Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Focus


Serving.
That's my new focus for 2019.
I was a little down the other day.
Pity party time.
My daughter invited me to feed the homeless with the youth group.
I'd done it before and enjoyed it, but I didn't really want to go.
I had a list of reasons why I shouldn't go...
Why I couldn't go.
But I went.
I was annoyed all the way to the church...
About my little problems.
But as soon as I arrived and began cutting donated cakes and pies and putting the pieces onto plates, I forgot all about my angsty issues.
All of the volunteers were happy.
They were eager to serve and much to my surprise, I was as eager as they were...joyful even.
The doors opened and the bedraggled bunch filed in.
I couldn't stop smiling.
Four teens and I were scooping ice cream.
How did we get so lucky?
We get to give ice cream to people who rarely taste the stuff.
"I haven't had ice cream in so long," one guy said.
I gave him an extra scoop.
Ice cream is heaven on earth and that guy needed a respite.
One by one, we dished joy to the downtrodden.
And my heart was filled.

How does God do that?
It makes no sense.
How can a tired, defeated, weary heart be ENERGIZED by GIVING to someone else?
I didn't think I had anything to give.
Yet the joy poured out.

I've been asking God to lead me.
To lead me to how He wants to use me.
And He showed me.
Serve.
More.

In that fog of self absorption...of thinking about MY problems...
God reminded me that focusing on OTHERS is the remedy to the angst of life - to sadness, upset and annoyances.
Focusing on OTHERS brings relief, joy and deep satisfaction.
So that is my focus for 2019.
Serving.
What's yours?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

His Indescribable Gift...

Who remembers the Sears Wish book?
I'm pretty sure I drooled over this very catalog.
I would have been twelve years old. I dogeared pages, wrote lists and imagined getting every single thing I desired from that wonderful Wish Book.
Christmas in 1977 wasn't like Christmas today.
My family lived on a very tight budget. Credit? No way.
Today we live in a world where stuff is plentiful...whether or not it's affordable in the moment.
Even though this wish book invokes memories of childhood desire, I'm glad I didn't receive the treasures of every dogeared page.
I'm glad my parents carefully chose gifts for me and didn't stack boxes to the ceiling, feeding the greed monster that lives in all of us.
I'm glad God doesn't give me everything I want either.
Sometimes I think of some of the things I begged God for.
Relationships when I was young...I'm so thankful for the husband he gave me.
Stuff I knew I couldn't live without...my friends got some of that stuff and they were no happier for it.
As an adult, I wanted children right after we got married. I'm so glad we waited five years. We were so young at that time (19 and 20).
There are so many times I didn't get what I wanted and I'm forever thankful for that. Time always revealed the blessing of a "no" answer to my prayers.

I wanted to write a book when I was in the thick of mothering.
I felt God say, "Wait. I'll tell you when to write."
So I did.
I set my desire aside.
Dogeared the page, nonetheless, but set that wish aside.
The Lord is faithful and He's taken me on a winding road to publication.
A short story was published this fall, and from that endeavor, I was invited into a critique group - challenging me to become a better writer.
I'm grateful for the freedom to follow every rabbit trail on this path to publishing a novel.
I couldn't have done that and mothered my children well.
He is so wise.

What are you wishing for this Christmas and in the New Year.
Have you asked God for it?
Seek God's wisdom this season and see where He leads.
His gifts are always good.

His best Gift is the One we celebrate this season.
May you grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:18-20)

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Merry Christmas every one!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Characters...

The Bickering Bickersons
Last summer, at my mom's garage sale, an old man with a long, white beard approached the table where we were taking money and bagging treasures.
His hands were empty...he wasn't buying.
He said, "I bought a pair of shoes from a drug dealer. I don't know what he laced them with but I've been tripping all day!"
Then he walked away.
That's a character right there.
We've all encountered the joke-telling old man who approaches strangers, drops the funny and makes a hasty exit.
I love those guys.

Characters are everywhere.

I love the talkative, oversharing toddler,
The classic church lady with the single arched eyebrow,
The constantly bickering married couple (the bickering Bickersons),
The insecure, but hilarious teenage boy who hasn't a clue how funny he is,
The flamboyant older woman - gaudy, colorful and, best of all, owning it,
The self-absorbed soul, always positioned near, and peering in a mirror while conversing with others,
The loud laugher (guilty), unable to rein in their delight to a socially appropriate level,
Friendly grocery checkers, bantering about their kids, the weather, sometimes dropping inappropriate personal information leaving the hearer unsure how to respond,
The teenage girl, unaware of her beauty, disguising it under a heavy mask of makeup,
A quiet, big-tipping gentleman blessing tired waitresses,
The old couple holding hands as they walk through the park,
The tired mom in the grocery store carrying on a loud conversation with her toddler in the hopes someone, anyone will notice that she's a good mother (we notice, you are),
The former high-school all-star who isn't any more, but lives or rather, re-lives that glory,
The all-knowing neighbor, keeping tabs on everyone within a two-block radius, and reporting that knowledge to anyone who will listen,
The fashion-impaired woman (guilty again) who consistently mis-buttons her shirt or mis-matches patterns, but not in a hip, new way,
The cheerful mechanic or contractor or repairman bearing bad news with a knowing smile - knowing a good payday is coming,
The chatty dental hygienist, asking questions you can't possibly answer with your mouth wide open,
...and so many more...
Which brings me back to the joke-telling old man...
I've met hundreds of them in my life.
I can't remember all the jokes,
But I'm glad I remember the essence of the old men who told them.
After all, it wasn't the joke that was funny, it was the person who told it!

Keep your eyes open for characters...perhaps you're one of them!