Why I Gave Up Television

The obvious conclusion is that I just didn’t like watching it, but that is wrong. Actually, I found it mesmerizing. But it wasn’t the programming, it was the opportunity to set in one spot, think about nothing and feel no pressure to do anything else that had me coming back night after night. After all, television watching after work in our culture is perfectly acceptable.

I had just come out of a long hard season. I was a single woman and it was a season when I was working full time, completing a Master’s degree, caring for a couple of young nephews and then moving into end of life care for my mother. I was exhausted. There were so many things that had been put on hold for so long I really had forgotten how to live a life that involved social activities, interacting with others just for the pleasure of spending time together and having a clean home to live in. So, I came home from work, picking up take out on the way home many days, and just sat in front of the television until time to go to bed. I can’t even tell you what I watched, because the program I was tuned into was not the point.

Then, one morning as I was reading my Bible to begin my day and Philippians 4:8 jumped off the page and into my heart.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (NLT)

I was watching pretty mundane television and it was the 90’s. Television was not nearly as edgy as it is today. Still, there was not much I could classify as honorable, lovely or admirable. Then, I realized I was just burning up precious hours of my life on things that did not matter. Basically, throwing those hours away! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that all downtime and relaxation is a waste of time. But I do think we burn a lot of hours where we aren’t really doing anything except letting time pass by.

I realized I was just burning up precious hours of my life on things that did not matter. Click To Tweet

So, I turned off the television and I’ve never really turned it back on. I had cable TV and I cancelled it. My little 12 inch black and white TV stayed with me because I had the occasional need to view a video. When I began hosting a ladies small group in my home, I purchased a slightly larger color television. But I never did hook that television up to anything other than the video player. In our home now my husband has a large television in the “man cave” where he watches sports and the weather while reading a book. Occasionally, he invites me to watch a movie with him and I do. We have a television in our living room used by our small group that connects to a video player and the internet because our church subscribes to a service which streams Bible studies. But in between those studies, I rarely turn it on.

And you know what? I have never really missed it! There was no content that was as interesting as the book I read. No content as interesting as the conversation with friends and family, no time as well spent as that learning to cook or working on my writing or studies. I’ve learned a lot of new things and spent time sharing those skills with others. I’ve made a lot of new friends and met and married my husband. All things I would never have done if I had allowed myself to keep mindlessly setting in front of that little black and white box every evening after work.

Periodically, I’m prompted to take a look at my life and how my time is spent.  I want to focus on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. I want to spend my allotted days wisely. For example, just last week, I deleted all the games off my phone. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that watching television or playing a game on your phone while you wait in some waiting room is wrong, but I am suggesting that you look at how you spend your time.  Are you focused on things that are excellent and worthy of praise? Are you investing the days you have been given wisely and in a manner you can proudly look back over your life and feel good about how you have chosen to spend them?

I want to focus on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. I want to spend my allotted… Click To Tweet

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:20 NIV

 

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Coincidence?

Last week I was under the weather. I had already made a big pot of chicken and rice soup over the weekend and I had a book arrive on my doorstep that I’d promised to read and offer a review. Friends were checking in on me and my husband was taking good care of me. So….how did I describe all this? A fabulous coincidence? No, I described it as a blessing from my God who had a plan in place ahead of the situation.

Friends, how we look at life and how we describe our journey to both ourselves and others matters! When I say, “it’s coincidence” I dismiss my God and my faith. I have done it, but why?

  • I’m are used to hearing others describe events as coincidence and it’s just a natural response?
  • I am afraid of coming off to “preachy”?
  • I overlook the fact that God cares about even the tiniest things in our lives?

God has promised he will meet all our needs. In this case, it was food to eat and love expressed. That doesn’t mean he will always pamper us (providing a good book). But, you can count on God to meet all your genuine needs.

