be incredibly inappropriate and tell weird jokes and watch funny movies so you don’t fall into that deep put of despair and pity.  It’s our brand of love."

Love is what carries them through. "No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." I John 4:12 (NIV)  Thanks for caring and showing us a glimpse of God's love Becky.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keepin it Simple

Here's one example of how "living simply" effects others.
Michael Saviano shared this - Keepers
I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it... A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away..
I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more.
But then my dad died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.  Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return.
So... while we have it..... it's best we love it . and care for it ... and fix it when it's broken......... and heal it when it's sick.
This is true. For marriage....... and old cars..... and children with bad report cards..... and dogs with bad hips.... and aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.
There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special........ and so keep them close!   

If you'd like to see how living simply and being willing to share can effect others - check out the link to my friend Sara's blog. (again)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Live Simply so Others Can Simply Live"

"Live Simply so Others Can Simply Live"  that's what the plaque on my wall says. What does that mean?
So if I "live simply" why should that effect others?
Thoughts? Ideas?
Here's more encouragement from a young family friend who is living simply and loving life. Check it out.http://walkslowlylivewildly.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Ripple Effect #2

The ripple effect - I'm still thinking about it. I'm thinking that is what Treasure Chest Ministries is really all about. I'd encourage you to check out our original post and then add this thought again from the second post, originally written by our friend Arlin Sorenson.
Discipleship is coming alongside someone who is at least one step behind you in their walk - be it in their relationship with Christ, their marriage, their business or wherever they are – and sharing life together through practical example of how you took the next step when you were in their shoes. Way too many of us don’t think we know enough to help anyone else. Our life is not perfect, our marriage has problems of our own, our business has issues that we have to address every day. OK – welcome to being alive. Don’t want any problems – the only way I know to achieve that is to stop breathing permanently. And that is only an assumption because I haven’t been there yet. And that really is the core of mentoring, or discipling another. We share from our experience rather than letting people just hope and guess they are on the right track. Often sharing the things that we have struggled with, or even failed at, can be the greatest life lessons we have to share. Jesus didn’t pick 12 perfect guys to be his disciples. In fact, they were anything but perfect, and one left Him to betray Him. Jesus took 12 and poured His life into them. And the result? They changed the world…..forever…..that is the power of discipling another. It is the greatest form of legacy you can ever find. And we need to do it at home, in the office, and at church. 

The quote at the top of my home page says it all. My story is not better than yours. Your story is not better than mine.  They are both very valuable and that value is greatly increased when we share life with one another.  The only thing I've been surprised at in the past 10 months of blogging is how little people are willing to share from their own lives. What you know and what you are in the process of learning is valuable. I have and continue to learn from all those around me. It encourages me greatly to hear and see others talk through the process of life.  We recently started a small group with 3 other couples. We took 4 times together to just hear each others "stories", a bit about who we are and where we come from.  It was amazing how much our stories overlapped, not in actual location or situations but in experiences that shaped us. Now we are learning together, discussing a book about relationships and just sharing life circumstances. God intended for us to do life this way. Check out the book of Acts and well honestly most of the New Testament.

How are you doing life with others? Are you aware that your life effects others?

Friday, January 14, 2011

I want to remember!

As I sit in my quiet morning spot I see a basket with a bottle of olive oil and a pouch of flour.  A very dear friend gave me this very dear reminder at a very hard time in my life.  She told me that just like God took care of the widow He would take care of my and my family.  That story comes from I Kings 17. I read it again recently and saw something I hadn't seen before. (Funny how God can do that - just keep showing you stuff from the same story!)

This woman and her son were about to have their last meal when Elijah showed up, said he was a man of God and she was supposed to make supper for him. After a bit of a conversation she must of thought, what do I have to lose this was going to be our last meal anyway. So she made Elijah and there was "food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family." I Kings 17:15 NIV  Verse 17 starts with "Some time later" we don't know how long her son became very ill.   During that "some time" the provision of God, a miracle became ordinary to the widow. When her son stopped breathing she lashed out at Elijah, "What have you against me man of God?"  How quickly she forgot how God was taking care of them.  The short version of this story is Elijah went into the boys room, prayed to God for him and God spared her son.  The widow's response? "NOW I know that you are a man of God and that the word fo the Lord from your mouth is the truth." (verse 24)  Hmmm.  Think about that. I'm like that too but when you read it here it seems so obvious. God miraculously replenished her food supply day after day and it became ordinary in her life. The newness of the miracle wore off some where in the daily-ness of life. It took another crisis to prove to her (again) that God could provide for her.

I don't know about you but I really don't want to have to have crisis after crisis in my life for me to learn that God can provide for me.  I don't want it to become so ordinary that God provides for me that I forget.  What does this remind you of today?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Have you ever really thought about the ripple effect?