We need to acknowledge the blessings we receive from God’s hand and having our needs met is a blessing!  Anything beyond our needs….definite blessing! First, we must recognize those blessings and experience gratitude. Then, we must acknowledge the God’s provision.  How preachy can one little phrase “God blessed me today with” or “I’m grateful for God’s provision of” really be? We don’t hesitate to brag on our husbands, our children or our friends. So let’s not hesitate to brag on God either.

Gratitude has a powerful influence on how we live our lives. It keeps us aware of all God does for us. It makes us less whiney and more focused on what we have than what we don’t. It replaces worry with contentment.  It grows our faith.

Gratitude makes us less whiney and more focused on what we have than what we don't. Click To Tweet

Contentment is something that others want.  In order to share Christ with others we need to look like we have something to offer that’s worth sharing. Believe me, the more you are living a life of gratitude and acknowledging the source of every good thing, the more your life will impact other lives. But the more you chalk blessings up to coincidence, the less your light will shine in this world and the less blessed you will feel.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Col 2:7 NLT




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What It Takes to Really Experience Change

Twice a week I go to a deep water exercise class. After several months I’ve begun to see a pattern. There are those who come to work out and there are those who come to tread water and chat. The working out group are getting stronger and hardly miss a class. Some of us are loosing weight and finding that we feel better and enjoy life more. For me, this class has made an amazing difference in just a few short months. It was not easy, especially in the beginning. I had to force myself to go back to class on Thursdays when I was still sore from Tuesdays. But now, after experiencing the benefits for myself, I don’t want to miss a single class!

As I’ve studied James with my Tuesday Ladies we learned that it’s important that we let the word point out areas where we need to grow and then work to make changes in our lives.

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22

Just like with the exercise class you can attend church services, perhaps a weekly small group, or even have a daily Bible reading and prayer time. You can listen and read and discuss, but if you don’t do the hard work to put what God reveals to you through his word into action in your own life then you will not develop ‘spiritual muscle’. You won’t display the change that the spirit can produce in your life. You will just be fooling yourself.

I don’t want to be a spectator I want to be a changed woman! Click To Tweet

I have decided I’m not going to be a water treader or use my time in God’s word strictly as a social occasion. I don’t want to be a spectator I want to be a changed woman! Just like I have experienced powerful changes in my physical body, I want to experience powerful changes in my life that come only from applying what I’ve learned in God’s word.

Lessons From a Forgotten Purse

We’d left our home over an hour ago, on our way to Kansas to visit family. That’s somewhere around 12 hours in the car to make the trip. I thought of something I wanted to text a friend and reached for my purse….it wasn’t there! My first thought spoken aloud to my husband, “I forgot my purse we have to go back.” His response? “No!”

I had left my purse just inside the kitchen door so it was perfectly safe but I had not felt so insecure in years! No ID, not a coin or credit card to be had, no phone and none of those other things we carry in our purse to make us feel prepared.

This trip forced me to fully rely on my husband. For some of you, that might be no big deal. But for this woman who spent her life as a single career woman until her late 40’s, it was huge! Let me tell you I was not letting that man out of my site!

My imagination went wild. Thoughts like the bridge over the Mississippi collapsing with us on it, me surviving with no memory of who I was and no ID, yeah I went there. Laugh with me now! In truth, once I got my imagination under control, it was a great trip that offered an even better lesson.

Trust is hard. It’s something we need to learn, but we must also be careful to trust only the trustworthy. My husband loves me and he’s a great protector. In truth, a much better protector than the trusty purse and all the things it contains on a given day. Trusting God is hard too. But he is truly trustworthy. Self reliance may be pushed by the culture we live in, and feminist ideals tell us that as women that we can and we must captain our lives ourselves. In truth, we cheat ourselves out of much by living a life that plans, and schemes and manipulates to get what we want rather than walking the path God has for us.

My Tuesday Ladies and I have been doing an excellent study by Jeannie Allen on the life of David. One of the many great take away’s I got from this study just confirmed the lesson of the purse. Peace is found in walking day by day where God leads. Not in planning a path and begging God to take me there,not in demanding that God show me the six month agenda that lies ahead, but in trusting him day by day to walk beside me and be my protector and my provider. Peace is found in walking day by day where God leads. Not in planning a path and begging God. Click To TweetHe is trustworthy, and that’s a lesson that for me has been hard to learn. On the surface, I walked in trust, but down in the deep private part of me I found worry, insecurity and panic at times.  Friend, if this is you, give it up!  This walking in faith, this is peace!

Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Psalm 143:8 NLT

Choosing A Word

There is a lot of talk about choosing a word for 2017. The idea of this word is to choose something that will guide your actions and development for the year. We recognize that words are powerful. They shape our thoughts and actions.

Our words tend to reflect what’s already in our hearts and minds. More than influencing ourselves, our words influence others. Our words can speak encouragement, graciousness, and peace. Our words can speak criticism, rebuke or failure. But today, I’d like to choose to use my words to speak challenge.

I’d like to challenge you to:

  • Be aware of every word. Choose your words carefully and examine the motives behind the words before you speak. Know that words have power and use the power wisely. Once a word is spoken it can never be recalled.
  • Consciously choose to use words that build up.
  • Refrain from speaking when you have nothing to add or when you are going to cause harm by speaking. For me, speaking can be the nervous filling of an empty space and often, that space doesn’t really need to be filled.

If you want to choose a word for 2017 to shape you, that’s a great idea, just don’t forget that the words you speak everyday are those that shape others.

I’ve decided to choose a word for 2017 myself. I choose Kindness. I want to be a woman who produces fruit in my life, so, I’m going to spend the year cultivating the fruit of kindness.

 

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 NLT

Powerful Words

My husband calls me a wordsmith. And it’s true, for me words hold a great deal of power.

Words can heal, words can wound, words can fight our battles, or bring peace in order to avoid the battle.

I’ve become increasingly aware that I have a tendency at times to use my words to wound. So, I’ve been paying attention to when I wield those words as a sword. When I feel threatened or backed into a corner, or maybe just a bit insecure I tend to pull out my sword of words and fend off the attacker, real or imagined. But, just as the sword in the hand of a warrior of old could do lasting or even fatal damage, my words work this same damage on relationships in my life.

Words also have the power to bring life. For me, those words you speak into my life that build me up are the essence of love.

So, I hold in my mouth the power to build up or tear down. I can blame the one who backed me into a corner of insecurity and say they caused me to come out with sword swinging, but in truth, I am the culprit. I know better. I know that my security should not be found in the words or actions of others but I should rely on my faithful savior to…well, save me! But slowly I’m learning that I have already been saved, I’m just not recognizing it, and that it’s going to be gaining control over my words that allows me to live like I believe this truth. Only when I can quit wounding will I be able to live a life that reflects that saving.

This is a season in the year when many of us spend time with those who know us well enough to choose words that wound. It’s a time of year when we are tempted to do our own wounding. I pray that those of us who have been saved will begin to live like we believe it instead of wielding our words in a vain attempt to save ourselves.

 

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My Own Christmas Miracle

It’s the season where we think about miracles, let me tell you about one that happened in my life…

Twenty-five years ago my brother died a few days before Christmas. He and his children had been badly burned in a fire that involved the Christmas tree. It was a live tree, and following an electrical shortage it went off like a bomb! In the following years I struggled with difficult memories at Christmas time and could not bring myself to celebrate, especially with a tree. I always attended Christmas Eve services, but that was it. Also, I was single, a difficult dynamic during a season when our culture focuses on families.

Then, I met and married my husband. Along with the marriage came three lovely bonus daughters and five grandchildren. My new family began to celebrate Thanksgiving together and it became a tradition to put up our Christmas tree and decorate it together on the evening following the Thanksgiving meal. After all, it was much easier to put up and decorate a tree with little boys begging to be the one putting the star on top, than it was to explain why grandma was too sad to have a tree. I began to look forward to this tradition. Suddenly, it became a time of pure joy for me! And this year, I found that it was a time of joy for them as well when one of those boys, now a teenager, asked if we were decorating the tree this year following the Thanksgiving meal. My heart rejoiced again and I renewed my thanks that God, had redeemed this sadness for me in such an incredible way.