"Live simply so others can simply live" that's what a little wall plaque says in my bathroom. I noticed it again yesterday after months of paying no attention.  Then later in the day I read a little article where a story was told about a woman considering a marriage proposal.  She and her friend agreed that she loved the man who proposed. So her friend asked, "what is there to consider?"  She replied, "Well, there are consequences to either decision that will effect the rest of my life and those around me. I'm taking this seriously!"  That got me thinking. Have you ever thought about the ripple effect of even the "daily" things you do?

So many times I'm confronted with a decision and I just make the decision with very little thought. You know, what do I want for breakfast? Should I start laundry before or after doing paperwork? When am I going to exercise?  Truth is each of those decisions although very "daily" and ordinary effect someone else. If I fix a "cooked" breakfast I should at least offer to my husband a hot breakfast but if I just have cereal, he can get his own.  If I don't do laundry until later will he not have clean jeans when he needs them? When or even if I'm going to exercise, now there's something that only effects me, right? Nope, if I don't take care of myself there will be a day of reckoning. And when that day comes it's very likely that I will need someone to take care of me!

Now I'm back to Ephesians 2:10 (Amplified Version)...that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us (taking paths which He prepared ahead of time), that we should walk in them....  Notice the verbage. That we may do, taking paths, not we "have" to, or being "forced to go one way".  We get to choose. Even though the God of all the universe created us AND created a path which He prepared for us, we get to choose whether we walk that path.  And here's the kicker, whatever path we choose it effects those around us.

Have you thought about the ripple effect in your life?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Every Morning...

Good Morning! We are one full week into this new year.  There is just something about the morning sunshine, the start of a new month (or year), the start of a holiday season or it's end that's special. It's a "soft opening" if you will. In the retail business new stores will open without any advertisement to actually "practice" selling/serving whatever it is they sell.  Then a short time later they will have their actual "Grand Opening".  If you think about it our lives with Christ allow us that same opportunity minute by minute, but probably easier to grasp is morning by morning. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV (emphasis mine)

I don't know about you, but I love that! A fresh batch of God's mercies and compassion. What could be more freeing? I have been thinking about Ephesians 2:8-10 for the past couple of days. You are probably are familiar with those verses, "For it is by grace you have been saved..." But check it out in the Amplified Version. If you are not familiar with that translation, it adds right into the context the meaning of words in the original language so you don't have to look them up.  So here goes, "For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and mad partakers of Christ's salvation)through (your) faith. And this (salvation) is not of yourselves (of your own doing, it came not through your own striving), but it is the gift of God; Not because of works (not the fulfillment of the Law's demands), lest any should boast. (It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.) For we are God's (own) handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, (born anew) that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us (taking paths which He prepared ahead of time), that we should walk in them (living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live). (emphasis mine)

I LOVE THAT!  I love that we are created by God. I love that He created a way for us to be redeemed. I love that He created us for good works. I love that He has prepared our paths ahead of time. (I think that is my personal favorite at the moment)  He has made a path ready for us.  I don't have to search and search and try to "make things happen."  God has a plan for me, just for me! I know it fits me because He created me and He planned this just for me! When I mess up His mercies are "new every morning!" I get to start again.  NOW THAT'S A GREAT WAY TO START A NEW YEAR, A NEW MONTH, A NEW WEEK, A NEW DAY... well you get the idea.  So how does this effect your TODAY?

If you'd like to think more about this check out the link attached.  This is done by an acquaintance of mine. http://janellrardon.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/fresh-start-first-friday-of-2011/

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What are you learning?

So a new year is beginning, a fresh start.  Have you considered what went well in the past year?  Anything stand out as something you have learned or are in the process of learning?  I'd love to hear from you, especially in the area of relationships?  How is your relationship with: your parents, siblings, spouse, co-workers, yourself and/or God?  Which relationship grew the most in the past year?  Is there one in particular you'd like to work on this year?

Reading through my journal of the past year this morning revealed that my relationship with God has grown in the area of my acceptance of His being in control which results in peace.  I'm so thankful for the gift of peace in my life. Life is easier when you allow God to be God in your life.  Sara Young talks about taking time to be still in God's presence so He can strengthen you.  Many Christian teachers talk about the busier you are the more you need your quiet time away from the rat-race to be with God. My time away from the busy-ness with God prepares me for what is to come. It centers me.  "Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure." Psalm 16:5 NIV  That fact alone gives me peace. I'm willing to accept what God has planned for me. (Well at least most of the time)

My relationship with my husband has grown greatly in the area of honest communication. We are doing so much better about just talking through what we are thinking, feeling, wanting...whatever. It's great. The biggest change is remembering to listen, really listen to each other, realizing we are on "the same team."  Well I could go on and on but you get the idea.  Take some time to reflect on the past year and share with us what you've learned. We all learn from one another. Help us out!