I must tell you, we did not put up our tree this year.Not because I am sad, but it is because we have two kittens. I am also realizing that even without the tree, Christmas is no longer a time of sadness for me. Much like my life, it is something my savior has fully redeemed.

Isn’t that just like our loving father! Taking a time of pain and sadness and remaking it into an occasion for rejoicing!

Sorting Out the Truth

Today, anyone with internet access has the ability to make their voice heard around the world.  Many write from places of strong opinion, strong emotion or humor. Much of what is written will resonate with you and much will repel you. How do you sort it out? You compare it to truth. As a Christ follower I’ve made the choice, the commitment, to always choose God’s word as my ultimate truth. I don’t apologize for this.

Because I’m often found with my nose in book, or blog, or website reading, I must be constantly on guard to test it all with my chosen truth, God’s word as found in the Bible, no matter how much what I’m reading may resonate in my heart.

I can be lazy, I can listen to other Christ followers, or read what they’ve written, or read their analysis of what others have written. However, when I do this I run the risk of following the wrong truth. It can also cause me to doubt the truth of the Bible, which just plays right into the hands of the enemy! So, while I appreciate that you read what I’ve written, and although my goal is to always test what I’ve written by God’s word, I don’t want you to take anything I write at face value. Use it as a starting point to test it against your own chosen source of truth.  Why?  Well, here are some things I know:

Christ followers must follow Christ, not those who follow Christ.

This isn’t an issue that is new to our internet age. We seek charisma, we like being spoon-fed rather than doing our own work, we get led down wrong paths by both well-meaning folks and those who have set out to deceive.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God. As the Scriptures say,“He traps the wise in the snare of their own cleverness.” And again,“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; he knows they are worthless.”So don’t boast about following a particular human leader. I Cor 3: 19-21a (NLT)

Emotions deceive us.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and  examine secret motives. Jeremiah 17:9-10a (NLT)

Sometimes we don’t even recognize our own motives.  We are all pretty good at fooling ourselves.

For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:21-23 (NLT)

God, who created the universe, is perfectly capable of making himself understood.

You can read and understand God’s word with God’s help. Which by the way, he is happy to provide. Feeling insecure and inadequate when you stand yourself up against a popular source, a paid source, an eloquent source?  If you do, then you are depending upon the wrong thing.  Seek God, read the words he’s given, he will lead you to truth, real truth.

The commandments of the Lord are right,bringing joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are clear,giving insight for living. Psalm 19:8 (NLT)

And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. I Cor 2:-4-5 (NLT)

You see? God’s word contains everything we need and it’s the role of the Holy Spirit to show us what we need, when we need it. This is one reason prayer and Bible study, together, are so powerful.

 

 

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Crimson Leaves

I went for a walk in the woods, a place I love to walk. It was late autumn and the trees had lost most of their leaves. I shuffled along a path that was filled with leaves grown brown and crisp beneath my feet. As I rounded a curve and came upon a tree that I often sat beneath.I stopped amazed. My tree, which I fondly called Miss Maple, stood there in full crimson glory with fall color. Rushing over, I took a place on the ground beneath Miss Mable and struck up a conversation. “Miss Maple” I asked, “Isn’t it a bit late in the season for you to still be wearing your glorious fall colors? Most of the other trees are bare by now, ready to face the winter snows.”

“Oh, I suppose I should be bare by now,” said Miss Maple, but I just could not face another dreary winter in a dull grey dress like the rest of the trees. I feel so special in my crimson gown. I need to feel special! So this winter, I will NOT shed my leaves.”

As a brisk wind stirred the leaves on the ground I thought a moment and then said: ” But Miss Maple, what will you do when the storms blow and the snow grows heavy trapped on your leaves? Won’t your branches bow and break? You could become misshapen, or worse yet, broken!”

“Oh I am not worried about that”, said Miss Maple. ” It rarely snows that much here, and I like my crimson gown, don’t you? And, after all I’m not like the other trees in the forest, you said yourself, I’m special. ”

“Yes, Miss Maple, you are very special to me. I come here often to sit in your shade in the spring or summer. I bring my grandchildren in the spring to play with your babies on their helicopter wings. I come in the summer to picnic or read in your shade. And I especially enjoy coming her to spend time with our creator.”

“That settles it for sure”, said Miss Maple. ” I’m keeping my gown this winter. You can sit beneath my leaves all winter sheltered from the winter sun, or snow which ever the day holds.”

I sighed. ” Miss Maple, it will be far too cold for sitting on the ground in the winter, and if the snow should damage your branches I would be so sad for you. You must let go of your leaves. You must do it quickly before the winter comes.”

“I will NOT, I want to feel special. I cannot feel special if I look like all the other trees in the forest. Don’t you think the splendor of my gown is especially striking against all the grey bark of the trees around? Everyone who comes to the forest will notice me first. They will see just how special I am.”

“Miss Maple, you do not need a beautiful gown to be special. And besides, if you don’t lose your leaves, there will be no helicopter babies in the spring. No planting seeds of other maple trees to grace the forest. It would be such a loss. This is the season for letting go…for putting aside things that may do you harm, or hinder fresh growth. It’s also the time to forget trying to stand out on your own and be special because of something you have done. It’s time to listen to our creator. Let go of your leaves.”

“But…But…Iff..I do…”she stammered, “how do I know that I will grow a new gown in spring?”

“Haven’t you always, Miss Maple, for all the springs you have been here in the forest? And don’t all the other trees around you do the same?”

“Well…so far…but how do I know that I will be given a new gown next spring?”

“That is called faith Miss Maple. Our creator promises us that he cares for us beyond all others. To him, as well as me, Miss Maple, you are special.  I’ll stroll by this winter on a warm day and stop to chat. Then in the spring, I’ll come again to sit beneath your leaves.”

“But how will you know me?” said Miss Maple,” if I look like every other tree in the forest?”

“Oh don’t worry Miss Maple. I found you last winter didn’t I? And the winter before? Now is the time for letting go. Let go of those things that hold back your growth. Let go of the things that you control, and trust our creator for a new work in your life. Wouldn’t you like a nice spring green dress next spring? And a fresh crimson gown next fall instead of one worn and tattered from seasons of storms and wind?”

“Well….”said Miss Maple, “I would like to make room for that new gown…”

I smiled, as crimson leaves began to swirl around my feet….Miss Maple and I together facing what our future holds with a whole hearted devotion to our creator’s plan.


Written several years ago, this is not a political statement and predates “Frozen.” It blessed a friend this morning so thought perhaps I’d share a bit more widely.

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Light In The Dark

Now is the time to shine! Don’t let the news of the day drag you down. Do not submit to cultural norms. Remember who you belong to. Remember the promises you have been given. Don’t fear change. Just keep your eyes focused on the light then you too, can be the light just as you were intended to be.

The sun slants into the windows of my sun room nearly blinding me. I can’t focus on anything else.  I soak in the warmth and my heart lifts giving praise to God. Now, to hang onto that as I face the day!

The world right now is filled with messages shouting for my attention, warning me that change is near and I should brace myself for the change. But I have news, change has already come into my life and I must focus on that light as I tune out the shouts of darkness and dread. I know who holds my future in his hand. I trust his promises are true.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

If you are feeling a sense of dread and despair. If you’ve watched too much news or hung out a bit too long on Facebook, then you may find yourself unguarded against this lion. Turn your eyes back to the light!  Let the light pour over you. Spend time in the word. Then, let that light shine out from you. In the darkness, your light will be even more evident. So will the lack of light.

Now is the time to shine! Don’t let the news of the day drag you down. Do not submit to cultural norms. Remember who you belong to. Remember the promises you have been given. Don’t fear change. Just keep your eyes focused on the light then you too, can be the light just as you were intended to be.

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